PR 101- The Best Marketing Tool for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business looking to get the most bang out of your marketing dollars, look no further than email campaigns. Not only is email marketing cheaper than traditional paid advertising, it is also 40 times as effective as social media posts. In fact, 91% of Americans LIKE to receive emails from companies they do business with. Below is a breakdown of how to craft your own broadcast and tools to help you get started.

  • Know the Laws
    Before you get started, take a second to read the laws about email marketing. You don’t want to put time and money into something that gets you in trouble. These laws are designed to stop spammers, so if you’re a legitimate company, you shouldn’t be worried. However, take a second to read some highlights of the CAN-SPAM law.
  • Online Platforms
    Lucky for you, there are numerous email marketing services that help you send emails, manage contacts, and track performance. Click here to learn which platform is best for your business.
  • Create an Organic List
    Generating your content list is the first important step to an effective email marketing campaign. However, instead of just buying email addresses from the internet, it’s more advantageous to grow your list organically by creating opportunities for current or potential customers to opt into receiving your emails.
  • Catchy Subject Line
    When 47% of customers decide whether to open an email based on the subject line, you need to put time and effort into crafting the best one. Whether its personalized, promotional, or urgent, an email’s subject line needs to grab the readers curiosity before they click the delete button.
  • Content
    You know your product or service and the customers you’re trying to reach, but that doesn’t mean you can just throw a bunch of content into an email and fire it off. Keep it simple and scannable and don’t forget to add a picture or two.

Need inspiration? Check out these top email marketing campaigns. If you need more help getting started, contact Targeted Persuasion today.

PR 101 – The Power of HubSpot

Feeling overwhelmed trying to manage your social media and inbound marketing strategies? In the PR world, sometimes you need a helping hand. That’s why this post is dedicated to explaining the virtues of HubSpot.

HubSpot offers a suite of tools that will help optimize your inbound marketing and salesforce efforts. Check out this in-depth video to learn more about their products or see below for a highlight of the most useful tools.

  • Websites through HubSpot
    If you already have a website, you can link it to the HubSpot tools through a simple setup process. If it is time to rebrand or launch your website, you can create one through their intuitive platform. They’ll even help move your current website onto the HubSpot platform.
  • Content Creation
    One of the biggest components of inbound marketing is being able to create content that brings ‘inbound’ traffic to your website. With their blog tool, HubSpot suggests how to optimize your content while you’re writing a post. This improves your ability to attract the ideal customer.
  • Campaign Management
    In addition to blog posts, campaigns can help you bring the right people to your website. Whether it’s an email, social media post, promotion, or a mix of everything, the campaign tool helps keep everything organized while simultaneously tracking performance and ROI.
  • Social Media Organization
    With this feature, you can control your social media accounts by being able to create posts and schedule them to go live across different accounts all within HubSpot. This feature then tracts performance, so you can make informed decisions moving forward.

If you want more personalized help with email marketing, social media creation, video production, etc., contact Targeted Persuasion today.

PR 101 – How to Handle a PR Crisis

Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if, but when…

A PR crisis can be a headache for management, but even if it wasn’t your fault, it’s your job to fix it. Whether it was an internal gaff or an unfortunate external circumstance, you should be ready to deal with all sorts of crises that may arise. The steps below will give you a starting point when it is your turn to deal with a crisis.

  1. Be prepared. By predicting potential crises and developing a framework for dealing with them, you will save precious time when one develops. Routinely monitoring social media platforms should be a cornerstone of your plan because that is often where members of the public first air their grievances. Even if you don’t have a social media presence, your organization can still be discussed, so stay on top by regularly monitoring relevant platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Check out these examples of social media’s role in PR crises.
  2. To apologize or not to apologize? This should be one of the first decisions you make when a crisis develops. Just because people are angry doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. You may have simply made a tough decision and now you need to stand by it. Reflect on your organization’s standards and ask yourself, ‘Are we in the wrong?’ If so, make the apology immediate and unequivocal. If not, carefully and succinctly lay out your side of the story. Just don’t copy how United handled their crisis last April.

