Small Business Marketing Archive

9 Ways to Overhaul Your Corporate Blog

April 18th, 2011

Editor’s note: We are privileged to have Dan Bischoff of, a mighty PR guru of extraordinary industry insight, provide The Blog Aesthetic a guest post today!

It’s an honor to guest post for Praecere. Public relations has changed dramatically in the last few years, and Praecere is at the forefront of this evolution.

Blogging has become an essential part of marketing and PR. It supports lead generation, provides engaging content needed for social media and search engine optimization, establishes a company as a thought leader in its industry, and can be used as a tool to get media attention.

If your blog can deliver content your prospects find interesting, informative, and entertaining, they’ll see you as a trusted source of information – an advisor, an industry leader.  If all things are equal when choosing between two companies, the prospect will likely choose the company with a great blog.

In fact, in the DemandGen and report titled “Inside the Mind of the B2B Buyer” 66% of people say “consistent and relevant communication provided by both sales and marketing organizations was a key influence” in choosing the company they ultimately made a purchase from.

Any business can set itself apart with good blogging, no matter the industry or how boring you think your business is. I’ve put a list together that can help freshen up your blog. Please add to the list in comments.

1. Define Your Purpose

Before you start your blog, answer these questions: Who is your audience? Who is the competition for your audience? What is the focus of your blog? What goals are you trying to achieve? Have you set metrics for measuring those goals?

Did you notice most of those questions revolve around your audience? The blog shouldn’t be about your company as much as it should be about your customers and prospects. A successful blog is a resource for your audience. The purpose of your blog should be how it engages and interests that audience.

2. Create a Blog Calendar

To build and maintain a following on your blog, it must be consistent. Ideally you want at least three blogs every week; the more the merrier. Place them live at the same time every day. For example, plan to publish a blog every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9 a.m. Put together a calendar and schedule blog posts, otherwise it won’t get done.

3. Mix and Mash

Brainstorm a variety of topics around your industry and company. Create short and long posts. Have meaty posts with lots of information and others that are less serious. Move beyond the written word with photos, infographics, charts, videos, and presentations.

4. Stir Conversation

To engage readers, you want them to participate in the conversation. Write many of your blogs as if you are having a conversation and want people to respond. A blog shouldn’t be a soap box, but rather a two-way conversation with each reader. Don’t fill in all the blanks; sometimes leave a post undone and ask for the reader’s participation.

5. Compelling Headlines

As people judge a book by its cover, they judge a blog post by its headline. Don’t underestimate how important a good title is; it may be the most important part of your post. A few tried and true headlines include numbered lists (5 Reasons …,  7 Ways …,  etc.), how-to posts (How to Survive Prison), why’s (Why Richard Branson’s 5 Tips to Success are only 4.5), surprising headlines and odd analogies.

6. Share Everything

If you your blog can’t be easily shared online, then you are wasting an opportunity. Make sure you have social share buttons and RSS feeds near every blog post.  [Ed. Note: new Praecere site coming soon with these features!]

7. Guest Bloggers

Guest bloggers can extend your network, add credibility from third parties, and provide a fresh, new perspective to your blog. Contact respected people in your industry and invite them to guest blog on your site. Always offer to provide a link back to their site. Those links not only help send visitors to their site, but also with SEO through quality link building. Also look for opportunities to guest post on other blogs.

8. Blog in Real Time

Keep an eye on current events and news, especially around your industry. Write a blog post to respond to news and how it relates to your industry. Praecere does a great job with these types of posts. They can show up quickly on the first page of Google as more people search for that trending topic. You can also use real-time, newsy posts with the media. Pitch them on doing a story about that subject and send them a link to your blog.

9. It’s the Appetizer for Lead Gen

A good blog post massages a viewer and warms them up to your services or products. The right calls to action placed on those pages can drive significant leads. Good calls to action on blogs might be a newsletter sign-up, RSS feed sign up, a download of a free whitepaper, etc.

