Here's how having a strong brand helps your marketing

Whether you’ve owned a business or are thinking about starting one, branding that is true to your business identity is a crucial component of attracting your ideal clients. You can have the most extravagant marketing budget, but if your branding falls flat, appears outdated, or just doesn’t live up to the quality of products or services you provide, you might find yourself in a tough position when it comes to selling yourself. When it comes to marketing your brand, your story – verbal, written, and visual – need to be positioned and communicated clearly. While a communications professional can certainly help with messaging and storytelling, your creative assets must line up, too. 

photo: Annie Spratt

photo: Annie Spratt

CONSISTENCY:

In such a visual culture, recognizability really is key, particularly when standing out among your competitors. By drawing client and consumer eyes to a familiar look, you’re bound to have them more easily engaged than if your feed or website was made up of shots of varying quality or appearance. One way to ensure this is by selecting a photographer whose work represents the mood and style of your company. If you’re creating the photos in-house, you can achieve a similar idea by scouting out presets that embody the spirit of your brand. Google works wonders for finding these! The majority of presets will cost money to download, but considering the work a photographer put into creating them and the frequency with which you’ll use them, they’re well worth the investment.

RELIABILITY:

No matter what you’re promoting, beautiful photography will establish a deeper trust in potential consumers. They’ll be able to tell you care about your product — enough to have it captured in its best light by a talented professional. Audiences may be skeptical at first glance, and it’ll help if there is accuracy in how your company is portrayed. More and more, businesses are simplifying their marketing, assuring customers that what they see is what they get. Remember: consumers are increasingly attracted to brands that inspire or support a lifestyle, not just sell a product or service. By creating and sharing content that they can relate to you, your brand is not only attractive but attainable.

AESTHETICISM:

Social media and your website will be a driving force in how your brand is viewed. And let’s be honest, we want it to be gorgeous! The best way to achieve this visually is photography that is not only beautiful to look at, but tells a story and invokes a feeling in the viewer — it might not be apparent right away, but this method will inevitably top the noise of flashy advertisements at the end of the day. The best art directors and photographer know how to communicate clearly without adding unnecessary information their shot.

Above: Herbivore Botanicals is a great example of a strong brand. It not only sells beautiful products in gorgeous packaging, but also celebrates a lifestyle.

COMMUNITY:

Besides the obvious of wanting your brand to look its best, contracting a visual artist, whether a photographer or stylist, will only build your connection to community. They’ll likely be eager to post the work they did for you on their sharing platforms, all the while tagging your company and bringing you extra recognition. In the meantime, you now have a wealth of images you can share for several weeks or months, creating a cohesive feel to your branding while also sharing the photographer’s work to a wider audience. The payoff is twofold, and it will also increase your chances of working with them in the future. By forming a relationship with creatives in your community, you are entrusting someone to know your brand. The more readily they familiarize themselves with it, the better chance they will give it credit.

As a photographer and a marketer, I’ve progressively found it easier to identify someone’s photography without glancing at their username — but you’d be surprised how quickly your clients will be able to do this as well, visual background or not. Brand recognition is totally key! Have fun with the process, instituting a theme of sorts from the start, without letting it box you in. After you have a vision in mind, explaining your hopes to a professional will help solidify your grip on your product or service, while also identifying any holes you might not have noticed prior to your conversation. So: what’re you waiting for? If it’s time to kick start your business, or for a brand refresh, we hope we’ve offered some good reasons why!

 

Seven ideas to promote your business for the first day of summer

With summer comes tan lines, bike rides and relaxed times — but it can also come with an underlying heartbreaker — that summertime slowdown. It’s less frequently touched on than the highlights and joy rides the season can take on us, but it can totally be real! Maybe you’ve reached a posting slump, hit a snag in your marketing plan, or began getting slower responses through your public relations efforts. Thankfully, we’re here to help with a fun list that will get you out of that rut and back into that sun.

photo: unsplash

photo: unsplash

An Instagram giveaway featuring your favorite summer collection items — nothing attracts an audience like free goodies! Set something up on your feed and your Stories for maximum results. Create a flat lay of the latest and greatest things your business has to offer, whether that be stationery, sunglasses, or skincare. For greater results, ask another local business to provide an item or two of their own, allowing them to gain exposure while also bolstering your package. Promote the giveaway frequently, and require participants to tag their friends in the comments in order for their entry to be valid (bonus entries if they share on Stories!). In this way, your post will be exposed to more eyes, providing increased brand recognition. Plus, who doesn’t feel good about a business giving back?

