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Five years of Gem PR & Media

Five years of Gem PR & Media

It's been a long time since I posted, it's been a busy few months. It's also five years since I launched Gem PR & Media from our dining room table in Guernsey. And sure, we have 250 #FiveYears of #LipSmackingService Serious Lip Balms to gift to our friends, family, and clients (let me know if you’d like one and I’ll make sure it happens), but I also wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

It’s been vital to our survival that we love what we do. That’s what it comes down to. If money is more important than doing what you love that’s ok too. But for small business owners, we do it because it’s what we're meant to do. 

Celebrate the good times. Do not dwell on the bad times, they will pass, and you will get through. If you mess up admit it, apologize, and move on. Know that if something isn’t your fault, and you did a good job, you can’t win them all. 

Listen to advice from your peers. Not all advice is good, but in time you will discover those whose advice is invaluable. 

Stay true to yourself. That gut feeling has always been a strong indicator for me. If I feel something is off it usually is. 

Do good. As a business owner, you have the power to leave this place in better shape than when you found it. Give your time wisely and use it for good.  

If you can’t stand up for your industry then help make it be a better one. Lead by example. It’s ok if others follow I genuinely believe that.

Go the extra mile for your clients it will make all the difference. 

Finally, recognize your accomplishments and those that have helped you along the way.

So thank you to everyone that has supported us over the years we appreciate it, we really do! 

Engagement on Facebook is up

Engagement on Facebook is up

The beginning of 2018 brought with it major changes for social media managers, especially for those using Facebook. But the platform’s decision to favor content that’s shared, or engaged with, wasn’t a bad one.

Of the Facebook pages that we manage we’ve seen a decrease in organic reach, that’s for sure. But engagement is up. That’s right, from our experience, more and more followers are engaging with posts; reacting, commenting, and sharing the content on business pages. Changes to Facebook’s algorithm means loyal followers, those that have engaged with your business page previously - what some call ‘superfans’ – are seeing the posts in their feeds. And because these are your loyal fans they are taking the time to interact with the posts and page.

In turn, we need to reward these loyal fans with great content. The more engaging the post the faster it will be gain a reaction, share, or comment, which in turn improves organic reach. And, the posts that reach the greatest number of non-fans are those which receive the most engagement from existing fans.

So much of it is about timing. Yes, you may find that your post reaches the greatest number of people at 7, 8, or 9pm but (and this is a huge but) that post may have been circulating people’s feeds for hours and its reach may go even further if there’s been an opportunity for your fans (and non-fans) to engage prior. Just give it a try.

It’s rare that we post text only, so when I say images remain popular I actually don’t have much to compare this by other than knowing, as a former news editor, pictures paint a thousand words and I’ll almost always choose cute babies or puppies for the front cover.

The posts that do the best are the ones that appear spontaneously, or at least in the eyes of our fans. So, if we take the Local First Springfield Facebook page for example, the posts that gained the most engagement over the past month were our visit to see members exhibiting at the Illinois Products Expo, the day after the opening of Free Press Coffee on MacArthur and the Saturday morning we dropped into Custom Cup Coffee and Three Twigs Bakery. What’s also important to note is the pages that we tagged in these posts have a decent following – and most importantly – a loyal fan base AKA superfans, or what I call brand ambassadors. And, what’s even more obvious, is that you can’t fool fans. They know when you’re sharing ‘real time’ content. And that’s key. So, what’s the answer to increasing engagement (and reach)?

  • Post about your tribe, whether that be your members, clients, customers, staff, donors, or volunteers.
  • Post photos taken in situ; they don’t need to be perfect.
  • Share photos of people, places, and pets (but please don’t fill my newsfeed with photos of random dogs standing on their head - it needs to be relevant).
  • Tag, tag, tag those you want to interact with, those that you’re confident will interact with you, and those who also have great engagement.
  • Be timely, don’t get caught up in needing to post at 8pm because that’s when the greatest number of your fans is likely to see your post. You want non-fans to see your post too … post when it’s time appropriate and allow your posts to gain momentum.
  • Sharing others’ content may not gain you much in the way or reach or engagement, but, it will develop a potentially mutually beneficial relationship and … you may even gain some of that page’s fans.

