Working Smarter: MightyText

Mighty, Mighty MightyText. Ok, now that I've placed The Commodores' "Brick House" earworm, let me share one of the tools that helps me to work smarter as I work hard for my clients.

MightyText is a free Android app that allows you to view incoming calls and texts on your computer desktop and tablet. It's most handy with texting, allowing you to respond from your keyboard as easily as you would an email. Since notifications are sent to your desktop, you also avoid the distraction of checking your smartphone from time to time. It even has a nifty feature that shows to what percentage your phone is charged.

For full disclosure, I have no relationship with MightyText or its creators beyond being a happy customer. 

You Don't Know What You Don't Know.

Establishing the value you bring to a potential customer is often the most difficult challenge in business development. There are so many DIY options out there - TurboTax brings tax preparation to your laptop so you don't need an accountant. Quickbooks and I are getting along just fine, thanks, no need to hire a bookkeeper. Everyone's using social media, so who needs to pay someone to promote my business on those channels. And on and on.

This can be true for some, in certain cases. But building a business is complex. It requires energy, focus, and strategy

Where is this post coming from? Well, 'tis the season - tax season - and in a recent meeting with my accountant we had the conversation that inspired this post. We talked about how each business has a rich value to provide its customers, that not everyone is able to do everything for themselves and end up with efficient and positive results. In one sentence, she said, "You don't know what you don't know."

Good one.

I don't know how to do what my plumber does, or my hair stylist or...so why should it be any different with your marketing and PR strategy? Money and time are precious to every business owner. While hiring a communications consultant may seem like an unaffordable expense, there's a certain expertise I bring to the table. Plus, when I work with someone, I partner with them. I want to see your business succeed not solely for the benefit of my bank account. I still believe that when your business does well, we all do well. I bring the experience in my field and the objective eye that best benefits you, and your bottom line.

My accountant, by the way, is Catherine Ponist. If you are in need of a firm that will guide you through the tax terrain of business ownership with calm, ease and expertise, contact her. I also have to thank my business coach, Paula Gregorowicz of The Paula G Company, for referring me to her. Paula is also excellent at partnering with you, providing a much-needed objectivity and knack for focusing on the productive "next steps" of building a business.

So, what is your "You Don't Know What You Don't Know?" Let's talk about it in the comments.

Telling Your Story: Business Events as PR Opportunities

One of my clients, A&T Chevrolet-Subaru, is both celebrating a 30th anniversary and undergoing a major construction project. As in, knocking down 2/3 of the building to create something completely new and, ultimately, better for business and their customer base.

Always working to be proactive rather than reactive, I advised a story pitch to both announce the great news of a local, family-owned business thriving for 30 years and assure passers-by that, no, the walls tumbling down was a sign of strength and not economic demise. 

Congratulations to the Allen family on 30 years of successful business and cheers to many more! Here's the story as it appears in the Perkasie News-Herald:

"A&T Chevrolet-Subaru" Drives into Renovations"

Jeff Allen & Bruce Allen of A&T Chevrolet-Subaru

 

Streak! Email Monitoring for Gmail Users

I use Outlook for my primary VoiceMatters business but also have in-house Gmail accounts for a couple of clients. Gmail is great for its mobility. Outlook is great because, as business sometimes requires, I want to see that the recipient actually received the email I sent. I'm one step closer to having it all (at least in the context of email - I know, how sad) with the discovery of Streak.

Streak is a chrome extension that allows Gmail users to see when a recipient has opened an email that you have sent. There are many more uses for Streak, which I'll share via this article from Mashable. Me? I'm pretty easy to please and have only used the "email read" function. So far.

Do you use Streak? If you do, or if you're going to try, tell me how you like it!

Time with My Tribe - Solo PR Summit Takeaways

It happens sometimes when you don't expect it. You're in a new place, a new situation and then, you find them. Your people. Those who get you, understand what you do. It can happen in any context or situation - personal or professional.

I've been a member of the SoloPR Pro community, a professional resource established by Kellye Crane, for a couple of years. I think I discovered SoloPrPro.com via a tweet. One click and I discovered a wealth of information for the independent communications consultant. Membership, as they say, has its privileges, and mine has been getting to know such a smart, clever, caring group of people through the members only Facebook group - a safe haven for fellow communicators to ask the stupid question, vent, or just bounce around ideas and best practices.

