Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Mark Knowles On So Much More Than Swivel

Two secrets to Mark Knowles’ success, both personally and professionally, are to always be curious, and to fail fast and learn from those failures.

I interviewed Mark for Episode 70 of the PR Talk podcast. We had a candid conversation about a range of topics that went beyond the upcoming marketing conference he’s organizing in Bend called Swivel and delved into float planes, intention setting, serial entrepreneurialism and more.

Besides organizing Swivel, Mark is a principal at Smartz (digital marketing) and The Growler Guys (craft beer), and is the CEO of Pixelsilk (an SEO-friendly CMS). At the end of the interview we learned about how his entrepreneurship began with the proverbial lemonade stand.

Swivel is September 16-17 in BendSwivel Conference

Entering its 12th year, Swivel will be held September 16-17 in Bend, Ore. This year’s event includes well-known speakers, including: Wil Reynolds, Cari Twitchell, Blake Denman and even yours truly will have a stint onstage discussing digital PR.

Swivel also includes an Unconference on the second day, as well as two workshops on customer feedback and content marketing.

Mark’s goal for the conference is bringing together all of marketing’s parts—from creative to technical SEO—and learning how they each work independently and cooperatively.

 

Traveling Brings Greater Perspective

One of Mark’s passions is travelling. He recently returned from a trip to a remote river near Bristol Bay in Alaska where the only way to access it was via a float plane. Sharing about 1.5 million acres with only a dozen other people gave him perspective, he said, especially when compared to the times his day is dictated by his inbox.

All of that just goes away when you’re out in the wild and looking at all that nature, he said. A little bit hungover from the trip, he said he’ll eventually respond to those emails that are piling up in his inbox. Or maybe he won’t.

 

The Secrets to Mark’s Success

Listen to the podcast to learn how Mark embraces failure rather than running from it. He also is always curious and learning new things. He said both failing fast (and learning from that failure) and continuing on a learning journey have shaped his professional life.

He also shared his “1-2-3 practice” with us. Each morning he identifies the top three things he can do to make that day a success and sets out to accomplish them as soon as possible.

About the guest: Mark Knowles

Mark Knowles is a serial entrepreneur, including being a principal at Smartz, The Growler Guys and CEO at Pixelsilk. He is an advisory board member for the Search Engine Marketers of Portland (SEMpdx) and organizer of the Swivel conference in Bend. 

Connect and follow Mark on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

How to Choose the Right Communication Channels for Your Communications Campaign

How to Choose the Right Communication Channels for Your Communications Campaign

With so many communications channels to choose from, it’s easy to see how some businesses might get overwhelmed.

According to a recent survey by The Manifest, 64% of small businesses use two or more channels when relaying messages to consumers.

By choosing a combination of channels, businesses can ensure their messages are being received by the widest possible audience.

Although it might be tempting to use as many communications channels as are available, businesses would benefit from a more deliberate and mindful approach.

 

Know Your Audience

One of the first steps of planning a successful communications campaign is knowing exactly who the campaign is for.

Ask yourself:

  • How old is the target audience?
  • What are their communication habits?
  • What types of messages do they respond best to?

For example, if your target audience is younger, social media might be the best way to reach them.

Businesses should also consider whether the target audience is current customers or people they’re trying to convert into customers.

“Current customers are going to listen to that message quite differently than folks who don’t know who you are or haven’t had any sort of relationship with you,” said Mike Rosenberg, CEO of Veracity, one of the top PR agencies in Portland, Ore.

 

Consider Your Message

 The next step to planning an effective communications campaign is to consider the message you want to share.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you sharing information about a new product or service?
  • Do you want to share company news?
  • Is the purpose of your message to inform or incite a specific action?

Businesses should always consider the nature of their message before determining which communication channel would be the best fit.

 

Think About What Kind of Return You Want to Gain

After you’ve considered your audience and the type of message you’ll be sharing, you also need to consider the type of return you want to gain from your communication efforts.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the goal with communication to customers?
  • What action do we want them to take?
  • Do we want them to buy something?
  • Do we want them to start a conversation around our brand?
  • Is this more a matter of customer service?
  • How will we track our returns?

For example, if you want to jumpstart buzz around your brand or a new product, social media might be the best channel. If you want to offer customers exclusive news or discounts, email or direct mail might be best.

Whatever your intended return is, make sure it is trackable so that you can measure the success of your campaign to prepare for future campaigns.

 

Business-Consumer Communications Requires a Well-Thought Out Plan

While businesses should use multiple platforms to emphasize their messages, they should do so in a deliberate way. By considering their audience, message, and the return they want to gain, businesses can create a communications campaign that strengthens their public relations, marketing, and reputation management strategies.

