Category ArchiveMichigan Public Relations Firm
When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, small businesses – the 10,500 members of SBAM — actually have an advantage over large corporations when communicating with their customers.
A former editor of Computerworld and a highly knowledgeable social media specialist (author of Secrets of Social Media Marketing and The New Influencers,”Paul Gillin blogged for ShopTab “Social Media: The Small Business Owner’s Unfair Advantage”), he cited five reasons why small businesses should engage in social media.
1. The cheap and often free cost of social media and their ease of use. “To get started, all you need is your computer and an Internet connection. If you’re passionate about your work, it costs nothing to start telling people about what you do,” Gillin said. Anyone can own and operate a Facebook or Twitter account. However, big corporations shy away from using social media for legal reasons, even though it is currently more valuable than traditional media sources.
2. Search engines are the “great equalizer” for companies. “Google doesn’t care if you’re The New York Times or Joe’s Hardware Store as long as you have the best content…A small business with great content on its website can compete with a company many times its size.” Gillin also said blogs that are routinely updated and attract links appear often in Google search engines.
3. Small businesses are personal. “Big corporations don’t have personality; they have brand,” whereas people who work for a small company are the brand, and customers know them personally. This is a huge advantage because “customers relate better to people than they do brands,” Gillin said.
4. They’re the fastest way to expand your geographic reach. After creating your blog, install a free analysis tool like Google Analytics to see where your visitors come from. Gillin said the majority of visitors will come from outside your geographic area because “the Internet is global and hyperlinks know no geographic bounds. What a great way to expand your market.”
5. They’re fun. “Social media is a great way to expand your network of relationships, and relationships lead to business,” Gillin said. “In addition to hearing that your business and expertise are important to others out there, engaging in conversations “will broaden your perspective, give you new ideas and make new friends.”
Start-up companies are becoming popular among entrepreneurs and experienced business people who have been “outed” from their jobs because of the economy and the implosion of the domestic auto businesses. This is true across Michigan and especially in the Ann Arbor region.
There are many organizations that provide pro bono counsel and services like business planning, investment, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, design, packaging.
CooLHeadS, which has developed its business to the extent it will show its creative new product, which covers heads and neck areas to prevent sunburn on hot summer and fall days, at the 12th annual EMU Exposure and Runway Show at Quirk Hall April 16.
CEO of CooLHeadS Tommy Green explains the firm has engaged the following groups, all pro bono, in his quest to organize and get the firm up and running:
The Sesi Business Plan Competition Committee (Paul Nucci, Richard King, Phil Rufe).
The B Side of Youth (Jack Bidlack).
University of Michigan Business Engagement Center (Nick Miller).
Michigan Manufacturing Association (Michelle Cordano).
“Having discussions helped mold my ideas into well-thought plans for execution,” says Green. “Each individual provided their own vision and insight on the project. “I listened, considered and put into practice. Each perspective gave me a truly different view of how CooLHeadS can become a solid business.”
Other infrastructure groups have developed in the past 10 years around the state are also available to help entrepreneurs — the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First. SPARK, The Right Place in Grand Rapids, Tech Town, Automation Alley and its Entrepreneurial Initiative.
Investment wise, the Michigan Venture Capital Association and the five angel investor groups across the state also fulfill key roles for emerging companies as they grow. There are Ann Arbor Angels, Blue Water Angels, First Angels, Grand Angels and Great Lakes Angels.
The Small Business Technology and Development Center guides new businesses through professionals in its 12 regions covering the state with 60 offices and affiliates.
In academia, we have Michigan State’s Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan Ross School of Business’s Zell-Lurie Institute and Wayne State’s Tech Town.
The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, a business plan competition since 2000, provides a great source of guidance through its mentors for new companies.
We have the infrastructure strengths that did not exist 10 years back. Let’s use the groups established to bolster new businesses as we march toward a better Michigan.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &Marketing &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 20 Mar 2009 03:51 pm
Are you a thought leader? Thought leaders are credible, insightful industry professionals (often heads of companies) with the expertise to comment on industry trends and issues…basically, the leaders of thoughts. This is highly desirable brand position requiring a focused public relations (PR) effort and a commitment to hard work.
