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 here.

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.

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Two of My Favorite Things with Steve Strauss, USA TODAY & Inc.

Mr.AllBiz Delves into the Intersection of Small Business and PR

Luckily Steve Strauss had just gotten fired from his cushy job as a lawyer twenty years ago when USA TODAY came calling looking for a small business columnist. Apparently, the budding entrepreneur wasn’t the best employee and lacked writing ability. He’s gone on to write an impressive 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. But it’s the brand he’s built through penning a weekly small business Ask an Expert column for USA TODAY that he credits for his success.

After getting the corporate boot, Steve started his own law practice, eventually carving out an interesting niche between three disciplines: law, small business and writing. He has since left the law behind to focus on regular columns for USA TODAY, Huff Po. and Inc. — check out this recent piece for Inc.: “Why Most PR Pitches Stand Out (and How to Make Yours Stand Out).”

You’re wrong if you think Steve couldn’t get any busier. More can be found about how he serves as the small business spokesperson for companies like Bank of America and Verizon on Mr.AllBiz. His team creates written and visual content focusing on the small business community underneath The Strauss Group. And to top it off, Steve’s Web portal, The SelfEmployed, pays special attention not just to entrepreneurs seeking world domination, but also to freelancers and the gig economy, aka the “side hustle.”

Steve’s work could serve as a resource for employed marketers looking to dip their toes into the small business pool through freelancing or side hustling. Most interestingly, we both shared personal stories of how we journeyed into the abyss of the self-employed. Steve’s firing could have been viewed as a failure but instead it led to a much broader, but different, type of success than he ever expected. And although I didn’t know it at the time, saying yes to volunteer work was the beginning of Veracity.

 

This episode of PR Talk covers:

  • How to get in Steve’s USA TODAY column, or the other three notable columns he writes on a monthly basis, and other general PR tips and pet peeves.
  • How and why small businesses should embrace PR.
  • How marketers can start their own companies through freelancing and picking up “side hustles” first.
  • The differences between small marketing shops and large firms.

About the guest: Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author, and USA TODAY small business columnist, Steve is a global speaker, corporate spokesperson, entrepreneur, and author of 17 books including the best-selling Small Business Bible.

Connect and follow Steve 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: Carolyn Shelby: Tribune Interactive

Podcast: Carolyn Shelby: Tribune Interactive

An Insider’s Look at Link-Building through PR

 

As part of our deep dive into all things digital PR, I took advantage of the profound thinkers while I was at Engage. My firm was on its eighth iteration of handling the PR for the digital marketing conference in Portland where I also happened to be presenting on the topic of “PR Your Way to the Top of Google.”

Carolyn Shelby was kind enough to sit down with me after presenting a “He Said, She Said” session with her husband, Dave Rohrer, on SEO. No, she’s not insane enough to start a business with her husband but they do enjoy presenting together. He owns a boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago called North Side Metrics specializing in SEO and PPC. While she is the Director of SEO for Tribune Interactive, which provides digital support for 10 daily newspapers (such as the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun), tons of community papers and a handful of foreign newspapers.

At Tribune Interactive, Carolyn oversees all technical aspects to ensure each newspaper communicates with the search engines optimally. Not only does this protect each entity’s search rank, but her policies are also meant to protect Tribune Interactive’s sponsored content clients.

Protecting the Clients from Themselves

According to Carolyn, if Tribune Interactive allowed sponsored content clients to place as many links as they wanted, the newspapers would turn into what Carolyn calls a “link farm.” This free-for-all can actually damage their clients’ search results, resulting in penalties from Google. She tells us what to look out for in this capacity and explains why some online publications only allow you to link to an author’s biography at the end of a contributed article for example or only to a website’s homepage.

“Google is very sensitive to the concept of buying links. Do not buy backlinks. Not only is it bad, but Tribune Interactive doesn’t want to create the impression that we’ve been buying links.”

Carolyn’s linking policies for sponsored content:

  • Websites are only allowed two links
  • The two links can’t both go to the same page
  • Links should generally go to the organization’s name to avoid “over-optimized” content.

