Op-Eds: Yours Can Mean Business, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Opinion-editorials (op-eds) are a standard way organizations, private sector and nonprofits,  inform the public about issues.  That’s done as a service to society.

For example, a family restaurant presents research about what kinds of dinner conversations develop children’s confidence and public speaking skills.  However, this exposure in the media can simultaneously enhance the restaurant’s brandname, bring in new business, and confirm in the minds of the regulars that they have selected the right place to dine.

At one time, op-eds, which are really commentaries, were only published in mainstream media.  Those include local and national newspapers and magazines, public service announcements on radio and television, and trade publications.  To get that placement, back then you had to pitch to the editor or producer that the topic and point of view are something the public needs to know about.  The same thing applies now, only that there is more competition to be heard.

That means that your pitch must be custom-made to stand out from all the others approaching particular editors and producers.  And that must be done on an exclusive basis.  Ask that media property to get back to you in 10 days so that you can then try somewhere else.  If rejected, then finetune the pitch for another member of the media.  Some media outlets want to see the completed op-ed, not the pitch.  Find that out.  Often the media provides submission guidelines or contact them about preferences.

The good news today is this: Because of social media, you can also publish them on your own blogs, online videos for YouTube, and as a guest commentary on others’ blogs.  Yes, you can do both.  You can have your point of view on safe driving for teenagers published in THE HARTFORD COURANT and on your own and others’ sites.  But each has to have a different angle.

The challenge is to attract readers or viewers and have them share the op-eds with others.  Here are 5  tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to make your commentary “sticky”

Be topical.  Tie in your op-ed on safe streets with a holiday like Halloween.

Have a provocative headline, first sentence, and first paragraph.  This provides incentive to busy readers and viewers to check out the commentary.

Present in the public interest.   Frame everything to be useful to the public, not to promote your organization.

Include enough information.  From all your data and arguments select out the most persuasive.  Too much will overwhelm.

Create new value.  This might take the form of a survey you have done that has surprising results.  To do that survey you might partner with a business school or professional services firm which would welcome publicity.

Once your op-ed is published or is broadcasted, repurpose or recycle it for pitching to other media for interviews, emailing to prospects and clients/customers, embedding in your media center on your website, posting on your Facebook page, and creating a shortened URL for tweets.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on Media Relations, Marketing, Partnerships, Special Events, and Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.


Inspired! – That’s the only way your communications can be, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

As the presidential debate referee Jim Lehrer, reports influential NEW YORK Magazine, delivered a performance which was not “inspired.”  In this media era, with so much brilliant content competing for attention, no one can afford to put themselves out there as “uninspired.”  That lack of an investment of thought, energy, and emotion has become a crime against the human attention span.

So, how can you ensure your communications will be inspired?  Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants.

Slow down. In 2009, executive coach Marc Lesser wrote a breakthrough book “Less:  Accomplishing More by Doing Less.”  He presented compelling evidence that when people and organizations stop trying to be so speedy they produce higher quality work that gets superior results.   Focus on just a few things you know you can do well.

Listen. If you open yourself up to what’s happening in your business and outside in the marketplace, you will get an earful.  The world is constantly telling you what you need to hear.  The challenge is being willing to take in that data, negative as well as positive.

Edit.  The most effective communications, such as from Apple, result from continually tossing material which doesn’t seem on the money.  What turns out to be final will probably contain very little of the first few drafts.

Inspired communications start with you.  You have to let the organization know that you will not tolerate anything less.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you for a complimentary consultation in Marketing, including Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Measuring Success: Look beyond internal metrics, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

In a disruptive era we have to be measuring how our organizations are doing in a lot of different ways.  The traditional “vital signs” about sales and profits are no longer enough.  We have to develop fresh metrics derived from what the other players are up to, right now.

Even established companies like Kraft, which Blooomberg Business Week reports, had a 4% boost in sales, has to look beyond itself.  Today after its North America Grocery split off from its snack division it is listed as a separate company.  In that space it has to anticipate the myriad moves which the competition will make.  The fundamental of game theory is not to make decisions in isolation but only in reference to what other players are doing or might do.  The resilient chief executive officer of News Corp Rupert Murdoch studied game theory when he was at Oxford.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to review your performance:

Listen.  The marketplace will  let you know in detail what’s okay and not okay.  Use your special events, social networking sites, and surveys to be your ear-extenders.

Form partnerships.  Together you have  more insight on what metrics count and which have become irrelevant.

Hire employees and consultants who aren’t a hand-and-glove fit with your organizational culture.  Then ask them daily how they rate your strategies and tactics.

In his management classic “How The Mighty Fall,” Jim Collins cites smugness born of success as the reason why an enterprise begins to decline.  Prevent that by developing multiple perspectives for tracking success.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

How To Prepare for Your Media Interview – Part 2, by Image Marketing Consultants

How To Prepare for Your Media Interview – Part 2, by Image Marketing Consultants

You are invited to be a guest on a television show.  That might take the form of a 90-second interview or participating in a 20-minute panel.  Of course that can provide exposure for your point of view, brand, cause, product, or service.  However, television presents unique risks to those who are not “regulars” on the small screen.  Here’s what you must know before you accept the invitation.