Thought leaders provide insight and vision and therefore, are “go to” sources for members of the media often providing quotes and commentary for news coverage. Highly visible examples include Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page of Google, Richard Branson of Virgin Megastores, or Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook. These leaders provide insight of global scale due to their product’s popularity around the world. It is also possible to carve out a niche for your company’s product or service locally or wherever you define your target market.
A few thought-leadership tips from www.skmarketing.com, a Minneapolis based business-to-business marketing agency:
1. Availability: Respect the hectic schedule of the journalists and other members of the press and return all calls ASAP.
2. Preparedness: As a thought leader, you are expected to possess wisdom and a familiarity with a wide variety of topics in your field. It is advised that you prepare talking points prior to any media engagement/interview.
3. Be Opinionated: Donald Trump might be the best example of this type of thought leadership. Thought leaders are expected to bring something new to the conversation without sitting on the fence. Be bold, compelling and dramatic.
4. Persistence: Create your own fortune through thought leadership tools. Examples include determined press releases, knowledgeable speaking engagements, effective social media, white papers, by-lined articles, and/or case studies.
Eiler Communications has practiced these skills for over twenty years, establishing brand messages and thought leadership strategies for local and national businesses. David Mielke, Dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business, is an example of a local thought leader Eiler Communications works with consistently. Mielke has established a voice in the business community writing articles in the Ann Arbor Business Review and on www.MLive.com, often times commenting on the current state of business ethics. Mielke also serves on a number of economic and business boards.
So, are you ready to be a thought leader?
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Financial Services &Leadership &Michigan Positive &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development 06 Mar 2009 06:18 pm
Don’t turn on the news tonight. Take a night off. I’ll spare you the suspense… Unemployment is high, the markets are down, and the Red Wings (probably) won.
The negative economic circumstance dominates newscasts these days, but we rarely hear about the financial aid available. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on February 17th thereby generating thousands of dollars for business owners seeking aid in the tough economy. The ARRA is designed to stimulate many different industries around the country, with unique investments here in Michigan. In efforts to accelerate the economic recovery, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration has created a website filled with helpful hints on obtaining grants and tax aid for state businesses. Granholm and her staff should be commended on the launch of this site, for Michigan is one of only 17 in the nation to offer ARRA information with such ease. Sites assisting the search for recovery financing:
Governor Granholm can be seen here, outlining the state’s use of ARRA funds.
Work is being done to fuel the local economy as well. Ann Arbor SPARK is focused on continuously supporting regional businesses and entrepreneurs throughout these tough economic times offering programs, resources, and proactive backing. Many businesses have heard about and benefited from SPARK’s commitment to Ann Arbor innovation.
Hopefully your business has stood up to the downward sloping economy, but if you’re having trouble, make sure you apply for grants and financial assistance soon. Many grants have a “90 Day Window” for applications. The economy can’t wait, and neither should you.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming….
Last week I wrote about including “Going Green” in business plans of the future, not only to help the environment, but also to sustain company coffers. This strategy is readily apparent following General Motors (GM), Chrysler and Ford’s visit to Congress last month and their subsequent unveilings at last week’s North American International Auto-show (NAIA).
In December, the CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three trekked out to Congress on the wheels of their newest hybrid vehicles in search of a Bailout. Although the CEOs were successful in acquiring a $17.4 Billion loan, the trip cost the automakers a great deal of credibility and public perception. GM CEO Richard Wagoner defended the decisions of the last few years as “right for the time”. GM’s resolute decision-making resulted in sluggish development of fuel-efficient vehicles; a disparaging trend given the nimble (and successful) movements of Toyota and Honda. The U.S. auto leaders needed to become relevant and responsible once again. Like many businesses both in Michigan and around the world, they turned their focus to environmental issues.
The Big Three were able to secure the congressional loan on the merits of their plan to go green and produce hybrid vehicles; an act that will benefit all three companies financially and in the public’s eye. A report in the Michigan Business Review identifies the mission ahead:
“[Chrysler, Ford and GM] face the challenge of introducing new products while convincing the public that they’ll be around to build those products.”