Featured image from Ethan Hoover
Tips for Creating iPhone Videos

Tips for Creating iPhone Videos

Updated for 2019! Creating share-worthy videos is easy!

The primary update to these tips is in regards to #4 below, shoot horizontally. With more and more social media (and website usage) being consumed on smartphones, it is not ALWAYS best to film horizontally. According to this post by Covideo, 94% of smartphone videos are consumed vertically…people simply aren’t willing (or able in the case of many apps like Twitter and Instagram) to turn their phones. So shooting vertically may be best when your target channel is social and your social audience consumes your content on their phone.

If you don’t want to invest in buying equipment or can’t wait for it to arrive, you can certainly create iPhone videos without any extra gear all by yourself. The video below was created without using external equipment and handheld by the speaker (me). No tripod, no external microphone, no special lighting. It’s really pretty easy to get a post-worthy video with just a little thought.

You can also view the video on YouTube for some tips on taking videos with an iPhone (or most any smartphone) including:

  1. Be aware of your lighting. Shooting outside (be sure the sun is not directly behind you) or near windows is good if you do not have lighting equipment.
    • Take a sample video to see how it looks. Experiment using the phone’s flash, or the flash of a second phone.
  2. Do not use your phone’s zoom (zoom the old fashion way by moving toward or away from your subject).
  3. Use your “exposure lock” on an iPhone (and most other smartphones).
    • This is done by touching your screen to “lock” in on your subject, hold your touch until it displays “AE/AF LOCK” which will help keep the lens from changing the exposure (how much light it lets in) automatically.
  4. Shoot horizontally.
    • Unless the primary purpose is for social media feeds (vertical shots do not play well on websites, but social users on mobile prefer vertical)
  5. Have a steady hand or prop your phone on something stable.
    • Or you can use a tripod (you can find a great one for around $20). Check Amazon Prime for a variety of options.
  6. Place the phone’s microphone close to your subject.
    • Or get an external microphone, we use a clip-on lavalier with an extension cord.

You can also easily step up your production value by investing a little (certainly under $100) by purchasing a tripod &/or external microphone. The following video was taken using a tripod and external microphone (again, no extra/special lighting). The set-up used to film the below video included a tripod, lapel microphone and extension cord, all for about $50.

Quick Tips for Creating an iPhone Video (w/ tripod and microphone) from Veracity Marketing on Vimeo.

Once you have recorded your video, see our tips to edit your videos and tips on uploading and publishing your videos.

 

 

Podcast: Julie Gustafson: Pearl Magazine

Podcast: Julie Gustafson: Pearl Magazine

All Things Pearl: Julie Gustafson,
PDBA Executive Director

Julie offers a crash course on community relations after explaining the Pearl Business Awards and The Pearl magazine.

 

Julie Gustafson, Executive Director of the Pearl District Business Association (PDBA), stops by Veracity for a podcast interview right in time for the Pearl Business Awards’ nomination deadline, which is this Friday. The fourth annual Pearl Business Awards feature 15 categories that recognize individuals and businesses that are making a difference within Portland’s flourishing Pearl District. While the PDBA is a membership-based organization, you do not have to be a member to be recognized but you do have to be based in the Pearl. Any PR person can nominate any business or person for free.

Sidenote: If you are interested in examining the benefits (or hindrances) of putting an awards strategy together for your company or clients, please join me at Pregame this Wednesday in the Pearl (of course) at 11 a.m. I have two slots available to non-Pregame members. Email me at [email protected] to get on the list.

The Pearl Magazine

Beyond the upcoming awards, Julie and I talk about other PR opportunities that the PDBA brings, including The Pearl magazine, which is produced quarterly by SagaCity Media. Julie has her finger on the pulse of the Pearl bringing story ideas to the SagaCity team. The team then infuses trends and newsworthy happenings into the ideas to bring an editorial slant to articles that mostly highlight PDBA members.

Always on the hunt for a good story, Julie keeps tabs on the community by constantly walking around the Pearl and connecting with community members. She’ll even prod her membership for story ideas — mentioning that she’d like members to connect with her if they’ll be hosting a charity drive for the holidays so that she can highlight it in the next issue. She encourages members to reach out to her with story ideas 3-6 months out to keep up with The Pearl’s quarterly production.

The Pearl gets around. Not only can it be found in almost every hotel in the city, it chills at the airport, the convention center, and more. It’s also mailed to Portland Monthly subscribers.

 

PR Opportunities Abound

Other PDBA PR opportunities include two monthly newsletters: one that’s delivered to members only and one that’s meant for the public (also produced by SagaCity). Since these are produced monthly we can breathe a little easier with shorter lead times.

