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Posts from the ‘Public Relations’ Category


Facebook for Business – The Changes and What it All Means

Facebook-Logo-2013 As you may have already heard, read or figured out through your own Facebook use, Facebook for business has changed dramatically since 2012 with more significant changes on the horizon.

What’s Been Going On? Facebook introduced Timeline. Then they introduced Timeline on business pages. Next, they updated business page functionality and user interface to include new user features. Many of these changes have been implemented this year.

Why is Facebook Business Page Reach Decreasing? I like the way sums it up in this article explaining filtered feed and the new algorithm that uses a primary formula of Interest x Post x Creator x Type x Recency stating, “Facebook chose to filter its feed. It built a news feed sorting algorithm, unofficially known as EdgeRank that analyzes every signal possible to determine the relevance of each post to each person. Roughly 100,000 different indicators of importance are factored in.”

Translation: The algorithm decides how your Timeline feed is filtered and presented. Here’s the rub: Facebook users have become accustomed to thinking about Timeline feed as being organically chronological. In other words, if I select Facebook to show me the “Most Recent” news on my feed, I’m expecting everything show up chronologically in the feed including posts from friends and pages I like or follow.

How is this Impacting Business Pages? According to a November 14 article published by, Facebook has refined this algorithm since 2012 explaining, “Facebook executives have announced that they will be making additional changes and updates to their algorithm that will significantly cap and even remove unpaid posts by retailers that are of a promotional nature. Current posts by brands (are displayed) organically to (only) about 2-8 percent of the fan base.”

Translation: The new algorithm scheduled for update in January will narrow that even more. If you want to grow and engage your audience or generate interest and support for your product or service on Facebook, invest in an advertising campaign.

What’s Wrong with That? Many businesses feel there’s a lot wrong with that. In the early days, Facebook was a level playing field for businesses of every size, including small start-ups, non-profits and new entrepreneurs. We quickly learned the rules of engagement and were excited about the opportunity to reach those people who were genuinely interested in our business, service or mission. As long as we were providing relevant, timely, engaging, authentic content to our audiences, responding quickly and professionally questions and concerns, and behaving ethically and transparently, us little guys could swim in the pool with the big fish – and that was inspiring. As Facebook for business becomes a “pay-to-play” landscape, that changes. As near as I can figure, what this also means is that every Friend, Page, Community, Game, Group, etc. is competing with each other for presence in your news feed. So, that guy, (we all know at least one) that narcissistic look-at-me-all-day-long guy is competing with everyone and everything else you’re connected to via your page including the business pages you like or follow. (#Bummer.)

Some businesses have become so disenchanted with the many recent changes they’ve closed their accounts entirely – even with substantial fan bases. Take EAT24’s Breakup Letter to Facebook for example. The company  left Facebook with about 70,000 followers by writing them a very long public letter complete with memes and lots of ways to stay in touch.

What Else is New? Much of the research I found also noted that in the coming year, Facebook will be “cracking down” on “click-gate” or “click-bait” messaging that request readers to Like a page as part of a call to action. (If you choose to do this, it will need to be part of a paid advertising campaign, yo.)

Is There Any Good News? If you’re ready to use your Facebook business page as a strategic communication channel, then, yes. Why?

  • Pages offer an online presence for people to discover and learn about your business.
  • They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration.
  • They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events.
  • They can be used as an effective customer service and reputation management channel.
  • According to Facebook, most online advertising reaches only 38% of its intended audience. Facebook says its average is about 89%.
  • Facebook’s “Promote the Page” and “Boost the Post” options allow for audience targeting and insights along with detailed reports of campaign success, giving companies the chance to learn more about their audiences and adjust strategy and tactics accordingly.
  • Facebook’s advertising can serve as a great tool to build and engage target audiences and build your email database. (#Smart.)
  • LAST BUT NOT LEAST, today Facebook announced it will be adding page call-to-action buttons. The call-to-action button can link to any destination (on or off Facebook) that aligns with a business’s goals. Page admins can select from a group of call-to-action buttons — like Shop Now or Sign Up — to add to the top of their Page. The seven calls to action available are: Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up or Watch Video.