 

Trying Too Hard with SEO

When I asked for some clarification on what this phrase “over-optimized’ meant, Carolyn explained how Google will look at the totality of a website’s back links and the anchor text (the blue part that you click on to be directed to another page/website). Sites are considered over-optimized when the anchor text only links to sales or call-to-action pages. But it isn’t considered over-optimizing when what’s being sold is part of the organization’s name.

 

Press Release Link Farm Frenzy

About five years ago it seemed that all anyone wanted from PR people was a mediocre press release posted to press release distribution sites. Veracity was one of the first to point out that the resulting “hits” they brought back weren’t real news. Many of them were going to “fake” websites that weren’t related to any news sources at all.

“Google considered it to be a free-for-all link farm. So many people were abusing this, press releases became meaningless. Today we don’t consider links from these sources to have any value at all,” Carolyn says. “Google said it doesn’t matter where your release is. You can only have two links and one must go to your home page. But if you are continuing to abuse it to the point that it affects your backlink profile, you might get penalized.”

This is where real, old-school PR comes back into fashion. Keep in mind that nothing is actually old-school now because most of our work in print and broadcast also ends up online. I’m always talking about the old-school PR mentality when I use this phrase.

 

Community News vs. High-Profile News

When I asked if getting links from high profile sites like the LA Times versus local community newspapers, Carolyn assured me that it’s sometimes even more valuable for locally-based organizations to garner links from community newspapers. Any newspaper appearing in Google News (type its name in Google News to see if it comes up) is valuable. Carolyn goes on to remind us that we all have local hooks (our hometown, college town, etc.) and if we can “re-write the hook” each time to relate to each customized local angle, not only will our chances of landing the story increase, it ensures you won’t have duplicate content out there which is an SEO faux pas.

 

Managing Where Journalists Link Out

Tribune Interactive journalists decide where to link within their stories. Carolyn says she encourages them to link internally “because it’s good for the crawlers.” Her one rule is that they cannot link to conversion pages. While she doesn’t change their stories, she will bring something to a journalist’s attention if they’ve done something she disapproves of. We hear a story about how a journalist got fired for being paid to “drop” obscure links to sites having nothing to do with the story they were writing about. So at the end of the day, the buck ultimately stops with Carolyn.

Want to learn more? You can catch Carolyn at The Social Shake-Up — which represents the intersection of marketing, public relations and social — in Atlanta this May 7 – 9.

About the guest: Carolyn Shelby

Carolyn has been professionally designing/building websites and helping businesses of all sizes integrate their offline and online marketing efforts since 1994. She specializes in organic SEO, content marketing, and helping businesses rebuild under-performing (or just ancient) websites while preserving existing inbound links and search engine rankings.

Carolyn is currently the Director of SEO and SEM for Tribune Publishing, and works on the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and six other Tribune newspapers including a number of other digital properties around the US.

Connect and follow Carolyn 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.

Account Executive at Veracity

Account Executive at Veracity

Veracity Seeks Account Executive to Handle Growing Agency Needs

Our growing agency is looking to add another member to our team. This experienced Account Executive — with 2-4 years of true public relations experience preferably in an agency setting — will serve as the primary contact for a handful of Veracity accounts. You will be supported by an Account Coordinator, with Veracity owners serving as strategists and problem-solvers on all accounts.

Veracity Account Executive duties could include, but wouldn’t be limited to, the following:

  • Identifying & placing press opportunities for clients.
  • Daily contact with clients & media relating to what you’re working on.
  • Collaboration & possibly management of east coast media pitcher.
  • Collaboration & possibly management of copywriter(s).
  • Collaboration & management of Account Coordinator on specific projects, such as research, media reports, social media maintenance, various writing opportunities and more.
  • Contribute to Veracity’s social media & blog.
  • Writing. Writing. Writing. Press pitches, articles, press releases, blog posts & more.
  • Editing. Editing. Editing. Everyone needs an editor. Please be ours!

Working at Veracity is fun. We grind it out with our heads down each day but that gives us more work-life balance in the end. Flexible work schedules and working locations are granted to team-players who get results and give it their all—no matter when or where they are working.

Benefits include generous vacation/PTO, FMLA, health benefits, competitive compensation and continuing education opportunities.

To apply: email your qualifications and writing samples (press release and blog post) to careers(at)veracityagency.com.

**Applications that do not include (or link to) a sample press release and blog post that you’ve written will not be considered. You must include both.**

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash