Five Tactics for Using PR to Take Your Ad Agency to the Next Level

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Last week during a podcast interview with Digital-Preneur Jason Swenk, I was asked to give some actionable advice to digital, creative and marketing agency owners who want to use public relations to take their agencies to the next level. Great question. Here are five suggestions to help your agency achieve that objective:

1. Develop a written PR plan to compliment new business initiatives.

A written plan will help you manage your time, resources and activities in the most effective way possible. YOU WANT TARGETED, CONSISTENT COVERAGE – and a plan will serve as a road map to get your agency where you want it to go.

As you develop your plan ask yourself, and anyone else involved in the planning process, some important questions:

  • What are the desired results from our PR?
  • Do we primarily need to create awareness or change perceptions of our agency?
  • Do we want PR to help position us as experts in our existing niche or to enter a new industry and become experts there?
  • Who are our key audiences?
  • What are the best communications vehicles to reach them?
  • What are our points of differentiation and key messages?
  • How will the PR plan complement our new business development initiatives?

2. Learn all you can about the news media you are targeting.

The best way to increase your chances for success with your publicity efforts is to understand what the news media want, how they work, their pet peeves and what constitutes a good story – from their perspective. It’s also important to know their audience and what will appeal to them.

Most reporters use social media such as Twitter and have blogs, so you can follow them, learn about their interests and even make comments when appropriate to get on their radar.

The key to publicity success is getting the right story idea to the right reporter at the right time.

3. Identify ways to become a source for reporters and influential bloggers.

This is the quickest route to credibility and achieving the perception of expert status in the eyes of your target audience. If during an interview you prove to be responsive, knowledgeable, trust worthy – and you communicate well – the chances are good that reporters and bloggers will come back to you again for future stories.

4. Utilize your blog to create online buzz and establish your expertise.

Blogs are a great way to build your reputation as a subject matter expert (SME) in a particular niche. Followers look to SME’s to express opinions and insights on things happening in that niche, identify trends and provide perspective. Focus on good, relevant, original content and avoid blatant self-promotion. And don’t be afraid to take a stand counter to conventional wisdom!

5. Write a book.

A book can be used to generate publicity (and therefore increase visibility) about an individual and his/her agency, as well as open doors to speaking opportunities. But it does much more because writing a book enables you to share value lessons and insights about your niche, and it enhances your status a subject matter expert. A book can also help you market your agency.

You may already have a good start on your book through content from blogs, newsletters, industry articles, etc. Or, once your book is published, you can repurpose material from it in the same venues such as your blog.

Niche books are the new calling cards for many agencies, and being a published author can really give you a competitive edge. Think how impressive it would be to leave a signed copy of your book at the conclusion of each new business presentation.

photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc

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Specialty Books Boost Ad Agency PR

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One of the best ways to enhance ad agency PR, and also help with new business initiatives, is for an agency principal or specialist to write a book. After being involved in writing or editing several books for clients—as well as helping market them—I’ve come to the conclusion that writing a book may be the easiest part.

Why? Because self-publishing has made it possible for just about anyone to be an author, and as a result there’s been an explosion of new books in recent years. To stand out, you need a specific audience to target and a plan to reach it.

Here are 10 tips for the person charged with generating publicity for a new agency book:

1. Quality endorsements are important to a book’s success, so get started on approaching influencers well in advance of the book’s actual publication.

2. Conduct a brief media training session to prepare the author for interviews and to answer questions he/she likely will get, and then develop several key messages (talking points) to use in interviews.

3. Create separate social media sites specifically for the book, and link to them from your agency’s website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, Twitter, etc.

4. Develop a customized list of media outlets and blogs you’d like to approach for publicity.

5. Hold a launch event to get the book off to a positive start, create momentum for it and generate some industry buzz.

6. Utilize a paid news service like PRWeb, PR Newswire or Business Wire to get the word out to a large audience of journalists and bloggers, especially targeting those who would be interested in the book’s topic. PRWeb is a personal favorite because it’s very cost effective, yet I’ve gotten great Internet coverage through Google and Yahoo news, trade publications, blogs and various news sites. It provides instant credibility when a journalist does a search on the book and/or author, and page after page of hits surface.

