All posts by All Points Public Relations

The Whole of PR is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: Integrated PR for Franchise Lead Generation

Franchise companies that have ambitious growth plans should consider an integrated public relations strategy.

A truly integrated approach incorporates critical PR elements into a cohesive plan that strengthens franchise development efforts. At All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based franchise PR firm, we believe that there are three necessary components to every PR strategy aimed at driving franchise leads: media relations, social media and content marketing.

Each of these components plays a critical role and should work to enhance the franchise sales cycle your company has set in place.

Integrated Public Relations

Media Relations Sparks Initial Interest
The initial step is to identify publications, whether local, national or consumer, that interests your preferred franchise candidate. Landing earned media coverage sparks the attention of potential investors to initiate the discovery process. Nothing speaks more about your franchise than profile stories that feature your existing star franchisees.

Social Media Moves Candidates Along
Now that you’ve sparked initial interest, your candidate will investigate your concept in every way possible. Think of social media as real estate where you can manage and present your company’s image. By being present, creative and authentic, you can share your franchising messaging with prospects so they can continue the course of the discovery process.

Content Marketing Converts Leads to Franchise Sales
It is key that you nurture and help guide your candidates though the buying cycle. Tap into content marketing to push prospects along using branded, well-designed, compelling blog entries and content-driven e-mails that help reaffirm your candidate’s decision to move forward with your franchise.

When combined, these three integrated PR elements have the power to propel your franchise development strategies into overdrive. A fully integrated methodology that blends media relations, social media and content marketing works together to develop the leads and close the deals your franchise concept commands.

Major Business Sources Pick Up Articles Secured by All Points PR

All Points PR secured a story with Business News Daily, which was picked up for syndication by Fox Business. The article delves into minimum wage hikes that are being gradually implanted and debated nationwide, and features several entrepreneurial experts who offer thoughtful advice for business owners as they prepare for wage changes. The feature story appeared in the Small Business category of the national business news website.

Download the PDF file .

From Powerplays to Pitching: Similarities Between Sports Reporting and Franchise PR

shutterstock_90528970Associate Adee Feiner reflects on her transition from sports reporting to being a publicist with All Points PR:

I remember my very first time interviewing an athlete for my college newspaper. After the initial excitement of landing a coveted position as the Men’s Hockey beat writer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s The Daily Cardinal faded away, the panic set in. I had to actually talk to an athlete. I arrived at that first hockey practice notebook in hand, nervously pacing the hallway of the facility. In my head, the scenario of interviewing athletes and coaches always played out smooth. But as I stood there waiting for my first interview to show up, all I did was worry that I would come off as uninformed, uneducated and unsure.

However, once that I met that first player and started asking my questions, the fears, jitters and trepidations I had disappeared. As the season progressed, I built a relationship with the team, coaching staff and media personnel. There was a comfortable familiarity and ease that I became accustomed to, and I really missed it when the season ended and I graduated.

Funny enough, I had no idea I would go through almost the exact same process in my post-graduate job as a Public Relations Associate with All Points Public Relations.

The first time my boss Jamie asked me to pitch a story to a reporter over the phone, I’ll admit that I had a mini heart attack. I’m from the technology generation. We text, email and tweet, rarely do we actually call someone!! You’ll have a much better shot over the phone, Jamie said. I sat at my desk with the pitch in front of me, staring at the reporter’s phone number for a good five minutes. Finally picking up the receiver and punching in the numbers, it felt like the phone rang agonizingly long. The reporter answered, so I told her my name and why I was calling. As soon as she told me she’d love to know more, I released that breath I had been holding since I dialed her number. It was at that moment I realized my days as a sports writer were paying off… Sharing a story idea with a reporter is a lot like interviewing an athlete. Here’s how I took my experience from powerplays to pitching:

 

  1. Do Your Research And Know Who You’re Talking To: You wouldn’t ever ask a goalie about offensive strategy, or a defensive linebacker about a running back’s job. You know who you’re talking with to better write your questions. Well, it’s the same story while pitching. You don’t want to approach a business reporter with a lifestyle story. Sometimes doing the research can take time and feel arduous, especially with bigger publications. But when you find the right reporter, the process can feel smoother and the conversation will flow.
  1. Be Personable: While covering a football story, I had to interview a freshman on the team. I quickly realized he was more nervous than me, and made a joke to put us both at ease. We both relaxed, and things felt less like an interview and more like a conversation. It’s a similar process while pitching reporters. I’ve learned that opening an email with “I hope you’ve had a great weekend,” or asking how they are when you call them makes reporters more open to talking with you. It won’t feel like another PR person trying to get a placement for a client, but rather one person talking to another about something that potentially might interest them.
  1. Keep It Brief and Be Concise: I went into an interview once for a game night preview with a list of 10 questions for a player. I got through about four of them when I realized he was getting pretty antsy. There was no way I was going to get through ten questions with this guy, and I had better be content with what I did get from him. The next time around, I condensed my questions to get straight to the point that I wanted to hear. The answers I was given were lengthier, providing me with more info for my article. One of the first pitches I put together for a reporter looked like a short novel. I realized that he didn’t want to read through that whole thing and try to find what he thought might be the potential story angle. After working through it with my boss Jamie, he helped me bring it down to a few key paragraphs, with the main point at the top. It’s a useful tactic that has always served me well.
  1. Compliments Never Hurt: This one might be the oldest trick in the book, but it’s worked every time. I interviewed one of the younger members of the hockey team who had been the subject of a feature on NHL.com. Since the team was coming off a tough loss the weekend before, congratulating him on the achievement lightened the mood and made him more open to my questions about the game ahead. The same can go for a reporter you’re pitching a story to. Most interviews and placements that I’ve secured came from pitches that started with “great piece about X,” or “I loved the feature on Y.” It kind of goes hand-in-hand with doing your research. Showing a reporter that you’ve taken the time to learn more about who they are and what they write can only increase your chances of securing something for a client.