Members and Pearl happenings are also highlighted online at explorethepearl.com in an engaging story-telling way. Business listings featuring each member’s profile — including that oh-so-important link back to the business’s website — are also included here. Businesses can even update their profile content as they see fit, for instance adding their upcoming First Thursday events.

 

Community Relations versus Public Relations

What’s the difference between Public Relations and Community Relations? Julie’s past experience as Community Relations Manager for the Portland Streetcar highly qualifies her to dig into this conundrum with me. As we do so, we learn a little bit about the Streetcar’s fascinating history in Portland and what a community relations manager’s role might be in getting the word out about things like service interruptions and new offerings. She even expands upon what it was like to knock on the doors of local businesses that would be affected by construction surrounding the expansion of the line.

About the guest: Julie Gustafson

Julie Gustafson is the Executive Director of the Pearl District Business Association which produces The Pearl Magazine.

Connect and follow Julie and the Pearl District Business Association on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Malia Spencer: Portland Business Journal

Podcast: Malia Spencer: Portland Business Journal

Recorded Live at PreGame HQ: An Interview with
the Portland Business Journal’s Malia Spencer

Plus some new PR pet peeves from Malia, and what exactly is a startup anyway?

Malia Spencer has spent the last four years digging deep into Portland’s technology, startup, and entrepreneur culture for the Portland Business Journal. She was originally hired to cover banking technology, but quickly transitioned to reporting on venture capital, private equity, and angel investors because they’re a growing part of Portland’s burgeoning tech sector.

Early in our interview, recorded live at PreGame HQ, I asked Malia for her opinion on Portland’s place in the national tech scene. She breaks the country into three basic tiers, with areas like Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley occupying the top spots, Seattle and Austin in tier 2, and other cities like Denver and Portland in tier 3. In Malia’s view, Portland is trying to move up to tier 2 thanks to its recent growth.

I was prompted to ask Malia about how she defines a startup, because I often ask myself that same question. Could I call my own business a startup and pitch it that way for coverage? While Malia takes a rather broad view of the word in her own coverageoften profiling the abundant maker and food entrepreneurs in PDX – she defines a more traditional startup as a company with a high gross potential over the short term that’s also backed by venture capital funds.

Malia also covers other small companies that might not have a lot of investors, but that often depends on how she believes the story will land with her audience.

The readers who are looking at the business journal are “people who have grown businesses, and can read a story to learn what they can do to help their business,” Malia said. So the stories she gravitates towards are going to include those details.

So what should you do to have your company featured in the journal? Malia was kind enough to share her best PR tips, and perhaps more importantly, what PR pros and entrepreneurs should absolutely NOT do.

 

Malia’s PR Pet Peeves

Always prepared, Malia came to our live podcast interview with a list of pet peeves she’d sourced from the members of her newsroom, which PR Pros would be wise to heed.

  • Malia’s #1 pet peeve is pitchers who don’t do their homework. She says she gets so many irrelevant story ideas from people outside the Portland area that too often turn into irrelevant phone calls. Malia advises people interested in getting PBJ coverage to first read the journal so they understand what’s in it and what the reporters cover.
  • Never ask for an advance review, because no journalist with any ethics would ever send one.
  • If a reporter hasn’t responded to your pitch, don’t do more than one telephone or email follow up. Malia says that if she’s interested in a story idea, she’ll respond to a pitch immediately.
  • And finally, no more than 2 people on a conference call.

 

Malia’s PR Tips

So once you’ve avoided these pet peeves, what can PR Pros or entrepreneurs do to get coverage in the journal? Malia says, it all starts with the story.

  • First there needs to be a news hook. The journal is generally interested in new C-Suite hires that might make a big impact, or if a startup has raised a new round of funding. They also frequently cover businesses that have landed a huge sale or a contract that’s going to change what it’s doing in a big way. So before you pitch, think twice about how you’ll position your story’s news hook.
  • Malia reminded the audience that even if she decides to follow up on a pitch with her own story, the final version could look different than your original suggestion.
  • In response to an audience question, Malia said that pitches don’t have to come in the traditional press release format, and in most cases a regular email is sufficient.
  • Many times, entrepreneurs can get coverage by simply reaching out to reporters personally to let them know who they are and what they’re doing, and then inviting them to talk more about it over coffee.

Beyond feature stories, The Portland Business Journal also publishes other regular content that PR Pros and entrepreneurs should consider.

 

  • One good way to get coverage is through “The Pitch.” This feature is essentially a written investor pitch which combines a company questionnaire with a write up interview about a company’s genesis story. “The Pitch” always runs online and will run in the print edition as space allows.
  • The journal also publishes weekly lists throughout the year, such as The Fastest Growing Private Companies in Oregon or The Largest Architecture Firms in the Portland Metro Area. PBJ editors are always looking for list topic suggestions or business nominations.
  • In addition to lists, the PBJ also publishes regular awards for outstanding businesses and business executives. When this is mentioned, I remind PR folks that clients will love you forever if you get them an award.