  3. Provide limited, but honest, information. Ask yourself,
    – ‘How does this piece of information fit with our communication strategy?’
    ‘How do we expect this piece of information to shape the public’s perception of us?’ 
    Just because you have all the information doesn’t mean you need to share it immediately. However, you should always be honest and consistent to avoid making a crisis worse.
  4. Take action. Even if you feel like you’re in the right, there’s a reason the public is angry.  Clearly communicate what needs to be done and outline the steps you are taking to solve stakeholder’s complaints. A press release is often the best way to communicate this action. Johnson & Johnson’s handling of the 1982 tampered Tylenol crisis has become a case study for how management should respond with bold action to the worst types of crises.
  5. Evaluate the process. If this was your first PR crisis, it probably won’t be your last. Learn from what did and didn’t work and update your crisis management plans accordingly.

If you would like to review your crisis management strategy, or if you need help dealing with an ongoing PR problem, Targeted Persuasion is here to help.

PR 101 – The Beginning, Middle, and End to the Perfect Press Release

How do you tell the world what’s happening with your organization? One of the best, and easiest, methods is a press release. If you follow the steps below and reference past Targeted Persuasion press releases, you’ll be well on your way to attracting the media attention that your event or announcement deserves.

  • BEGINNING: Contact Info and Headline
    Lead off your press release with the name, phone number, and email of a representative from your organization. Beneath that should be an attention-grabbing headline that clearly outlines the reason for the press release. Try to keep the headline under 70 characters.*Note; ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’ tells the media that there’s no delay in the announcement.
  • MIDDLE: Body Paragraphs and Quotes
    Once you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention with a strong headline, it is important to provide relevant information in a concise way. Focus on the ‘who, what, when, where, etc.’ in the first paragraph. Use subsequent paragraphs to elaborate on the facts of the story.
    * Note; While the content of the press release should not include opinions, adding quotes can give you an editorial advantage, so be sure to include remarks from relevant people.
  • END: Boilerplate and call to action
    Don’t leave reporters hanging at the end of a press release. Make sure to add a description of your organization, called a boilerplate, at the end. Below is a short and sweet example from Live Nation.

If you’re looking for additional tips, The Guardian and Huffington Post both have some great pieces on press releases.

Also, be sure to check out this press release Targeted Persuasion sent out for an event we organized for our client, The National Restaurant Association:


Check out the coverage we received from The Charlotte Observer for this event. Notice how they quote heavily from our press release? Placing clear and concise quotes in your release, along with all of the relevant facts, can help reporters tell your story and allows you to control the narrative.


What We Can Learn About Influencer Marketing From The Winter Olympics

Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn have been capturing America’s attention (and marketing dollars) for years, but for the 2018 Olympic games in PyeongChang, companies are rolling the dice on underdogs. The value here lies in what these influencers can provide for your marketing campaign (for more info on influencer marketing, check out this article from the Targeted Persuasion blog). As the hype around influencer marketing grows, even small and mid-sized companies are jumping on board to capitalize on this low cost way of reaching customers through new channels. Check out these stars who have already made a splash at this year’s Winter Olympics.

  • Chloe Kim is a snowboarding sensation and her ability in the halfpipe is only matched by her social media savvy. Her gold medal winning performance, combined with her ability to generate buzz online, has made her a great asset to brands like Nike and Visa. Okay, we admit it. We cheated a little here by including Kim in a list of ‘underdogs.’ But at only 17 years old it’s safe to say Chloe is just getting started. And she’s already cashing in.
  • Red Gerard: This 5-foot-5 17-year-old became the first American to capture gold in Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle. Brands like Red Bull and Protec are happy they signed this rising American athlete early.
  • Perrine Laffont: With only 15,600 Instagram followers before the games started, this 19-year-old Frenchwoman was not on many people’s radar, but after winning gold in the Women’s Moguls, her influencer marketing value will shoot up, if not her Instagram followers.
  • Mark McMorris: 11 months ago, this Canadian snowboarder was in a medically induced coma after a snowboarding accident, but on Sunday, he was standing on the podium with a bronze medal in Men’s Slopestyle. This type of comeback story is inspiring to all and creates a perfect influencer marketing storyline.

Even Alibaba, one of the largest companies in the world, is looking small with their “To the Greatness of the Small” Olympic campaign.

Alibaba sees the value of local connections that smaller-name athletes have in their respective countries.