What Do We Do Now? If you want people – the RIGHT people – to see your page posts (those that will be most likely to be receptive, responsive and engaged as a fan base) be ready to:

  • Invest in your business page regularly as part of your overall advertising and communication strategy. (Otherwise, only 2-8 percent of your fans are going to see it).
  • Create strategies to develop relevant content that is of interest to your page followers, and is also related to the communication, marketing and sales goals of the company.
  • Hire a professional or train someone to become one. Whether you hire someone in house or outsource this important function, you’ll need someone on your team who possesses the skill set, the intellect, the time and energy to remain informed, behave strategically, actively listen and regularly respond to this changing landscape while serving as a trusted voice for your company and your brand.
  • Use calls-to-action strategically and purposefully in an engaging way that supports your goals and objectives.

What Are Other Ways We Can We Set Our Business Pages Up For Success?  I asked my colleague Chris Sledzik, MA, a seasoned social media specialist, and Content Marketing Strategist at Brandmuscle to weigh in. Here are his top tips:

  1. Start with your profile picture and cover photo. Make sure you have the right size and a visual representation, and that it depicts your company brand at a glance.
  2. Keep content mobile friendly. More than half of Facebook’s 1.25 billion users access the platform from mobile, and according to Facebook, 3 out of 4 Smartphones have Facebook.
  3. Use humor and interesting facts to engage your audience. Think strategically, but have fun.
  4. Align your company with current trends and use hashtags to do so. Look for third party opinions to support your message in positive way.
  5. Go beyond your own page . To attract more Facebook users to your business page, visit and interact with other like-minded interest pages (“I Like…” or “I Love…”) as well as influencer pages hosted by celebrities, bloggers and other businesses.

Think about it!

Copyright 2014 Tracy L. Teuscher, APR.  Teuscher is an Accredited communication professional and president of The Buzz Maker Public Relations. She is an established strategic communication specialist, consultant, professional writer and contract journalist.


10 Tips to Boost Your Small Business Website

This Buzz of the Month was contributed by Anne Dudley, MA

For many small business owners, the company website is a bit neglected. But, the website remains an important part of small business success. For small business owners operating in target markets or selling products or services primarily to a local audience, word of mouth, networking and referrals may still be the “bread and butter” that drives business growth.

Still, the website is a critical channel for communication and engagement – whether due to referral or web search. Making it as easy as possible for people to find you, and addressing their needs while on your site will help you engage and keep that customer.
ImageHere are some things to think about:

  1. Make the contact information easy to find on every page. Who is your audience and what are the top tasks that they need to complete on your website? Measuring Usability suggests conducting a Top Task Analysis to find out. For many, simply finding a clickable phone number, email address or street address is a key task. Include these in the header or footer of your website so that they appear on each page.
  2. Think about the way people search.As search functionality changes, most of the key themes of optimization have stayed the same. Include keywords in the content, page descriptions and tags, link from one page or social platform to another and provide regular content updates. However, helping the user navigate through your website is key. Website users now expect your website to be easy to use. PR Daily suggests you avoid things like using pop-ups, skipping the footer links or using optimized content.
  3. Use calls to found that 70 percent of small business websites lacked a call to action (among other things mentioned above).  A call to action gives your potential customer a reason to stay on the site. Think about the Staples Easy Button. Easy-ButtonHow can you make the action you want your potential customers to take easier? Would adding a “Call us for a free consultation” or “Buy now” button help? According to the article, others might be an invitation to connect on social media, subscribe to a newsletter, view a product demo or take advantage of a special offer.
  4. What about a blog? Think about the option to add a blog with diverse topics that serve the user, especially if the product you offer is unique and requires an educational component, or the service you offer requires that you be recognized as an expert.
  5. Make one website edit every week. This may seem like a lofty goal, but once you’ve made it a habit, you’ll quickly see the benefits reflected in website function and customer response. This will keep your website fresh and help you work toward larger website development goals. Start by making sure all the information you want is on the website and easy to find. Then, you can update photos and calls to action, or remove outdated content.
  6. Get creative, but be authentic. Websites (and social media) are unique because they allow a business to showcase its personality, its services and its people (including customers and fans). Make it fun and authentic. For example, the recent Chipotle™ scarecrow advertisement and application has been called “the future of business communication” by PR Tips for Startups. Why? Because it’s engaging, tells a story and it makes a point in a fun and interesting way.
  7. Always keep your customer in mind. Make the end goal as easy as possible for your customer to complete by keeping it uncluttered.