When I stepped into that hockey practice facility for the first time, I never would have guessed that one year later, my rink-side days would serve a dual purpose in my PR career. But, it’s usually the experiences that we least expect are the ones that we can draw on for inspiration in our careers.

Although, I have to say that I don’t miss the occasional sweat that dripped down on my notebook during interviews. I’m completely okay leaving that experience behind.

Kona Ice Now Serving Extraordinary Experiences Everyday in Hilo and Surrounding Areas

Kona_Ice_logo

Kona Ice Now Serving Extraordinary Experiences Everyday in Hilo and the surrounding areas

The “Coolest” Party on Wheels Pulls into Hilo; Local Entrepreneur Commits to Giving Back to Community Schools, Teams and Organizations

HILO, Hawaii – Bringing amusement park excitement everywhere it stops, Hilo and the surrounding areas introduce a new Kona Ice truck that blends entertainment and gourmet frozen treats into an experience unlike any other in the area.

“When our customers get a glimpse of the decked out truck with its tiki hut top and vibrant colors, the looks on their faces say it all,” said Dennis Mayo, local resident and entrepreneur shifting good times into overdrive in Hilo and the surrounding areas with the launch of his new Kona Ice truck. “At first they’re amazed, then they just can’t stop smiling – regardless of age.”

Kona Ice’s escape from the ordinary begins as the sounds of tropical calypso music fills the air at each event and group gathering. The fun continues as all in attendance get their overflowing cups of freshly shaved ice and then help themselves to any of the ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave™ (an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow) or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.

“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a unique, tropical treat,” added Mayo. “Kids go crazy and we see adults getting just as excited as the young ones. We’ll even throw a few leis or Kona t-shirts on our customers, and send them home with a fun Kona Ice cup. From start to finish, we engage all their senses.”

Equally as appealing about the launch of Kona Ice of Hawaii County is its philanthropic commitment to the communities it serves. Dennis, his wife Marymalane, and son JJ are continuing Kona Ice’s tradition of donating thousands of dollars each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations. As they book events with these groups, they pledge to give back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop. Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $17 million dollars to community-based organizations during the past six years.

“Dennis and his family shares our passion for giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Kona Ice, who created the concept after witnessing the fear in his daughter’s face during a visit from an old rusty ice cream truck. “We want to engrain Kona Ice into the fabric of the towns where we live, work and have families. Returning a portion of what we earn back to the groups helps ensure that they continue to make a positive impact on the lives of our friends, neighbors and family members.”

Beyond fundraisers, popular spots for Kona Ice stops on the eastern Big Island include fairs, festivals, corporate events, neighborhood socials, church events and birthday parties. The Mayos’ truck also maintains regular weekday and weekend routes. To learn more, contact Dennis Mayo by email at dmayo@kona-ice.com or by phone at (808) 781-7885 or (808) 268-5350.

About Kona Ice

A true community ally renowned for facilitating endless fundraising options, Kona Ice has given more than $17 million dollars back to neighborhood schools, organizations and sports teams since its inception in 2007. The brand’s iconic truck offers customers a one-of-a-kind experience, featuring the opportunity to create their own Kona Ice on the self-serve Flavorwave™, while enjoying the soothing sights and sounds from the tropics.

In 2013, Entrepreneur magazine named Kona Ice to its Franchise 500® list, ranking as the #1 “New Franchise.” It is 112 th overall, and #26 in the “Fastest Growing Franchise” category.

For more information about booking Kona Ice for a fundraiser or event, visit www.kona-ice.com. To learn more about available franchise opportunities, visit www.ownakona.com or call (800) KONAICE.

TapSnap Expands Inventive Social, Digital Fun in Howard County with Reimagined Photo Booth

logo

TapSnap Expands Inventive Social, Digital Fun in Howard County with Reimagined Photo Booth

Portable “Phototainment” Business Fulfills Demand for Increasingly Popular Open Air Photo Booth Experience in Columbia

Columbia, Md. – TapSnap’s striking twist on the classic photo booth is getting a boost in Columbia with the launch of its newest “phototainment” experience. An unpredictable mix of creative event keepsakes and interactive entertainment, the new TapSnap comes amid increasing demand among event hosts, party planners and businesses.

“Guests at events with TapSnap are always astonished at how we’ve reinvented the photo booth. There are no walls or ceilings, so you can capture more spontaneity and creativity,” said Stanley Segawa, owner of TapSnap based in Columbia and longtime photographer. “The photos combined with the responsive touchscreen technology mesmerize everyone. Add in the sharp computer-generated backgrounds, crazy digital doodles and the virtual props that can be added to photos and there isn’t a single person that TapSnap hasn’t blown away with amazement.”

No event is off limits for Howard County’s new TapSnap, the second in the area. The latest advances in photo and multimedia technology have been gracefully merged to create a sleek, hi-tech photo booth portable enough for any event, both indoor and outdoor. A professional grade camera perched on the side of the oversized, vibrant flat-screen captures candid moments or carefully composed portraits in stunning clarity.

Additionally, regular updates to TapSnap’s custom-made Snapbook software provides continual advancements to the device’s capabilities, such as giving guests greater ability to share their creations via popular social media networks instantly, and broadcasting live photo, video and social streams at corporate events, charity galas and meaningful personal celebrations such as birthday parties, weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

“Our tailor-made software can upload any picture to social media right there on the spot,” continued Segawa.“At personal gatherings like weddings and graduation parties, you can easily share them. At corporate events, that same innovative technology allows us to stream live within the event venues and to remote participants. Plus, we can house all of the photos and videos on a central online location. We make it as simple and intuitive as possible for our clients.”

Segawa draws upon his background in launching Howard County’s TapSnap. The local resident works as a professional photographer, specializing in weddings, events, and portraits. Adding to his diverse experience, Segawa also served in the military as a combat arms and logistics officer, which has helped him with his organization and planning skills. As an enthusiastic and driven TapSnap franchisee, he serves as a symbol of the type of high quality individuals operating TapSnap as it expands in Maryland beyond.