In-store events with indie brand pop-ups, live music, wine or snacks while you shop — summer is a time for activity! When there are so many other options for entertainment, directing people into your shop with some unique alternatives is a great way to attract new customers. If there is an added element such as snacks by a local bakery, drinks from a close-by brewery or tunes from a hometown musician, customers are bound to see their time with your brand as not just transactional, but experiential.

Free downloadable to attract email addresses — At FACTEUR, we love sharing knowledge. It not only helps position us as being well-versed in our industry, but it also allows us to give back to our community. Your business should consider the same – drop that free knowledge in exchange for a precious email address. No underhanded tactics here, just some friendly sharing about your products from time to time, coming straight to inboxes. The downloadable you share can contain recipes if you’re a personal chef or restauranteur, styling tips if you represent a fashion line or boutique, or recommendations on how to relax after work if you’re a yoga instructor. Add value to someone’s life and in turn add valuable new audience members to your e-mail list.

photo: unsplash

photo: unsplash

Instagram/Facebook live of your new summer collection — We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: GO LIVE OR GO HOME! If you want to really connect with your audience on social media, video – especially live video – is the way to go. The ultimate goal is to feel like a customer’s friend, someone they look forward to seeing pop up because you’re providing them with something helpful! In fact, some people may know you only by your handle for so long before they make the leap to in-person connection. Make it count! Creating an Instagram or Facebook live video of the items in-store will entice followers to come your way, energized about specific pieces they saw on the screen (and hopefully by your own self, too!).

Share a postcard with a discount code valid through the end of summer in shopping bags and via email after purchase — there’s no better way to thank your customers for supporting you than a.) saying and b.) saying it with a discount! If you can provide them with products for a cut of the price, you’ll be sure to create a personalized loyalty that extends with every inventory change you make. You love your customers — after all, they’re what keeps you going, both emotionally and financially — and a discount code is just as much as a thank-you to them as it is for you. While we spend so much time trying to gain new customers, don’t forget retaining your current consumer base.

photo: unsplash

photo: unsplash

Social media advertising campaigns — there is so much to be said for good old-fashioned consistent and creative posting. Social media users love to see quality content paired with your username, and we believe you can make it happen with consistency at the core! By creating a frequently used font and color palette, choosing a dedicated filter or preset and using a scheduling program such as Later or Hootsuite, you can truly make the most of your social channels while advertising products or services you offer. This might also mean taking the plunge to pay for a boosted post or spending some of your budget on video creation for your company. Whatever it is, we promise: people will notice the efforts you put in!

Pitch local media to create a story centering around a theme that includes your business — do you own a beach-glass-based jewelry company that sells at local markets? Highlight why this has a place in a larger TV or print package about summer festivals, beach clean-ups or the best local vendors to make that upcoming proposal perfect. Getting your products on television stations or in magazines that your ideal consumer watches or reads can be just the exposure you need in a dry season. Remember when pitching that your timing and relevancy is everything.

Photo: supply co

Photo: supply co

Looking for more ideas to fuel your social media, PR, and marketing efforts? Be sure to follow us on Instagram, sign up for our e-mail newsletter below, and check out our instant resources!

Digital content and story ideas for May

May digital content ideas

Welcome to the month of May! If you're in the northern hemisphere, you are probably welcoming some consistently warmer weather, which always inspires us to create new things. May has no shortage of great events that can serve as an inspirational source for blogging. These ideas are also applicable to your social media and media relations pitches. To get you started, here are just a few opportunities this month to align your brand or business with some already note-worthy happenings online.

May is...

  • Vegan Month

  • National Peanut Butter Lovers Month

  • National Water Safety Month

  • World Stroke Month

  • National Bike Month

  • National Photograph Month

  • National Songwriting Month

Daily opportunities include...