These are just a few ideas to make a great blog. Any other ideas that have worked for you?

Dan Bischoff is the Director of Communications at Lendio, a company helping entrepreneurs and startups succeed through obtaining the right business loans and funding. Previously he was the VP of and the online PR manager at He has been a journalist and editor in various media outlets – including the Associated Press, The Salem Statesman Journal, the Deseret News and the Park Record. Follow him on Twitter at

The Power of Handwritten Notes

April 12th, 2011

So your business is doing well with PR techniques.  Your PR director, in no particular order, has:

• Followed tweets carefully and responded to inquiries.

• Cultivated and engaged Facebook users to raise brand awareness.

• Built good, trusted relationships with key reporters and bloggers covering your industry.

• Found publicity opportunities outside your industry, broadening your business profile.

• Created a witty newsletter format, distributed on a regular schedule to keep your core business base updated on latest news.

• Used other cool online tactics to keep precious positive buzz going.

Now ask yourself, what do these actions have in common?  They all involve digital communications, either via tweets, status updates, emails, phone calls (digital these days), and apps.  Definitely the right way to go, but here’s a revolutionary idea missing from the mix:

The handwritten note.

Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to go analog in PR, and actually take pen to paper to achieve your goals.  As nice as it is for a client or customer to receive informative and interesting electronic updates, the time your business spends in writing a personal note will also go a long way in generating positive PR.  Word-of-mouth is still an essential tactic in the PR playbook, regardless of what new digital platform happens to be the next bit thing.

Don’t believe us?  Ask yourself this: if you ever received a handwritten “thank you for your business, Jill/John,” you probably remembered it for a long time afterward, and remarked positively about it to friends and relatives.  Publicists toil hard for that kind of client and customer support, so never doubt the power of handwritten notes in your grand digital/global/influencer/stakeholder/let’s-conquer-the-world PR strategy.

Guest Blogging Today at

April 5th, 2011

Babak Zafarnia is featured as a guest blogger today at

The article discusses branding for start-ups, and why it’s every bit as important as securing that first loan.  Very honored to be invited by Lendio to blog, and hope you enjoy the article!

Inspirational Bacon

March 8th, 2011

What is the other white meat?  The National Pork Board has made sure America’s known the answer since 1987.  But now the NPB has come up with a new slogan: Pork, Be Inspired.  Along with it they are assembling a comprehensive PR package, which of course includes our favorite avenue, social media.

Their package hasn’t fully rolled out yet, but what we’re seeing so far has some promise and we’re here to give our evaluation.  Of course we’ll throw in a few pointers too.

Social media is all about being, well, social.  Thus the website’s use of the recipe page is a great idea, and since it’s linked to their Facebook and Twitter they’re off to a good start.  The pork blog, Knife and Spoon, is also a key part of their strategy linking tasty ideas and videos.  They can bolster their content with something like Pork Facts, which could offer blog posts explaining little known trivia about pork.  Or they could have blog posts with snapshots of exceptional farms.

We know the traditional PR aspect of this campaign will be strong; we’re interested to see how the NPB roll-out on the social media front will ultimately progress.

Extremely Basic Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips You Should Be Doing

March 1st, 2011

Think about when you last needed recommendations for a dentist, dry cleaner, florist, mechanic, plumber… ah, you get the point.  If you’re all 2.0 and everything, we’ll guess you went to a social media platform (probably Facebook) and posted that inquiry for your X number of friends to see and, hopefully, respond.  (Note – you may have checked Yelp, though you’re probably troubled by the allegations of that site shaking down businesses, thus tainting its value as a referral service.)

We know in real life that the best recommendations are from family and friends.  But what about today’s social networks, with less hand shaking but definitely lots of online chatter?  The social media goldmine is waiting for you to harvest the conversation and turn tweets, status updates, and other online praise into dollars.