These new products include a more fuel-efficient, direct-inject turbocharged engine called Ecoboost from Ford…which sounds cool enough to be in a Batman movie. GM is looking for big returns on their E-Flex platform in which vehicles are battery dominant and plug-in capable. Chrysler is making the most of its new bailout bounty by promising three electric vehicles by 2010, shocking to some. Until these new innovations reach the market, PR opportunities such as the NAIA and news reports must be considered deftly. Going Green isn’t enough anymore to sway the American consumer. Companies now must to show purpose with environmental measures, especially when they are receiving our tax dollars.
How is being environmentally conscious going to affect the high tech PR companies and their approach to media?
With the world of technology beginning to think “green,” high tech companies are finding ways to improve their products and promote them to the environmental friendly way of life.
Whether you are a PR firm in Ann Arbor or Michigan, when you are considering your market positioning strategy, one key opportunity today is using “green.”
What PR companies have to realize is that it is not enough to just write a media release saying how good the company is for the environment. It is more about putting words into action that people care about. These clean tech companies are going to have to create products that demonstrate what they advocate (less toxic items in their products, recyclable, etc). And wouldn’t a green-minded public relations strategy enhance the clean tech mindset? The options could include paperless media kits, flash drives, digital releases, media tours that promote both the company and green ideas, getting experts in the field to endorse what you are doing.
In reality, true green thinkers are more adept at picking out the falsehoods from what is fact. With PR, one of the main ideas should revolve around not doing publicity for the sake of publicity. It needs to mean something. Green thinking and clean technology is becoming a cause, like the fight against poverty, or the global food crisis, or even the fight against cancer. It is a hot topic issue among presidential debates or around the local watering hole. And high tech public relations companies need to understand that it is not just talking about the environment but acting upon it as well.
Yes there is a but. The biggest obstacle to promoting environmental organizations actions and services is the lack of creativity on our part. We need to understand that not every story is a “breakthrough” and find that angle that makes it relevant to the public.
Nevertheless, when doing PR for a company that either promotes green living or wants to sell itself as environmentally friendly, it the public relation company’s responsibility to make sure that the business in question carries those values into their own daily operations. Otherwise, it just becomes hypocritical publicity.
It is increasingly difficult nowadays to be recognized for ones expertise in Michigan public relations, hi tech companies, and communication world with the amount of information that is out there. However, there is hope, and it has been around for a while: blogging. Interactive market positioning is oftentimes key to giving people the needed information they seek. The importance of blogging rests on six principles:
First, blogs are easy to publish on the web. The ability to upload thoughts, ideas, or general information is just a few clicks away, allowing for a mass flow of information across a wide spectrum.
Second, blogs are inexpensive. Especially in today’s economy, Michigan PR companies don’t have to spend vast sums of money getting their names out.
Third, it is quick and efficient. There is not wait time. The information is “published” fast and allows for instant reactions. This works especially well with a public relations organization like Eiler Communications to respond to industry and client needs.
Fourth, similar to my third point, blogging grabs the attention of search engines. The more the company blogs the more hits they might get and the more attention it receives via non-paid publicity, a huge bonus for the organization.
My last two points are tied together in that it both positions the company in a favorable light in the eyes of client, industry, and public to treat them as an expert and as a result, hopefully, increases its profits and notability.
Regardless of the reason a PR organization uses blogging, it can be an extremely important tool in the sphere of high tech communicating. And what better way to prove that the company knows media and the field of communications than actually communicating!
A few weeks ago on our blog, the question was asked why is public relations important, especially in our poor economy today? Jenny was dead on when she rhetorically asked how are you supposed to attract new business if you get rid of the people that are in charge of bringing it in? Her first point in having a public relations company was to target in on the marketing position. Agreed, no doubt. Unpaid advertising and marketing is extremely important to companies nowadays. Many cannot afford to spend the money when it is needed elsewhere to make a successful business run smoothly. That is where the PR firm plays its role.
