All posts by Mommy Lolo

Writer, school psychologist, baby product inventor, educational product developer, mom, Ventura, California resident, mommy blogger

Public Relations Requires an Integrated Approach

No longer is it enough to limit PR activities to submitting press releases to traditional media outlets.  Social Media has become a HUGE part of today’s public relations.  But Social Media alone isn’t enough either.  For the most effective approach to public relations for your business, you need to incorporate an integrated approach.  You need to communicate with your target audience in a variety of ways and across a variety of platforms.

At its most basic level, public relations is defined as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (according to the Public Relations Society of America).

It’s strategic in that it’s planned, intentional, not haphazard or willy-nilly.  It involves communication, which is the “exchange of ideas.”  It is a process: it takes time to build and grow.  It builds mutually beneficial relationships (it’s a two-way street) between an organization (you) and its publics (your target market/audience).

By implementing an integrated PR approach, you are still incorporating the foundational principles of public relations.  For example, you are still engaging in media relations; however, media relations now includes communicating with editors and reporters via Twitter, as well as reaching out to bloggers.  The gatekeepers of yesterday are still one (big) way in, but they are no longer the only way in.

An integrated public relations approach includes the following:

Traditional PR Activities

This includes submitting press releases and alerts and pitching stories to traditional media outlets (print and broadcast).  This is still a valuable practice; however, competition for space in dwindling print publications is fierce.  So, you have to be right on target.  Your story must be newsworthy, timely, unique, and relevant to the audience of that media outlet.  You must know who to pitch it to, when and exactly how to pitch it.  For press releases, good writing goes without saying.

Social Media

Social Media is defined as social networking using websites and applications.  For businesses, it is a way to connect with your audience, communication directly with target markets, gatekeepers (reporters and editors) and influencers, build relationships and enhance word of mouth marketing.

Social Media’s viral nature, and potential to reach many potential customers makes it an invaluable part of the PR mix.  Social Media’s outreach can be targeted, garner widespread attention, and get people talking about your brand.  It gives you a direct way to engage in and monitor the conversation.  It also allows you to listen and to learn what customers and prospects are saying, what they want, and how you can better serve them.

Blogging

Blogging is great way to get target market attention, position yourself as a thought leader, and increase SEO.  Creating and regularly posting quality material (that is interesting and relevant to your customers) to your company blog is an important part of the PR mix.

Marketing Communications and Collateral

This includes the material on your website, your newsletters (email and print), e-blasts, informational materials, brochures, catalogs, online store, sales letters, and so on.  All of these pieces are also important in getting your marketing messages across to customers and prospects.

All of these activities work together to round out a good, comprehensive public relations plan.  Remember, you still have to have something of value to say.  You just have lots of places and ways to say it.  Variety is the spice of life when it comes to PR for your business.

Lori Granieri

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Time to Start Working on the Annual Report

Now is the time to create your company’s annual report (if you haven’t started already).

What is an Annual Report?

An annual report is a thorough report on a company’s activities during the preceding year.  It includes information about the company’s accomplishments, developments, marketing efforts, sales, financial performance, strengths, weaknesses, growth, and more.  It also analyzes trends and changes in the industry.

Why Create an Annual Report?

Annual reports are often used to communicate with shareholders, stakeholders, prospective clients, and the community about the company.  They can be used to inform, persuade and influence.

Annual reports can help to do any of the following:

  • Achieve accreditation
  • Acquire future funding
  • Form new partnerships
  • Enhance public relations efforts
  • Introduce a company to prospects
  • Persuade and influence investors, donors, and supporters
  • Support current funding

They can be used as marketing tools by highlighting a company’s many positive attributes, and generating ideas for marketing avenues.

Plus the process of creating an annual report, and later seeing it on paper, gives you an opportunity to really look at all areas of your business.  It allows you to see the big picture as well as the many important details.  Therefore, it is a great planning tool.

Who Needs Annual Reports?

Annual reports are staples for large corporations and nonprofit organizations; however, small and mid-sized businesses can benefit from producing them as well.

Again, for many of the reasons mentioned above, annual reports can be great communication, marketing, and planning tools.

