Friday, July 15, 2016

Meet Michael Bloom - Social Media Fellow

Bloom is a Senior at Potomac Falls High School.
Michael Bloom is a senior at Potomac Falls High School. His interest in serving others has helped him build social relationships and maintain key public speaking skills. As an Eagle Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, Vigil Honor Member, and Past Section Officer of the Order of the Arrow, Michael has worked with others to create different social media tools and outlets for different organizations.

Intrigued by the legal system, small businesses, and marketing, Michael wants to major in Business, Political Science, or History in college. After college, he hopes to attend law school, while gaining more experience in public relations and business law. He enjoys playing golf and tandem canoeing.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meet Eric McDonald - Digital Media Fellow

McDonald attends Hampden-Sydney College.
This summer I’m excited to gain insightful knowledge in public relations and marketing as a Digital Media Fellow for Bow Tie Strategies.  When I was looking for summer opportunities I stumbled upon Bow Tie Strategies through the Career Education Offices at Hampden-Sydney College. Ellen who serves as the Director of Career Education and Vocational Reflection was able to put me into contact with Rusty Foster whom I was happy to find out was an alumnus of HSC. When speaking with Rusty I was initially attracted to diverse clients, services, and exciting projects that Bow Tie Strategies works with. The possibility of working with a number of different professionals in different industries definitely intrigued me and my diverse interests. I was fortunate to participate in Hampden-Sydney’s Professional Developmental Institute where Bow Tie Strategies’s Demas Boudreaux was in attendance. I was able to speak a little bit with Demas Boudreaux and his contribution to Bow Tie Strategies as a Government Relations Specialist. As a Foreign Affairs major and Public Policy minor I was very interested to hear how a lobbyist could aid Rusty’s work.  This summer I look forward to work with Bow Tie Strategies and their clients to gain experience in the marketing and public relations fields.

Meet Stephanie Michas - Digital Media Fellow

Michas attends Colgate University.
My name is Stephanie Michas, and I am one of the Digital Media Fellows for Bow Tie Strategies for the summer of 2016. I chose to work for Bow Tie Strategies because I am interested in pursuing a career in marketing/public relations. I am drawn to this field because as a creative person interested in business, marketing and public relations allow me to combine both of these fields. With social media platforms continually emerging and evolving, there are so many ways for companies to reach out to new clients, and I think that being on the forefront of this movement is essential for success. I am excited to work with these platforms and see the impact that they will have in the field of marketing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

PR 101: 5 Easy PR Tips That Nonprofits Can Use Today

Nonprofit organizations often need help with public relations just as much as their for-profit counterparts. While successfully communicating an organization's message and maintaining a strong reputation can be difficult, developing a PR plan from the get-go can be a helpful strategy for nonprofits. Bow Tie Strategies would like to share five PR tips that nonprofits can start using today.

1. Tell your story and tell it well 
Spreading the word about your cause or purpose as a nonprofit and cultivating a positive image for your organization can be a challenge. It is crucial for a nonprofit organization to have a story with a compelling focus. Your story should be straight forward and must be told consistently and strategically. If your story isn't different from other nonprofits, no one will pay attention to your organization. People not only want to know how you started and why, but they want to know what your organization's mission and goals are and what you actually do as an organization. Why should one be compelled to donate, act now, or volunteer? Your story should have energy and depth, and there should be no question about the impact your organization is making. 

2. Tailor messages to your audiences
Often, nonprofit organizations will have a wide range of supporters that may or may not respond well to the same message. It's important that you target and connect with appropriate media and audiences that are interested in your nonprofit's message. Decide who you want to reach with your PR campaign and consider dividing a broad audience into smaller groups. Your nonprofit's message should speak directly to your audience(s) and you shouldn't be afraid to tailor your message to specific audience groups. While you may connect with a younger demographic via social media, older audience groups may respond better to more traditional forms of media such as brochures or newsletters. 

3. Blogging 
The benefits of blogging for nonprofit organizations are endless. While you don't want to bombard visitors with too much information on your nonprofit's website, a blog will give you more freedom to connect with various audiences. Blogs give nonprofits another chance to effectively tell their story and speak the language of their visitors. The purpose of a blog post is to create dialogue--make sure your blog's visitors have the opportunity to comment and engage with the media that you post. Don't be afraid to get personal and make sure that you inspire partnerships through supporting and sharing the content of other nonprofit organizations. 