“We’re thrilled to have Stanley in the TapSnap family,” said Scott McInnes, TapSnap founder and CEO, who previously created and still heads the internationally acclaimed DVDNow brand. “His commitment and energy for TapSnap is fantastic. Maryland has been demanding a stronger TapSnap presence and I’m glad he can fill this demand.”

TapSnap is a low cost, simple-to-operate franchise that offers a proven business model. The company provides franchisees comprehensive ongoing support in sales, technology, marketing and operations as well as an initial training program to ensure they are prepared to serve their markets.

TapSnap’s fresh, open-air photo booth is available for fairs, festivals, corporate events, weddings, birthday parties and more. It offers a variety of personalized digital art and corporate branding, ensuring every event is a one-of-a-kind experience. To learn more about the new TapSnap, call Stanley Segawa at 410.290.9838, email stanleys@tapsnap.net or visit www.tapsnap.net/contact-info for general contact information.

About TapSnap

TapSnap’s imaginative take on the classic photo booth experience provides event hosts and guests with unforgettable interactive “phototainment.” The concept’s forward-thinking approach maximizes today’s advanced digital technology – a redesigned, social and highly interactive experience. Ideal for personal gatherings such as weddings and birthday parties, as well corporate events, TapSnap takes high quality photos that guests can make their own through intuitive touchscreen graphics, fingertip doodling and corporate brand customization. Images are then easily shared through social media and digital photo sharing, in addition to onsite printing.

Launched in mid-2012, TapSnap is based in Vancouver, Canada. Today, there are nearly 100 TapSnap franchisees serving metropolitan regions throughout North America. For more information about TapSnap, visit www.tapsnap.net. To book TapSnap for an event, call 1-877-577-0566. And, for franchise opportunities go to www.tapsnap.net/start-a-franchise.

 

Hot News Item Serves as Reminder about PR Principles

Robin WilliamsThe All Points PR team recently took a few minutes to discuss an article that The Washington Post reporter Alyssa Rosenberg filed on the “worst public relations pitches pegged to Robin William’s death.” Among many points Alyssa makes in the article, her story looks at the offensive nature of PR professionals’ attempt to take advantage of Robin Williams’ death to get their clients into the news cycle surrounding this story.

It’s a fantastic piece.

First, it provides a great perspective from the viewpoint of the members of the media All Points PR is often pitching.

Second, it hits on many of the points we often talk about relating to how we approach our work, including:

  • Persistence – Alyssa provides great details on the number of PR professionals compared to the number of journalists and how that ratio is increasingly becoming greater (weighted heavier on the PR professionals’ side)
  • Using multiple sources in a pitch to make it less self-serving/biased
  • Be specific with your pitch; relate it to case studies or specific examples; don’t just use simple broad statements that are obvious, known facts to journalists and everyone else; in your pitch you should be using eye-opening stats, facts, descriptions
  • Cut through the clutter with strong subject lines; subject lines that will grab the attention of the media (reporters, bloggers, producers, assignment editors, etc.) that we are pitching; subject lines cannot be Plain Jane

Last, the story brings up the point of pitching the media when tragedy strikes. There is a common sense patience and timing sense that we need to have in our minds. Sure the death of Robin Williams was very heavily covered, but pitching the press hours, even a few days after a celebrity’s suicide isn’t right. In these cases, when you have a relevant pitch related to the compelling news event, yet the nation or even the world is saddened or taken by surprise with unfortunate circumstances, it is best to wait a few weeks and let the world/nation grieve.

The news media/bloggers will find your pitch more tasteful if it looks like more thoughtfulness was put into it.

We talk about clinging to the news of the day, and most news of the day matters are not sad like this Robin Williams matter. So, as we work our clients into trending topics, we are always mindful of the public’s sentiment, and exercise appropriateness if it is an emotional matter that elicits sadness.

LinkedIn for Businesses

LinkedInBusinesses are leveraging the power of LinkedIn, the largest social network designed for dialogue relating to career advancement and general business matters like never before.

As it relates to the industry where All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based PR Firm, focuses its attention, franchising, LinkedIn is an asset to cherish and more and more brands are discovering its benefits.

In particular, franchise organizations need to have and manage a LinkedIn Company Page and perhaps one or more Showcase Pages. As the strength of LinkedIn grows, Company Pages are becoming hubs of rich content that can engage current and potential customers, current and future employees and other vital stakeholders such as investors. Plus, the Showcase Pages offer an opportunity to further dial in with your LinkedIn follower base to give those connecting with your business even more relevant information.

For instance, a franchisor may choose to use a LinkedIn Company page to spotlight their products and services for their clients, or to celebrate company successes, new hires or for general organic engagement about relevant news and topical matters. Then, they can leverage the LinkedIn Showcase page to dial in on franchise development topics and advancements so that interested investors can glean entrepreneurial focused content and growth information from the company, thus increasing their interest in buying a franchise.

Plus, the SEO benefits are measurable. Google indexes company pages; meaning that pages serve as a tool for strengthening rank in organic search results. Each search result contains a brief 156-character company description, which should quickly compel potential customers to learn more about the business by clicking on the link.

With more than 300 million members, LinkedIn is a worthwhile investment. People who visit LinkedIn are in a professional mindset and are actively seeking insights to connect even closer with the brands they are engaging with through the social platform.

A well-organized LinkedIn presence for a franchisor can build a loyal fan base, increase investor interest and further develop a company’s identity, especially if it provides thought provoking ideas and offers compelling reasons for LinkedIn members to return or dig deeper through other online means.

At All Points PR, we implement a full LinkedIn strategy for our franchise industry clients, including initial setup and ongoing management. The social media services, which are part of the integrated Franchise PR collection of offerings, aim to leverage innovative communication strategies by creating interactive experiences for a targeted set of customers (consumers, businesses and potential franchisees). To learn more about our services visit allpointspr.com/services.