What to Include in Your Annual Report

In preparing your annual report, it is important to stay focused on its purpose (which may be to inform, persuade, promote/market, influence, justify, etc.).  It may have some, many, or all of these purposes.

Annual reports’ functions can be quite different from company to company, as well as for large corporations versus small or mid-sized businesses or nonprofit organizations.  Knowing the purpose of your company’s annual report will help to determine what to include in it.

An annual report can highlight a company’s accomplishments, celebrate achievements, and recognize the contributions of key team members.  It can pinpoint actions that require improvement, and serve as a guide for what to work on the next year.

While the contents of annual reports vary, most will include an executive summary, letter from the CEO/president/owner/director, marketing and sales information, financial statements, and lists of key players.  They may also include any of the following:

  • Chairman of the Board letter (regarding company developments, actions, goals that were and were not met, and industry trends and changes)
  • Reports from the following: Chairman, CEO/President, CFO, Auditor
  • Mission statement
  • Financial statements: auditor’s report on the financial statements; balance sheet; statement of retained earnings; income statement; notes to financial statements; accounting policies; stock price (when relevant)
  • Management analysis
  • Sales and Marketing sections
  • List of directors and officers
  • Corporate profile
  • Bios
  • Trends, developments and updates
  • Accomplishments
  • Strategies for future success
  • Industry articles

Preparing Your Annual Report

Purpose: Determine and understand the purpose of your annual report.  Decide what elements fit into that purpose, and which are not necessary.  Always make sure to comply with regulatory requirements (if applicable).

Don’t procrastinate: Plan ahead.  Don’t wait until the last minute to start working on an annual report.  It can be a very time-consuming process.

Who and when: Decide who will complete each section, and by when.  Delegate tasks, if necessary.  Make sure everyone involved is on the same page, and understands the purpose of the report.  Create and meet timelines for having sections completed.

Put it together: Gather all needed information.  Write summaries.  Arrange the report in the appropriate format.  Edit, edit, edit!  Then, proofread some more!  Decide on the appropriate layout and design for your report, whether you will have a graphic designer product it for you, if you will produce it in house, etc.  Choose images and graphic components, make it cohesive with your brand, design and produce the report.

What to do with it: Once your annual report is completed, you will distribute it as necessary.  In addition to giving copies of it to designated recipients, you might wish to also post it on your website.  Also, be sure to refer to it as a guide for future planning (i.e., business improvement, marketing strategy, sales ideas, etc.).

Next steps: Finally, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to immediately start planning ahead for next year’s annual report.  Ideally, annual report planning and compilation takes place all year.  You can do this by keeping a file, and making and keeping notes for various sections.

One last note: Smaller and mid-sized businesses might wish to create a mini annual report – one that doesn’t need all of the components of a larger one.  It makes for a great marketing tool to include on your website, in sales/marketing materials, in your press kit, and in new client packets.

LG Writing can help you create a traditional and/or mini annual report.  Call (805) 477-0037, email info@lgwriting.com, or visit www.lgwriting.com.

What Public Relations Can Do for You

Through Public Relations and Marketing Communications, your business or organization can effectively convey key messages to your target audiences by:

  •  Letting the public know you exist, what you do and for whom
  • Reminding current, past and potential clients that you’re the best source to fulfill      their needs
  • Building and maintaining a positive image among all of your publics
  • Strengthening morale and trust among employees and stakeholders

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA): “Public Relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”  In other words, it’s about mutual knowledge, respect and trust.  This is carried out through numerous activities including promotions, media relations and various communications.

Through public relations (PR), you can tell your story and maintain a positive image.

For businesses, this can result in increased sales.  For nonprofit organizations, it may result in increased funding – via grants and donations.  For any entity, it ultimately enhances the bottom line, whatever that may be.

Here are some descriptions of some popular PR activities:

 Campaign Development

This involves creating a customized Public Relations and Marketing Campaign based on research and strategic planning.  In order to do this, it is important to clarify your desired results, create your vision and define the best ways to tell your story, create awareness of your business or organization and promote its good name.  Then, through strategically chosen tactics, and the right mix of public relations and marketing activities (such as media relations, promotional pieces, etc.) an overall plan can be designed, launched and managed effectively.

