Posts Tagged ‘personal brand’


Branding and Marketing Lessons From Car Sales Trailblazer Laura Toyota

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
PR Marketing Laura Toyota Brand Reputation Management Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Media Relations

flickr user Mike Mozart under CC BY license

A 25-year-old car saleswoman in Bozeman, Montana, has caused a bit of a marketing disruption at Ressler Motors, the Toyota dealership where she works. As Ad Age reports, Laura Madison won’t take walk-in customers, she won’t help remove snow from the cars on the lot, and she gives out her personal number, not the dealership’s.

She has her own site, lauratoyota.com, which she pays to host, and her personal car is wrapped to advertise that site. (The cost? $3,000, which she paid out of her own pocket.) Her strategy is working big time. While not every marketing and public relations professional has the freedom or the ability to do what Madison does, and her model would not work in every circumstance, there are a number of valuable marketing and public relations takeaways to give your efforts a big boost and greater return.

Forge real relationships

Ad Age reports that Madison sends regular (paper) notes to her customers for their car’s “birthday” or for the holidays. Old-school snail mailed cards carry a lot more personal connection than personalized emails, and since they’re a fast-vanishing, time-intensive tradition, are more meaningful.

Your customers get emails every day. But how often do they get addressed cards in the mail? Investing the time and funds into connecting with people in more personal ways can keep your relationship with customers fresh and positive for a much longer time than a monthly email.

Build your model on referrals

Madison builds her marketing model on referrals and direct content, a savvy strategy given that most Millennials seek out opinions and reviews from their personal networks before making a purchase decision. While there’s no demographic breakdown on her sales, it’s probably safe to say that she sells to people in other generations, not just Millennials.

Word of mouth marketing and referrals have always been vital for the best salespeople, a tactic that marketing and public relations pros shouldn’t ignore. Making it easier for clients and prospects to seek you out based on recommendations from friends will pay off. Consider implementing monthly seminars hosted by a company rep and promote the rep’s bio and expertise more than your brand. Or consider monthly articles from reps accompanied by their bios or getting reps engaged in social media; there are plenty of ways to market the people, not just the brand.

Be a trailblazer

The “we’ve always done things this way” mindset is an easy rut to stay in, but usually doesn’t have a great payoff. Instead of trying to put Madison back in the corporate box, her boss, Jeff Kayser, has encouraged her methods and helped her start educating sales staff to integrate her approach into the dealership’s overall strategy.

Being open to new strategies and ideas is important for any business, not only to harness new talent, but also to keep said talent at your organization.

Be transparent

Car buying is a notoriously opaque and frustrating ordeal, but Madison’s up-front, approachable strategy makes the process easier, which in turn makes more people want to buy from her. On her blog she has an abundance of car-buying advice, including questions to ask your car salesperson and the answers you should expect, an informative blog, information about how she sells, and information specific to hybrids.

This not only positions her as an expert, but also as a resource. Putting good information out in the open helps lessen potential frustration and confusion for buyers and puts her on their side.

Institute a results-based commission

On her site, Madison notes that the dealership doesn’t pay her or other sales reps based on the traditional commission structure, but rather on a pay plan based on volume and customer satisfaction. That in turn makes sales reps more responsive to customer needs, not upselling.

While a revamp – or abolishment – of commission structures isn’t something every organization can or is willing to do in full, it’s something worth considering if it could improve the process for both sales reps and customers.

Demonstrate trustworthiness

Madison’s personal marketing strategy has another benefit – it makes her accountable to her customers. They know exactly where to find her should they have a question or a problem. Most customers find accountability and trustworthiness appealing, and having that sense of security can only be beneficial to business overall.

Kayser reports that since Madison’s arrival at the dealership three years ago, the dealership’s monthly sales have increased from an average of 213 cars to 330 cars. There’s no information to indicate whether this is due solely to Madison’s efforts, or due to increased dealership advertising. Madison’s personal monthly sales almost nearly doubled over three years, from 12 to 20 cars, but it’s hard to measure whether that’s due to the dealership’s overall improvement in reputation and awareness, her natural learning progression, her reputation management acumen, or all of the above. But either way, there are plenty of branding, reputation management, and marketing takeaways from Madison’s drive and skill.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Public Relations Internship

Monday, April 21st, 2014

How to Get the Most out of Your Public Relations Internship Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuceAfter my junior year at college, I had an internship at a film production company. It was an excellent learning experience, in that I learned a lot about both film production and the way the office world works. Looking back seven years later, there are a lot of things I wish I’d prepared for and known to make the most of my time there, lessons that can be applied to aspiring PR pros who might be stepping into a PR internship this summer.