However, if you’re running an advocacy group, political campaign, or small business, landing an underdog Olympic athlete may not be feasible or practical. That doesn’t mean you should turn your back on influencer marketing. In fact, you can still leverage the advantages of a local influencer by looking for activists, trendsetters, or personalities in your community. Take the Humane Society of Charlotte, for example, who enlisted the help of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera for their Safe Bet. Adopt a Pet marketing campaign.


Need help finding an influencer in your community? Try hiring a communications or public relations firm like Targeted Persuasion to give you a hand.

PR Lessons from The Super Bowl

Watching the Super Bowl for the commercials is so 2008. It’s 2018 and instead of commercials, the most memorable marketing moves came from the events that big brands put on around downtown Minneapolis. Some of the best events from this past week include:

  • Ford Tough Sleigh Ride – Fans were able to take a ride around downtown Minneapolis in a sled pulled by a Ford F-150. How fun it was it in single digit temperatures? Well, how Ford Tough are you?

  • Polaris UpsideDowntown stunt show – The sportswear company took over Nicollet Mall, a downtown shopping area in Minneapolis, to a host a snowmobile stunt show that was free to the public. Were Minnesotans already not riding their snowmobiles to work though?

  • US Bank Possibilities Lounge – US Bank already has the naming rights to the stadium where Super Bowl LII was played, but they took their marketing push one step further by renting out a local McCormick and Schmick’s and creating a lounge where the public was able to experience a “virtual payment demo”. Interestingly, US Bank did not pay for a national TV ad despite the extensive marketing campaign they had for the Super Bowl.

These brands are capitalizing on what’s called earned media – an event that creates media attention through some good old fashioned sweat equity. The rational is simple: put effort into an event that is fun and worthwhile for the community, and reap the rewards of the media’s attention. Notice all the links in this post are from real news sites, not corporate press releases. The reason these events have become popular is the improved return on investment companies enjoy when compared to a multi-million dollar ads during the big game.

The great news is that you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to pull this off. It just takes a little creativity and media-savvy.

If you’re looking for new ways to increase your brand or association’s exposure, contact Targeted Persuasion and let us help you earn some media.

A Look into the Future – Marketing Trends for 2018

2018 got off to a rocky start with the tide pod eating trend, so let’s take a minute and look at the new, the persistent, and the comeback trends for the new year… and reflect on why not to eat Tide Pods.

The New

  • Expect mobile phone marketing to dominate in 2018 as mobile devices recently eclipsed traditional computers for the most web searches.
  • The potential of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning cannot be understated, especially when they’re implemented in chatbots. Companies have been experimenting with these tools for a couple years now, but as the technology continues to develop, everyone from airlines to pizza chains are using them to improve marketing and customer experience.


The Persistent

  • Companies like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram will continue to extend their reach and influence. In 2017, Facebook exceeded 2 billion monthly users while YouTube hit 1.5 billion monthly users. Yeah, that’s billion with a B. Marketing strategies through these sites will continue to impact every company looking to increase their brand recognition.
  • News organizations are getting stretched thin as they try to adapt to an evolving market. Make it easy on them and stick with the time proven press release. Press releases give you the ability to inform the community when exciting things are happening for your company. They can reach a large audience, but don’t require you to deliver them directly to the consumer.


The Comeback

  • After a stagnated growth rate at the beginning of the decade, the popularity of podcasts has surged in recent years thanks to increased digital media consumption and popular podcasts such as Serial. Ride this marketing wave as podcasts continue to become more popular.
  • 85% of videos on Facebook are played with no sound. What does that mean for advertisers? It’s time to bring back silent videos while still capturing consumers’ attention. Channel your inner 1940s film producer and think of creative ways to grab users attention without sound.

2017 was a wild ride. Hopefully this has helped you prepare for whatever 2018 throws your way. If there’s any way we can help, contact Targeted Persuasion today.

Your 2018 Communications Strategy

It’s 2018. Does your company have everything it needs to communicate in the New Year?

Chances are you’re just now getting back into the swing of things after a long vacation with friends and family. Your to-do list is a mile long with new projects and unfinished business from last year. Chances are your inbox isn’t even close to cleaned up after your time away.

We get it. You’re busy.

When you have a moment, I want to encourage you to take some time to look at your organization’s communications strategy. If your response is, ‘what communication strategy?’ then you really need to take some time.