Marketing Communications

Marketing Communications, or Corporate Communications, is an important area of Public Relations that involves all of those written and produced materials that are used to promote your business or organization.  These include brochures, manuals/booklets, newsletters, websites, catalogs and other promotional pieces.  These materials help you market, promote and explain your products/services to existing and potential customers, to get the word out about your business or organization, to position your company as a leader in its field, and to increase visibility and credibility.

Brochures

An informative brochure clearly explains what your company or organization does and how it benefits your clients and publics.  Creating additional individual brochures for various aspects of your business or products that you carry, services you provide, etc. can also be very effective.  Brochures can quickly communicate key aspects of your business to current customers, prospects and other target audiences and help move them along in the sales, partnership, or membership process.

Press Releases

Press releases are newsworthy stories about your company or organization that you can submit to appropriate media channels (and also feature on your website and press kit).  Great stories can gain favorable coverage by a wide variety of media (newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, radio, TV).  Stories can range from breaking news to features to event or new product announcements to research findings to tip sheets and more.

Press Kits

A press kit is a cohesive promotional package for you to present to the press, investors, and other selected parties.  It contains important information about your company such as background info/history, product/service info, biographies, professional photographs, company brochure/s, press releases, clippings of previous press coverage, tip sheets, quote sheets, and other relevant materials.  This is an invaluable tool for presenting a consistent and professional image, for positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field, and in generating print media publicity.  It’s good to have both a print version and an online version on your website (as part of your website’s “newsroom” page) and available to send via email.

Media Relations

In addition to creating press releases and other related items (such as media alerts, tip lists, etc.), media relations activities include creating and maintaining targeted press lists, pitching and submitting timely stories to appropriate media channels, and building and maintaining positive relations with media professionals.  Beyond crafting relevant, creative and newsworthy messages, media relations involves conducting ongoing research – finding relevant media channels, determining who the appropriate reporters and editors are, tracking editorial calendars, deadlines and submission guidelines and keeping up with current events, media and industry trends developments and publication content.

Newsletters

A newsletter is an informative, interesting, useful and entertaining communication device for you to provide for your clients, prospects, shareholders, employees, local community, etc. on an ongoing basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.).  See previous post:  http://www.lgwriting.com/apps/blog/show/16285801-your-business-needs-a-newsletter

Other PR components include websites, blogs, social media, events, crisis counseling, and anything else that establishes, promotes or maintains a favorable image of your company or organization.  Being able to relate to the public, and helping the public relate to you, is a worthy goal for any business.

LG Writing will create your PR materials, including newsletters, websites, brochures, press releases and more.  Call (805) 477-0037, email info@lgwriting.com, or visit www.lgwriting.com

Time to Start Marketing for Valentine’s Day: Gift Guides & More

Marketing Your Business for Magazine Valentine’s Day Gift Guides, Feature Articles, Fun Things to Do

Valentine’s Day is less than six months away.  So if you have a business, product or service that ties in with Valentine’s Day in any way, you would be wise to start planning now.

Many publications run special Valentine’s Day gift guides in their February issues.  The larger publications (i.e., national and regional magazines) start working on these issues six months out (that’s right now).  Others begin working on them three to four months out, but it’s still a good idea to pitch them early, or at least be prepared with a solid, well-thought-out pitch for when they are ready to receive them.

Valentine’s Day gifts might include the traditional chocolate/candy/sweets, flowers, perfume, jewelry, and lingerie.  They might also include the following: candles, trips, bath products, wine, champagne, gift baskets, art, cards, novelty items, books, handbags, spa treatments, tickets to a concert or performance, clothing, shoes, children’s items, and just about anything a “sweetheart” or loved one might love to receive.  Other great Valentine’s Day gifts can be products that are red, pink, heart-shaped, have to do with heart health, are decedent, have to do with cooking or entertaining, or are sentimental and heartfelt.

So if your product has anything to do with these or any other great gift ideas, you may want to consider pitching them for inclusion in holiday gift guides.

