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Getting to grips with LinkedIn

With over 2.3 Million LinkedIn users in South Africa, those who realise the benefits of brand awareness and the power of connections will benefit from the advantage of this professional network. 

The true power of LinkedIn lies in connecting and getting introductions to your connections, connections and their connections. Its all in the power of the network. Companies or individuals who want to build their brand and maintain a network of decision makers on LinkedIn can do so pretty easily and with little investment. 

Here are some simple tips for creating a great profile on LinkedIn: 

Create a professional and complete profile.

By ensuring your profile is filled out at an All Star level you will be able to be found easily and quickly by others. In addition, when people view you, it will enhance your credibility and brand enormously.

Use Keywords to get found.

If you want people to find you when searching for a specific keyword include it at least five times in your profile. 

Add skills to your profile.

By adding skills to your profile that you are an expert in you will enhance the chances of coming up in other's search. 

Stand out.

By including adding documents, presentations, videos, projects and URL's in the media section of your profile you will make your profile stand out and be noticed. 

Be active.

By being active and sharing updates, images or even publishing articles on LinkedIn, that are interesting and relevant, you will be noticed and come up more often in searches. Remember if you do nothing with your profile you will be invisible.

On a final note, LinkedIn is a networking tool so learn the rules of engagement if you want to use it properly. It is all about the relationship and while some self promotion is relevant, try to add information that is relevant or adds value to other's lives!






How to Create a Winning Pitch

As PR professionals our powers of communication and persuasion are relied on to help our clients reach their business objectives. Whether it’s a pitch to media, partnership proposal, influencer engagement opportunity, speaking engagement motivation or an award entry, the way we craft the pitch is everything! 

A pitch needs to have some key elements to make sure it stands out and gets noticed. 

1. What’s in it for me. Many of us approach the pitch from the point of view of what we want, not what the other person is looking for. Before even crafting the email, letter, tweet or telephone conversation, you need to find out what the other person needs. 

Media – what content or stories are they looking for? What beat do they write for? What topics interest them? How does your story add value? What is different or unique about your story?  

Partnership – how will a partnership with you add value to them? What will they get out of it? What do you have that they don’t have?  

Influencer – why should they care? What do you offer that adds value to their followers? 

Speaking engagement – What is the theme of the conference? What kind of speakers are they seeking? What kind of content do they want?

Award entry – what are they looking for? Pay attention to their entry requirements and give it to them in the right format and word count. Highlight the award worthy elements and make sure they match what they are looking for.

2. Be Different. What do you have that is different, unique or will add massive value to their audiences? If you don’t have anything that positions you as different, go back to the drawing board and create something together with your client. Don’t pitch something that will not get the traction you need; you will just be wasting your time and theirs. 

3. Start with a catchy subject line and short summary. As succinctly as possible highlight the key benefits to them of what you are pitching.  Let them know you understand what they are looking for and have what they need. Your subject line should be attention grabbing. 

4. Add supporting information. Make sure you add any stats, quotes, links, profiles, or stand out sound bites below your introduction.  

5. Make sure you add a call to action. Entice them to respond or let them know they can expect a call from you. What you don’t want is your email to disappear into the digital universe never to be answered. For example, if it’s a media pitch you could say “I am happy to give this to you as an exclusive, could you let me know by 5pm today.” Or “my client has a time slot set aside for media on Thursday at 11pm or 2pm, can you let me know so I can reserve a time for you.” 

Here are some ways to pitch to media: 

  • Hook – make sure what you are pitching has one main focal point, hook or angle. 
  • Timely – tie your pitch in with a relevant current social issue or special event. 
  • Novelty – highlight something unique or different. Have you found a new way to do something? 
  • Consequence/Impact – does your story have a huge impact on a particular segment of the public? Will it change how the individuals participate or live their lives?
  • Human Interest - Is there a story behind your program or event? Has someone realised high-impact exceptional results because of your programs? Has someone made great personal sacrifices? 
  • Prominence – highlight a high-profile person or someone in your organisation achieving an award or reaching a leadership position. Or you could tie your story to a celebrity event.
  • Proximity – give it a local angle. Is there a geographical region more suited to your solution? 
  • Conflict – be contentious in a way that would breed debate or opinion. 
  • Knowledge - share how-to knowledge that can help their audience.

Generating Publicity for your Small to Medium Sized business

Getting media exposure is a tried-and-tested way to generate credibility and awareness for your business yet many business owners do not have the skill or knowledge to do it by themselves. The first rule to remember is that consistency is king. You can’t expect media to take you seriously unless you consistently engage with them; many businesses think that media will flock to your event or launch even if they have never heard of you. The truth is that media need a valid reason to engage with you over the hundreds of pitches and invites they get every day. 