Bottle & Bottega’s New Berkeley Heights Studio “Paints the Picture” of the Ultimate Night Out

 Print

Bottle & Bottega’s New Berkeley Heights Studio “Paints the Picture” of the Ultimate Night Out

Chic and Sophisticated Art and Wine Studio

Debuts in Berkeley Heights creating an Arts and Entertainment District in the area

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, New Jersey – The wheels are off. Bottle & Bottega has parked itself permanently in Berkeley Heights.

The premier art and wine concept announced today the grand opening of its new permanent studio location in Berkeley Heights at 472 Springfield Avenue; conveniently situated at the corner of Summit Avenue and two blocks from the Berkeley Heights train station, amid the area’s bustling downtown. Rupa Kale, owner of Bottle & Bottega Central New Jersey, will use the new studio as the hub for art and wine parties in the community, while also continuing to host corporate, private and public events throughout New Jersey that the public has embraced since she launched the business in February 2013.

“I cannot begin to describe the excitement that has been circling the studio opening in the neighborhood and among friends and loyal guests,” said Kale, who lives in New Providence with her husband and two children. “Since the launch of our mobile studio a year and a half ago we have had a warm welcome in New Jersey. And now the community of Berkeley Heights has really extended the welcome with open arms. The permanent BYOB studio gives our loyal and growing fan base a warm and inviting, living room like destination to come to. Guests just need to bring their favorite beer or wine and a snack and everything else is provided for them including ice, corkscrews, glasses, paint supplies, aprons and a professional instructor. You bring the wine, we provide the art. It’s the perfect pairing.”

Kale is celebrating her studio’s Grand Opening with a VIP FUN-Raising event on July 31st from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. All donations and funds raised at the FUN-Raiser will be donated to Home for Good Dog Rescue; a local nonprofit organization that provides foster care, medical care, training, support and hope to dogs in need.

Bringing out the creative side in everyone regardless of skill or practice, Bottle & Bottega is one part artistic adventure and one part cocktail party. Through a blend of hands-on art sessions, on-site professional instruction and, of course, a glass of wine or beer, Bottle & Bottega helps guests create a masterpiece that they can be proud to take home.

Their painting parties are perfect for team-building outings, adult birthday parties, baby showers, bachelorette parties, girl’s night out events and wedding showers. Plus, Bottle & Bottega fans are invited to join the brand’s online VIP guest loyalty program, the first of its kind in the industry, which rewards guests with points for every dollar they spend. Points can be redeemed for upcoming Bottle & Bottega events.

For more information about Bottle & Bottega Central New Jersey and to book your next event, call (908) 376-6440, emailNJCentral@bottle-bottega.com, or visit http://bottleandbottega.com/nj-central/.

Murphy Business & Financial Corporation Celebrates Triumphant Accomplishments at Annual Conference

Murphy Business - 2_Color_Logo-w_company_name - sm_edited-1

Murphy Business & Financial Corporation Celebrates Triumphant Accomplishments at Annual Conference

Camaraderie, Education, Inspiration and Achievements on Display During the Murphy Business ‘Oceans of Opportunity, Winds of Change’ Conference

CLEARWATER, Florida – Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, the world’s largest full-service business brokerage firm with more than 165 offices in the United States and Canada, announced its 2013 Top Producers. This set of elite-performing business brokers received the coveted honor during the brokerage firm’s annual conference in the prestigious Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort in Florida.

“It’s always a thrill to see the Murphy Business family gathered together at our annual conference,” said Roger Murphy, president and CEO of Murphy Business. “We are very fortunate to have such an impressive team of Business Transaction Specialists among our ranks. Our’s are the finest business brokers in the industry, and they help to keep us the most trusted business brokerage firm in North America.”

The annual conference was a high-energy event, which was supercharged at the opening session by a surprise appearance of Celtic bagpipes and drum corps. The keynote speech by Lisa McLeod, author of the bestselling book, Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work that Makes You Proud, reinforced the overall theme and key content of the conference. The event also featured education seminars and a small trade show convention. An entertaining speed painter closed the conference with a unique demonstration that entertained the group with his talent and great sense of humor. Plus, the much anticipated awards dinner included the presentation of the brokerage firm’s Top Producers honors, which include:

  • Bruce Burns – New Mexico
  • Dan Carelli – Florida
  • Russell Cohen – Florida
  • Celine Dufresne –  Florida
  • Jim Dunmire – Florida
  • Teresa Farrell – Oregon
  • Richard Giles – Texas
  • Rey Gonzales – South Dakota
  • Richard Halterman – Virginia
  • Sandra Harvey – Ontario
  • Adrienne Leigh – Texas.
  • Mariann Montgomery – Texas.
  • Edwin Peña – Florida
  • Robert Riley – Florida
  • Matt Slappey  – Georgia

“All our brokers, including our top producers, possess unparalleled access to buyers and business sellers in their local communities and throughout North America. We have developed a proven method of business brokerage that helps ensure our clients achieve and surpass their business goals, by way of a reliable and confidential transaction through a Murphy Business broker,” Murphy said. “We’re not only proud of our top producers, but all of our brokers provide the most complete and thorough business transaction available today.”

Offering entrepreneurs both regional developer and unit franchisee operating models, the Murphy Business home office supports both groups and their agents with extensive training, along with initial and ongoing marketing efforts that leave Murphy Business owners to focus on the most important part of their business – spending more time with their clients.

About Murphy Business & Financial Corporation

Clearwater, Florida-based Murphy Business & Financial Corporation is a full-service business brokerage firm facilitating business sales, purchases, consulting, valuations, mergers and acquisitions. Closing deals at a higher ratio than the business brokerage industry average, several accolades have been bestowed upon the company including appearing as one of the “Top New Franchises” in Entrepreneur’s 2011 rankings (#9, #219 in the Entrepreneur “Franchise 500”), and as a “Top 50 Franchise” according to Franchise Business Review. For more information on the franchise opportunity, contact Sandee Devine at franchisesales@murphybusiness.com, call 1-888-561-3243, or visit www.murphybusiness.com and click on the “OwnaMurphyFranchise” tab.