In addition to gift guides, publications often feature Valentine’s Day segments and stories about relationships, marriage, dating, weddings, popping the question, romantic trips and getaways, romantic meals, entertaining, romantic surprises, celebrating Valentine’s Day with children, crafts, décor, cultural traditions and customs, books, and more.

For these types of features, writers and editors often want to interview or quote experts in these topic areas (i.e., relationship expert, wedding planner, florist, jeweler, matchmaker, chef, travel agent, Bed & Breakfast owner, author, interior designer, and so on).  A well-written press release (and maybe also press kit) that ties in with Valentine’s Day and the publication’s readers, and positions you/your company as an expert can get you featured in a major magazine.  Your release or kit might also include “tips” on something Valentine’s Day related.

Here are some ideas for potential Valentine’s Day related articles:

First date tips (from a matchmaker)

What to wear on your Valentine’s Day date (fashion designer, personal shopper)

How to look your best on Valentine’s Day (makeup artist, cosmetic company founder)

Children’s Valentine’s Day crafts and activities (artist, children’s party planner, craft store owner)

Fabulous Valentine’s Day meals (chef, cookbook author)

Plan a romantic weekend trip for Valentine’s Day (travel agent)

How to propose to your sweetie (wedding planner)

Making Valentine’s Day centerpieces (florist)

Creative ideas for making and decorating Valentine’s Day cookies (baker)

Think about ways your business, product or service ties in with Valentine’s Day (as a gift, a way to celebrate, something for kids to do, a meal, a romantic getaway, relationship advice, etc.).  This can be a great opportunity for effective Public Relations, exposing your company/product to thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands (even millions in the case of the largest circulation national publications) of potential buyers, and significantly increasing sales.

LG Writing will create you Valentine’s Day pitch package (for inclusion in gift guides and other Valentine’s Day features).   Contact me at info@lgwriting.com or (805) 477-0037.

Side note: If you are looking for additional PR opportunities in the month of February, one or more of these may tie in perfectly with your company/product.  February is also American Heart Month, African-American History Month, National Dental Month, Chocolate Lovers’ Month, Great American Pies Month, Creative Romance Month, Human Relations Month, and more.  These are even more opportunities for promotional tie-ins.

LG Writing

www.lgwriting.com

Tales from a Home Office: Tips for Working from Home

Home Office Sweet Home Office

I love being able to work from home.  I have been doing it for many years and have really gotten the hang of it.  From what I’ve been told, not everyone could stand it, wouldn’t be disciplined enough to get the work done, couldn’t tolerate the quietness, or would have a hard time separating work/home life.  Others say they would love to work from home, but don’t know how to go about it.

Here are some observations, tips, advice and other thoughts about working from home based on my experience as a freelance writer.

Have a Honed Skill and Workplace Experience

I didn’t start working freelance until I had some good solid workplace experience.  As a newspaper reporter, a public relations agency associate, and a business marketing coordinator, I not only honed my writing skills, but I also learned how media companies, PR agencies, and business organizations in general function, as well as other important business skills.

I personally do not believe someone should try to be a freelance writer before being a non-freelance writer (i.e., working for a publication, PR or ad agency, or some other business that requires writing every day).  You need to get “seasoned” first.  You need some direction, mentors, and feedback as you to learn about writing on deadline, working with others, and how to be businesslike.

Know What You’re Selling

In additional to having well-honed skills and experience, be clear on what you’ll be doing.  You will want to do some planning. Who will be your clients?  How will you reach them?  Will you specialize in a certain area, field, type of service?  For example, if you’re a photographer, will you specialize in weddings?  Maybe, children’s photos?  Take some time to think about exactly what services you will offer, how you will provide them, how long processes take, and so on.  Remember, details, details, details.

Be Prepared for Moments of Silence and a Different Kind of Chaos

Working from home isn’t for everyone.  It can get pretty quiet at times.  I find this conducive to concentrating on my work.  The quieter the workspace, the more productive the worker (me).  I find that I don’t have time to get lonely.