7. Use your agency newsletter, YouTube and other channels to announce the book internally and to clients. And, of course, you’ll want to integrate the book into your new business strategy.

8. After the first wave of launch publicity, write and distribute customized news media pitch letters to each outlet on your list, based on their particular audience and area of coverage.

9. Take the same approach with influential bloggers who reach your target audience and offer to do guest posts on their sites.

10. Identify author speaking opportunities where he/she would have the chance to sell the book. And be sure to take full advantage of places where the author already has connections, such as professional associations and networks.

photo credit: Jonathan Rubio via photopin cc

New Calling Card for Agencies and Businesses: A Niche Book

Having either co-authored or ghostwritten three books for clients, I can attest to the hard work that’s involved in developing a good manuscript. But writing a book is only half the battle; some would say the hardest part is marketing it, especially if the author is not well known and doesn’t have a strong platform.

Several weeks ago, I delivered the manuscript for my latest ghostwriting project to the publisher. I’m excited about the prospects for this book because it chronicles the story of a woman who overcame a great deal of adversity to reach the top echelon of one of America’s best known, best loved beauty organizations.

Sue’s transformation from a shy, insecure young lady to into a confident, successful businesswoman who reached the top of her profession will encourage, motivate and inspire women of all ages. Throughout her book she reveals the success principles and life lessons that changed the way she thought and lived.

Women interested in running their own direct-sales businesses in particular can learn a lot from Sue’s expertise and experience.

But beyond its compelling content, I’m encouraged about the prospects for this book’s success once it’s released because of Sue’s marketing savvy, her people skills and her built-in network.

As she speaks to various groups, she weaves in snippets from her book and “pre-sells” it by generating interest and collecting contact information so that she can get in touch with prospective buyers as soon as the book is released.

Sue has also learned how to use social media effectively to network and talk about principles she’s learned over the years, which she describes more fully in her book.

Once it’s published, her book will become a “calling card” that opens doors to additional speaking engagements, media interviews, blog tours, etc.

And that’s one of the strongest reasons for ad agency principles and small and medium business owners with expertise in a particular niche to write a book: they can use it as a calling card that establishes instant credibility. A book differentiates them from competitors, positions them as an expert and opens doors to new opportunities that may not otherwise be available.

But, like Sue, they have to be willing put in the time necessary to make their book a success. Otherwise, it might not be worth the effort or financial investment.

“It is easier than ever to get a book into print, but it is more difficult than ever to sell it,” says Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. “As a result, marketing is not something you can afford to leave to others. You must take responsibility for it yourself.”

That’s even more the case for a self-published author who is relatively unknown and lacks a significant platform. Getting attention is a big challenge, and it requires patient and persistence. On-and-off or half-hearted marketing simply won’t cut it.

Want to learn more? Here are some helpful publishing resources:

AMarketingExpert.com blog

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership blog

John Kremer’s Bookmarket.com

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

A Team Approach For Ad Agency Principals Who Want to Write A Book

A team approach can result in an excellent book that tells your agency’s story in a fresh yet authentic way.

Last month my client  Jim Patton and I finished writing the manuscript for his book, Life in the Turn Lane: A Story of Personal and Corporate Turnarounds and the Principles that Make Them Happen, which chronicles what he has learned personally and professionally throughout his career.

Jim Patton is a true American success story. He started out as a heating and air conditioning repairman, learned how to do mergers and acquisitions by reading The Wall Street Journal, and today he runs a firm that buys, fixes and sells distressed manufacturing companies throughout the world. One business publication has dubbed him the “billion-dollar repairman.”

Writing the book was a year-long process, and next week it will finally be released, so we’re both pretty excited to see the final product reach the marketplace.

Recently I was asked how someone else can write (or co-write) a person’s book–as opposed to just providing editing assistance–while retaining authenticity. It’s a good question.

