• Stephanie Gray

It’s common for a small business to operate for years without PR or marketing, especially in professional services. A lot of entrepreneurs rely on word-of-mouth referrals or traditional sales tactics to generate new business, and that can work just fine for a long time. But if you’re interested in seeing what PR and marketing can do for your business, now is as good a time as any to make an initial investment. Getting started is easy if you follow a few key guidelines.

Establish a goal.

The first step to making a good investment decision in marketing or PR is to articulate why. What is it that you are trying to achieve?

RELATED: Is that Marketing, PR or Advertising? A Primer.

Your answer here doesn’t need to be all-encompassing. But you have to have some baseline. For most people, the answer is ultimately to get more customers and to make more money, but push yourself – is that really what you’re after? Why?

Are you not getting any leads or are you losing them at some point during the proposal process? Are you looking to attract a different kind of customer? Maybe you want to break into a new industry. Or introduce a new service offering. Or diversify your client base. Or rein it in.

Marketing and PR are vast disciplines with seemingly infinite possibilities. By identifying and articulating your goal early, you are creating an important guardrail for your investment and building a framework for measuring its success.

Get help from an expert.

There is no shortage of online tools and courses today to tempt you into DIY marketing. Eight-Minute Ads is the new Eight-Minute Abs. But don’t be fooled. When it comes to marketing and PR, experience matters.

Search for an experienced partner with real experiences that match your expectation. Whether you’re interviewing an agency or a direct hire, it’s important to distinguish between what someone knows and what someone’s done.

In PR, having good “contacts” is nice, but it doesn’t replace experience in developing and executing a successful media campaign. A recent graduate may know a lot of marketing theory, but have they ever had to change direction midcourse without losing time, money or credibility?

Find a partner who can demonstrate experience helping a company achieve a goal similar to yours and then give them autonomy to do it for you and your business.

Set an appropriate budget.

Several years ago, I offered a friend some free PR, but he insisted on paying me. “You get what you pay for,” he said.

There’s nothing wrong with starting small in PR or marketing, as long as you keep your scope and budget in line.

If you’re considering a small investment, narrow your scope to match it. For example, you can pilot your program in a small market or with a highly targeted audience; scale your content marketing to only one channel; or focus on a single practice or service area.

The mistake to avoid is trying to do too much on a shoestring budget, which doesn’t generate a meaningful return on your investment, and can often feel overwhelming to manage.

Marketing and PR are a great way to invest in the future of your business and generate new opportunities for growth. To realize their potential, start off on the right foot. Follow these three simple steps to have a successful first experience and see what marketing and PR can do for you.

14 views0 comments
  • Stephanie Gray

How you communicate around a corporate transaction is critical to its success. What you say about the deal, who you talk to and in what order matters, and the bigger the deal, the more complicated that can be.

Without proper communication, companies can, at best, miss an opportunity to promote their strategic vision and mission, and, at worst, alienate investors, turnover employees and lose clients.

Here are four mistakes to avoid when announcing your M&A:

Letting your employees see it in the news before they hear it from you

Probably the single most important part of M&A communications is how and when you tell your employees about the deal. It’s important that employees know what’s happening, why, and how it affects them before it becomes public information. When employees hear big news of any kind from outside sources before they hear it from their leaders, they assume they are not valuable to the company. In a merger or acquisition, where integration can leads to layoffs, such a mistake could signal to employees that their jobs are at risk, resulting in reduced productivity, low engagement, and high turnover in the critical months after the close.

Ignoring the benefit to the customers

Most leaders recognize the importance of having a well-articulated rationale for their company's M&A: new market exposure; technological advancement, access to distribution systems, etc. But too often companies stop there, failing to elaborate on how today's decisions will ultimately benefit their customers. It’s this last part that makes the story relevant and positions the company as an industry leader, which builds confidence among existing and customers and drives exposure with new ones.

Saying nothing will change

Being honest with your employees and customers is always important, but never more so than during times of uncertainty. If you are combining with another company, things are going to change for at least some of these important stakeholders. It may not happen right away, and those changes may seem small to you, but they are real changes with real impact to people inside and external to your organization. Not recognizing or acknowledging that makes you look out of touch or unconcerned with the wellbeing of your workforce.

Not continuing to talk about it in the weeks and months after the announcement

The most important communications work you do around your M&A isn’t the lead-up to the announcement, it’s what follows. Often a major M&A announcement feels to those involved like an end because it comes after months of planning. But for the majority of your audiences, it’s only the beginning. Not having a solid change management strategy in place is a huge mistake. Be ready to lead your teams with an extended communications campaign that guides people on your journey to a fully integrated company, united in process, systems and culture.

A strategic communications plan is a must for any company facing a merger or acquisition. A seasoned professional will help you navigate the complexities of your deal and refine and tailor your messaging for a wide range of stakeholders whose response could impact the success of the transaction, including employees, clients, investors and analysts.

If you’re in need of M&A communications support, send us a note to let us know how we can help.

15 views0 comments
  • Stephanie Gray

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

It’s never been more challenging or more important to engage with employees. A company newsletter is one of many tools available to help you share timely and relevant information and show your employees the recognition they want and deserve.

A good newsletter requires discipline. You are competing with every other media outlet – New York Times, CNN, Buzzfeed, TMZ… TikTok. That’s right, it’s you or TikTok, so you’d better make your content good. But how?

1. Declutter Your Content. Your newsletter shouldn’t take more than four minutes to read. Attention spans are short, people are busy, and reading is obsolete. Strip your newsletter down to only the most relevant items – those that overlap what you want to address and what your audience wants to hear. At least 70% of your newsletter should meet that standard. If you don’t know what your audience wants to hear, don’t guess, take a survey.

2. Stop Spamming. There is no hard and fast rule to determine employee newsletter frequency, but in my experience too often is worse than not often enough. In a perfect world you would partner with your data and analytics team to determine the optimal newsletter frequency. But if you don’t have those resources available, you may need to rely instead on creative reasoning.

The key is not to send it so frequently that it becomes a commodity that is easily ignored – the daily calendar reminder that you snooze every day until you’ve completely forgotten the task altogether – but not so occasional that people forget its coming. When in doubt, a weekly newsletter is a safe bet for most large organizations.

3. Offer a Mix of News and Human Interest. Great newsletters strike the perfect balance between informative and entertaining. All business and your readers lose interest, hoping they'll learn the information through other channels. Too much "fluff" and they dismiss the newsletter as irrelevant. A great way to offer both without the whole publication falling into chaos is to use the recurring sections in each edition. Some options might include Photo of the Month, Dear HR (advice column), Employee Spotlight, From the CEO or News You Need.

Your employee newsletter may never win a Pulitzer Prize or get more views than the “I’m not a cat” guy on YouTube, but if done well, it can help you engage more genuinely with your workforce, which improves morale, trust and human connection, even in a physically disconnected workplace.

Keep following or schedule a free consultation for more tips to improve your company communications.

16 views0 comments