On the other hand, depending on where you live, who you live with, or how active your home is, there are times when you have to deal with distractions not encountered at other offices.  It’s not the typical office hustle and bustle, but it has its own chaotic moments.  For me, that includes a barking dog, a husband with varied work days/hours, a child (when she’s not at preschool), the occasional visit from a neighbor, friends, relatives, gardener, laundry, the treadmill in my office, house keeper, nagging voice telling me I should go to the gym, invitations to go off and do non-work things, and so on.

Set Up Your Workspace

Depending on the type of business you’re in, you’ll need the basic office equipment to get started.  This includes the obvious things (office space, work area, computer, supplies, etc.).  I won’t go into it; everyone knows what an office contains.  What I have found helpful is to have quick access to specialists who do what is more difficult for you.  For me, that includes a great computer techie, and a variety of resources and contacts.

Be Handy

When you work from home, it’s all you.  You are the receptionist, tech support (to some extent), sales and marketing department, accountant, purchasing department, CEO, errand runner, production team, etc.  I like this fact.  I find the variety of duties to be a fun challenge.  Be prepared to learn how to do all kinds of things.

Practice Good Time Management

Even though you don’t have to be at work at a certain time, it’s a good idea to pretend that you do.  I keep regular business hours as much as possible.  That means on week days I’m “on the clock” at 9 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m. (minus a few breaks for things like lunch, and getting more coffee, and more coffee).

How I allocate my work time varies according to my work load/specific projects.  I prioritize according to deadline.  If I don’t have deadlines for projects, I set my own.  In between projects, I market, organize, do billing, filing and other administrative stuff, blog, Tweet, and work on my own personal writing projects.

It’s a Business So Treat it Like One

You have to give it your all, be professional, and make informed decisions.  It’s a good idea to start with a business plan.  I didn’t start out with one, but I have since created one.  I have found this to be an excellent tool for honing in on exactly what I offer, my pricing, my marketing, etc.  It has made me more focused, organized, and effective.

Other business tips include: stay organized; market your business smartly and on an ongoing basis; know when to delegate and outsource; keep
up with technology and industry changes and developments; network; make customer service a priority; be available; know your worth; value what you do; be committed to constantly improving your product or service; and always learn, fine tune, hone and grow.  Work hard, and you will see results.  Finally, love what you do and do what you love, but always realize that it is work.

Please feel free to share your tips and observations about working from home.  I would love to hear from you.

Lori Granieri

www.lgwriting.com

(805) 477-0037

Networking Today: Online and Offline

Making the Most of Networking Opportunities

For most businesses, networking – both online and offline – is an important part of the marketing mix.  It’s an inexpensive and effective method for gaining exposure and generating leads.  It allows you to meet people, find prospects, generate business, build and grow your business, and increase revenue.

Through networking, you can learn about opportunities you may not have known existed, as well as learn about your current position in the industry – where your strengths are and areas that may be improved.  It allows you to find out what your current and prospective clients’ needs are so that you can better serve them.

Most of all, networking is about building relationships, which take time to foster and grow.  Networking opportunities open the line of communication, allowing parties to begin and to continue to establish mutual trust.  The more you network, the more relationships you will build, and the stronger those relationships will become.

Networking also helps you to find providers of services that you may need, and allows you to collect information and exchange ideas and referrals.  In this way, networking is a reciprocal activity.  It isn’t one-sided, but rather allows parties to give and take, making it mutually beneficial.

While Social Media has taken networking to a new level, and opened up a world of new opportunities, many of the same traditional networking principles still apply.

The key components to remember about both Social Media networking and traditional, in-person networking are: 1) networking takes time; and 2) networking is reciprocal.

Where to Network

There are two main networking venues: online and offline.  Online opportunities include Social Media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others, where businesses can create a profile and interact with other users. Some others include: http://wpwidgets.net/20-social-networking-sites-for-business-professionals/ and http://www.insidecrm.com/features/50-social-sites-012808/

Offline opportunities include membership organizations (such as Chambers of Commerce, other business organizations, clubs, philanthropic groups, etc.), which offer several organized networking events that are focused on business networking.  These can be really productive because they bring together businesspeople with similar intentions and interests.  Others include volunteering, sponsoring event, and attending and participating in workshops, conferences and trade shows.