Does the camera love you? You can test this out in an unsophisticated way by having someone video-tape your simulation of what you would be doing during an appearance.  If it goes okay then you might rehearse with a presentation coach who specializes in television.

If you and third parties observe you come across poorly and you  sense that you may not be able to improve in time for the programming you might decline.  However, think this through.  Television remains a powerful medium.  Politicians who initially were inept in front of the camera invested heavily in training and got significantly better.

What kind of reputation does the program have for controversy?  You must research this.  Are gotcha questions asked?  That’s exactly what businesspeople have done for decades before appearing on “60 Minutes.”  They came to understand what tactics interviewers and the camera-people tended to use and prepared for those.  You can also attempt to negotiate ground rules.

Often those appearing on television create a script and then derive talking points from it.  In that way they can come across as unscripted and can be flexible in what they say and how they say it.  However, they know exactly the points they intend to make.  With training they can gain control of the entire interview process.

Find out how the interviewer and other guests tend to position and package themselves.  Based on that information you will figure out your persona as well as the content of your remarks.  If they tend to be flamboyant, you will likely have to add some performance art to how you present yourself and talk in headlines or attention-getting soundbites.

What is the usual attire? Some shows encourage formal dress.  Others are more casual.  Also it’s important to check with a media consultant who understands the visual aspects of television what colors and cut of dress or suit you should wear.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on media relations, including television interviews, marketing, public relations, special events, partnerships, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

Holiday Special Events: 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

Holidays are wonderful platforms for special events.  That’s what we at Image Marketing Consultants recommend to our clients.

For  example, for Halloween, pet stores might sponsor costume parties for cats and dogs and for Christmas family restaurants could provide children chats with Santa. Those create good feeling about your enterprise, enhance the brand, can attract new business, and give the media a fun reason to cover you.

Yet staging a special event represents an investment of time and money.  The first step in succeeding is to have people attend.  Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants.

Blend classic with novel.  Everyone loves the ghoulish themes associated with Halloween.  But what pulls them to your event and not the one two businesses over is the fresh twist.  You could have an expert on the paranormal present a slide show on the history of Halloween.

Provide incentives.  Often consumers need that extra push to participate.  Here you can partner with another business, creating publicity for both of you.  For example, everyone who shows up is eligible for a drawing for a complimentary yoga lesson with the spa down the road.  Have those from that business participate in your event.

Promote. If the event is highly visual, you might be able to get the attention of the media.  But even if it isn’t, you can leverage your own social media to create excitement.  That could include Facebook, tweets, blogging, videos on YouTube, email blasts, podcasting, and webinars. When the event is over some of that material can be sliced and diced and repurposed for other uses. In creating buzz before, during, and after the special event, if you’re partnering, make the promotions a joint effort.  That both can increase the impact and stretch both budgets.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Special Events, Partnerships, Social Media, Advertising, Public Relations, and Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

How To Prepare for Your Media Interview – Part 1 by Image Marketing Consultants

How To Prepare for Your Media Interview – Part 1 by Image Marketing Consultants

Being interviewed by the media can be a homerun for your business.  If the story turns out to be positive or at least present your point of view, your credibiity is increased because it is a third party talking.  There is a whole branch of communications totally focused on media relations, that is, securing interviews for clients with media.  Yes, media attention is that important.

However, the experience can turn out to be negative for those who aren’t aware of the dynamics of the process.  In this piece I  will present just the first part of what you have to know.

The media are a business.  Successful members of the media are trained to develop rapport with those they interview.  Often that’s perceived, especially if you are nervous or feeling needy, as friendship.  The reality is that the business of the media is a competitive one.  Each interviewer is digging for the most marketable story, one which will be attract a lot of visitors, shares, likes, and tweets.  That means you have to be aware of what the interviewer is really searching for and that answer you give is both sincere and positions you in the best light.  That might mean rehearsing or being coached by a media trainer.  The art of giving a great interview is to be in full control but not coming across as coached or overly cautious.

Research the interviewer.  In order to manage the interview you have to understand the usual tactics of the interviewer.  You find that out by analzing their previous work.  Also, you might want to discuss those tactics with an expert on media.  No chief executive officer appears on “60 Minutes” without being briefed on every possible kind of questioning that could take place.

Research yourself.  There may be aspects of your professional life or business that you view as negatives but assume are unknown to the public.  When it comes to dealing with the media, you can’t go on that assumption.  To do a comprehensive job of putting together their story, the interviewers probably did some prior investigating digging into public documents as well as talking with sources who will likely remain anonymous.  Be prepared on how to position that possibly damaging information if it comes up.