“When considering the needs of your customer, consider the emotional need as well as the immediate need,” says Nathan Boyd, of InTheRound Design Group’s Radius Webtools team. “For example, the folks at Neo Now offer a connecting point for internship opportunities. The prospective intern has a need to find an internship, but this can often be an intimidating, time consuming and complicated process. So, Neo Now speaks to the benefits of their site by reassuring site visitors that their site makes this a simple, stress-free process.”

  1. Connect with social media. Integrate your website into your social platforms to drive people to it. This is incentive to update it as regularly as possible.
  2. Check it out on mobile. Make sure that your website functions on mobile as well as it functions on a desktop, laptop or tablet.
  3. Think like your visitor. To engage your visitors, provide content that is relevant, useful or entertaining to them, and do it often.

“When thinking about engaging visitors, remember that compelling images are vital to story telling and emotional connection,” continued Boyd. “Try to use your own high quality images when you can, but if you’re like most small business owners, you’ll need to use some stock images, too. Check out the stock image sites, but make sure they are royalty free and ready for your use. Some offer images for free, and some for a modest fee. Take your time and choose the images that help you tell your story well, rather than the first ones you see.” 

Anne Dudley is Communications Manager at Health Sciences Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is a graduate of Kent State University. Follow her at @AnneCDuds or connect on LinkedIn


Ethics and the Fake Twitter Followers Biz (But wait, there’s more!)

I’ve corrected a few small errors (my apologies) and added some of the latest research on this timely topic!

At the annual Poynter Kent State University Media Ethics Workshop, I heard from some wonderful talent from the Poynter Institute and a variety of experienced journalists who cover celebrity news.  Because of the focus on the entertainment industry, celebrities specifically, I heard Twitter mentioned all the livelong day. What I didn’t hear was commentary on the fake followers problem, especially as it relates to the inherent ethical issues related to fake followers. (Recent research shows the percentage of fake or empty accounts for Lady Gaga, for example, is 45% of her 36.2 million followers.)

Consumers (and PR Professionals) Beware

A recent Digital Trends article posed the question of whether someone can buy Twitter legitimacy with fake followers. The article sited Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli who investigated the practice of buying Twitter followers. Stroppa and De Micheli learned that buying fake followers is now a multimillion dollar business. According to the NY Times article, there are now more than two dozen services that sell fake Twitter accounts, but Mr. Stroppa and Mr. De Micheli said that they limited themselves to the seven most popular. After eliminating overlapping accounts, the researchers estimated that there are now as many as 20 million fake follower accounts.

That’s big business. It’s so big, that there are now other supporting business models cropping up to help people identify fake followers. Check out services like Status People and Social Bakers.

Savvy Spambots

In another article, Digital Trends spoke with Jason Ding, a research scientist from Barracuda Networks, who completed several studies on fake followers, sometimes referred to as bots or spambots, to try to learn how savvy the fake follower services are becoming. He found a website called Fast Followerz that offers a monthly subscription and even lets customers control how often followers are added. According to the article, the site boasts fake follower quality that can be guaranteed to pass the fake account test. (You’ve got to be kidding me.)

The Big Ethical Dilemma

I don’t know about you, but as a consumer, a Twitter user and a communication professional, I think there are some serious ethical considerations here. PR specialists like me who may use Twitter and other social media platforms as channels to communicate with various audiences must adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics.  Among the top six professional values is honesty. Here the code states, “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”

What’s a PR Pro To Do?

As PR professionals, it is our responsibility to behave in an ethical manner and to advise our management team or clientele regarding ethical considerations related to communications, and now we’ve got to add Twitter account validation and monitoring to the list. We are responsible to do our best to preserve the integrity of the communication process with the public. So, if we’re asked to add Twitter account management to our list of duties (and, even if we’re not), we better start asking some questions related to the integrity of the account, use some of the latest tools to evaluate it, and then be prepared to provide good council and to take action accordingly. Think about it!

Copyright 2013, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR 


Stay out on that limb. (The weather is fine.)