A solid communication strategy is crucial to controlling how stakeholders, customers, and the general public perceive your company or association. If you pushed this off in 2017, it’s time to take a fresh look in 2018.

To start, here are a few communications tools you might need and how they can help:

A Media Kit.

As the name would suggest, a media kit – or press kit – is a bundle of visual materials designed to give media members an overview of your organization. A kit can include photos of your products or service, infographics or other representations of relevant data, leadership team bios, and a detailed description and history of your organization. Which elements and how much information to include will depend on your organization and specific needs.

Good website copy.

Chances are you’re not fully satisfied with your website. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, but it always gets pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. It’s easy to keep putting this off with everything you have going on, but it’s critical to get this right. After all, your website is often the first impression people will get of your organization when they type your name into a search engine. Make sure it’s a good one.

Is the info on your website up to date and relevant? Is it easy to read and well organized? If the answers to these questions aren’t a resounding ‘yes,’ then don’t put this off any longer.

Up-to-date Pamphlets

In a digital world, everyone seems to overlook the value of a good old-fashioned pamphlet. While this may seem a bit antiquated, the truth is a good pamphlet, brochure, or flyer is still an effective way of communicating – particularly if your office has lots of visitors swinging by or you attend lots of events.

The key is to create an item that pops. Creativity is key here. Make something that looks – and feels – appealing to the person holding it. A good design will make the reader think twice about tossing it in the garbage.

Again, the feel is important here too. Consider replacing the 24 lb. paper you would typically use with something more substantial.

These are just a few things to consider when designing a comprehensive communications plan. Best of luck telling your story in 2018. If there’s any way we can help, contact Targeted Persuasion today.

Top 5 PR Crises of 2017

2017 was a big news year. Some might even say ‘huuuuuge.’ But aside from politics, several large public relations crises also made major headlines. From United Airlines’ removal of a passenger in a brutal video, to Wells Fargo’s shady coverups of an even shadier fraud scandal, we’ve briefly recapped 2017’s top PR stories in this article. With only three weeks left in the year, let’s hope for everyone’s sake we don’t have to update this list again before January 1. 

1. United Airlines Scandal

Earlier this year, a video surfaced of law enforcement forcibly removing a passenger from a domestic flight, resulting in visible injuries to the passenger. People were outraged at United Airlines for “re-accommodating” a passenger on an overbooked flight in such an extreme manner.  

The PR team seems to have been sleeping on the job through the whole disaster. CEO Oscar Munoz issued an apology, however a leaked internal message penned by Munoz describing the victim as ‘disruptive and belligerent’ certainly undercut any pretense of sincerity.

No immediate action was taken by United on behalf of its passengers, aside from a single overbooking policy change.

This PR disaster resulted in 46% of millennials saying they would “avoid United flights.” Ouch. 

2. Harvey Weinstein and Co. Scandals

This year, starting with the high profile producer Harvey Weinstein, over 20 celebrity men have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. It appears that the culture of silence has lifted a bit and predators are being exposed in a domino effect.

Several of the alleged perpetrators initially reacted with denial and anger. These denials were often undercut by the emergence of new victims reporting their abuse and corroborating the accounts of early accusers.

These allegations have resulted in serious consequences for the accused – Kevin Spacey was removed from his House of Cards contract with Netflix, and Harvey Weinstein was booted from the board of his own company, just to name a couple. 

3. Equifax Data Breach Scandal

In September, news broke that over 140 million Americans had their security compromised in the largest data breach in history. Trust is one of the most important factors when consumers are handing over private information, so obviously this is was a huge PR nightmare.

Equifax handled the breach extremely poorly. They tried to keep the incident quiet for six weeks after it occurred, which made the crisis even worse when the news did come out. Customers weren’t able to take steps to protect themselves for six weeks while the breach was kept secret.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Equifax offered to smooth things over by offering free credit monitoring. The only catch was that participants had to waive their rights to pursue legal action against the company. Obviously, this was penned by lawyers whose goal was to limit legal liability and not protect the company’s brand image.

This was the triple crown of public relations blunders:

Expose customers to risk of identity theft through irresponsible handling of info.

Keep the breach secret for several weeks, exposing your customers to more risk.

Offer a transparently self-serving reparation once the mistake is exposed.