Networking Tips

Here are some ways to make the most of both online and offline networking opportunities.

Get out there – First, you just have to make an effort to network.  As busy as you are, it still pays off to make time for networking.  Show up to the networking event or on Social Networking sites.  If you are not there, they can’t see you or learn about you.

Remember, exposure is important for business success.  The more you network, the faster your business will grow.  In terms for Social Media Networking, the more visible you are online, the more you keep up your Social Media presence, and the more involved you are in the online dialogue, the better.  Networking gets you exposure, attention, visibility; it gets you and your business noticed in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Know where you’re going – You want to go where your clients, prospects, etc. are.  Who’s your target audience?  Where are you likely to find them?  Target your networking efforts accordingly.

Set goals – Plan out where, when and how you’ll network.  For example, for offline networking, make a point to attend one networking event per month.  Or, for online networking, maybe plan to Tweet four times a day, five days per week.

Know what you want to accomplish through networking.  Do you want to attract people to your website?  How many?  Then what?  Do you want to set up a meeting with a potential client?  Do you want to gather contact information so you can follow up later?  Having your goals in mind will help you to focus your networking efforts and make them more effective.

Be prepared – If you attend networking events, always have your business cards with you.  Know your stuff.  Make sure you know what you want to say about your business, and what you want others to know about your business (and can explain it in a way that conveys your message, and reflects your brand).  Create an elevator speech, which is a short – 30 seconds to a couple of minutes – well-thought-out and practiced description of your business.

Online, you can convey this in writing – on your website, in your emails, on your fan pages, Twitter page, through your Tweets and posts.

But at the same time …

Provide value – Don’t be a walking, talking advertisement.  Offer information and assistance.  Online this can be accomplished by giving useful information of interest to your prospects, rather than merely telling them how great your product is.

Some other tips – Listen and learn from others.  Be polite, personable, courteous and professional.  Be curious, show interest, and follow up.  Have fun and enjoy the process.

And, finally …

Be patient and consistent – As mentioned, networking takes time.

Lori Granieri

www.lgwriting.com

info@lgwriting.com

(805) 477-0037

 

Promoting Your Business or Product with a Holiday Tie-In

To promote your business, or product or service, take advantage of the many reasons to celebrate throughout the year.  Every month and season offers an assortment of holidays, special occasions and commemorative days.  Some are obvious (i.e., Thanksgiving) and some are not (i.e., National Celery Day).

Planning a promotion around a certain celebratory day is a great way to boost awareness and sales.  It gives you a tie-in, or a hook, that is likely to resonate with your target audience and media.

If you do a little research, you’re likely to find days that are a perfect fit for your business/product and customers.  Tying in with this special day, plan a promotion, such as a sale/special, coupon, new product/service launch, or special event.  Your product might also make a great gift for someone being celebrated on a certain day.

This time of year, promotions might tie in with the end of summer, beginning of fall, back to school, off to college, or kindergarten readiness.  You might also want to start planning ahead for some of the bigger holidays like Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays.  Also, August is American Artist Appreciation month, Foot Health month, Home Business month, National Catfish month, National Golf month, National Inventors month, and Water Quality month.

Here are some additional special celebratory days coming up in August: Sisters’ and Friendship Day on August 4; Coast Guard Day, Mustard Day, Chocolate Day, and Dollar Day (anniversary of the creation of the US Dollar) all on August 8; Book Lovers Day on August 9; S’Mores Day on August 10; Play in the Sand Day on August 11; International Left-Handers Day and Filet Mignon Day on August 13; National Creamsicle Day on August 14; Julia Child’s Birthday and National Relaxation Day on August 15; Roller Coaster Day on August 16; Archeology Day on August 17; International Homeless Animals Day on August 18; National Aviation Day and Potato Day on August 19; Kiss and Make Up day and National Banana Split Day on August 25; National Dog Day and Women’s Equality Day on August 26; and many others.

Whether you want to plan a promotion, or you just want to celebrate one of these days for fun, this time of year presents lots of opportunities.