In future posts we at Image Marketing Consultants will present other tips on how to manage your media interview so that it turns out to be a plus for your brand and your business.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on Media Relations, Marketing, Partnership, Special Events, and Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Your Marketing Campaign: Learn from politicians, hammers Image Marketing Consultants

There are many reasons why we pay so much attention to political campaigns.  One, of course, is that our future is at stake.  But for those of us in business, what politicians do and don’t do presents in-the-trenches marketing lessons for us.  Campaign after campaign, here are the best practices of the winners:

They are in it all the way. There’s no faking it.  Voters can smell that a mile away.  In THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Edith Zimmerman reports that a observer of Joe Kennedy III’s campaign for Congress says that the candidate doesn’t seem to be having fun.  If that’s true, that his heart isn’t in it, even the Kennedy msytique won’t pull in the votes.

In our own businesses, whether it’s baking gourmet cupcakes or teaching teenagers to drive, the law of consumer attraction demands passion.  Anything less intense pushes consumers away.

They listen. Usually they start up the conversation with a question.  In Manhattan, the former mayor Ed Koch used to ask, “How am I doing?”

We are always seeking feedback.  That’s what social media, special events, and giving interviews to the HARTFORD COURANT are all about.  More than promoting ourselves, we are inviting people in.

They are ready to move onto a Plan B, all the way to Z. Planning is just that: Planning.  When we get out on the field and play the game there are plenty of surprises.  All they know is what they’re doing isn’t working.  So they experiment to find what might work.  It could be Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D.

A client hired us to showcase the new model car in a Boston Hotel.  The car didn’t fit into the elevator.  It was Plan E which finally worked.

Until election day, we should all be taking advantage of the lessons the next winners and losers are teaching us.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnerships, Public Relations, Special Events, and Social Media, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.



Networking in 2012: Dynamics have changed, warns Image Marketing Consultants

Opportunities come through people.  So, who hasn’t been networking since the economy caved in 2008?

However, more and more of those networking have been telling us at Image Marketing Consultants that their efforts haven’t been converting to outcomes such as more sales, media mentions, offers to partner, and attendance at special events.  A major reason for that is that the dynamics of networking have been changing.

To begin with, there’s a glut. The influx of businesspeople eager to network has weighed down social media systems, trade association memberships, and even the lists of volunteers at prestigious organizations.  That means that you now have to do your homework before you invest in outreach.  Figure out how much the group could be helpful to you and what you have to do to be noticed by them as equally useful. Since you have to put more in, you will likely be approaching fewer in number.

Secondly, more professionals are hungry. That could be for more business, more media coverage, and/or more good ideas.  The burden is on you to demonstrate to them what you have to trade to help them get what they need.  Don’t enter until you have something to trade.  There is now only one way in.  That’s from a position of strength.

Third, just about everyone is connection-weary.  Social media networks foist people on us who will drain us if we allow that.  Therefore, caution is the new response to overtures of networking.  High emotional intelligence (EI) dictates what we think before we reach out and when we do we are brief, that is too the point, and offer something the other party needs in return for their attention.  The something has to be the right something.  Therefore, research what could be useful

In short, networking has become all business.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnering, Special Events, Public Relations, and Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

No “Next Oprah” – Create unique branding, hammers Image Marketing Consulting

The quickest way to stumbling and falling for a small business is to set out to be the “next” whatever.  That might range from the next Panera to the next LinkedIn.

In the tough world of afternoon television we see that dangerous tactic being played out in shows which position themselves to be the “next Oprah.”  Katie Couric’s debut of “Katie” yesterday might have fallen into that trap. The reviews aren’t good.

The reality is that those great brands like “Oprah” took years to build.  That happened through continual experimentation.  It wasn’t born one day.  It was through trying and failing, trying again and failing and learning from the experimentation that it developed its uniqueness and became stronger and stronger.

Effective marketing, whether you’re a bakery in West Hartford, Connecticut or Apple Computer in California, has always been about developing that special connection between your business and all your constituencies out there, be they customers/clients, employees, the media, and vendors.  That’s where the focus is, not imitating models.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for marketing including advertising, public relations, partnerships, social media, and special events kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Your “Special Events” – Tweet Them, Says Image Marketing Consultants

Your special event might be as simple as a meatloaf dinner to raise funds for your church or your nonprofit which provides tutoring to at-risk children.  The odds are that you can enhance the outcomes of that event by tweeting the activity.  Those tweets would chronicle what goes on from the time folks are parking their cars to when volunteers are cleaning up in the kitchen.  Regarding the latter, there are few bonding experiences more central to sharing and healing than being in the kitchen together.  Call that “sink therapy.”

At the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama’s speech was judged as a homerun, partly on the basis of how many tweets-per-minute.  Because there were way more tweets for her address than for Ann Romney’s the media and political watchers gave her the higher grade.

The beauty of tweeting is that it can be done right from a smartphone.  Simultaneously, of course, you can also live-blog the event.  Because blogging is long form versus the short form of tweets, you probably want to do that from a laptop or tablet.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Social Media, Marketing including Advertising, Partnerships, Public Relations, and Special Events kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.