 

The World is Watching and Tweeting

Brazil2014 FIFA World Cup

The most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world is yet again in full swing.

As many as one billion people tuned in to the final match during the 2010 World Cup games in South Africa, accounting for nearly 14 percent of the world population and even surpassing the Olympic Games in viewership. And, World Cup fever is continuing during this year’s Brazil games, especially as a social media world event.

In fact, CNN reports World Cup conversations have already shattered social media records. The tournament’s first week alone, June 12-18, sparked nearly 459 million posts, likes and comments on Facebook. A flood of hashtags continue to emerge and trend on Twitter, and every major social media platform has created a home for fans to receive live updates and engage with one other.

It’s astonishing to witness how fans are coming together globally to have such a dramatic impact. The hashtag #suarez, surrounding Luis Suarez’s controversial bite during the Uruguay-Italy game, trended for two full days on Twitter. People, brands and celebrities tweeted their disappointment and poked fun of the incident, drawing a significant amount attention to the incident and demanding his suspension. Whether it was a direct result or not, Suarez was suspended for four months.

We have compiled our favorite hashtags and places to keep up with World Cup conversations:

As everyone has his or her eyes on the ball during the next few weeks, it is interesting to be part of this incredible social media party where conversations seem to be growing in numbers each and every day.

Preparing for a PR Career

GraduationReceiving a college diploma is an exciting time for any new graduate. The next phase of life is starting – time to become a professional. From settling into a new job or internship to searching through LinkedIn and eagerly writing cover letters, the days of being a full-time student have passed.

Eventually, every new graduate comes to a realization that the part of his or her memory holding information from countless hours of cramming sessions is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

There are two ways to let this thought sink in: allow the last four years to seep away from your brain, or think of ways to retain and use it in your future position. We recommend the latter and have listed a few ways to apply your PR “classroom education”* to your new role.

Embrace your digital savviness and writing training

Millennials are, by nature, digitally savvy and social media aware. Having taken numerous writing and communication classes, PR graduates are trained in effective writing styles.

It is important to use these strong writing skills by thinking about the audience of your work. Do this by fully immersing yourself into your clients and their brand voice.

Never stop reading

Now, more than ever, you’ll have the freedom to focus on your interests. Binge watching Netflix can certainly be one of them, but reading for pleasure is vital to expose you to new information and improve your understanding and communication skills. There are no longer assigned readings so give your library card some exercise and never stop reading. Don’t forget to keep up with news of the day by reading national and local newspapers and magazines.

And, on that note, never stop learning

Your workplace is your classroom. Think about how exciting it is that you have access to talented individuals who share the same goal as you. Continue to ask questions and challenge yourself by striving to learn as much as you can every day.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any ideas to share with new graduates?

*The term education is interesting. It is so heavily associated with school as the institution, but, in reality, education is about learning in any capacity – even after you walk across the graduation stage.

Public Relations Lessons from AMC’s “Mad Men”

Cast of Mad MenOn the heels of last week’s premiere of “Med Men,” we saw our favorite 1960s characters appear on the screen for their final season.

If you’ve watched “Mad Men,” then you’ve heard Don Draper’s brilliance when it comes to public relations, advertising and marketing. If you’re new to the world of “Mad Men,” Glow New Media’s infographic of quotes is a must-read!

We’ve picked three quotes that everyone working in this industry can relate to.

“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Call us biased, but this quote from the episode titled “Public Relations” is our favorite.

Consumers will always talk about your brand, whether it’s on social media, in the news, by leaving reviews or simply through word of mouth. If there’s something said that doesn’t represent your brand, or is simply wrong, it’s up to you to alter that conversation. Social listening to understand what guides consumers’ conversations is a crucial first step. Integrate these insights into your communication strategy to create impactful content that truly resonates with people.

“Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.”

One of the greatest dangers to any company is becoming too comfortable in the way things are done. History proves that individuals who have pushed through norms achieved the most. The top performing industry players constantly adapt and innovate. Again and again, associates at the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency push the limits of creativity and come up with big ideas that stick. It’s important to note, however, when putting yourself out there you should be prepared to overcome obstacles as well as celebrate successes.

And that’s why we leave you with this final quote:

“We all try. We don’t always make it.”

Next time your campaign doesn’t perform as well as you had hoped, don’t look at it as a failure. Instead, be critical when evaluating the results. Did you get an insight about your consumer that you didn’t have before? Could you figure out a better way to approach campaigns in the future? Remember, nobody succeeds without overcoming challenges.

Get Noticed with Quality Content

ContentEvery business strives to generate more transactions. To achieve this, it is important to attract consumers and not only tell them about your brand, but to share a unique perspective or information they did not have prior to visiting your blog, website or social media channel. Content marketing is a mindset that is integrated into the entire marketing mix, and a great content marketing strategy is a process that must be strategic and well thought out.

While there are a variety of content marketing formulas that have proven to be successful, there is a common strategic thread that binds winning approaches to this element of the public relations game:

1. Define your target

Before producing any content, it is essential to define your target audience and understand their interests. Think about what information your reader needs and how you can supply it in a memorable way.

2. Set goals

Remember that the purpose is to provide valuable insight to the reader. Focus on the needs of your target audience, rather than simply listing your services. Be sure your strategy fits in the sales funnel and integrate your brand’s image within the content.

3. Produce driven content that includes an attainable call to action.

Crafting great content that educates is essential, but asking people to do something with the content should always be top of mind. Position your brand as the expert and point consumers/clients to your online sources, locations or services to get more information.

4. Distribute to multiple channels to amplify the message

Repurposing your content and distributing it to all appropriate channels is essential. This will help reach new people who might not otherwise see your content.

At All Points we see content marketing as an evolving process that is dependent on creative and persistent execution. We recognize that producing content is ours to own as public relations practitioners because of our distinctive ability to be effective communicators through multiple channels. The roll out of our Content Marketing service comes as another way to support our clients with impressive publicity results, creative graphic design and engaging social media.

