Inspiration: Nicole Garner

There are a few people that I have looked to for inspiration. As you’ve seen before, I love me some Crosby Noricks but I also love Nicole Garner, principal of The Garner Circle PR firm in Atlanta. Here’s a video of her. Let’s watch:

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Better late than never?

I don’t like to be late for meetings. In fact, I’m early. Way early. Almost awkwardly early. So early that I will sit in my car until around 10 minutes before I am expected and then appear. I’ve always known that if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late, you never even showed up.

At 9 AM of Friday morning, I was supposed to meet with a potential mentor. I was quite excited about it. While there are things that I know about and can do pertaining to, I am certain there are little aspects that I am probably unprepared for having never been in the field beyond beyond an internship and freelancing.

I found my potential mentor on a few different websites and read about her, figured some questions to ask her, set my alarm clock to 7 and went to sleep around 12. You may think this is a little late to sleep, but by my recent standard (and a study by the Sleep Foundation) this is an adequate amount of sleep and actually, much more than I’m used to.

As the sun was rising, my eyes opened. It was 6:30. A little anxious about the meeting, I didn’t really want to be awake but I could not get back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 7, I hit off, read my Bible and stayed in bed for a second. Apparently, that second was all it took to fall asleep.

As I opened my eyes from what I thought was a blink, I look at the clock. 9:11!!!!!!!!!!!! You can’t be serious!!!!!

I don’t have her phone number (very dumb! If you’re meeting with someone, be sure to exchange numbers) and I live 15 minutes away from where we were to meet.

In a panic, I got out of bed, ran to the bathroom while sending a text to the friend who was kind enough to introduce me to my mentor-to-be and asked for her number. Calling her, I’m trying to figure out what to say, I’ve never actually been late for something like this. I’m not even on the road to at least say that, nope. Standing in the bathroom in a late panic, I call.

She answers and says that she’d only allotted a half an hour for this meeting and we could reschedule.

Yea, that’s great but that first impression, it’s gone!!! Her first experience of me is not young professionalism embodied. Nope. It’s LATE. Just got to love that.

Oh and before you say, “No, Olivia. That’s not what she thinks about you!” consider her email response.

So the idea is to be on time for meetings (a.k.a. early), but I get that stuff happens. However (more than likely) you know you are going to be late before the meeting time, so just give the person a call prior to the meeting and let them know you’re running late.

She then advised me not to make a habit of it and said we could reschedule.

Yup! Late AND irresponsible.

Nice.

Logo Crazy!

So last night, I said to my brother, I think I’ll need a logo soon. Knowing that my brother is an amazing artist and has made a few logos for other companies before, I knew he would do an amazing job.

As I was walking up stairs, literally 20 seconds after I’d finished expressing my logo need, he told me to look at his computer screen.

Draft 1: a simple O with my company name underneath it. It looked awesome and I thought it was great but we kept tweaking through about five or 6 different drafts until we came up with this

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I was beyond ecstatic as it all seemed so real. This is my logo for now. I don’t really think I’ll change it but I’m keeping my mind open.

I mean, I LOVE IT!!!!! and could totally see this on all of my material but oddly enough, the fact that he wasn’t completely pleased with it kind of throws me off. Not to mention one of my best friends, he starting changing it the second I sent it to him.

I think I need to just content with it because i actually love it.

LOVE IT!!!!!

Do I need a mentor?

Sitting down to coffee with a friend, she asks me what I have been up to.

“Oh nothing, school, starting a PR business.”

This is met with a smile and nod, nothing new but instead of just telling me how wonderful that is or saying how well I’ll do she responds, “Oh, I’m coalition sisters with the former president of the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society (check ’em out). Actually, the current president, too.” With this she promises to put me in contact with one of them and maybe this opening up to a mentor opportunity. This is amazingly exciting.

I didn’t really think too much about having a mentor. I’ve always felt the best about myself when I have learned what I am doing by myself. While I can work very well with other people, this little twinge of pride does present itself every now and then. I guess it’s time to squash it. The more I think about it, I feel like I mentor would be awesome. There are only so many things you can learn from books and instead of having to experience certain mistakes and failures, I’d be able to learn from someone else about what they have done and why they should or shouldn’t have.