Write a lot

Writing is a pretty critical skill in PR, and the only way to improve is to keep writing. If your organization has a blog, write for it. Depending on your organization, you may only get to post once a week, or even less often, so practice delivering multiple pieces of content per week by keeping your own blog. While you may not be sending out your own pitch emails, practice drafting them anyway and ask someone to provide feedback.

You should also become familiar with the concept of a corporate style guide and practice writing in accordance with it. Since most corporate style guides are based upon  a media style guide, familiarize yourself with the most important ones.

Ask questions

Lots of them. Don’t understand what your manager or co-worker asked you to do? Clarify. Need help? Ask. Don’t worry about looking stupid (you won’t) – remind yourself that not asking leads to mistakes down the road. Here are some good questions to ask during the interview or on the job.

Also, ask colleagues and your manager about what they’re doing – you’re there to learn, after all, and there’s only so much you can learn by just observing. Asking questions not only gives you a cache of knowledge for the future, it makes you more of an active participant in the organization. If you feel like your office mates aren’t available for questions on a daily basis, write down your questions and ask for a small chunk of time – coffee, lunch, or just a meeting – when you can ask those questions. Just don’t be afraid to ask for that time.

Do the grunt work

Being an intern generally doesn’t involve a lot of intellectually stimulating work – most of the time, it involves a lot of tedious – okay, boring – but necessary work. Don’t fall victim to the “I didn’t give up my whole summer just to file papers and do the Starbucks run” line of thinking. Yes, you did “give up” your summer for that (newsflash: once you graduate, the concept of summer all but evaporates), but to get the knowledge you came for, you need to look beyond the short-term boredom of a menial task to the greater context of what’s going on around you.

What are the workflow processes like? Which aspects of other people’s jobs do you find most interesting? How do things function outside of the classroom? How are your office mates communicating with journalists and audiences? How are they responding to praise, complaints, or crises? Just because you’re doing some grunt work doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn.

Don’t get caught doing nothing

If you finish your work early, don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you more. Ask your manager or office mate what you can help with, or, even better, if you see that some work you think needs to be done, run it by your manager with a quick, “It looks like ____ needs to be done. Is that something I can help work on?” That shows you not only take initiative, but also ensures that you’re not creating more work down the line by doing something incorrectly or that doesn’t actually need to be done.

Manage your brand

It might be tempting to share with your office mates your social experiences, but resist that temptation. You want to be known as the professional intern, not the party intern. Remember that you are building and managing your personal brand with every person with whom you come into contact.

Know you know nothing

That’s not to say you should go in forgetting everything you know, but that you should go in with an open mind with a very eager willingness to learn. The actual practice of PR will probably be different than what you imagined it to be, so go with the flow and don’t get flustered when you encounter unknown territory – that’s what internships are all about.

This Week’s Shot of Fresh: International Intellectual Property, SCOTUS to Rule on Broadcast Copyright, and Building Brand You

Friday, March 14th, 2014
flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

Shot of Fresh is our weekly roundup of Fresh Ideas content.

U.S. Copyright Compliance Eyes Asia-Pacific

Enforcing copyrights and intellectual property protections isn’t just a domestic issue – it’s an international one. The Trans-Pacific Partnerships is a push to close the gaps on international property that could strengthen U.S. copyright protections in 12 countries.

Broadcast Copyright Case Headed to Supreme Court

Not just another hot news misappropriation case – this one deals with broadcast and it’s going all the way to the Supreme Court next month. Hold onto your copyrights, folks; SCOTUS’s decision could make for a bumpy ride.

Building Your Personal Brand

You aren’t just you anymore – you’re your own brand, so you’d better start promoting yourself like one. Tressa Robbins has excellent tips from St. Louis PRSA’s Career Development Day.