May 2: National Lemonade Day
May 4: National Star Wars Day
May 5: Cinco De Mayo
May 5: Kentucky Derby
May 7: National Packaging Design Day
May 11: National Foam Rolling Day
May 12: Mother's Day
May 18: International Museum Day
May 20: Bike to Work Day
May 25: National Wine Day
May 27: International Jazz Day
May 28: National Hamburger Day
May 31: National Macaroon Day

Want more content ideas for the year? These are just a few of the ones we've identified! We have developed four editorial content calendars specifically for the food & drink, arts & hobbies, health & wellness, and lifestyle industries. You can find them under the Instant Resources tab here on the FACTEUR website (and showcased below). We've pulled together social media, blogging, and PR opportunities based on monthly and daily holidays, hashtags, and high profile events that are related to each of those industries. Also included is a list of story ideas to get you started with developing your editorial plan, as well as space to brainstorm your own ideas. We're offering each calendar for $9, and if you buy all four with our Blogger Bundle, you basically get one free! Plus, every time we update the calendars, we'll make sure you'll get the newest iteration (at no extra charge, of course). Happy creating!

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Save this post to pinterest

Are press releases outdated?

are press releases outdated

So much of the work we do as PR professionals is preparation. Long before any media outreach, we are compiling fact sheets, photography, video, biographies, and so forth so that when it's time to pitch, we're prepared with the assets that we know journalists will want to help them with their editorial decisions, researching for an interview, and developing the story itself.

A press release – and moreso a press kit – is often part of this preparatory step. The purpose of the press release is to communicate the details of a special announcement from the source. Press releases are therefore valuable in sharing that information in a quick and concise manner. 

However, the practice of press release distribution can be considered outdated. There are six publicists for every journalist, and each of those journalists is receiving an abundance of sterile press releases to their inboxes every day. Rather than relying on mass distribution to get the word out, we suggest (and practice!) focusing more on personalized pitches to a journalist we know covers the beat. It's absolutely more time consuming, but because relationships are so important in this business, investing the time to build those relationships is of the most importance. Including a link to a press release or an EPK in that personal pitch to learn more makes sure your bases are covered: you've taken the time to develop and suggest a great story angle to the journalist as well as did some of that homework for them by supplying a press release and supplementary information should they need it.

If your end-goal is a story about your business and not just a news brief, I would suggest pitching a journalist a story idea – not just about the brand itself – instead of crafting and disseminating a press release. If you want to create an announcement and share it, use it as part of your pitch; or, create a video announcement and include it in your pitch. That strategy is two-fold: you'll be able to float at the top of an ocean of "For Immediate Release" emails, and you can also use that media on your owned channels, such as your blog, social media, and e-newsletter. 

Want to learn more about how our personal approach to PR can help your earn your brand recognition? Contact us!

March content calendar: ideas for social media and PR

Who can believe it's almost March already? While you're gearing up for spring, don't overlook this important month, chock full of great events that can serve as an inspirational source for blogging. These ideas are also applicable to your social media and media relations pitches. To get you started, here are just a few opportunities this month to align your brand or business with some already note-worthy happenings online.

March is...

  • Women's History Month

  • National Nutrition Month

  • National Peanut Month

  • National Craft Month

  • Music in Our Schools Month

Daily opportunities include...

March 1: Peanut Butter Lover's Day
March 3: National Day of Unplugging
March 7: National Cereal Day
March 8: International Women's Day
March 11: Daylight Savings Time Begins
March 13: National Napping Day
March 17: St. Patrick's Day
March 20: First Day of Spring
March 21: National French Bread Day
March 23: National Puppy Day
March 23: National Chia Day
March 26: National Spinach Day
March 28: Singer Lady Gaga's birthday (had to throw that one in!)