So, I received an email from my friend with a name CC’d that I recognized as beloning to the former PBPRS president. I was so excited, I almost did not know how to respond to the email or go about setting up a meeting. Somehow, I pulled the words together and the date is set for Friday, August 10!

If you can’t tell, I am painfully excited right now. Like what to wear, what to say, do I have questions prepared, apprehensive about whether or not to show up excited! (Of course I’m going to show up! This is a great opportunity that I am truly thankful for and would NOT turn down for almost anything).

Recently, the idea of a mentor has been popping up a lot. One new journalist friend that I was asking about media relations suggested it and I found this and this as I was surfing the business and PR circuit. I guess that settles it: I need a mentor and I think I might find one by Friday.

The question is, will she want to take me on…

The Best Brand Content

Let me preface this by saying, I think I am in love with Crosby Noricks. Any time I see her name, I am taken with whatever the content of the piece might be because I think she’s a genius. With that I present you this article found on FastCo:

Instead of a traditional business plan, Holstee cofounders and brothers Dave and Mike Radparvar, along with friend Fabian, created a manifesto, a typographical “reminder of what a successful life could be in non-financial terms.” And then they went about the business of making their first products, T-shirts made from recycled bottles, and a wallet made from plastic bags collected off the streets of Delhi.

On a bit of a whim, so the story goes, Holstee put the manifesto up on their website to share the mission of the company with customers. The founder’s feel-good maxims about life and the pursuit of personal happiness spread across the Web, appearing on blogs, across social media and of course, causing a repin/reblog frenzy on Pinterest and Tumblr. They quickly sold out of their first run of products as well as a poster of the manifesto, which accounted for about 50 percent of revenue in 2011. Today, you can purchase the Holstee Manifesto, on recycled paper, as a poster or greeting card.According to Mike, “80 million+ views later [the Holstee Manifesto] has transcended borders, religions, political views and cultural divides. The Holstee community alone has posted over 14 translations.” The manifesto, pardon the cliché, went viral.

This, in and of itself, is a remarkable story about the power of branded content to drive brand awareness, affinity and sure, sales. But the story doesn’t end there. The manifesto acted as a sort of permission slip for individuals to live more fully, and people throughout the world were inspired enough by its words to change direction, to make different decisions. And the stories began to pour in. Now, in a brilliant campaign extension, Holstee has invited those impacted by the manifesto to share their stories with one another through My Life, a Tumblr-hosted platform that allows those touched by the manifesto to share their stories via a combination of text, image and video. From manifesto to movement–I’d give these guys an award for taking a single piece of authentic, remarkable content and evolving social-share into a brand-allegiant community.

Successful branded content must balance brand awareness and education with entertainment and timeliness. One of the ways to do this is to jump on an existing trend, the way that mala jewelry company Tiny Devotions did with its Holstee-inspired “Boho Manifesto,” available when you sign up for email. Or, how casual footwear brand Sanuk and luxury fashion brand Oscar de la Renta did with their completely different, yet perfectly on-brand individual takes on the “Shit Girls Say” meme.

Fashion brands often get a bad rap for being a bit behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing, but brands in all sorts of verticals have something to learn from their strategies.

Co-create Campaigns With Customers

Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is at the center of content-driven commerce that mimics the brand’s eye for style. Its engine is a website called Minkette driven by a group of bloggers and loyalists referred to as the “Minkettes.” The designer’s long list of digital integration includes Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Polyvore, LookBook, Chicotpia, MYFDB andInstagram, where one lucky fan’s photos were chosen to appear in Minkoff’s first print ad campaign.

Repurpose Existing Content

Independent fashion bloggers (IFB) is a daily read for aspiring and established bloggers alike, and its biannual fashion week conference always sells out, attracting sponsorships from big brands eager to be a part of the conversation and connect with rising influencers. Much more than just a blog, IFB is a resource center, and uses image-share platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to drive traffic, community growth and brand awareness, snapping pictures of press coverage to share on Instagram and posting intriguing headlines of blog articles to images on Pinterest.

Invest in Influencers

When it came time for J.Crew to do something different with their digital presence and promote their global launch into more than 100 countries, they turned to iconic street style photographers and fashion bloggers Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) and Garance Doré to carry their vision for Hello, World! forward, photographing, filming and narrating an international tour. The duo met up with other tastemakers in each city and the result is a content feast of images, video and quotes like, “if I could only wear one color it would be neon pink,” from Hilary Tsui in Hong Kong. The feature also includes an invitation for customers outside of North America to become J.Crew Insiders and receive VIP member benefits including complimentary expedited shipping through the end of the year, priority access to J.Crew’s team of International personal shoppers as well as duty free shopping through August 31st.

Lead with Lifestyle

According to Tory Burch’s CMO, the fashion designer has “not bought traditional advertisements in U.S. magazines,” relying instead on an aggressive digital-first strategy that generates more revenue than any physical store. Reasons why? Tory Burch is perhaps the only fashion brand to have an editor-in-chief position within the company, and the Tory blog is a great example of exploring brand lifestyle. In the spirit of summer (and resort wear) she’s currently featuring content about vacation musts, surf culture, and the color blue.

Uncover Unique Partnerships

A beautiful marriage exists between the creators of Wildfox Couture and young adult author Francesca Lia Block. At the epicenter is Magicalcreature.com, a blog that tells a story of friendship and hope between three girls. Together, the designers and author have illustrated a collection of dreamy T-shirts based on these characters. The emotional attachment gleaned from Lia Block’s words connects beautifully with the gorgeous images on the shirts.

Engage Through Experience

In March 2012, when most brands were still on the fence about joining Pinterest, Calypso St. Barth tapped mega-pinner Christine Martinez, a fashion blogger who was, at the time, the fourth most-followed Pinterest user in the world, to act as both brand ambassador and pinner on an actual trip to St. Barth. According to coverage in Mashable, the brand wanted to “piggy[back] on Martinez’s success on the social network to attract more attention to its boards and website.” Did it work? Currently, the luxury brand has more than 6,000 followers.

Educate and Entertain

Capitalizing on the nail-polish trend as well as its 15th anniversary working directly with designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Red Door client Creative Nail Design (CND) created “The History of Nails at Fashion Week,” an infographic that combined facts about fashion week with CND’s own history and evolution, including the revolutionary product release of Shellac. While infographics are widely used in many verticals, fashion and beauty brands have been less likely to produce and promote information in this way. As a result, the content piece was a valuable resource for journalists and bloggers alike as they competed for views during fashion-week coverage. By posting the Infographic to their fashion week blog and Pinterest, CND was also able to educate customers about the CND’s leadership position, and connect CND more closely with their Shellac product.

Allow Access

We’re all a bit curious about what other people are buying online. Net-A-Porter makes full use of this through a real-time feed that relays what other stylish women around the world are adding to their shopping bags and sharing with friends. Quite mobile, with an app for iPhone and Android to access luxury fashion on the go, fans can also read the weekly Net-A-Porter e-magazine on their iPad which includes everything from how to wear a particular trend to intimate Q&A’s with leading designers. Best of all, Net-A-Porter makes it easy to get a quick snapshot of all of its digital efforts on The Social Hub (live Twitter feed, Photo diary, Facebook, YouTube, Google alerts).

Bonus Resource

The Digital Naturalist is a forum for video, film, and multimedia aimed at analyzing what makes digital storytelling successful in order to establish helpful guidelines for advocacy groups. Solicited causes, such as Charity: Water, have recently gone under the microscope dissecting the elements that make their content succeed or fail. Digital Naturalist founder Amy Marquis said, “If more good people behind these good causes could learn to meet the most basic criteria of good digital storytelling, their work might actually start to turn heads.” Whether you’re into social advocacy or not, these tips can teach any company how to tell a good tale.

This is the kind of content that inspires me. Who makes your “favorites” list?

Crosby Noricks is Director of Social Media at Red Door Interactive, Founder of PR Couture and author of Ready to Launch, available on Amazon. With offices in San Diego, Carlsbad and Denver, Red Door Interactive, Inc. is a strategic partner dedicated to ensuring businesses acquire, convert, retain and engage their customers wherever they are. The firm holds more than a decade of expertise in successfully developing and executing communications initiatives across all touch points to deliver real, measurable results. Clients include Cricket Communications, CND (Shellac), Smith+Noble, Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc. and Charlotte Russe.Crosby can be reached at cnoricks@reddoor.biz or @PR_Couture.

 

I’m part of the elite!

Actually, I’m not yet. It’s interesting when you go to a social networking site and instead of the “become a member” option, you come across “request an invitation.”

Really?

But this is actually incredible marketing!!! What this does is causes users and hopeful users to feel that they are part of something exclusive, rare, elite. They were chosen, invited to be a part of this grand network. How Pinteresting!

In the meantime, as I wait for my acceptance into the oh-so-clandestine society of Pinterest, I started a Twitter. I’m not a big believer in Twitter for a couple of reasons but I will only give the important one: people tweet really stupid, unecessary things. I think that really sums up the frustration that I hold with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that 140 characters can hold a wealth of life-changing, super-important, completely-amazing information but I also believe that many do not know how to utilize language well enough to be finicky about their word choices and even if they are, a lot of people tend to tweet foolishness. Oh yes, but the place that Twitter has in my heart stems from the idea that business can keep their clients abreast of internal happenings very easily and succinctly through Twitter and the news media can quickly transmit messages about exciting and important events. That’s cool.

Is that why I joined Twitter? To follow ABC and INGDirect? No, I did it to build an internet identity, to continue creating my brand and market myself. It’s a strange thing to sell yourself but for the freelancer, it must be done even by means that I am not so sure of.

I hope I can use Pinterest soon :-/

Big dreams, big anxiety?

Well, once again, I’ve been experiencing this mix of great excitement and excrutiating fear. I mean, it’s a great feeling because it moves people and I guess it means that I’m doing the right thing. I’ve heard it said that if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. Mine keep getting bigger and bigger and I’m not sure how much more of this (good) fear I can handle.

This time though, my fear isn’t so much about PR. It’s about grad school. I’ve decided to pursue a new media journalism degree from Full Sail University. I’m only a few clicks and a fax away from starting classes on Monday. I am rather excited about it all while feeling apprehension. What if my work is not as good as other students? What if I cannot keep up with the material? What if I come across something completely foreign and cannot figure it out?

So many questions, so little time.

This is the part where I have to jump head first into my decisions and try to make the best of everything, learning useful leasons along the way that I will look back on, fondly remembering when I thought I would not be able to overcome. Yeah, that’s great.

Today, I had to go to my undergrad campus for my transcripts and ran into my computer professor. He was sitting in the library, misplaced due to the construction going on around his office. We chatted for a little until he stopped, looked me in the eyes and told me that there were many people he’d spoken to and that they are proud of me for graduating despite all of the obstacles. I certainly had some overcoming to do and, by God’s grace, I did it.

And I’ll do it again and again.

I doubt he knew that this was something I needed to hear today more than most other days. While my dreams scare me and there are a few hurdles to jump in order to make it, I’ve done it before and it can be done again.

There are people silently watching and cheering me on.

I spent my days in a Starbucks.

There will always be those entrepreneur stories that begin with tales of hours spent in a coffee shop, utilizing the space as if it were they’re own office. Day after day sitting in their corner “cubicle” knowing the names of the employee by heart. I mean, if you’re there all the time, that’s what will happen.

These are the stories of triumph. Overcoming the criticism from those thinking Why don’t you just get a job? and the others that spot the weirdo in the corner day after day.