Last week's 2014 Solo PR Summit in Atlanta, Georgia was made that much richer because I went into the experience already familiar with many of the attendees. Not only did I depart ATL with a re-energized brain and spirit, I also made new friends and colleagues.

Here are just a few takeaways:

Thanks to Chris Craft for encouraging me to be courageous in my work, professional networking, and life in general.

Diane Rose's presentation, "Solo Success with Subcontracting (and Free Yourself from Biz Dev Hell)," conveyed that there's a big world of opportunity out there and also shared terrific tips on making the most of a subcontracting experience - including avoiding potential pitfalls.

Shelly Kramer kicked butt and kicked our butts (in the best way possible) during her session on Content Marketing. It was great to be called out on our "cobbler's shoes" mentality - I always go with "the mechanic's car" - and come away with a renewed sense of purpose about my own business blogging. Also? "Being 'awesome' isn't enough. Be useful instead." Preach.

Continuing the spirit of accountability, Kami Huyse and Fran Stephenson shared how they helped each other brainstorm and develop strategies for their own businesses through "virtual lunch hours." I am also grateful to them for the in-session exercise asking "What Do I Need to Leave Behind to Grow My Business?" 

Shonali Burke's presentation on Real World PR Measurement for the Solo PR Pro was hugely helpful. As a solo practitioner, providing solid measurement can feel overwhelming. Shonali broke it down brilliantly and reaffirmed that yes, we can provide solid guidance to our clients using a good CRM system + Excel + Our Brains!

Daria Steigman spoke on the value of strategic partnerships, pointing that there is an important difference between being "fair" and "equitable."

Arik Hanson inspired me to be more diligent about checking my feed.ly and the like first thing in the morning, which will help to get rid of that whole "mechanic's car" situation.

Kellye Crane and Jenny Schmitt led us through helpful role playing on having those awkward and difficult conversations with colleagues and clients.

Mary Deming Barber's presentation on why "Why?" is the most important question we should ask solidified the PR pro's role as counselor to a client.

Jason Falls closed the Summit with a perfect wrap-up leading us to consider What We Are as communications consultants and PR practitioners and What We Aren't. It's a basic premise that all too easily gets lost in the day to day and yet, has Jason shared, "we owe it to ourselves and our clients to define who we are."

Ok, I said just a few takeways - there were many more from all of the other presentations - each one terrific (and I'm not just saying that). The sessions themselves were enriched by great participation from the attendees, speakers included! It was surprising - and very cool - to notice that the speakers attended the sessions and participated. It was a true time of learning from each other, which is a gift.

Many thanks to Kellye Crane and Karen Swim for working so very hard to make this Summit a success!

If you'd like to get in on some of the smarts shared at the 2014 Solo PR Pro Summit, click here for an Eventifier summary!

 

 

 

Communication. Communication. Communication.

Pardon my borrowing the real estate mantra, "Location. Location. Location," but it came to mind when I read a post by Gini Dietrich on one of my favorite industry sites, Spin Sucks (I fell in love with it from the name, but stay for the terrific content.).

The piece, Over-Communicate to Be a Better Leader, is not a straightforward marketing piece. More importantly, it's about overall business health. And, since as a communications consultant it's my job to help you communicate to your fullest potential - both in business growth and leadership - it's definitely worth a read.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I'd love to hear from you! 

 

Email Marketing: Still Relevant? Absolutely.

Fax. FedEx. Email. Text. Facebook. Twitter. See a progression here?  The way many of us communicate in and for business has changed so much, even in the last 5 years let alone the last decade. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for flexibility. And it certainly doesn't mean that email marketing is dead.

Gail Goodman, president and CEO of Constant Contact, one of the leading resources for email marketing, shares in a recent blog post why email marketing continues to be a relevant communication channel for generating and maintaining strong business relationships.

