Archive for May, 2011

Press Releases: Follow Up!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Distributing a press release is only half the effort — the other half is the follow up.

How do you follow up with media contacts?

Prepare for your phone call.

  • Read the press release
  • Understand the key message; what is important to the reader?
  • Formulate a five-second summary. Why should the media be interested?

Know your contact.

  • Review your media distribution list.
  • Know when and how the release was distributed.

Be sensitive to reporters’ schedules, especially when they are on a deadline.

  • Avoid calling the press after 2 p.m. Contact weekly publications on Thursdays or Fridays, when they are likely beginning new stories.
  • Avoid calling radio and TV stations an hour before their broadcast.
  • If a journalist calls you, contact them immediately – or you may lose a story.

Be polite, professional and brief.

  • Say hello, your name and why you are calling – in two sentences.
  • Ask them if they received your release.
  • Provide your five-second summary if they want to know what the release is about.
  • Ask if there is any interest in doing a story.
  • Offer to answer any questions they may have.
  • Offer to leave your contact information.

Remember that reporters are people, too.

  • They work for a living.
  • They operate under strict deadlines.
  • They receive dozens of “did-you-receive-my-press-release” calls per day.

Above all, be a resource not a pest.

  • Your media contacts will be receiving more press releases from you in the future.
  • You will want to maintain a good relationship with your media contacts.

Simple Ways to get More Testimonials

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Originally published by GasPedal
May 17, 2011

Great testimonials from happy fans are an important asset to any word of mouth program. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-location restaurant or a billion-dollar BtoB brand — testimonials will help you make more sales. Three quick ways to get more of them:

1.  Your feedback forms
2.  Your unsolicited praise
3.  Your loyal fans

Your feedback forms

Make the most of the times you’re already asking for feedback (because you are asking for feedback, right?). After the section on your form where people can leave their comment, add a checkbox that says something along the lines of, “Yes, I give you permission to use this in your marketing materials.” Even if just a small percentage of customers check the box (though it’ll probably be much higher than that), you’ll instantly get more testimonials you can immediately put to use.

Your unsolicited praise

Keep your eyes open for all the unsolicited praise from happy customers. You’ll often find it in blog posts, in emails from customers, or in everyday conversations. When you see or hear it, simply ask if you could quote them on it.

Your loyal fans

It is absolutely OK to ask your happy customers for a testimonial. Most of them won’t think to do it on their own — they don’t realize how much it could help you. Think about it: If you’ve done all the other stuff it takes to earn great testimonials, you’ve probably got a bunch of customers who would happily do it.

By Stephen Markley
RedEye Chicago

In 2008, Jason Pullukat, 33, decided to move from his job in the corporate world at Kraft foods to become the owner of a franchise of the Goddard School in Lincoln Park. Located on Armitage and Clifton avenues, the school–serving children from six weeks to six years–opened this past week. RedEye ‘Hoods sat down with Pullukat to ask him what it was like to make a drastic career change at the age of 30, and what it’s like to go from corporate meetings to running a preschool.

Talk a little bit about your background in the corporate world. What made you make the switch to education?

“My mom ran preschool centers, so I was always around it growing up. In 2007 I decided I wanted to get out of the corporate world and try something else. I saw the need for quality early-childhood education in Chicago. The trend was parents moving from the city to the suburbs for that education. There wasn’t a huge supply here in the city, and Goddard’s reputation stands for itself.

I’m focused on being in the office, on site every day, handling the payroll, the marketing, the advertising — the business, really. Usually schools have one director who has to wear two hats. Our educational director to handles the curriculum, and I’m on sight at all times doing the business aspects.

I was doing both jobs for a while, and I didn’t leave Kraft until October 2010.”

Were you hesitant at all being a male in a predominantly female profession?

“Being a younger male in this kind of profession, it was always in the back of my mind. But I talked to a lot of male [school] owners and asked how they felt. I don’t think there’s any negative perception about it, not like maybe there used to be. It’s the same trust: everyone’s coming in with a smile and leaving with a smile. Also, it’s that male role model that children can see even at a young age.”

As a young person, did it make you nervous to make such a drastic career move?

“Any time you’re leaving what you know — which in my case was corporate America — it’s a big deal. You ask questions. It’s the same as going from Kraft to working at a newspaper; it’s a whole different industry. Now I’ve left what I know, I don’t have the paycheck coming in every week. Now every dollar I earn is based on how I perform.”

Why did you choose Lincoln Park for the school franchise?

“We looked at 50 or 60 different sites and didn’t sign the papers on this location until the end of 2009. We began the construction shortly after, combining a vacant lot and an existing building on Seminary. Parents don’t expect a private institution on Armitage.

We definitely saw that demand [for private preschool] in Lincoln Park, and finding a place right on Armitage by the Brown and Purple Line — that’s the perfect location. You have many young professionals in this neighborhood. We want to convince them to stay instead of leaving for the suburbs.”

What does Goddard offer parents and children?

“All of our lead teachers have bachelor’s [degrees] at minimum. We have that great location, private playgrounds (so we’re not taking 50 children to a park), library resources, and organic and local lunch options.

Then besides the core curriculum — math, science, writing — we have enrichment programs like sign language, yoga, music, manners, world cultures, art history and foreign languages like Spanish and Mandarin. And it’s all built into the tuition. We’re not a daycare. There’s a reason we have degreed professionals.

For the kids, we want to encourage that attention span and developing a love of learning. We specialize in play-based learning, so the kids will learn to write their names with their fingers in cool whip on a table. Or to teach them about art history, we’ll tape paper on the bottom of a table and let them draw while the teachers explain Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Stuff that makes it fun makes them want to learn.”

What advice do you have for other young people thinking about making a career change?

“I was single back when I decided to do this. I didn’t have a family. Now I’m married and have a baby due in October. I wanted to get to the next stage but also wanted to be secure in my future, so it’s all about doing that due diligence, doing that research to make sure it’s a good fit and you’re not going to regret it. Now I spend part of my day playing with kids.

It’s much different than being in an office or flying to different cities every week for meetings. I have fun listening to laughter when I work and just having fun with the kids, running around on the playground. I never had a chance to do that for the last 12 years being in corporate America.

The Ten Laws of Marketing

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
  1. Every aspect of your business is marketing.
  2. Marketing = Consumer Education
  3. Assurance and a plain message sell, ambiguity does not.
  4. Good marketing only works for good products.  It destroys bad ones.
  5. Perception is reality.
  6. Marketing is common sense.
  7. Know your customer.
  8. Build relationships and partnerships with your customers.
  9. The world is about customer service.
  10. Marketing is flexible, evolutionary, revolutionary and adaptive.