Tracy-CroppedAs The Buzz Maker!™ celebrates eight years and we move from the “fiscal cliff” to recovery and growth, I pause to reflect on the soul of entrepreneurship in a post-recession economy. I’m still around, and I’m thankful. There are some core principles, beliefs and habits that have really been at the heart of this little success story. Here are 10 worth sharing:

Practice super abundance – Always give more than is expected. Be super abundant. Treat each and every customer or client as if they are the most important person. Like Henry Ford used to say, “It is not the employer that pays the wages. The employer only handles the money. It is the customer that pays the wages.”

NeverGiveUp Stay out on that limb – As my friend and colleague Daniel  Moneypenny, CCO of 25-year branding and ideation firm  Emaginit says,  “Being an entrepreneur is all about going  out on aPourYourselfADrink limb.” Being out on the limb  means you’ve got to get used to  the weather, and sometimes, there’s a lot of weather. The only people who truly fail are those who give up. Never give up. Be prepared to fail big and stick around, but think and behave as if it is impossible to fail. If you’re having a really challenging day, be like Elizabeth Taylor; “Pour yourself a drink, put some lipstick on and pull yourself together.”

Be a solution providerIn order to capture hearts, minds and, yes, budget, you’ve got to be ready to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for your client or customer. If you’re a service provider like I am, your job is to help others prosper. Ask diagnostic questions, listen to the answers, and be ready to explain how you can help to resolve a challenge, solve a problem, save money, make money, and/or reduce stress for the customer. And, then set about doing exactly that.

Apply the Pareto Principle – Also known as the 80/20 rule, The Pareto Principle simply states that 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes. Applied in business, this means that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers or clients. So, spend 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of activities and relationships that will result 80% of your success. Time cannot be saved, but can only be spent. Your time is the most valuable thing you can give. When you spend it, you spend a piece of your life. So, spend it wisely. Eliminate or delegate the least important things.

brian-tracy Ask –  As Brian Tracy says, “The future belongs to the askers.” So,  ask for  what you want. Ask for the work. Ask for the opportunity.  Ask for the  project. Keep asking.

 Be authentic – There has never been anyone who is uniquely  you. Be  yourself. Bring your unique gifts, skills, talents,  experience, perspective  and personality to the table. Ditch the  persona. This one thing makes you instantly magnetic. Business  is still about relationships. To build meaningful relationships, you’ve got to show up to the party dressed as, well…YOU.

Say no – That seems counterintuitive, right? But, the reality is that saying no to the wrong opportunities is at least as important, perhaps more important, than saying yes to the right opportunities. Say yes to the opportunities that will allow you to be a true solution provider, that focus on your expertise, or that you’re downright passionate about, and say no to the rest.

Be-confident Be confident in your worth – Resist the urge to do more  for less  or to significantly reduce your fees. This is a very common mistake that many entrepreneurs make, and I’ve made it, too. Yes, you’ve got to do your research and be competitive. But, know your value.

Tell the truth – Be truthful and ethical at all times. Resist the desire to make excuses or pass the buck. If you make a mistake (and you will), own it. Be gracious, and do your best to make it right, or make amends. Be someone worthy of trust.

networking-guyNetwork, network, network – When times are tough, people in business generally experience a lot of fear. In that kind of climate, it has been my experience that people do business with two kinds of people – Someone they know and trust, or someone referred to them by someone they know and trust. So, make the time to network with others, including other entrepreneurs.  Share with them. Listen to them. Support and encourage them. Learn from them. Brainstorm about creative ways you can help one another prosper.

And, always stay out on that limb. The weather is fine.

Tracy L. Teuscher, APR – Copyright 2013


Good Writing is the Heart of Good PR

Good writing is the heart of good PR.

I’ll always remember Mrs. White, the passionate, white-haired third grade teacher I was blessed with.

“Yeah is not a word,” Mrs. White would repeat as she forced us to use the proper reply of yes or no when asked a question.  “We do not say ‘yeah’ and ‘nuh-uh’ in this classroom,” she would say with her hands neatly clasped one on top of the other, resting on the soft belly of her flowered cotton dress.

Through this small exercise she opened a life-changing door. She sought to instill in us a true love and respect for the language and knowledge of its proper use in both the spoken and written form. She was passionate about this, and as a result she unknowingly became my first mentor as a writer.