While social media offers many terrific new avenues to reach customers, its changing landscape creates challenges against 100% direct contact with customers. Email - over-aggressive spam filter and/or gmail tabs aside - puts your message right in front of your customer, allowing you to pull them back to your social media channels and ultimately your online storefront - your website.

 

Cultivate Business at the Annual Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Expo - October 8, 2013

 

The Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce's annual Business Expo is always a great time to network and strengthen business relationships.
VoiceMatters, LLC will be there, co-presenting one of the seminars - "Content Marketing: What the Heck is That?" with Betsy Roush of Peaceful Living.
In addition to the chance to spruce up your LinkedIn look by having your head shot taken by Randy Davis of Evolution Photography at a great price, the Expo promises the aforementioned seminar and two others - Business Apps for Productivity and Master the Art of Networking - as well as a business card exchange from 5-6pm.

 

It all takes place from 1-6pm Tuesday, October 8th at the Indian Valley Country Club, 650 Bergey Road, Telford, PA 18969.

Hope to see you there!

 

Blogging. Why Bother?

We're big fans of blogging for business. Why? Here are just a few things a blog can do to build your business:
- Make your customers feel familiar with you before they even visit your store or office.
- Establish your credibility within your industry.
- Allow you to provide value to potential customers, making them more likely to become customers.
In fact, a blog is a valuable asset to your business. In this piece from Mark W. Schaefer, he points out that while the "comments" section of your blog isn't on fire with activity, that alone isn't evidence that your business blog isn't worth the time and effort.
Perhaps the most pointed reason among the 10 he lists is this:
A cost-effective sales call — You might not be able to visit your customer every week or every month but a blog is an excellent way to provide a constant drip-drip-drip of communication to remind them of your products, services, and why you’re special.  If they don’t read your blog, re-purpose the content in customer newsletters and sales materials.
From increased SEO to public relations, a business blog is a wise invesment. Not sure where to begin? VoiceMatters, LLC is happy to help; contact us today!

 

Facebook Begins Rollout of Embedded Posts

More Facebook changes are on the way. We first heard that 15-second ads are coming to a feed near you. But the next new feature is the ability to embed posts on your brand's website. Good idea or bad, it's important to be prepared. Especially from a PR/brand management perspective since a standalone post might become a major miscommunication out of context. As Shift Communications' Christopher Penn shares in his article on Facebook's embedded post plans:

PR professionals: Policing the Facebook page and managing the brand will be more important than ever.

Does your business have a professional on hand to ensure the integrity of your brand's online presence? Contact us to learn how VoiceMatters can be of service.

 

A&T Chevrolet-Subaru Cookouts for Causes News

A&T Chevrolet-Subaru Cookouts for Causes Continue:
Saturday, May 4 Features Canterbury, England-bound Church of the Holy Spirit Youth Group /
Pennridge High School Odyssey of the Mind Raised over $300 during Saturday, April 27 Cookout

Sellersville, PA (April 29, 2013) – A&T Chevrolet-Subaru’s Cookouts for Causes continues this Saturday, May 4 with the Youth Group from the Church of the Holy Spirit who are raising funds for a trip to Canterbury, England. It all happens at A&T’s Chevrolet location at 801 Bethlehem Pike, Sellersville with a car wash starting at 10AM followed by the cookout from 11AM-2PM. 

April 27th’s Cookouts for Causes raised over $300 for the Pennridge High School Odyssey of the Mind.  The group is in full fundraising mode after advancing to the World Finals Competition.

Cookouts for Causes is a “thank you” to A&T Chevrolet-Subaru’s customers and a way to support community groups and non-profits. Every Saturday from 11AM-2PM now through September, the aim is to have a local group on hand to serve burgers and hotdogs while promoting their cause and collecting donations. The cookouts will rotate between the A&T Chevrolet and A&T Subaru lots, located at 801 Bethlehem Pike, Sellersville.

 

Non-profits or community groups interested in participating can call 267-236-3607 or email info@voicemattersllc.com to schedule a date.

PICTURED: Members of the Pennridge High School Odyssey of the Mind team at the April 27 A&T Chevrolet-Subaru Cookouts for Causes event.