4. Speaking Engagements
One of the best ways to get the message of your nonprofit out in the public is to gain a face-to-face presence at conferences, universities, and other events in your local community. Nailing down your audience groups will help you decide where you should begin looking for speaking opportunities. Keep in mind that speaking engagements won't fall into your lap--you will have to devote time and effort toward finding speaking engagements appropriate for your organization.  Generate a buzz about your organization--make sure that when you speak or give a presentation you are energetic and thorough yet succinct.

5. Don't be afraid of trends
Many nonprofit organizations believe that falling prey to trends can devalue the message they are trying to promote. This doesn't have to be the case. Planning a 5K race or using hashtags on social media to benefit your organization may allow you to connect better with some of your audiences while helping you spread your organization's message. Your hashtag might even spark some social good!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

PR 101: Rethinking Your Website

Developing your company's first website, or redesigning your current website can seem like a daunting task. Potential clients gain their first impression of your company based on their first visit to your website. While it's important for your website to be aesthetically pleasing, it is more important that your website represents your company's brand accurately.

Website visitors should be able to quickly navigate your website to find your company's:

  • Mission and Vision: Provide details about why, how, and when your company was created, and what your company strives to achieve.
  • Expertise: Make sure that your website's visitors understand what makes you and your company qualified and different from other companies. Consider pointing visitors to your company's awards and public recognitions.
  • Current and Past Work: Your website's visitors want to know what you've done, what you're doing, and what you can do for them. 
  • Contact information: You won't get any new business if visitors can't contact you.  Provide relevant email addresses and phone numbers so that potential clients can contact you with ease. 
1. Avoid information overload
Don't bombard your visitors with information overload. While the purpose of your company website is to provide visitors with information about your company, it is possible to provide too much information. Make sure you're providing information and links that are clear and relevant. If visitors have to sift through years of old information, they will become frustrated and will quickly leave your website. Your website's homepage should be easily navigable, and visitors shouldn't have to make any guesses about the information provided.

2. Include photographs 
No matter what industry you're in, consider including real, un-staged, photographs on your website to provide authenticity and insight into what your company does on a daily basis. Including images of your clients' logos, photos of your company's products, photos from events you've helped plan, and/or even photographs of your company's headquarters and the surrounding the area will help grab the attention of your website's visitors. Including professional headshots of your employees will add a personal touch to your website and visitors will be able to visualize who they may be working with in the future.

3. Provide social proof
Directing visitors to testimonials, media highlights and press mentions will give them a good sense of how your company is viewed and recognized in the public. While your website is an opportunity for you to promote your company, often testimonials from clients or members of your community provide great outside perspective on your company's work. Make sure that any articles, videos, or mentions on social media have been linked correctly.

4. Become mobile friendly 
Make sure your website is easily accessible from cell phones, tablets, etc. With so many professionals working on the move, it is crucial that your website, and all of its features, can be accessed on the go.

5. Link to social media
Make sure to provide links to all of your social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and your company blog. Visitors are likely to visit more than one of your accounts if they are easily accessible from your website.

Monday, February 1, 2016

PR 101: Reputation Management

 “If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.” -Warren Buffett 
Building your company's reputation, i.e. how your company is seen by various constituencies and the public, is hard work. Your company didn't gain its positive reputation overnight.

Reputation is a component of your company's identity, and is a product of performance, behavior, communication, and authenticity. It extremely important that you build, maintain, and defend your company's reputation. A good reputation is an asset, and maintaining and shaping it will add value to your company while helping you accrue benefits such as access to better candidates for employment and more media coverage.

Understanding the value of a good company reputation is the first step in monitoring, measuring, and managing reputation. It's important that you develop a strategic plan for company performance, behavior and communication. Your organization should consistently honor its intrinsic identity. Make sure that communication about your company in the press is authentic and in line with your company's true behavior and performance. The media can quickly and profoundly affect your company's reputation, so insure that your company disseminates clear messages across all media channels and that it maintains a united voice.

The digital age has created a "global playing field of unprecedented transparency and radically democratized access to information production, dissemination, and consumption." Social media has blurred the traditional barriers of communication and has become a fundamental part of how people and organizations communicate and participate online. Companies now have the ability to be more authentic, transparent and decentralized, and are utilizing the power of speed and collaboration.
While social media can offer powerful new possibilities for building your brand and enhancing your company's reputation, companies must pay closer attention to how they are being perceived by the public online.