4. Uber Scandals

Uber had an awful year, embroiled in scandal, lawsuits, and a revolving door of executives. One of the lowlights of the year was the February release of Susan Fowler’s whistleblowing essay, claiming a toxic culture at the company led to sexual harassment and rampant sexism. A video showing former CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver further tarnished the company’s image.

Uber’s self-inflicted wounds show that in the age of social media, human resources problems can quickly become public relations problems.  

5. Wells Fargo Fake Account Scandal

This year, the news broke that Wells Fargo employees had been creating numerous fake accounts unbeknownst to customers. These accounts helped stressed employees meet sales goals. Like with Uber, a toxic corporate culture at Wells caused massive public image problems for the company.

Wells Fargo’s response to the crisis was woefully inadequate. They went on record saying that the fake accounts were an isolated incident done by low-level employees, refusing to take responsibility for the actions of employees on their payroll. Word got out that whistleblowers were suppressed, and that more people knew about the fake accounts than was originally implied. In fact, it was a company-wide issue, not an isolated incident at all.


Some of these disasters could have easily been avoided and resulted from toxic cultures emanating from leadership (Wells, Uber, Weinstein). Others were the result of a combination of bad luck, honest mistakes, and poor decisions (Equifax, United). Unless you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with a PR nightmare on this scale. But do you have a plan in place to react if something does come up? How would you put out a fire if your organization was under public scrutiny?

Do you have a seat at the table? If not, you are on the menu.

Does the state and federal government know how important your business and industry are to the economy or society? They should.

Here’s the thing: whether we like it or not, decisions made by elected officials in Washington DC and the state capital have reverberating effects all the way down the line – including into your community and business. Politicians rarely fully comprehend the bills they vote on.

While it’s easy to get cynical, think there’s nothing we can do, and fume at the politicians for being uninformed, who can blame them? Many elected positions are technically part time jobs that demand full-time hours and politicians have to deal with a bevy of issues for which they are not necessarily prepared. Often times they are relying on overworked staff and self-interested lobbyists to inform them on the issues.

That’s the reality. How are you going to deal with it? How are you going to make sure the politicians hear your voice above the noise?

Have you considered going directly to the politicians to make your case? I’m not talking about a letter writing campaign or a tweet storm (although those things can help too). I’m talking something bigger.

I’m talking about a lobby day.

So, what is a ‘lobby day?’

Also known as an ‘advocacy day,’ a lobby day is most simply defined as an organized visit to a national or state capital to meet with elected officials and policy makers on a specific issue of interest to the group and advocate for that issue. A lobby day can also include a march, demonstration, press conference, and other public facing events designed to increase awareness among the general public through social and traditional media.

So, what are the key benefits of a lobby day?

  • Direct access to elected officials.

Let’s face it. Politicians get hundreds or thousands of emails from constituents every week. Meeting in person gives you the chance to build a personal relationship and put a human face on the issue at hand.

  • Amplify your voice.

Dozens or hundreds of constituents descending on the legislature sends a powerful message that people care strongly about your issue and that you demand to be heard.

  • Media attention.

A crowd tends to draw cameras. This is your chance to get noticed, not only by elected officials, but also by the media and the general public. Just be sure you have a carefully crafted message and talking points to make sure your cause is being portrayed in the best possible light.

Okay, so now you know how beneficial a lobby day can be for your cause. Now, how do you make it happen? Something this big requires a lot of organizing, and you’re going to need to engage a lot of stakeholders.

Here are three key things to consider before you get started.

  1. Identify your stakeholders and build out your contact list. Who cares about this issue and would lend their support? Who are key influencers who can get others involved? What voices will be especially important for elected officials?
  2. Come up with concise and clear messaging to convey what it is you’re doing and why it’s important. This is a lot harder than it sounds. There are 1,000 reasons why someone might care about your cause. You need to identify the 3 things people care about and hammer home those points. (Hint: the key message could be different for different audiences. Be sure to keep your audience in mind).
  3. Identify key tools for organizing. Email, online petition, website, social media – these are all standard tools for organizing a campaign like this. It’s important that these pieces are working together toward common goals (getting petition signatures, driving attendance to lobby day, etc.). A piecemeal approach will make your campaign appear disorganized.

Could your industry benefit from an advocacy day at your state capital or Washington, DC in 2018? Of course it could. And it’s not too late to start that conversation. Contact us today and tell us what’s important to you.