Practice, read and practice some more.

As the year unfolded with Mrs. White, we learned the basics of grammar and sentence structure, easy tricks to remember confusing spellings, the importance of pronunciation, the proper use of to, too and two; their, there and they’re; your and you’re and the rest.

We experienced the joy of hearing a passage come alive by selecting the right descriptive words. Through the simple exercises of writing for each other and reading aloud, she instilled the joy of reading and writing, respect for the importance of punctuation and the thrill of becoming part of the story. As we grew in our clever new skills, she integrated more difficult lessons through story telling by sharing her life-long love of birds, and through creative writing using various forms of poetry.

Mid year, she gave us an assignment to write a poem. The rules were that it had to adhere to a certain poetic form and it had to be about something that was meaningful to us. I wrote about my love of the forest and the sights, sounds, smells, creatures and adventures that were part of my childhood forest world.  I’ll always remember her beaming, cherubic face as she selected my poem as her favorite and posted it on the bulletin board. In that moment I knew I wanted to write forever.

What does all this have to do with PR, you say? Everything, I say.

What is public relations? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently unveiled its modern definition: Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. Yes, but public relations is more than that. I think PR is also the art and science of message design and delivery to inform, educate, and develop or change public opinion, impact behavior, enhance or protect reputation, and prevent or address crisis in an open, honest and ethical manner.

Can we help organizations achieve specific and strategic communications
goals and objectives without skill in the area of creating messages that are uniquely created for each receiving public and each communications channel? The ability to craft the message is one of the keys to success. And, that is why good writing still matters and will always matter. Content, as they say, is still king.

A final thought

Now a contributing journalist, published poet and occasional blogger, I still correct myself often and say yes rather than yeah. I still toil over sentence structure, punctuation, word selection and grammar with delight. I still ask myself, what do we want people to know? What do we want them to do? How can I write this in a way that will engage, excite, educate, enlighten, entertain, inspire or awe the receiver? I still pour over the AP Stylebook. And, I’m still thrilled by every opportunity to read and read some more, as I am to write and write some more. I’m still learning every day.

Someday I hope to be fairly good at this writing thing. In the meantime, just like Mrs. White taught me so many years ago, I practice and read and practice some more. If research, audience evaluation, strategic planning, measurable objectives, strategy, tactics, implementation and evaluation are the head of good PR, then good writing is the heart. Think about it!

Copyright 2012, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR  


Really Chick-fil-A? Exploring the Chick-fil-A trademark suit, public relations and reputation management.

Company Value and Reputation

In a recent Businessweek article, research from The Economist Intelligence Unit has found that 75 percent of a company’s value is tied up in its reputation. If more than 90 percent of consumers use the Web to research companies and products before buying, and 80 percent make decisions based on that research, I’m asking the following question: Did Chick-fil-A have a public relations specialist at the discussion table along with the company attorney when they decided to file a recent trademark law suit against a T-shirt making, small business owner in Vermont?

The Chick-fil-A Trademark Suit and Corporate Bully Brand Perception

If you haven’t heard about this, Chick-fil-A has, in my opinion, earned a corporate bully brand perception by filing a trademark suit against a T-shirt maker in Vermont for making shirts that say “Eat More Kale”. According to the latest news from a variety of sources, Bo Muller-Moore began making T-shirts with the slogan “Eat More Kale” more than 10 years ago in support of a friend who grows kale, and to support the “grow local, buy local” philosophy. Really Chick-fil-A?

According to an article in The Huffington Post,  in a letter, a lawyer for Chick-fil-A said, “ Muller-Moore’s effort to expand the use of his ‘eat more kale” message is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property and diminishes its value.” Really, Chick-fil-A?

What Does This Suit Really Mean?

I wanted to explore this example from both a reputation management perspective as well as from a legal perspective, so I consulted with my good friend Andrew Spriegel, trademark, patent and intellectual property attorney, and owner of Spriegel & Associates LLC,  to get some insight.

“The term ‘confusingly similar’ or ‘likelihood of confusion’ are used in assessing the legal standard that is required to prove infringement of a trademark,” said Spriegel. “In other words, if Chick-fil-A took this suit to court, they would have to be able to show that when people hear or see ‘eat more kale’, they tend to confuse it with the trademarked phrase ‘eat more chikin’ used by Chick-fil-A and in this example, I don’t think Chick-fil-A can effectively make that case. Based upon the research I’ve done, I think they are doing more harm than good for their company with this suit.”