“Dough-Rei-Mi” How DiGiorno Pizza Took Center Stage During The Sound of Music

Sound of MusicThe award for best performance of Thursday night’s live production of The Sound Of Music goes to DiGiorno Pizza. As viewers prepared to enjoy the heartwarming theater production of the 1965 film, Digiorno Pizza was cooking up a tasteful treat for the audience.

The popular frozen pizza brand had the Twitter-verse hanging on every word during it’s live-tweet of the show with comments including, #TheSoundOfMusicLiveCan’t believe pizza isn’t one of her favorite things.”

The twitter-feed can be viewed here: http://www.thedailymeal.com/news/digiorno-pizza-live-tweets-sound-music/120613

Their tweets were so popular that #DiGiorno soon became a trending topic right next to #TheSoundofMusicLive.

This was a fantastic move by DiGiorno’s social media team. They had a captive audience with all the publicity generated surrounding this musical premiere and used this to their advantage.

According to a recent article by Caroline Moss, Business Insider, “This outburst of weird and enthusiastic tweeting from DiGiorno over a rendition of an iconic musical could have easily worked against the brand. But everyone loved it. DiGiorno was praised by the likes of BuzzFeed , The LA Times , AdWeek and The Hollywood Reporter.”

Twitter is an open forum where companies can appear more human and interact with their followers. If done tastefully and in the right context this could be a widely successful maneuver to increase brand awareness.

Making Your Point Known in Media Relations

media-relations-wordleWhen it comes to media relations the ultimate goal is to capture the reporters’ attention and secure an interview for your client. Reporters are inundated with phone calls and emails from publicists everyday and in a world where news is condensed to 140 characters or less, it is important to make your point known succinctly.

Whether it is over the phone or via email, it takes about five to 10 seconds before you lose a reporters’ interest. So how do you keep them listening or reading?

Here are some tricks of the trade to keep in mind when pitching the media.

Hook, Line & Sinker – When sending an email pitch your subject line is very important. It needs to be captivating with just enough information for the reporter to open the email. Unfortunately, there is no magic trick or secret to creating the perfect subject line – just trial and error.

What’s the News – Just because your client is opening a new store in Chicago doesn’t make this news to a reporter. What makes this news is the number of jobs this will create and what this means for the local economy. Keep this in mind when writing new pitches. Ask yourself, what is the news.

Reinvent the Trend – “Did you know that frozen yogurt is so passé and designer ice cream is taking center stage.” If your client is offering something unique such as a custom flavor ice cream shop than your client is leading the charge on a new trend in desserts.

VIP Treatment – Offer an exclusive and let them know that you wanted to share this news with them first. Reporters like to feel as if they are special and that this pitch was made specifically for them.

Stop Trying So Hard – Sometimes it is not necessary to go in with a ‘hard pitch.’ There is no harm in calling a reporter and making an introduction. This is the perfect opportunity to see what type of stories they are working on and how your clients could be of use to them.

Media relations are an important part of PR. Securing coverage and interviews are what keep clients happy. Remember to be concise and get to the point.

NY Desk Side Visits Generate National Press Coverage that Helps Extend Awareness of Franchise Restaurant Client’s Strategic Retail Initiative

All Points PR led Russo’s Restaurants on a visit to several high profile New York-based publications, including Men’s Fitness and its sister publication Muscle & Fitness. As a result we generated a huge win for Russo’s and its gluten free retail program with a major national audience that truly cares about what they eat. Look who Russo’s beat out to earn the resounding “YES” — DiGiorno and Newman’s.

Download the PDF file .

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”

Positive-AttitudeRarely is securing press coverage easy. It takes hard work and dedication to achieve your PR goals. It is easy to become downtrodden when faced with adversity and stress with your PR work, but a positive attitude is a powerful tool when overcoming obstacles.

Fact is, the way you feel about a situation has an impact on how you handle it. Negative feelings tend to cloud your judgment. Having a positive attitude allows you to see opportunity when faced with a challenge, especially in PR.

Just like anything in life, it takes hard work to see the positive in a negative situation, such as a struggle to generate press. Here are some useful tips and tricks to keep an optimistic attitude in the workplace.

1) Organization is Key: It is easy to become overwhelmed at work when there is no organization system set in place. When papers are strewn about it is easy to lose track and become discouraged. Less is more. Get rid of the junk and develop a system that works for you. There are many free applications you can download on your computer and phone to help you keep organized. When things are less chaotic on the surface, you will feel more in control of the situation.

2) Forward Thinking: Another way to keep a positive attitude at work is to set goals for yourself. For example, “by Thanksgiving I am going to finish this project, land this story or complete this assignment.” The sense of accomplishment once you have achieved your goal will not only boost your confidence but also give you the mindset to think towards the future.

3) Celebrate Others’ Successes: It is important to be happy for co-workers when they achieve a goal or reach a milestone. Jealousy over another’s achievement only drags down your mood and allows negative thoughts to filter in. Think of your co-workers as your teammates. You are all working to accomplish the same goal.

4) Out of Your Control: Accept that some things are out of your control. If you obsess over every single thing that goes wrong you will lose track of the overarching goal. Prioritizing will help you keep track of what is most important and what is trivial.

5) Fake It Till You Make it: When all else fails, fake it. Come into work each day with a smile on your face and with the best of intentions. If you think positive thoughts, eventually it will just happen naturally.

Having a positive attitude is beneficial in the workplace. Your attitude affects everything from communication and teamwork to productivity. Just keep your head up and remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

The Age of the Social Influencer

Social-Media-Influencer-for-NonprofitsIn today’s age, anyone can be a journalist. The Internet provides an open forum for the average Joe to share their opinions regarding the news, products, fashion and celeb gossip of the day.

Take for example tech fanatic Pete Cashmore. Fascinated by new technologies and the changing landscape of social media, Cashmore decided to forego college and blog about these growing trends during the height of the social networking boom. In 2005, he founded Mashable, a leading tech site drawing more than 2 million visitors per month.