Remember you’re in it for the long run and you have to be able to adapt, quickly, to changes in Facebook’s algorithm. But until the next change, this is what we’re (mostly) sticking to.



Owned, bought, and earned media

Owned, bought, and earned media

It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to write a blog. Tomorrow I will present to my peers and as I was writing the presentation on owned, bought, and earned media I thought I’d share my thoughts with you also.

In writing outreach strategies for clients, which align with their business goals, I always take into consideration owned, bought, and earned media.

Owned media is anything you own that can be leveraged for marketing purposes; apparel, office supplies, your website, social media, etc.

Website: maximize its potential; add a blog or news feed, update images, post client/customer testimonials, link to your social media profiles, backlink

Social media; post engaging, informative and timely content; images, videos, industry related information, ask questions, post surveys, piggyback on trends and topics, share content from other business pages etc.

Bought media is anything you buy; advertising in magazines, online, social media, TV, radio, billboards etc. It’s really a case of working out which of the above will bring you the greatest return on your investment. We are seeing more and more people investing in social media advertising/Facebook boosting and videos – as well as Google ad words – the most important benefit to remember about online advertising, is that it’s measurable.

Earned media

Essentially – Public Relations – the core of what Gem PR & Media does for clients on a daily basis.

Speaking opportunities: there are a wide variety of speaking opportunities in central Illinois and beyond. 

Articles, profiles, and interviews on TV, radio, in print and online. This is a great opportunity to spread the word about your business and/or services.

Awards; enter awards and nominate clients, colleagues, and partners/third party providers – not just to show that you care, but to spread the word about your organization, its people and those that it interacts with.

CSR – corporate social responsibility; this is a huge part of what we do as a business and encourage other businesses to do so also. Giving back to the community in which your business operates, and you live in, is a major plus here.

In addition to being a nice person, you’re also elevating your brand.

If you choose to dedicate time and resources to a cause make sure it is either one you are extremely passionate about and/or aligns with your business goals. 

Make sure you have the time to commit – don’t half-ass it – that’s bad for your reputation.

Use your existing skills – if you’re an accountant – offer to do the bookkeeping, if you’re a lawyer offer to be legal counsel etc.

One of the most important things to remember about public relations/earned media is longevity – this is something often forgotten … when you have an article published online, or you make a presentation/speech and someone shares a photo of you and tags your business on Facebook, or you volunteer for an organization, secure a spot on the news, and a link to the interview is shared on the website and social media platforms - the message is repeated, the exposure is wide reaching and you are now established as a go-to source – you/your business/services/products and expertise are available for anyone that is interested days, months, even years after you’ve ‘paid’ for that PR. 

So think about the ways in which you can best leverage your owned, bought, and earned media - and remember the investment is well worth it in the short - and long-term. 

How to improve your SEO

How to improve your SEO

Whether you’re writing a blog, a Facebook post, or article how you write and what you include will make all the difference when it comes to online traffic.

First of all, make sure you include keywords. I’d recommend at least three. Think about the words your target audience will use to search for you on Google.

Be clever when it comes to your headline. Again, use words that will be plugged into the search engine.  

Don’t ramble. Get straight to the point.

Avoid redundant words and repetition. Keep it short. I always try to keep my blogs to around 200 words, my articles to between 300 and 450 words for Eighteen21, and my Facebook posts to one sentence (two max).

Include links to other pages, articles, and social media platforms. Backlinking helps increase your SEO.

Include a call to action; at the very least remind people where they can find out more or who to contact.

So, with the above in mind, if you’re looking for great content creation, by a professional, with more than a 15 years’ experience in the media industry, call 217-210-1589 and speak to me, Gemma, about how Gem PR & Media can help get you and your business noticed online!  

It’s not about us, it’s about you

It’s not about us, it’s about you

In August 2015 I wrote the blog ‘A day in the life of Gem PR & Media.’ It was a take on a feature that I’ve produced (in one shape or another) for a number of magazines around the globe. We currently run a similar piece in called ‘My not so 9 to 5,’ which chronicles the day for those living in and around Springfield. It’s a great way to gain insight into someone’s business, organization, or life.