Creative People Make the World More Interesting, Fun, and Sometimes, Pretty

I have always valued creativity and been fascinated with creative people, products and businesses. Maybe that’s why I am so obsessed with the TV show Shark Tank and its “Why didn’t I think of that?” factor. I am always impressed with the inventors and entrepreneurs on the show who have the guts to not only bring their ideas to fruition, but to present them to the world.

I admire people who are creative and do something about it. They believe in themselves and their innovative ideas. They fully embrace their creativity. They foster it, revel in it, and live it.

For example, when my cousin Jerrod Blandino, the co-founder/owner of the successful cosmetic company Too Faced (www.toofaced.com), had an idea for a cosmetic company unlike any others that existed at the time, he ran with it. He had a background in the cosmetic industry, as well as artistic talents and that special innovative persona. He also had an idea. A good one.

His concept for Too Faced began as an observation of a gap, or “something missing,” he saw in women’s cosmetics. It continued as a “what if?” and then a “why not?” He mapped out his vision and moved forward without ever looking back. Now, Too Faced is a multi-million dollar company. Jerrod continues to create and innovate with new and fresh ideas for products that, in a way, make the world more beautiful.

Then there’s that Cat Drawing Guy (http://iwanttodrawacatforyou.com/) who appeared on Shark Tank, and got Mark Cuban to invest in his simple, silly, yet clever, cat drawing service. This guy, Steve, is also one of those unstoppable creative types who believe in their ideas enough to pursue them. Who knew the world needed a service that let people request personalized stick-cat-figure drawings? Steve knew, and he made it happen.

There are all of those creative people who start their own businesses, create new products, pursue their creative passions, and give the world something revolutionary.

Julie Clark created Baby Einstein (www.babyeinstein.com) because there were no videos that exposed babies to music, poetry and art. Sara Blakely created Spanx (www.spanx.com) to address the need for slimming, smoothing undergarments. Bethenny Frankel created Skinnygirl® cocktails (www.skinnygirlcocktails.com), a line of low-calorie adult beverages. My client Constance Sherman created Hot Girls Pearls (www.hotgirlspearls.com), the first ever freezable pearl jewelry, to combat hot flashes.

These innovators, and all of the entrepreneurs, inventors, authors, screenwriters, artists, musicians, comedians, and other movers and shakers contribute to life-improvement. By pursuing dreams, following their passions, and making it happen, they make the world more interesting, more educational, more humorous, more beautiful, more comfortable, and even more svelte, in some way.

In an upcoming post, I will discuss ideas for putting creativity to use in business, and how to get your creative juices flowing.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear about additional creative entrepreneurs and innovators.

Lori Granieri

www.lgwriting.com

Why Your Business Needs a Newsletter

A newsletter is a great way to keep your business at the top of clients’ and prospects’ minds, to position yourself as an expert and your firm as the leader in the field, to educate your audience and provide them with useful information.  It is a chance to garner their interest in your topic area, while entertaining and intriguing them.  As a result, they will think of you first when they have a need related to your type of business.  They will see you and your company as the leader in the field.

From doctors to accountants to schools to law firms and more, almost every business can benefit from sending out a newsletter.  Membership organizations and wine clubs can provide newsletters as a service to members.  Medical clinics, health clubs and spas can inform clients about the latest related health news.  Schools and education publishers can share educational news.  Hotels can provide guests with information about the city’s attractions and events.  Restaurants can offer recipes.  Consultants can impart knowledge about their field of expertise.  The possibilities are endless.

Newsletters can range from a weekly opt-in e-newsletter to a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly mailer.  Your print newsletter can be as simple as a one-page, two-sided, black and white item or as elaborate as a four-to-eight-page, four-color glossy.  Usually a combination of delivery methods works best.  For example, you might produce a print/hard copy newsletter to mail to clients and to display at your office or business site.  You might also feature the PDF version of this newsletter on your website, and send out shorter, more frequent email newsletter.  You can include your newsletter in your press kit, or new member package.