Although traditional news media continues to be the most credible source of current information, today’s technology allows consumers to digest news and information in all different mediums. From a public relations perspective, it is important to keep these up and coming blogs and forums on your radar.

We live in a ‘fast food’ news era where individuals can customize the type of the news they receive. Blogs including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and even Perez Hilton are among the top visited sites every day. These sites appeal to many different individuals, and a client could benefit from using this medium to generate awareness for a brand, mission and/or cause. Although it is important to keep traditional media in mind, don’t neglect blogs and other non-traditional forms of media.

Fact is, consumers are no longer confined to a handful of media outlets and now have a variety of forums to choose from. According to a recent survey reported by The Hub, more than 60 percent of people surveyed obtain their news news through Facebook postings, blogs and on mobile devices.

“Everybody’s different, though: Some people become loyal to certain sites, others get their news from Twitter or Facebook or Google Reader,” said Felix Salmon, in an article for Reuters.

In the age of the social influencer it is important to keep in mind how your clients can benefit from non-traditional media outlets. For example, always keep an eye out for bloggers who focus on industries related to your clients. Do they have a large following? Is their blog getting noticed? All it takes is a little digging.

5 Tips to Ensure Your Pitch is Actually Newsworthy

old-school-journalistEvery public relations professional has been there — your client has some “news” they want to see published…that really isn’t news at all.

Great. Your mission is to please the client (who pays you). But, of course, you’re not going to bribe a reporter with anything but one heck of a storyline.

So what do you do? You work your PR magic and you turn that new hire announcement into the most important business growth news happening right now, which points to a greater industry trend.

Easier said than done. Still, if you follow these five tips when fine-tuning your next pitch, chances are your announcement will reveal something truly newsworthy — and maybe even land you one of those home run stories for your client.

1. Make sure your media pitch has an impeccable time peg to it. A peg, or story angle, is the crux of your argument as a public relations professional pitching the media. A peg is something people hang a coat or hat on, so think of your peg as something a reporter can cling to at that very moment. The peg is perhaps the most crucial element to your pitch. It answers the “why” for the reporter doing his or her story gathering. And, its timeliness answers the “When should I write or report on this?” question that is always lingering in a reporter’s and editor’s mind. One example we successfully used at All Points: We ran a social media contest on behalf of a fast casual franchise client in which fans submitted ideas for the next new item on the menu. Then, when the winner was chosen, we had a crucial time peg — “Popular area restaurant creates new flavor using innovative social media contest.” As PR professionals, we essentially created what became a timely news angle.

2. Be sure your media pitch has an overall sense of urgency. Every time you send out a pitch — whether via email, through a phone call or smoke signals — be sure there is a sense of urgency embedded deep within the core of your message. You want this story to be written yesterday. And you want the reporter to “want” to be the one to tell it. So, in addition to creating a pitch with a great time peg, the pitch needs to feel incredibly important. Something may have happened today, but that doesn’t make it urgent or incredibly timely. For example, I brushed my teeth today. Big deal — no news there. But, if I brush my teeth today and contributed to the overall well-being of my mouth by protecting from cavities, removing stains and avoiding bad breath, I’ve done something that feels more urgent.

3. Sprinkle useful facts and newsy tidbits into your pitch. While as PR professionals we tend to want to make everything seem grandiose — we want our client to be more unique than every competitor — it’s also important to realize the media you’re pitching, depending on their experience, can become really good at smelling too much BS. You have to feed the desire of journalists and provide them with relevant, factual information about your client and company that can indeed contribute to an objective story about or including them. If your client is comfortable with sharing revenue numbers or other useful statistics, use that — of course, be certain it tells a positive narrative about the client. And don’t be afraid to go to the Google machine and find outside sources or statistics that can help position your client within a larger trend. For example, if your client is in the real estate industry, look at stats within the target market and use those positive stats to help position your client within a larger piece about a promising housing market.

4. Provide the reporter a specific call to action. You generally don’t get what you don’t ask for (unless it magically falls from the sky). Therefore, be upfront with reporters — without being in their face or combative — and ask for something at the end of your pitch. Don’t be afraid to ask the reporter if you can carve out some time for your source to speak with him or her. It may not work all the time, but it has been successful and it can certainly further a conversation. It also clarifies things for the reporter. Being vague is never a good option if you want a task to be completed.

5. Finally, put yourself in the reporter’s shoes — Would you pursue this story? And now, the moment of truth. You’ve drafted that pitch. But before you send it to your editor (and especially before you send it to media) ask yourself a very important question: Is this story interesting? Is this something I or other people would actually want to read about? You’d be surprised — when you answer yes to that question, chances are the reporter on the other end will do the same.

Download the PDF file .

How it was handled: The Secret Service’s Initial Crisis Communications

Secret ServiceWhen scandalous breaking news happens, I always find myself focused on how individuals at the center of the controversy are communicating their sides of the story. Are they following traditional crisis communications procedure? Are they going renegade on what they say and do? Or, have they gone silent?

I can see right away when a company has good planning in place, often times with the help of a high-quality PR firm.

The recent Secret Service scandal is a great case study in crisis communications related to scandalous breaking news. John Trader, a PR pro and blogger on PRBreakfastClub.com, recently analyzed several aspects of how the Secret Service handled the unfortunate situation it faced: http://goo.gl/TQCuX.

I like his step-by-step overview, looking at many of the integral parts of crisis communications, no matter the news. He gave the Secret Service an overall grade of B+, which I agree with completely.

One item John’s discussion doesn’t talk about is just how supportive high-ranking former Secret Service members were in talking about the culture of the organization. As CNN and other news agencies tried to push former agents to talk about a “party” culture in the Secret Service, nobody current or former associated with the organization bent. It was clear that the crisis communications procedures of the Secret Service included keeping former agents in its plan seemingly encouraging the press to interview former agents. They communicated in interviews that the agents participating in the Colombian “party scene” were simply bad seeds, and not a reflection of the agency as a whole. From most accounts, Americans and the world have bought it.