I think there is something else however that it can do to enable its market positioning strategy further for success and that is position the company to be an expert in its respective field. Eiler Communications is a case in point. It specializes in high tech PR and has the experience and track record to prove that.
Proving to an audience that the company is an expert in hi tech is a type of brand equity. An organization with strong brand equity will enjoy visibility and a reputation that makes them stand out from their competitors. It also becomes relevant when people believe the organization, or its services, add value to their life. Therefore, by strategically placing the company through a public relations agency that specializes in market positioning (especially in high tech areas), they can relax knowing that clients will become interested based on their expert services with little money spent on paid advertising.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Corporate Communications &Marketing &Marketing Communications &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 07 Oct 2008 09:42 am
Public relations is the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. In today’s business world and economy who doesn’t need to establish long lasting loyal relationships?
It is always amazing to me that in times of hardship in a company or small business the first thing to get “cut” is public relations and marketing. When business is slow, isn’t the objective to attract more business? The pieces don’t seem to fit in the logic of cutting what drives consumers to your business.
There are many different forms of marketing to reach your audience, but the first thing that should come to mind is positioning your company. Marketing positioning strategy is when marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. In other words, try to say something that is so profound or shocking (but true) that you clear enough space in the brain of your consumer to make them forget about all of the other competition.
Sounds pretty simple right?
In most cases, it is not that simple.
That is why it is so important to use a mix of marketing methods, one of them being public relations. PR reaches your audience in a much different way because it is not a paid advertisement. It also helps you to reach an audience that you might not have been able to reach or afford to reach with traditional marketing methods. Public relations also uses diverse techniques such as opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients to the target audience.
What if you wanted to reach the audience that reads the Wall Street Journal, but your marketing budget wouldn’t allow you to spend 40k on a small black and white ad? PR will help you to reach an editor at the WSJ with a compelling story and get it published. Wouldn’t you be much more likely to read an article written by a third party rather than a paid advertisement and find more value in that?
Think about the different forms of social media these days! Blogging, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook! If you are not staying with the changes in technology then you will be left behind. All of these groups of social media are forms of PR and a good way to reach your audience or at the very least, hear what they are saying about your product directly.
Here is one more thing to think about. What if you had a major public relations crisis in your company and no one on your staff knew how to talk to the media? Wouldn’t you regret not having a PR firm?
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Biotech &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Healthcare &Marketing Communications &Michigan Positive &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development &Public Relations Tools &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights 24 Sep 2008 03:57 pm
When I first started with Eiler communications as a Senior Account Manager I had most of my marketing/pr experience in high-end real estate, sales and restaurants. Since my tenure with the company I have been exposed to clients such as; VPSI, Inc, Genetics Squared, NSF International, Google, Silver Anti-Bac, Linux Box and many more in various fields. It has been an incredible experience for me to learn about so many diverse corporations and how they are contributing to the health and well being of our country.
For instance, Genetics Squared is in the process of developing a test that can help doctors determine how to treat certain types of cancers. By using personalized medicine we can possibly save the health care economy over 200,000 million dollars by being able to target the right procedures and treatments for different cancers. Imagine that?
VPSI, Inc is another client of ours that is helping all of us reduce our carbon footprint by providing alternate forms of sustainable transportation in the form of Vanpooling. To find out more about Vanpooling and VPSI go to http://www.pooling-resources.com, which is a blog that Eiler writes and maintains on behalf of VPSI, Inc.
NSF International helps protect all of us from the recent food scare(s) we have been trying to overcome the past six months. Recently, NSF provided a $1 million grant to a Virginia Tech professor of weed science to study the pathogen that causes bacterial speck disease of tomatoes. NSF is another example of a Michigan-based international business that is in the center of international issues. NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization.
Not only are the companies that we represent making a difference in the health and
well being of our nation, but I feel as if I can help make a difference by using the resources of a PR agency to spread the word. By using the correct forms of a market positioning strategy, we have found that we are able to get great marketing and public relations results for our clients and I am proud of that!