Want more content ideas for the year? We have developed four editorial content calendars specifically for the food & drink, arts & hobbies, health & wellness, and lifestyle industries. You can find them under the Downloads tab here on the FACTEUR website (and showcased below). We've pulled together social media, blogging, and PR opportunities based on monthly and daily holidays, hashtags, and high profile events that are related to each of those industries. Also included is a list of story ideas to get you started with developing your editorial plan, as well as space to brainstorm your own ideas. We're offering each calendar for less than $10, and if you buy all four with our Blogger Bundle, you basically get one free! Plus, every time we update the calendars, we'll make sure you'll get the newest iteration (at no extra charge, of course). Happy creating!


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FACTEUR PR welcomes Kelly Powell to its team

Kelly Powell FACTEUR

We are so excited to welcome our new Communications Assistant, Kelly Powell, to the FACTEUR PR team! Kelly Powell is a journalist and photographer located in Kent, Ohio. Alongside her position at FACTEUR PR, she works part-time as the editorial assistant for Ohio Magazine and is a freelance wedding, engagement and portrait photographer. She is a lover of all things media- and graphic-related and is probably signed up for more email newsletters than most.

A graduate of Kent State University’s Magazine Journalism and Photojournalism programs, she loves spending time between Kent and Cleveland for their access to coffee shops, restaurants, art museums and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Kelly is excited to work at FACTEUR in the heart of Ohio City and looks forward to supporting its clients both at home and from afar.

Kelly will join Reena and Hannah on all day-to-day client relations and efforts with a focus on public relations, social media, and content creation. Please join us in welcoming her to the team! Leave a comment below, and feel free to send her an email. Plus, stay tuned for some blogs and other great content from Kelly throughout the coming months here on the FACTEUR blog! 

Four tips to stand out on social media

Photo by Marina Claire Photography courtesy of Modern CLE.

Photo by Marina Claire Photography courtesy of Modern CLE.

The old saying “if you build it, they will come,” may have once been pertinent to a business strategy before the internet, but when it comes to scaling in 2019, it couldn’t be farther from reality. In the decade or so since social media for businesses has mainstreamed, most of us have come to discover that to do it well and to see it affect your bottom line positively, you have to make consistent, dedicated, and strategic effort.

Now with hundreds of millions of users – even billions on Facebook – the social space is more congested than ever. How do you get your brand to stand out amongst the crowd? Here are a few guidelines you can implement right now that I shared with the audience at Behind the Story with Modern CLE to help get you started.

Four tips to stand out on social media

1.) Have a strong sense of brand.

This is beyond just a logo, but who you are, what you look like, what you are trying to say and how you say it. Standing out on social media is an art and a science, and your brand falls into the art category. What does that look like? Beyond just a logo, have a website to capture leads and emails beyond your social media followers. Make sure that website like your social channels has a consistent voice, the same color palettes,

A brilliant way to help you illustrate your brand is to have quality photography. Quality content is often Save the amateur photos and videos for your Instagram Stories, and view your feed as more of a portfolio or catalog. Schedule a quarterly photo shoot and capture three months worth of high-quality images and video for your social media channels. The rest of your posts can be filled in with user-generated content, your own social media graphics you’ve designed, and so forth. You’ll want to create an aesthetic that is true to your brand as well as shows a rhythm that your audience can anticipate. A great way to do this is stick with a handful of conversation topics (I’d suggest no more than five). For example, on the FACTEUR feed, we focus primarily on 1. offering tips, 2. featuring our clients, 3. sharing behind-the-scenes content of our studio, 4. revealing the latest marketing news, 5. sharing content we find to be inspirational to us in the moment. You won’t see a curveball post of what we are having for lunch, unless it ties back to one of these topics (like lunch at a client’s restaurant, behind-the-scenes of a team meeting, etc).

2. Make a date with your audience.

This next tip is more behind-the-scenes, but it’s one of the most important: be consistent on the platforms you choose to communicate. Spend time every week to schedule content for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Be sure are you are scheduling at the optimal time based on your analytics, and try to always sign off with a call to action. Be sure the times that you are scheduling are times you are available to engage, as well. Algorithms favor responsiveness, so don’t just post and disappear. In general, people are on social media during hours outside of the work day, but not the weekend. So think lunchtime and evenings, but check your own analytics to determine when your audience is most likely to see your content and engage with it to help you stand out. Every Monday at @facteurpr on Instagram, we do a Monday Q+A on Stories. Our followers have come to expect this dialogue from us, and if we miss a Monday or post late, we now hear about it! Need some ideas on what to post? Check out our content calendar workbooks.