If you are serious about using publicity as a branding tool, you will need to prepare a consistent strategy with a resource (outsourced or internal) that understands how media operate. This resource will also need to know how to engage with digital influencers who may have huge sway with your target audiences. With the rise of social media other individuals or groups who are not traditional journalists have risen to the fore providing an alternative way to reach your customers. 

Here are some simple steps to follow:

Identify the media you want to be in. Start simple with one or two publications/online sites. Look at their sections  for example they may have various “beats” such as news; business; mentorship; entrepreneurship; style; entertainment; lifestyle. Ask yourself what do you have that will add value to the section? Is it interesting? Is it timely? Does it fit with current events and topics? 

Start small. Don’t expect to get featured in the big magazines or broadcast media until you are known. Look for some quick online opportunities, local media or even local radio stations. 

Find out who is the “owner” of that section. Don’t try pitch to the editor rather speak to the person who is responsible for the section you want to be in. The quickest way to see who this is researching whose name is on the articles being featured in the section. If you can’t find the person call the media house and ask. Alternatively you could use a service like Encyclomedia which provides updated media lists for you. 

You need to catch the attention of the media you want to be in. The best way to do this is to write a catchy opinion article which you share with the media who you want to connect with. Make sure you have a summary of your profile ready as well. Preferably have this on your website so when the media has a look they can see what it is that you do. 

Send an email, tweet or call them and introduce yourself. Explain who you are, what you are an expert in, and include the article you have written. Use the article headline as your subject. Make sure it is catchy. For example; 3 ways I made it in business or 5 things every entrepreneur has to know; (this depends on what their section is). If at first you don’t get a bite, don’t be discouraged. Persist and make sure you are offering up subject matter expertise that is relevant!

When you get featured or interviewed make sure you do the following:

• Tweet the article using the @ handle of the media 

• Share it on all social channels

• Put it on your website with the logo of the media house

• Include it in a mailer to clients/prospects 

• Keep doing this every time you are featured


Reaching Influencers in the social media space 

Influencers are people who have a large following and are considered a credible source of information; they could be an industry expert, a celebrity or a blogger. Getting noticed by influencers online can do wonders for your credibility. 

You need to become an authority yourself. When you are, influencers will see you as a peer. So you need to blog/ be on social media if you have the appetite because it can be time consuming. 

Your biggest way to get noticed is to find those influencers, follow them and then you need to do some things:

  • Share their interesting posts – pay it forward to your own followers
  • Reply when you have something relevant to say 
  • Share a blog with them that you think they might find interesting
  • Your blog must be well written, have a catchy headline
  • Position you as an Authority in your field 

Add value to whoever reads it  


Listen more than you speak

Listening is the one skill you have to master if you want to communicate well, in business or your personal life. As professionals we always want to jump in with our own thoughts, ideas and suggestions, after all making it in PR requires our powers of persuasion!

The truth is that good listening skills lead to better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work. In the home, family members feel more valued, better problem solving takes place and overall happiness between yourself and family/friends is assured.

 Here are some listening tips we have compiled for you:

•  Give your full attention to the person who is speaking. Stay focused and don’t wander what they may say next. If you feel your mind wandering, change the position of your body and concentrate on the other person’s words. If you miss an important bit of information, know that it could be the crux of what the other person is trying to convey. If you miss it, you will not know how to give the person what they want or need. 

Don’t interrupt. Let the other person finish before you begin to talk. Everyone wants to be heard and interrupting them looks like you are not listening, even if you are. Have you ever been irritated when someone interrupts you while you are trying to say something important? Well that is how you would make them feel if you do it too. 

 •  Finish listening before you begin to speak! You can't really listen if you are busy thinking about what you want to say next. 

 Listen for the main ideas. These are the most important points the other person wants to get across. Usually these are mentioned at the outset or at the end, or may be repeated a number of times. Pay attention to sentences that begin with "My point is..." or "The thing to remember is..." “I feel that…” “What I need is…”

•  Ask questions. If you are not sure you understand what the other person has said, just ask. Repeat back to them in your own words what you believe they said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct. In this way you will clarify that you have interpreted the conversation correctly and they will have an opportunity to correct any misunderstandings. 

Give feedback. Sit up straight and look directly at the other person. Now and then, nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are all ways to let the other person know that you are really listening. Remember, you listen with your face as well as your ears! Don’t look out the window or down at your hands, this projects the image you are not listening. 

Active listening is actually quite easy when you resist the temptation to jump in and presume you know what others thinking. Give them the space to talk and you will learn so much more about them, what they are trying to communicate, what they think or feel. Only once you can truly hear what others are saying will you be able to meet them in the middle to come up with a solution. Remember sometimes people just want to be heard and they don’t want a solution, at this moment it is best to listen. 





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