About the guest: Malia Spencer

For nearly five years, Malia Spencer has covered the technology, startup, and entrepreneurs beat for the Portland Business Journal. Sign up for her free, twice-weekly newsletter TechFlash.

Connect and follow Malia on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Ciara Pressler: Pregame

Podcast: Ciara Pressler: Pregame

Going Long with Ciara Pressler on Pregaming your PR

Check out Pregame at a live taping of PR Talk with
Malia Spencer, PBJ startup and technology reporter

Ciara Pressler is a force of nature. Not only does she run Pregame — a training program for entrepreneurs who want to maximize their time, money, and opportunities — she’s also published two books and has written regularly for the Huffington Post.

Ciara gets a big charge out of helping other entrepreneurs realize their business goals. Much of that comes from giving them an opportunity to interact with other professionals. “Having a trusted group of people who can give you feedback is invaluable,” Ciara told me. And that’s exactly what Pregame provides.

Speaking of Pregame, I’ll be interviewing startup and technology reporter, Malia Spencer of the Portland Business Journal, during a live taping of my PR Talk podcast at Pregame HQ on Thursday, June 7th, from 5 – 7 p.m. The event is free for Pregame members and guests can attend for $47.

With so much on her plate, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Ciara about her history and experience in PR, along with the work she’s doing with other local entrepreneurs.

A Roundabout Journey Into PR

Ciara began her career working in the performing arts. From there she transitioned into marketing and quickly realized that if she wanted to serve her clients well, she needed to learn the finer points of PR. Before branching out on her own, Ciara worked for a company that produced 120 events every year in fashion, art, and music.

Pregame was born out of Ciara’s desire to get all the information she’d learned from years in the trenches out to more people. “I wanted to create an environment where people could come and learn — especially solopreneurs — who don’t have an office full of people to draw from,” she said.

The Pregame clubhouse has been open in Portland’s Pearl District since August of 2016 and before that, Ciara taught workshops for several years in New York, LA, and Seattle.

Ciara describes Pregame as “a gym for your goals” and the elements of her training take on similar sporting themes. Classes are called “workouts” and the weekly small group check-in meetings are called “hometeams.”

Pregame courses cover topics like setting and achieving professionals goals, marketing and PR fundamentals and even guidance on publishing a book, expanding your speaking career, and establishing yourself as a thought leader. Pregame members also have access to expert sessions on topics like sales, finance, operations, team management and PR — of which I am an honored PR “expert,” hosting a Q&A hour every fourth Wednesday at 11 a.m. that I am allowed to bring two guests to (let me know if you are interested).

So what common themes does she see with all these businesses? “It’s that balance between specializing and being general,” she told me. Pregame helps people refine their model so they’re selling something people want to buy that’s also something these entrepreneurs want to create and build.

PR Do’s and Don’ts

After years of experience working with entrepreneurs, Ciara has some advice to share on the Do’s and Don’ts of managing your own PR campaign.

DO’s

  • It’s your responsibility to be PR ready. That means having photo assets, service menus, and a website that can handle increased traffic in place before you begin a PR campaign.
  • Trust your PR professional so you can let go of the reigns and let them run with their job.

DONT’s

  • “When I’ve dealt with clients who have come to me because they’ve had a really bad experience with a marketing or PR agency and they want me to fix it, sometimes they’ve started that process too early,” Ciara said. “If you don’t have your marketing on point that people are going to see if they do hear about you in a bigger press outlet, then you don’t have any business doing press yet,” Ciara said. “You can’t go back and do it over again.”
  • Don’t hire a PR firm when you need to elevate your sales. PR is for building reputation and brand.

If you’d like to sharpen your own PR skills, Pregame will be launching a DIY PR bootcamp this summer in partnership with Travel Portland. They also offer courses that will help you get ready before you hire a PR firm. Ciara says the goal for these courses is to “get people in a healthier place to maximize time and money before making that investment.”

About the guest: Ciara Pressler

Ciara is an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience advising entrepreneurs and innovators on brand and growth strategy. She’s consulted, coached, and partnered with hundreds of business leaders from New York to Los Angeles, Singapore to Moscow.

She’s the author of two books, Exit Stage Right: The Career Change Handbook for Performers and Game Plan: Achieve Your Goals in Life, Career, and Business, the founder of Pregame, and works as a member of Pressler Collaborative, a marketing and PR firm serving entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators.    

Connect and follow Ciara Pressler on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.