Instagram business accounts that posted up to 10 segments on Stories each day earned twice as many impressions than those that didn’t post on Stories at all.
— Forbes

3. Be real.

The best place I can tell you to exercise this is on Stories. Forbes recently revealed that Instagram business accounts that posted up to 10 segments on Stories each day earned twice as many impressions than those that didn’t post on Stories at all.Furthermore, engagement is higher on Stories than the news feed, meaning brands are more likely to see action taken – likes, emoji drops, or DMs – if they post on Stories v. the newsfeed. (Stories alone has 400 million daily users!) Being at the top of the news feed with your Stories is prime real estate, and you want to keep it, so try to post on Stories often. Plus, video is the most consumed content type and this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. I think we’re going to see more for IGTV, too. Better yet, make a date with your audience and do an IGTV or Stories the same time each day or week. Similarly, show your face on Stories and on your feed as often as able. People want to know who you are, not just what you are selling. Plus photos of faces are 40% more liked than photos without faces. Audiences like relatability and vulnerability, and it’s great to do that in your photos as well as captions.

4.) Spend your money wisely.

Social media is becoming more pay-to-play, and even with Instagram’s latest algorithm shift back to a more chronological feed, we’re still finding only about 5% of anyone’s followers seeing the content that they post. My favorite avenue to advertise on is Instagram Stories. We already know the engagement rate is higher there, and with an ad, you get the coveted Swipe Up button. This is a great way to spend any quarterly ad dollars.

Another great way to spend any quarterly ad dollars is to partner with micro influencers and community members over a period of time vs. for a singular post. View these collaborations as long-lasting relationships versus simply “sponsored” opportunities. This is a great way to build an influential ambassadorship, support other business owners, and really see the long-term value of your efforts.

What do you think of these tips? Any you’d like to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

How to know if your business is ready for PR

Photo: Marina Claire Photography

Photo: Marina Claire Photography

"How do you know if you're ready for PR?" This is a question we often hear from potential clients. They know they want to gain exposure for their brand, but what does it take? I addressed this very question with Modern CLE on Sunday’s Behind the Story event at the FACTEUR PR office, and wanted to share the insight with our readers here, too.

The fact of the matter is, you always need PR. You always want people saying great things about your brand, so you need to initiate that by being a voice for your brand. PR is more than just media relations. It’s events, it’s customer service, it’s managing how you interact with people when they walk through your door, it’s the messaging and imaging you deliver through social media. Now the question of when to know if you need to hire a PR pro to increase your exposure boils down to a couple things. 

1. Do you have a strong brand? If the look and feel is consistent, your mission and values are apparent, you know exactly who your audience is, the tone and voice of your content is in line with who you are as a brand, and the business itself is operating as it should, you’re going to be ready for communicate all of that clearly.

2. Can you afford it? When you’re hiring a PR person, you are paying for their time, not for a media placement like in advertising. To give an example, a full-page ad in Martha Stewart Living is $233,000. An article will only cost you the time of the publicist, which includes everything from researching the opportunity, creating and compiling creative assets, putting together a press kit or materials, story ideation, sending samples, pitching, securing, follow-up, interview coordination, reporting, and so forth. However, the important thing to note is that editorial coverage is never a guarantee and not always on your schedule like advertising, but arguably its value is higher because you have a reputable third party endorsing or covering your brand. Related: Learn how to DIY PR with our online course!

3. Can you handle increased recognition? It’s not always an immediate correlation that PR leads to revenue. Rather, PR elevates reputation, which can absolutely lead to greater revenue. So make sure your business can scale to meet the demands.

At FACTEUR PR, we offer scalable public relations services, from coaching to committed engagements. If you have any questions at all, drop a comment below or contact us!

Digital content and social media ideas for December

While we're planning for 2019, let's not forget we still have one important and busy month to end the year on, December! Can you believe the holiday season is here? It can definitely be hard to think about making time to curate content for your blog, PR, and social media channels when this month's to-do list seems almost a mile long. Here are just a few opportunities this month to align your brand or business with some already note-worthy happenings online.