What Public Relations Students Should Do During Summer Break

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Flickr.com: QueensU

Flickr.com: QueensU

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.  So, what should they be doing during summer break? Listed below are a few items that came to my mind (but I’m hoping some of our PR pro friends will chime-in with additional tips):

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. Or, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Practice your elevator speech. You should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Practice OUT LOUD. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide personal results’ by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    • Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from CareerBuilder on CNN.com.
    • Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read this from the Wall Street Journal.
  • PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.”
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an information interview. Face-to-face is best but Skype or Google+ Hangouts work, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest.
  • If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

What else should students (or young PR pros) be doing in preparation for their career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? We want to hear from you.

The ‘You’ Brand: Planning and Executing Your Job Search (Pro-Am Day At Saint Louis University)

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). SEMO had a whopping 14 students (the most for any one school) in attendance, despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis!

I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). Despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis, SEMO had a whopping 14 students, the most for any one school, in attendance at the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day!

 

On Friday, March 23, 2012, I participated in the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day. PRSSA chapters and communications students were invited to join public relations practitioners for a special professional development and networking event. Students from nine different universities, spanning both sides of the Mississippi River, were represented.

In addition to industry section roundtables and resume reviews, the event featured keynote speaker Carrie Muehlemann from The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm and division of Robert Half International. Muehlemann shared strategies for developing and sustaining a personal brand that grabs potential employers’ attention, as well as statistics to support how implementing these tactics can aid in your search.

To land a job in today’s competitive public relations industry, PR professionals must view themselves as “brands,” and ensure all of their job-search materials evoke a compelling and cohesive message. Muehlemann recommended approaching the job search with a “lean forward” attitude, exuding positivity, energy, and individuality. But, she cautioned to be authentic.

Thirty-nine percent of marketing executives surveyed said they would not respond to gimmicky tactics (e.g., Sending a shoe with a note that you want to get your foot in the door.) Instead, Muehlemann suggested that you write a creative brief on yourself, whittling it down to 5-10 core attributes. Also, set goals, write them down and map a path to get there. For example, attend at least one networking event per month and post at least one industry article per week on LinkedIn. Be sure to practice your elevator speech. She also advised that your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should all match your “brand.”

Using Social Media to Create Your Personal Brand
As for social media, you don’t need to be everywhere.

  • Pick two or three platforms to focus on and keep them up-to-date.
  • Listen as much as you talk. Comment on industry blogs and actively participate. “Quality over quantity is key here,” Muehlemann stated.
  • Google yourself. Do the first page results represent who you are? If not, immediately begin doing digital damage control.

72 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they will “Google” an applicant and review his/her digital footprint, cites a February 2010 survey by The Creative Group.

Résumé Writing Tips
Muehlemann offered a few résumé writing tips:

  • Make your résumé easy to understand and follow.
  • Make it keyword rich, complete and thorough.
  • Include points that are relevant to the job, as well as ROI statements.
  • And above all, be sure your résumé is error free!

Résumé Follow Up Best Practices
What about after you’ve sent your résumé? Eighty-two percent of hiring executives surveyed said they DO want to hear from job candidates within the first two weeks of sending the résumé. Muehlemann suggested to first follow up via email. Include the job title in the email subject line, attach the résumé (again), and close with a call to action at the end of the message . If you have still not received a response, she suggested a phone call – but only after you’ve practiced your 30-second elevator speech ALOUD. Remember, be professional; there’s a line between assertive follow-up and harassment. 

Interview Tips
So, you’ve secured an interview. What should you do? Research the company (or clients that they represent, if it’s an agency) and the person(s) who will be conducting your interview and be ready with questions of your own. Also, when it comes time for the interview, be prepared to answer the standard questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How did you overcome a difficult situation or issue?
  • What is your value / why should I hire you? *Be ready with ROI statements

Finally, what do you do when you don’t get the job. Don’t take it personally. Ask for constructive feedback, as well as other positions. And, don’t forget to thank them for their time.

What would you add? What have you found helpful in your job search? Please share our thoughts here, with me, and the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.