It was never my intention to make this my narrative but that is the direction I seem to be going. Both of the meetings that I had today ended with propositions. That’s very exciting! But when I look at my work environment, I realize I might need a new locale. There is nothing wrong with my home but being there is simply distracting. It’s a little hard to be a PR rep when I need to be a mom, daughter and sister first.

As much as I would like to begin my relocation tomorrow, I will be going to a conference about marketing to the government with one of the ladies from today. Again, quite exciting.

Maybe I should figure out a more original introduction to my memoir than “I spent my days in a Starbucks” but until I can figure something else out, that’s what it’ll have to be.

Exciting events and fear

I feel like things are falling into place. I have opened an account to save for office space and many other things that I will need, I am planning a few campaigns for the event planning company that I work for, you know stuff to fill my book with, and I have two meetings tomorrow that I hope will turn into clients. Doesn’t it all sound so progressive? I feel like it does anyway but there are times when I think about all that has to be done in order to run a successful business and I am somewhat discouraged. Still, I have business to attend to so there is no time for that.

The first meeting is with a woman I met who has begun making energy bars to sustain herself during her exercises. She’s offered samples to people she has met during her activities and they are a real hit. When we met, she offered me a positon with her assisting in production of her product and also to show her artwork to galleries so that they could exhibit her photography, which is very beautiful by the way. Her talent is nothing short of amazing. I am looking forward to this meeting.

Next, I will be having a phone meeting with a YouTube personality who is looking to establish her brand and market herself appropriately. This one is kind of interesting because when watching her videos and looking at her website, there are so many things that she can do, it’s almost hard to point to one thing and say that is who she is and that is the audience that I will target. Still, it needs to be done. I feel that after she has one personality in the spotlight, she can begin slipping her other talents in little by little.

All of this sounds fine and dandy but like I said before, there are the occasional twinges of fear. My mother and I were talking the other day and I expressed that I like to put my best foot forward at all times and try not to do anything that will embarass myself. For instance, this blog is actually a leap for me. Under normal circumstances, I would not be blogging about an endeavour for fear of public failure but I did it. I started a blog letting anyone who reads it know that I want to open my own public relations firm. Mom told me one simple thing: Do it while you’re afraid.

She’s right. If I never took this first step, I would not still be considering this career path. It’s scary and it’s exciting and I’m all in. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow but tonight is preparation: researching the energy snack market and trying to nail down a niche.

Fun stuff.

Know the basics

A great reminder from Frause:

One of the most important tools in public relations is the press or news release. This important document is structured in such a way that allows a public relations or communications professional to send off an announcement to the media and a reporter or editor can quickly scan the document, much like a news article, for needed information.

There are several key components to writing a news release, and there are some great examples in the Frause newsroom.

  1. Headline: This should be the sentence, written in an active voice with as few prepositions as possible, which catches the reader’s attention and briefly states what the main announcement is: think of who, what, where, how, when, and why.
  2. Byline: Sometimes optional, and much like in a news story when used, the byline is another attention-grabbing sentence that gives more detail and elaborates on the headline.
  3. Dateline: In AP Style, which is the standard style for writing news releases in much of the United States, the dateline consists of the city and state or country, depending on what AP Style dictates, followed by the date. This is essential to the news release and cannot be left out.
  4. The announcement: Written in the traditional inverted pyramid, the release should be brief but contain all the vital facts presented in a clear, concise, easy-to-read format much like how news stories are written. Often there is a paragraph with a quote from a spokesperson.
  5. Boiler plate: This is basic information about the company or organization that goes after the end of the news release. A company may put out multiple news releases but will use the same boiler plate.
  6. Contact information: There should be a media contact with a name, phone number and email address so that media with questions can contact this person.

Besides the basic components, there are some other important considerations, including language use, links and photos, and how strategically to write the release to make it interesting. Some professionals are even arguing now against the use of inverted pyramid style, which was invented for the telegraph, and for a return to more feature-style writing. There are some great tips on PR Newswire for the press release template and optimizing press release content. Just remember that format, accuracy and proofreading are imperative.

Olivia says, “I am very much a fan of feature-style writing.”