Most ad agency principals have very busy schedules, and the thought of taking time to write a book can be a bit overwhelming. Plus, some people have a great deal of knowledge about a particular topic but don’t like to write and/or are not very good at it.

A good ghostwriter brings new thinking and perspective to a book. He or she should be able to pull information out of the executive, as well as work off of written documents (notes, presentations, articles, etc.) the executive may have about the subject matter.

The writer also should learn as much as possible about how the person thinks and speaks, and try to capture his or her personality on paper. It’s vital that the writer and executive work well together and have good chemistry.

The first step in the process is to jointly develop clear objectives for the book and create an outline of chapters. Once that’s completed, my approach is to supplement existing material with input from the executive through notes he or she puts together on each chapter. We then sit down together to flesh out details, fill in gaps and clarify or expand on a particular point.

With that information in hand, I’m ready to write a chapter draft. The executive edits the draft, and we go back and forth a few times to fine tune it. Then the process starts all over again with the next chapter.

You may also be interested in reading my article: Why Ad Agency Principals Should Consider Writing a Book

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

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Questions Ad Agency Principles Should Consider before Writing a Book

In my previous post, I discussed the benefits to ad agency principles of writing a book. The following is a list of questions to consider before getting started:

1. What is the purpose of the book?

2. What are your objectives for it?

3. Who is the target audience?

4. What are the three most compelling reasons the target audience would want to buy your book?

5. How would you describe the book in one sentence?

6. What are the key points and takeaways you want readers to get?

7. What is your book’s desired personality?

8. What topics will it cover?

9. How many chapters/pages/words do you estimate for your book?

10. Are there areas you want to cover that you don’t have the expertise to personally address? If so, who will cover those areas?

11. Have you researched competitive books already on the market?

12. How will your book be different?

13. What unmet marketplace needs does it address?

14. Within what time frame would you like to have the manuscript completed?

15. What percentage of time can you devote to the book each week?

16. How much of your book’s content is in notes, speeches, case studies, presentations, etc., vs. what is in your head?

17. Who will you approach for endorsements?

18. How will the book help your agency generate new business?

19. What spin-off agency services could be created that tie into the book?

20. What strategies could be employed to market the book in advance of its release?

Writing a Book Has Many Advantages for Ad Agency Principals

Having recently completed the manuscript for one of my clients, whose book is about his life story, I was again reminded of the many advantages to being a published author.

My client is a true American success story and I believe his book, Life in the Turn Lane, will inspire and motive many individuals who are discouraged and ready to give up, as well as provide practical advice to young executives seeking to advance in their careers.

But Life in the Turn Lane also highlights his expertise in the world of mergers and acquisitions, and how he got where he is today.

My client started out as a heating and air conditioning repairman, and he learned how to do mergers and acquisitions by reading The Wall Street Journal. No kidding.

After losing everything in his first major deal, he recovered and today is the founder of an international private investment firm that buys distressed manufacturing companies, turns them around and then sells them. Dubbed the “billion-dollar repairman” by one business publication, his never-give-up entrepreneurial spirit has paid off in a highly successful business career and financial independence.

Clients aren’t the only ones with interesting stories to tell. Last year I wrote a guest blog post titled “Why Ad Agency Principals Should Consider Writing a Book.”

At one time or another, I suspect just about every agency principal has toyed with the idea of writing a book. And with good reason.

Ad agency principals know a lot and have plenty of valuable insights worth sharing.

Those who dislike writing should not let that discourage them from pursuing a book, because there are some very talented ghost writers around to help. A good ghost writer will ask probing questions, serve as an objective sounding board and distill the essence of your thinking into clear, lively copy that keeps readers engaged.

Writing a book allows you to clarify your thoughts, get to the core of your message and discover the best way to convey important information.

It positions you as an expert, increases your visibility and helps market your agency. It also gives you material to use for your agency’s blog posts, Ezine articles and e-newsletters.

Finally, imagine how impressive it would be to conclude a new business presentation by giving prospects a signed copy of your new book.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

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