True or not about the culture of the Secret Service, the agency was swift in responding, acknowledged wrongdoing, showed empathy for the concerned, took responsibility and took action to fix the problem.

Is your company prepared to do the same? All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based PR firm focusing primarily on working with franchise companies, is experienced in preparing and acting when unexpected or unfortunate occurrences happen within your organization.

Give us a buzz and we can talk about designing a public relations strategy that preempts a major problem, and keeps your business in good standing with your current and future customers.

Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

newspaperA Wall Street Journal front-page headline recently grabbed my attention. It read, “Is All Publicity Good Publicity?”

The answer to that in my mind is emphatically “No.” This is especially the case for All Points Public Relations’ clients. Our clients are businesses and entrepreneurs that are putting an incredible amount of energy, resources, time and emotions into their businesses. An erroneous or damaging story could have a significantly negative impact on their business.

How do companies that want good press ensure positive publicity locally and nationally? And, what happens when the unexpected occurs? How does a company mitigate or avoid damaging coverage?

Let’s start with the first point made. When working with a PR firm such as All Points PR, a Chicago PR Agency] working primarily in the franchise industry, it is important that you make the team working on your account a full-fledged member of your inner circle, entrusting them with information and insights about your company. The good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, all the information that the team needs to accurately develop media strategies that drive positive results. Good **PR firms** can weave your good news into compelling media pitches, and can develop messaging needed to overcome any damaging information that may come to light through the press. Likewise, PR representatives worth their weight in gold can control the direction of coverage, managing the conversation about your brand so that only the news you want in the press gets to the press, whether through direct media pitches, press releases, social media, etc.

This leads us nicely into the second point discussed above unexpected occurrences that could lead to negative press. Here, your PR team moves into crisis communications mode. But, prior to that, a seasoned PR team will have already set down a foundation to make this work of managing a crisis as easy as possible. They should be able to call on media contacts to dispel any rumors, to squelch negativity brewing and to issue a media statement if needed. Secondly, a plan will be in place to overcome negative online fodder and to re-direct the overall discussion about the brand towards something more positive.

So, is any publicity good publicity? NO. Can you avoid damaging press by making sure your PR agency is “in the know” and is equipped to share accurate information? YES.

This is a 50,000 foot overview of a much more in-depth topic that we can discuss for hours, or for just a few minutes if you prefer. Give us a buzz and we can talk about designing a public relations strategy that fits your goals and gets you the good publicity you want for your business.

Business Networking: Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

Thank you to Lake Forest Graduate School of Management for a wonderful alumni networking event this evening. For those of you in the Chicago area considering an MBA with practical application to your careers, I highly recommend it. It has helped me beyond measure.

Talking to attendees there tonight got me thinking about being a good networking partner. With the launch of All Points Public Relations I’ve been doing a lot of networking. Relationships mean everything for business startups and my situation is no different. Someone knows someone who knows someone. This very scenario has helped me land some of my first few clients.

Only a month in, I know I need to start to give back. And, I’ve begun doing so. In previous jobs I always networked to meet new people, share ideas, make connections for others and often bring in new business to the company I was working for at the time. But as a business owner, networking really takes on new meaning.

It’s my livelihood now. Connecting colleagues in franchising; connecting fellow alumni with potential job opportunities; reaching out to strangers who I’ve been advised to connect with on the phone for new business lead purposes. The give and take of networking is 100 percent a necessary balance. Networking has been the single most important factor in gaining ground with All Points each day.

In my first month as All Points PR I’ve had the good fortune of connecting with a few folks who have been of great help. I’m now more focused on giving back. I kind of feel like it’s a game of pay it forward combined with pay it back, helping others you come into contact with as well as returning the favor to those that have helped you already.

Thank you to those who have made very meaningful connections. I am by your side in business and will do what I can to reciprocate. And, I pledge to connect others with my contacts whenever I see the benefit in it for both contacts of mine.

I hope this helps those of you reading the blog understand the importance of networking…so feel free to give me a buzz because I may already have a client waiting for you.

Feed Us More Football Please!

FootballWhy are we so enamored with the National Football League? I mean we have an insatiable appetite for pigskin.

Television ratings are skyrocketing and the fan base seems more rabid than ever before. Not to mention, the media dissect professional football from every angle possible. Before the game, during the game, after the game, football coverage is everywhere, and we eat it up. It’s streaming online, on our phones, on TV, the radio, newspaper, all kinds of magazines and social media is abuzz as we follow our favorite players on Twitter.

I’m not even going to delve into fantasy football or gambling of any nature, because that’s been going on for a long time and those who engage have been watching the NFL for decades. But, obviously there are more than just the fanatics who enjoy Sundays and Monday evenings.

I think we can safely say that the average person is an NFL fan. The average person didn’t even play football competitively at any point of their life. Nonetheless, we need it in our lives.

Why? There’s the social element. For many, nothing beats saddling up on the couch with a bunch of friends for a Sunday salute to the TV set. Or, going to the sports bar where nearly 100 screens are beaming the best HD action you can find.

You also have to consider the raw talent and awe-inspiring size of professional football players. Seeing them crush each other with incredible force only to get up and walk back to the line of scrimmage is incredible.

Are they role models? Some. Most probably are not. I wouldn’t say we love football because of the quality of individuals playing the game, although some do great things for their communities.

The League certainly is a big reason why we love the game. It is marketed beautifully. They market that thing to perfection. And, one game a week;if baseball, hockey and basketball cut their schedules every game would have so much more meaning.

I can’t put my finger on any one reason why I love football. I never played it competitively, I don’t put big money on the games, and I haven’t even watched more than one complete game in a season since 2005. But, I crave the coverage all week. I want a steady dose of NFL news morning, noon and night. I can’t wait for Sundays to come. The analysis, debates and statistics; I love all discussion about the League.

Maybe most of all we love it because it’s a wonderful escape. Seeing these super-freakish athletes twist, turn and contort their bodies at fascinating speeds is a marvel.

Thank goodness the NFL ended its lockout quickly, I can’t imagine what sports news I’d consume. Soccer anyone?