Chick-fil-A Has More Than Kale on its Face

Well, that’s interesting. That’s exactly what I thought. This is an example of a corporate decision that results in harm to the company reputation. Did Chick-fil-A think they could move forward with this without some major consumer backlash, significant negative impact to company reputation, and a pile of kale on its face?

Reputation and the Role of Public Relations

We all know that a company’s reputation is its most valuable asset. In an age where companies now buy reputation insurance, a PR specialist can, as Rosanna Fiske from PRSA states,  “help a company understand the potential consequences of its actions better or provide counsel to mitigate the impact of a business’ actions before they are set into motion. It requires a public relations team that provides strategic communications counsel to, and is a part of, a company’s C-suite.”

It seems that in this case, either the public relations specialist was not invited to the discussion table, or recommendations regarding this legal action were ignored resulting in a suit that is not only potentially devastating for the Muller-Moore family, but for Chick-fil-A’s brand and company reputation. Think about it!

Copyright 2012, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR, The Buzz Maker! LLC


Is your newsletter good PR? Newsletter insight and tips for success.

Whether internal or external, standard print or digital e-newsletter, a newsletter should  address communications goals and objectives and meet the needs of the receiving audience. Is your newsletter good PR? What are the building blocks of a newsletter folks will read and enjoy? Start with a few questions:


  • What are the communications goals and objectives?
  • How does this fit into business growth and communications strategy?
  • What are the informational needs of the receivers?
  • How will the newsletter inform, educate, engage, entertain and move people to action?
  • How can you make it simple, brief, concise, meaningful, timely, relevant and fun?

At the end the day, we are all information consumers. It is said that we receive more information in one day than the average pioneer would have received in a whole year. So, it’s no surprise that we’ve all become pretty selective about what we read. If you want people to actually read your newsletter, you need a good recipe. Here are a few tips:

  •  Be brief and concise. The new media world has changed the message landscape and created a demand for extremely brief communications. Edit, edit, edit. Learn to say what the reader needs to hear in the most direct, brief and effective manner possible.
  • Tell folks about something timely that offers a solution. Include an action item, a deadline and a track-able element. Immediately answer a “What’s in it for me?” question as it relates to the needs of the receiver. What do people need from you? How do your unique products or services solve a problem or make life better for your customers? What are your competitive advantages? When communicating with any audience, you should always be asking yourself two important questions: What do you want them to know? And, what do you want them to do? For example, you own a landscape services company. It’s autumn, and your objective is to increase revenue related to lawn aeration, leaf cleanup and mulch installation by 10% in the month of October and November, so in this section you might say, “Do you really want to rake those leaves and haul that mulch yourself? Let us help! Now through November 15, schedule leaf clean up, or mulch installation services and you’ll save 20%! Call now and mention code FALL2011 to get your discount!”
  • What’s news? In this section, share some news about what’s happening now or will be happening in the near future. Will you be moving to a new building? Adding a new product or service? Have you hired a new team member? Accepted a new high-value client? Been recognized by your industry peers for your accomplishments? Joined the local Chamber of Commerce? Been nominated for an award? Share it here.
  •  “Did you know?” In this section, tell your audience something cool that positions your company as an expert, and is fun and free. Make it relevant to helping the reader and connect it to what you do best as a company. Gather some research, and add links to resources that support the facts. For example, perhaps your newsletter is for mothers with young children so you might include a fun fact related to child development like, “Did you know that research shows that babies must be held close to your face during the first several months of life so they can clearly see your eyes and facial expressions, and that doing this often while smiling improves bonding, brain development and language skills?”
  • Ask your readers to share suggestions or testimonials, and feature a customer. This engages your audience as stakeholders in your business success. Provide a special email address for suggestions, and another for testimonials. You can even create a contest. For example, you could say, “Email your 100-word testimonial and a digital .jpg picture of you or the subject of your testimonial by the end of the month, and earn a chance to be featured as our Customer of the Month in the upcoming newsletter!” You can apply the same formula to suggestions. Why not include a Suggestion of the Month? If it’s a good suggestion, use it, and then let folks know you listened.
  • Include some team news. This is a brief section that allows you to share something personal about your team and connect with folks on an emotional level. It’s a great place to congratulate a member of your team on a recent wedding, a new baby, a rescued dog, or community volunteer efforts. Give this section a fun name, and welcome reader feedback at a specified email address. You’ll be surprised at the great notes you’ll receive!
  • In closing, include an option to “unsubscribe”. This is important for the digital e-newsletter. If you use a tool like Constant Contact, it’s usually integrated into the format. If not, include a simple statement like, “To be removed from our contact list, please email us at______, provide your name and contact information, and we will be happy to honor your request. Thank you!” Then, make sure you follow through.