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About A&T Chevrolet-Subaru:

A&T Chevrolet-Subaru has been serving the community for 28 years, treating the needs of each individual customer with paramount concern and enjoying the challenge of meeting and exceeding those standards each and every time. To learn more, browse inventory or contact a representative, visit www.atautos.com or call 215-257-8022.

Client News - Last Chance Ranch's Pup"Paw"Looza is Back!

Love music? Love helping animals? This is the perfect event for you. 

Pup”Paw”Looza Music Festival Returns Saturday, June 22, 2013
Daylong Event Benefits Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue

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Quakertown, PA (April 25, 2013) – Pup”Paw”Looza is back! The daylong music festival benefitting Quakertown’s Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue returns Saturday, June 22, 2013 to Country Creek Winery, 133 Cressman Drive, Telford, PA. Gates open at 11:30AM with the rain or shine event starting at Noon and going strong until 8:30PM.  

Featuring the best in local music, headliners Mike Greer & Co. will be joined by a line-up including AcoustiKatz, Angela Everwood, The Mighty Manatees, The Dotted Eighths, and more! During the festival – filled with family-friendly entertainment – enjoy wine tastings, meet the Last Chance Ranch dogs, visit unique vendors and eat great food. 

Your dog is invited to the party, too!  Well-behaved, out of season dogs are welcome. Only one dog per family. All dogs must remain on leads no longer than 6 feet; no retractable leashes.

Tickets are $15/person and available at www.puppawlooza.eventbrite.com. Take advantage of early bird pricing and pay only $10/ticket through May 31. Tickets for children age 5-11 are $5. Children age 4 and under are admitted free of charge. To purchase tickets offline, contact Last Chance Ranch at 215-538-2510.

Keep up with the latest information about the event – including updates on vendors and performers - via the Pup”Paw”Looza Facebook page – www.Facebook.com/PupPawLooza.

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About Last Chance Ranch:

Last Chance Ranch (LCR) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer animal rescue group. LCR rescues the old, the young, the injured, neglected, malnourished, abused, and forgotten. We accept all breeds of equines, dogs, cats, and small animals. LCR has joined the ranks of small animal rescue groups and saved at least a few of these "kill shelter" pets from such an undignified ending to their lives. For more information call 215-538-2510 or visit www.lastchanceranch.org.

Client News - Calling All Non-Profits & Community Groups: A&T Chevrolet-Subaru's Cookouts for Causes Returns

Cookouts for Causes returns to A&T Chevrolet-Subaru each Saturday from 11am-2pm starting Saturday, April 27 and running through September.  If your non-profit or community group would like to participate, please email info@voicemattersllc.com.
The event remains the same – simply come out with your group of volunteers ready to grill hamburgers/hotdogs and promote your organization, including collecting donations. It’s even better if you have extra helpers with signs to attract attention from passers-by.   The Cookouts will rotate between the A&T Chevrolet and A&T Subaru lots, located at 801 Bethlehem Pike, Sellersville.

 

 

Client News - East Greenville’s The Grand Theater and Patrons Make a Grand Gesture to Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue

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It wasn’t just any night at the movies when patrons gathered at East Greenville’s The Grand Theater on March 9th to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The periodic screening of the cult classic at the popular local theater is also a way to give back to the community.  This time, $300.00 was raised for Quakertown-based Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue.

“We’re thrilled that they chose us,” said Judy Grant, office manager and treasurer for Last Chance Ranch. “It was such a great surprise! We had no idea they did this until we saw their Facebook post. It’s just wonderful.”

“Generally, we hold four or five Rocky Horror showings a year – in January, March, June and October,” said The Grand Theater vice president, John Schortz. “We pick a charity for each show and donate $2 from the $10 admission price plus whatever else we can collect by passing around a large popcorn bucket.”

The Grand Theater president and general manager, Ed Buchinski, added, “In the past we’ve collected for many local groups, including the Montgomery County 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club. In fact, I think it was someone from the Puppy Club that suggested we adopt Last Chance Ranch as one of the beneficiaries of our special Rocky Horror nights.”