Newsletters are usually distributed to clients and prospects at no cost to them, and contain unique and valuable information (aka, they’re “newsworthy”).  They are a great marketing tool, reaching your target clients with useful information they want, can use and will pass on to others.  Newsletters are at or near the top of the list of the communication formats that the public likes to receive.  When written well, newsletters get read and have an impact on the reader, and are excellent tools for reminding them of your services.  Plus, they are usually a less expensive alternative to advertising.

They reflect your business’ brand, and can be as conservative or unconventional as you choose.  They can be written with authority or with humor.  They can be simple or extravagant.  They can include just about anything you want, including research in your field, answers to common questions, facts and stats, personality profiles, news related to your industry, recipes, how-to’s, you name it.

Newsletters help to get your business name, website, and phone number in front of as many sets of eyes as possible.  When you send out a newsletter that includes several interesting articles, the reader will hold on to it.  Or they may know someone that might be interested in a featured topic, so they will pass it along to him or her.

I will produce informative, useful and engaging content for your newsletter (and can work with your designer to carry out production).  Contact me at (805) 477-0037 or info@lgwriting.com to discuss your newsletter project.

www.lgwriting.com

‘Tis the Season to Start Working on Holiday Gift Promotions

Although It’s July, Christmas is Right around the Corner

 It is not too early to start thinking about the holidays in terms of promoting your products.  In fact, if you plan to pitch your products to publications that feature holiday gift guides, now is the time.  If you haven’t thought about it, you may want to if your product is something that would make a good gift.  And, most products would make a good gift to someone.

A holiday gift guide is a valuable publicity avenue.  It’s like free advertising and PR all in one.  Not only does it let readers know about your product, but it also lets them know who they should buy it for and how.  It gives shoppers who might be stumped on what to buy for someone, some ideas and direction.  It leads them right to you.  When someone is thinking they have no idea what to buy for this person or that, a holiday gift guide can set him or her in motion and add a sense of immediacy to purchasing.

Christmas is only 5 months away!  Publications begin working on their December or holiday issues, as well as special gift guide sections, around July and August (or sooner).  So time is of the essence.

Here are some tips for pitching holiday gift guides.

Pick Your Product

Decide what product/s of yours would make a good Christmas/holiday gift and for whom.  Who would receive it as a gift?  Who would buy it and give it as a gift?  You will want to target the gift buyer/giver.

Who is your target audience?

Again, that’s the buyer.  Is it a parent, senior citizen, teen, business person, local community member, fitness enthusiast, multi-billionaire, traveler, techie, etc.  For example, if your company makes toys for toddlers, your buyers are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Who is your target audience’s target audience?

That’s the recipient.  Who are they buying for – their mother, father, husband, wife, child, client, best friend, grandmother, etc.

Why Your Product?

What is it about the product that you are pitching that is unique, a must-buy, and perfect for your buyer to give to your recipient?  Also, does your product fit into a certain category (such as outdoorsy/adventurer, book lover, pet lover, sports lover, traveler, foodie, fashionista, spa girl, etc.)?

Pick Your Publications

What publications does the gift giver read?  This includes newspapers, magazines, online publications and blogs.  It may also include television shows.

Learn About the Publications

Do they do a holiday gift guide or some other type of holiday special feature?  Who is the contact person?  What is the lead time?  How do they want submissions sent?  Learn as much as you can about the publications you are targeting, including who their readers are, what they cover, their tone, and so on.

Prepare Your Pitch

Either write, or hire someone to write, an intriguing, well-written, targeted press release.

Include something enticing, something newsworthy.  Tell them who should buy this product for whom and why.  What are the features and benefits of your product?  Make sure you format your release properly and include all necessary information – contact information, price, where/how to buy the product, website address, etc.  Take a good, quality, color photo of your product to include with the pitch (the more colorful the photo, the better).

If you have a great product that you know makes a great gift, let holiday gift buyers know about it by pitching it to the holiday gift guides.

Please contact Lori Granieri at LG Writing to help with your holiday gift guide pitching needs.  I can write your press release and develop a holiday gift guide plan and press list for you.  Call (805) 477-0037 or email info@lgwriting.com, or visit www.lgwriting.com.