The information you develop for each of these sections might also be repurposed for a variety of other communications channels like Facebook, Twitter, the company website, or even a direct mail piece. These are just a few suggestions to make your newsletter a valuable tool instead of a bit of office drudgery. Good luck, and let me know what you think!

Copyright 2011, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR


“Say What?” – The Inherent Transparency of the Social Media Age

Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” True then, but never more true than today. Public relations specialists continue to advocate strongly for transparency in communications and in business practice, and many insist that transparency is already here, an inherent component of the social media age.  Because information is created so fast, and can often be inaccurate, incomplete, or just downright wrong, us PR folks are always working overtime. People can and will say, or should I say type, anything they want with a form of keyboard courage previously unimagined.

Public relations professionals find that they must be constantly concerned about reputation management. Already in the habit of using research and fact-checking to develop complete and accurate communications elements, we must now be even more vigilant about identifying incomplete information, correcting inaccuracies, and issuing truthful information in response to fabrication and rumor, and in prevention of a potential crisis.

So, how can we work more effectively within the tide of the information stream? Here are three things we can start working on today, if we’re not already doing them. If we are, this serves as a good reminder.

1. Tell it first. Many communications problems including potential crisis situations can be avoided when we are the first to tell the story in its true, accurate and complete form. In crisis communications, the rule of thumb is to tell it first, tell it all and tell it now. We must be committed to transparency by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth without exception.  By doing so we fulfill our ethical duty as professional communicators to be truthful, and to serve the public good.

2.   Monitor the information stream.  New and constantly developing solutions for popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others allow us to monitor what people are saying about us, our product, company or brand. We must search out and become skilled at using these monitoring systems so we know what is being said, who is saying it and when. Information is the first line of defense for the warp-speed lie in the face of the pants-less truth.

3.  Respond as quickly as possible.  Reducing response time in the face of potentially damaging information is crucial.  This is especially true if the matter and the conversation impact the public good, which we are sworn to serve. Take, for example, the whole “Apple iPhones are tracking our every move” topic that received global attention within hours of being published on a blog site.  “Say what?”, the world responded.  It took Apple a full week to formally respond to these concerns. Do NOT be like Apple in this example.

These are just a few things we can do to continue to be more effective in our work as communications professionals. For a good meditation, I review the PRSA Code of Ethics often. It’s all in there. Think about it!

Copyright 2011, Tracy L. Teuscher, The Buzz Maker! LLC.


Why do I need a PR specialist? Can’t I do it myself?

The box store DIY phenomenon has permeated the small business community since the economy took a header into the ditch. As a result of reduced staff and slashed budgets, many small businesses have taken it upon themselves to handle marketing and communications responsibilities with little or no experience. And, the perception of the high cost of outsourcing prevents many people from seeking help from an expert.

“Why do I need a PR specialist? Can’t I just do this stuff myself?”

Good question. I answer it this way. If public relations and marketing are not within your skill set, why not ask an expert for advice? I mean, even in the DIY home project scenario, there are a lot of things you can do yourself like painting and gardening.  A good consultant can help you do many things yourself. But, if you need electrical work, and you aren’t an electrician, isn’t it wiser to call an expert and avoid risks associated with trying to do it yourself? I mean, who wants to get electrocuted?

“I’m handling the marketing and PR myself, and I’m doing just fine.”