So businesses of all stripes, listen up!  How about doing some research to see who your biggest fans are, what they’ve been saying, and monitoring online sentiment about your company?  The best social media marketing consultants can certainly get you started, and also plan the larger outreach strategy.  It’s not enough to know what people are saying, you have to act on that information – and ideally in a creative way that puts your business rivals on edge.

We hope this provides a very simple snapshot of the potential that social media marketing has.  Basic, but powerful nonetheless.

The Social Bite at the Apple

February 15th, 2011

Ever heard of a vicious circle?  It’s not the kind of routine that appeals to a business, particularly one seeking publicity.  We get smiles, instead, by thinking about “social cycles” — that is, how we can use social media business to reinforce traditional media publicity.

One of the hardest parts of public relations is delivering the theme or narrative that entices the media.  The nice thing about interactive marketing is that when it’s done well, the digital strategy translates into a traditional media strategy.  At least that’s how Spot Dessert in New York (ahem) baked their smart social media business strategy.

The bakery recently used social media to boost its sales — and along with that new business activity comes attention from larger media sources.  In this case, the Wall Street Journal profiled the bakery, and we’ll bet the reason why is that the social media business narrative is quick, direct, easy to understand, and applies to basic business fundamentals.

The lesson: Hooray for you if your business succeeds in getting customer traction through social media… but don’t stop there!  Pitch the business growth to traditional media and see how far you can ride the social media wave.

How to “Socialize” a Focus Group

February 14th, 2011

… and no, we don’t mean funding an interactive marketing campaign with a government bailoutFord Motor Company’s newest marketing campaign for the Explorer model has gotten a major kick-start with a very effective Facebook marketing strategy.  The lesson is simple but powerful: any business can use Facebook to replace traditional, expensive marketing focus groups.  Here’s how Ford did it, and your business can too.

Instead of relying solely on the traditional focus group model, Ford embedded a Facebook tab on the Explorer’s dedicated Facebook page.  The tab asks site users to imagine a dream adventure with the Explorer, thus letting people create their own brand narrative.  With this feedback, Ford then generated content and a theme for their regular marketing campaign.

Imagine the creative input your company can get – for a fraction of the cost of old school focus groups – from thousands of fans, thus giving them a share of brand ownership over future marketing messages.  When consumers see their input as part of the business, they develop affinity in a way that personalizes the product beyond what regular TV commercials or print ads can do.

Praecere specializes in developing intuitive digital strategies for businesses of all types, and can design a similar interactive Facebook campaign that fits your needs.  We’ll show you how to have an ongoing dialogue with your target customer base, one that becomes an integral business component and benefits your bottom-line.

So in conclusion, bravo Ford!  Sort of like Elvis, 140,000+ Ford Explorer fans can’t be wrong!

Restaurant PR 101: Know Your City!

October 20th, 2010

In seeking business publicity, restaurant owners can get decent traction in announcing a new opening or similar event.  Sometimes, though, owners want restaurant public relations to go to the next step – national exposure.  Instead of going the boring old route, a simple solution lies in understanding your city.

In Washington, where Praecere is based, the biggest thing we’ve got going here is election day.  Happens like clockwork, every two years, trust us!  When it comes to capitalizing on outside events, nothing beats predictability.  If you know when a big media field day is coming up, then you have ample time to prepare for riding the publicity coattails.

For example, one way to craft a relevant pitch is to tap into the fervor and national attention focused on elections.  This is all about offering the media something interesting, a cool story that goes beyond simple tweaks to your restaurant.  It’s one thing to add excitement to your menu, but the better talking point is why those changes were made – that’s what gets the media interested.