"No one wants to worry about online reputation management until there’s a problem. But it’s always easier to lay a strong foundation than it is to fix major structural problems." Your company's social media plan should be comprehensive, strategic, and well-executed.  New companies should begin managing their reputation before they even launch. Keep in mind that your online record is permanent. Make sure you're never posting content on your company's channel that is too personal, too controversial, or inappropriate. Be transparent, but not too transparent--oversharing across social media channels can easily tarnish your company's reputation.

Don't worry. Public relations firms can help you streamline and manage your social media plan as well as repair your company's damaged reputation. Build strong relationships with the media, and make sure that the information that's already on the web is accurate and in line with your company identity. Be proactive. Start developing your own high quality online content and maintain it (develop a blog like The Bow Tie Chronicle) so that you can shape the public's impression of your company. Engage with the online community and point people toward your most positive online results. Foster open communication with the media and distribute a press release to spread positive news about your company.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PR 101: Event Promotion

Many companies struggle with how to properly use public relations to increase awareness, engagement, and sales for their companies' events. While there isn't a formula for successful event promotion, Bow Tie Strategies can provide you and your company with several PR tips to help you create a strategic event promotion plan for your company.

1. Public Relations is a marathon, not a sprint 

It's important that you give yourself adequate time to plan and promote your company's event. Creating a Facebook event and Tweeting the week before the event kicks off won't give you enough time to promote your event to prospective attendees in person or to promote your event across email and other social media channels.

Recognize that your event won't gain attention overnight and set realistic goals for your company and your event. If you sold 300 tickets last year, don't expect to sell 3,000 this year. Give your company time to grow, and set higher goals for each event. Make sure that you are promoting the right message about your event to the right people.

2. Be in 2016

Your company should already have a well established identity and a consistent message. Make sure that your brand is in the moment and is using the most recent and relevant forms of social media and technology. You should be constantly updating your company's website with relevant information about clients, exposure in the media, and upcoming events. Your company's story should shine, and you should incorporate your company's narrative across all media channels and when speaking about your company in person. Sharing your company's message, engaging with followers, and gaining visibility in the media will all contribute to a strong company identity.

If you're not sure about your company's message, mission, or vision, don't be afraid to hire a PR firm or consultant to help you establish your company's identity.

3. Use your connections

Media Coverage 
What is it about your company that makes it worthwhile for the media to promote your event? While you want the media's coverage to be informative and exciting, the media wants to cover events that are new, different, and creative. Research past local events that were similar to the event you're planning and contact the journalists that handled the coverage of those events. If you get the media's attention, make sure you are able to provide exciting details about your event so that the coverage is worthwhile and provides a benefit to your company.

Use Your Sponsors 
Sponsors were likely a crucial element in making your event possible. Create a connection between your event's attendees and your event's sponsors. Sponsors are a great source of free PR and marketing for the event, and often, attendees are more familiar with your event's sponsors than with your company.

Engage with attendees 
Use those that have already singed up for the event to your advantage. Ask attendees to share the official Facebook event with their friends and family, and encourage them to share pre-written tweets with Twitter followers to help promote the event.

4. Getting behind the scenes 

Creating a compelling description for your event can go a long way. Generally, attendees want to know exactly what they are paying for and what to expect when they attend your company's event. Who will the keynote speaker be? Will dinner be served? Where is the closest hotel? Make sure to provide all of the necessary information when promoting your event through email, social media, and the press. If potential attendees have to do the legwork to find out where they need to be and when, they will pass on your company's event.

Often, providing behind the scenes visual content will get potential attendees excited about the event. You've put a lot of time, effort, and money into planning this event, and now is the time to give your followers the inside scoop. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to show followers the venue for the event and the surrounding area. Let them catch a glimpse at the event signage, what you're wearing to the event, or what's inside the event goodie bags. Great visuals--including short videos--capture the energy and excitement of an event and may be easily leveraged across all social media platforms.

If you're event is multiple days, make sure attendees and potential attendees know what restaurants, local attractions, and other social events are around the event's venue. Share pictures, maps, and even links to local coffee shops and restaurants so that attendees will be comfortable when attending your event.

5. During and after the event
You should be live streaming on the day of your event. Post photos of the event's final set up, tweet quotes from speakers, and ask attendees to use an event hashtag on social media throughout the event. You want people who aren't attending the event to feel like they are missing out. They'll want to know who was there and who said what.

After the event make sure to thank your attendees and sponsors over email and social media. Once again, ask attendees to follow your company's website, blog, and social media profiles so that they can hear about future events. Start planning for you next event right away!