December is...

  • Root Vegetables Month

  • Exotic Fruits Month

  • AIDS Awareness Month

  • Universal Human Rights Month

  • Write a Business Plan Month

  • Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Daily opportunities include...

December 1: Day With(Out) Art Day
December 2: National Mutt Day
December 4: National Cookie Day
December 11: International Children's Day
December 13: National Cocoa Day
December 15: National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day
December 18: Free Shipping Day
December 30: Bacon Day
December 31: National Champagne Day
 

Want more content ideas? Check out our curated content calendars specifically for the food & drink, arts & hobbies, health & wellness, and lifestyle industries. You can find them under the Instas tab here on the FACTEUR website (and showcased below). We've pulled together social media, blogging, and PR opportunities based on monthly and daily holidays, hashtags, and high profile events that are related to each of those industries. Also included is a list of story ideas to get you started with developing your editorial plan, as well as space to brainstorm your own ideas. Right now, we're offering each calendar for $9, and if you buy all four with our Blogger Bundle, you basically get one free! Plus, every time we update the calendars, we'll make sure you'll get the newest iteration (at no extra charge, of course). Happy creating!

Reflect + Refresh: Brand considerations for the New Year

Depending on the situation, this time of year is when a brand is either winding down or going full speed ahead to achieve a successful holiday season. As these last few weeks pass by, remember to take a step back and look at everything you and your company has accomplished. Celebrate the successes!

However, it is equally as essential to also analyze where improvements can be made. Now is the moment to make time to stop and reflect on what has happened. This activity can be done over the course of a few weeks, or you could sit down and list everything that comes to mind in one go. It is all about making the contemplation session as beneficial as possible!

FACTEUR PR has three areas to add to your to-do list, along with some questions to ask yourself that may help with the process.

Notebook_Flatlay.JPG

Mission and Vision

  • Is your mission statement still accurate?

  • Who has your audience grown to include?

We are aware of the amazing growth that a business can have in just one year, particularly for small businesses that are still in those critical early building stages. It is necessary to pause and consider if the direction the company is going is still fully parallel to that of its mission. Compare the different aspects of growth to the elements of your mission statement and the values that accompany it. Though your brand’s mission may not be literally written out for your audience to see, having it for the team to refer to is undoubtedly helpful to stay on track. (Thinking you may need a reset button on that statement? Here is a great resource to help.)

Social Media Presence

  • Are you staying on-brand with the company’s aesthetics and voice?

  • How does the tone of your content adapt to seasonal/cultural/societal shifts?

Take note of what kinds of posts are best received and focus on those. Do this while keeping everything relevant, however. Just because everyone loves a cute puppy photo does not mean it should be utilized over a more relatable image. Content needs to have strong visuals and writing to provide customers with a well-rounded message. It also is important to observe how your target market utilizes social media. Are they actually moving away from Facebook and towards Pinterest? There are trends in not only products and ideas but how individuals access and share them. Don’t forget to keep an eye out! Not sure how to read your audience? Just ask them!

Customer Interaction

  • Do you have accessible avenues for consumer feedback?

  • Do you encourage follower promotion by re-sharing their content, or do you keep all promotional content in-house?

It can be challenging to balance staying true to oneself and following what the customer desires. Because of this, it is a good idea to keep a level of two-way communication. Whether you make a point of responding to followers’ comments and questions on your Instagram posts or have an easy option for leaving online reviews, allowing customers to share their thoughts provides them with a way to feel and be more connected. Also, welcoming images or media that have been created by customers, known as user generated content, can increase brand connections. Both of these improve brand loyalty. This in turn lets a company make more informed decisions moving forward.

As you may have noticed, each of these areas are intertwined with the next. How a customer can connect with your brand may often rely on your presence online. The company’s reputation of honesty and/or transparency for the consumer relies on the proper execution of its values through the various physical and digital avenues. This is why we advise for a brand, personal or professional, to unpack these elements at the end of the year to have a fresh, successful start to 2019!

Warmest holiday wishes - we can’t wait to see what is to come in the year ahead!