This week I thought about revisiting the idea of a ‘not so 9 to 5 at Gem PR & Media,’ but then I got to thinking – it’s not about us it’s about you. What I really should be talking about is our clients and what their days are like working with us because that’s what matters.

A lot of the time our clients will apologize for their delay in getting back to us about a blog we drafted, the month’s social media posts we’ve scheduled, or a meeting date and time. The reason is they are busy. Well, that’s exactly what we want to hear. We are glad that our clients are too busy to get back to us right away. When I get a text message that reads ‘my phone has been ringing non-stop,’ that makes my day. It means that we’re doing something right. 

Most recently we’ve been working with the team at SPFLD Emojis, which released about a week-and-a-half ago. The media reception has been fantastic. We issued a press release on June 1 and since then SPFLD Emojis has appeared on multiple platforms from TV to radio and print to online, of course. I’ve always said that if you’ve got a great story the media will want to tell it – and that’s the case with SPFLD Emojis. 

Something else that we feel strongly about is including clients in the opportunities that we ourselves pursue. Last week we attended the Women Empowerment networking event at Erin’s Pavilion, organized by our client Deb Sarsany and her team at The Real Estate Group (another of our clients). We wanted to show some of the work we do and what better way to do that than have clients attend with us? Brittany Wallin of SPFLD Emojis and Crystal Apostol of Apostol Heirloom Portraitist joined the Gem PR & Media/ table, mingled with guests, and developed new relationships. We also had marketing materials from Sensible Innovations, AlignLife of Springfield, which has its annual 5K in Washington Park in September, and copies of the 2017/18 Springfield Visitors Guide, which we researched and wrote last summer. We also gave away four tickets to a 2017/18 Springfield Jr. Blues games, kindly provided by the team, another client of ours – and because we are located across the road from the fabulous Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet, we had a selection of their delicious mini desserts for guests to our table. 

These are just a few examples, but I think it’s important to demonstrate just how much we appreciate our clients, how we continue to look for new opportunities so that they are able to grow their businesses, and how being a part of the Gem PR & Media ‘family’ is a positive experience. 

How to write a blog

How to write a blog

I love writing blogs. The casual conversational approach suits my character. A blog can take you to places a newspaper article cannot. You can express your opinion openly and be creative. 
I often ghostwrite for clients so it’s important that I can put myself in their shoes. We work closely to understand their businesses better so that when it comes to ghostwriting blogs, or anything else for that matter, we are able to speak with their voice. 

Whether you need to do research to write a blog really depends on the depth of your knowledge on the subject matter. We write blogs for clients in the insurance, mortgage and banking world and, although much of my time overseas was spent writing about the financial services industry, new trends and topics arise that need to be looked into further, understood, and discussed. Plus, if you’re producing content on a weekly, and for many of our clients a daily basis, you need to develop new angles and points of interest regularly. 

If you’ve been tasked with writing blogs for your business don’t fret. Help is here. I have a few tips to help get you started or, if you’re already knee deep in blogs, provide some inspiration. 
First of all, make sure you’re in a writing mood. I find it’s much easier when you get going and the words are flowing onto the page, to knock out a few blogs in one go. Second, because of the more casual nature of a blog, walk away from your desk, and take your laptop with you to a breakout area – a change of scenery can make all the difference. If you have to do research for the blog reliable sources such as journals, trade media, or even colleagues are a great place to start. On the other hand, if you’re writing about a subject you know extremely well, don’t gloss over the salient details. 

I tend to keep my blogs to between 300 and 450 words. A blog, in my opinion, is meant to peak someone’s interest in a subject about which they are already intrigued. You are providing them with insight and expertise so that they might explore further – you don’t want to go to heavy and bore them. 

Finally, with a blog, or with any piece of writing, it’s a good idea to have someone read it over for you. You want to prevent spelling or grammatical errors from creeping in and ensure you have the right tone for the business you are representing. 

So, go forth and get writing. It’s good fun, I promise.