In this case, launching a restaurant promotion that reflects on politics – i.e., naming dishes and drinks after political parties, and then keeping a public tally on which items are selling the most – is excellent fodder for media restaurant pitches.  Close your eyes and picture 24/7 news channels, starved for content (“… Jill, I’m standing here at Good Dish Eatery in downtown DC, where two days away from election day the restaurant has gained fans with its politically-themed dishes.  If the election were based on which dish was most popular, then XYZ party has clearly won the vote…”)

You can see how this plays out, and why such publicity would benefit the hypothetical restaurant.  Dare to be creative and aggressive with restaurant public relations, and embrace strategies that go beyond the meat-and-potatoes of restaurant publicity.  Bon appétit!

DC PR Firm Dispatch: The Secret to the Best Public Relations Campaigns

October 4th, 2010

Lots of do-it-yourself PR plans give basic advice as to identifying stakeholders, using social media, how to pitch reporters, measuring results, and so forth.  These are all key tactics when it comes to crafting a sensible public relations strategyPR campaigns are certainly scalable; your business goal may be to publicize your child’s lemonade stand to the neighborhood, dominate global industry rivals, or somewhere in between (a big divide, no doubt).

Still – no matter the scale or the desired results, your messaging must fundamentally make sense and be relevant to your plan.  Getting precise, resonant messaging is not as easy as some may think it is.  There’s a reason why we remember certain marketing and publicity taglines.  There’s also a reason why any given time politicians rant about particular policy issues, and tend to ignore others.  Being a DC PR firm with experience advocating for clients, we’re here to pull back the curtain.

The secret is polling … or research, surveys, or other form of group analysis that considers variations in messaging.  The best publicists, before launching a PR campaign, use one of these testing methods to preview different messages before a sample audience.  In doing so, they can determine which messages, themes, phrases, or other ideas are likely to move target audiences toward the client’s desired business goals.

Without such precise messaging, what you may assume are the best business slogan or set of talking points can be wildly off base.  And, once a PR campaign is launched, it’s hard to go back and take corrective measures if the messaging is weak.  Think of the PR campaign as building a house – your foundation, polling, must be strong if the rest of the campaign is to succeed.

So before you get started on your way to captain-of-industry status, be sure to take extra time to develop great messaging for your PR campaign.

PR Basics for E-Commerce Sites

August 3rd, 2010

From time to time, the Blog Aesthetic spotlights different industries and offers discussion and insight on relevant public relations trends and strategies.  In this posting, we examine the next phase of e-commerce, an industry that faces exciting possibilities as the U.S. economy continues its positive (if slow) rate of recovery.

To that end, what PR factors should e-commerce sites pay attention to?  Here are a few:

• Leaks, leaks, leaksData breach continues to be the most high-profile media narrative associated with e-commerce sites.  As much as news outlets may report on the success of an ecommerce platform, a significant data breach will always be a media lightning rod.  Has your site prepared a thorough crisis management plan that addresses all stakeholders?  If not, your new road to riches will surely hit a dead-end.

• Distinction.  Quick – in 30 seconds, explain the difference between Authorize.Net, PayPal, and Fiserv… Once you’ve hit the wall, you will probably see the problem.  All provide consumer payment processing for individual and business transactions, but what benefit does each offer that’s different than the other?  In other words, where’s the brand distinction?  Your e-commerce PR efforts must always work to show why your site or platform is the better alternative.

• Streamline customer interaction.  With social networking significantly reducing the cost of customer interaction, an e-commerce site should leverage different social media sites for particular avenues of customer engagement.  For example, a few tweets can offer quick bites of news updates, but a Facebook page may be better for carefully addressing consumer or merchant complaints.

• The next big thingE-commerce sites will, undoubtedly, significantly evolve as new technologies and online platforms emerge.  Change always catches people off-guard, so e-commerce sites must make sure stakeholders are fully engaged and informed before incorporating the “next big thing” into their business practices.  Smart PR can help an e-commerce site develop a thought leadership campaign on relevant industry issues, position the site favorably with business and consumers, and then capture market share as the standard business model evolves.

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Praecere Public Relations provides traditional and social media expertise and strategies. No matter your publicity needs, Praecere will give you the best solution to move forward.

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