PICTURED (L-R): Ed Buchinski, president/general manager of The Grand Theater; Judy Grant, treasurer/office manager of Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue

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About Last Chance Ranch:

Last Chance Ranch (LCR) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer animal rescue group. LCR rescues the old, the young, the injured, neglected, malnourished, abused, and forgotten. We accept all breeds of equines, dogs, cats, and small animals. LCR has joined the ranks of small animal rescue groups and saved at least a few of these "kill shelter" pets from such an undignified ending to their lives. For more information call 215-538-2510 or visit www.lastchanceranch.org.

Facebook Brand Pages - Ready to Spring Forward?

 

Spring is right around the corner so it's no surprise that in this season of change Facebook will unveil more changes at a press event tomorrow.

Facebook promises some big changes for brand pages and how users interact with news feeds.  Ragan's PR Daily points to an article by TechCrunch leading them to believe the changes will be threefold:

1. Multiple feeds. 

Currently, Facebook users see their main news feed, which consists of updates from their friends and the brands or celebrities they follow, as well as the occasional ad. However, there are other feeds that exist on the site, for instance, a feed dedicated to updates from pages. It’s practically lost in the left margin of your Facebook feed, but it could point to what Facebook has in store for brands—their own feeds. 
 

2. Larger images. 

The common belief among many social media managers is that images work best for drawing “likes” and shares. That belief has been challenged of late, because of Facebook’s last algorithm change, but it remains a safe equation: Compelling art equals more eyeballs. It appears Facebook is doubling down on that and will give users, and probably brands, the ability to post larger images. 

3. Video and “rich media” for users—brands will get it eventually 

Better polish your video-editing skills, because Business Insider is nearly certain that Facebook will unveil a video platform for users. It probably won’t happen immediately for brands, but it will be a part of the social network’s announcement Thursday. 

By now, Facebook users know that change is inevitable.  It'll be interesting to see how these changes pan out and how to best use them to your brand's advantage.  And, don't worry, you're not alone. VoiceMatters, LLC is here to help guide your business through the process.

FREE Women's Career Workshop

I'm thrilled to announce the FREE Women@Work Career Workshop I'll be conducting on Saturday, January 26, 2013 along with two colleagues and friends, Chris Moyer and Jane Reagan.  Please share it with anyone you think might benefit from attending. Here's the scoop:

 

Women@Work FREE Career Workshop - Saturday, January 26, 2013

Telford, Pa. (January 4, 2013) – If you’re a woman new to the job hunt, in between jobs, thinking of a career change or simply in need of a career tune-up, there’s an event coming up just for you.

Charis Counseling Services; VoiceMatters, LLC and corporate executive Jane Reagan are teaming up to present a free career workshop for women - Women@Work - Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 8:30am-12 Noon in the Coffee House of the Penn Valley Church Telford Campus (320 N. 3rd Street, Telford, Pa.).

Attendees of the Women@Work Career Workshop will participate in three breakout sessions: Interviewing Skills, Personality and Career Profiles and Resume Writing. 

The Interviewing Skills session will be led by Jane Reagan, who built a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry which included 15 years as a hiring manager.  The Personality and Career Profiles breakout is courtesy of Chris Moyer of Charis Counseling Services, whose many practice specialties includes women’s issues. Resume Writing will be covered by Michelle Kane of VoiceMatters, LLC. Kane has over 20 years’ experience in communications management, writing, public relations, administration and broadcasting.

“In the climate of this still recovering economy and in the spirit of women helping women, we wanted to put something together that we hope will be helpful for women who are in the middle of a job search or who might be entering a new phase of life, including a career change,” said Reagan.

The Women@Work Career Workshop is free but registration is required at http://womenwork.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Michelle Kane at 267-236-3607 or info@voicemattersllc.com.

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Good Time for Reminders

The time between Christmas and New Year's Day is perfect to take a moment to check ourselves of some thought processes or habits that might not be serving us well. 

For me, this is one of the dangers and I must constantly remind myself that getting out and among colleagues is just as important as finishing a client's project:

But spending all your days and weeks at your desk reduces your effectiveness and potential career success in the long haul. It's through our interactions with others that we learn, teach, and gain the recognition necessary to rise to our fullest potential.

Here's the rest of the article from Jim Nichols and imediaconnection.com - I'd love to hear how you relate.