Really? How do you know? Do you understand the difference between public relations, marketing and advertising and the applications for each? Have you identified all key audiences? Do you know the recipe for effectively developing and delivering messages that will impact opinion and reap a behavioral response? Have you identified the proper communications channels? Do you understand how and when to use specific types of social media in either B2B or B2C applications, and the guidelines for each including associated legal aspects? Do you know the rules of good media relations habits? If you’re unsure, it might be a good time to speak with a specialized professional.

“I can’t get help with this. It’s too expensive.”

That can be true when you outsource to an advertising agency, but it’s almost never true when you outsource to an independent practitioner. Most IP’s, myself included, have earned a great deal of specialized experience and education in their field before offering freelance services or launching a business. Most IP’s can offer a superior level of service, including consulting services, at a fraction of the cost of going to an agency. A good consultant can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours by helping you do the right things and avoid the wrong things when it comes to marketing and communications. Besides, you have to calculate a value for your time and energy. If someone can help you save a bit of both for a small investment, and you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing things will be done right, isn’t it worth it?

“How do I find the right person to help me, and how do I know they are an expert?”

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or the business organization whose membership is most often associated with the type of expert you’re looking for. Ask for referrals for providers in your area. To narrow down your options, look for someone who has a combination of education, experience, and excellent references. By seeking guidance, you can protect your business and your brand, save money, and avoid the trouble and expense of unnecessary mistakes that can potentially result in “brand electrocution”. Think about it!

Copyright 2011, Tracy L. Teuscher, The Buzz Maker! LLC.


Why is PR on the payroll, and who cares?

Buzz of the Month – March 2011

Why is PR on the payroll, and who cares?

Ah, the third of March. It’s a special day as it’s the anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s birth. A grand Irish dame she was, and since the month of March brings with it the remembrance of the Irish, it always seems a perfect day to remember some of grandma’s good advice. She always used to say, and later I realized it was taken from a bible verse, “Darling, don’t cast your pearls before swine lest they be trampled…and you, my darling, are a pearl.”

What does that have to do with PR you say?

Everything, I say. Public relations is the pearl in the marketing and communications crown. Nothing achieves the organizational messaging goals and establishes and protects company reputation better, stronger, or faster or with a  better return on investment. Like Super Woman, public relations soars through the stream of inaccurate and incomplete information in the marketplace to educate, inform, and raise awareness and looks good doing it. Public relations has the power to engage all major publics including key influencers, thought leaders, and early adopters. From current and prospective customers, to community leaders and the media, public relations immediately goes to work to create or enhance awareness, differentiate your company from the competition, set the record straight, and define the reasons why people should care.

Who really cares, and why should they?

When considering your services or your client, ask yourself this question in two ways. First, ask this question as it relates to the public relations service that is being provided. Why is PR on the payroll? Who cares, and why should they? If you are a PR professional, ask this question all the time, and make sure you can answer it confidently as it relates to the services you provide, the results that you deliver, and the unique set of both personal and professional attributes you bring to the table that are of value to your client. Then, ask this question as it relates to your client.

Why are you, the public relations pearl, working with this particular client or company? Who cares?

Does your boss or your client care about the fact that you are providing them with a superior service that assists them in accomplishing a variety of organizational goals with an incredible ROI? If they don’t, go back to the first time we asked this question and make sure you’re doing your job to educate and inform folks about the value of what you do. It’s a formidable job, but it comes with the territory. Take a hard honest look at areas where you might be able to improve here, and develop a plan to do just that. Look at ways you can provide additional information, schedule opportunities to review progress, or engage other influential voices within the organization to help you tell this important story. As public relations professionals, we are often so busy doing the job that we fall down a bit here.

Okay, so you’ve asked the questions. Now what?

If you ask these questions and find that what you’re really dealing with is an exhausting, impossible, and unprofitable client, then you should consider firing them. That’s right, I said it. When a client is costing you excessive time and energy, or if they are impossible to please and will never truly understand the value of what you do, then firing this client and replacing them with another can actually boost your company’s revenue, not to mention lower your blood pressure and improve your quality of life.

This exercise can effectively be applied to a variety of business scenarios with equally revealing results, so give it a try. And, as my grand Irish grandmother always used to say, “Darling, don’t cast your pearls before swine lest they be trampled…and you, my darling, are a pearl.”

Copyright 2011, Tracy L. Teuscher, The Buzz Maker! LLC.


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