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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! 

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. 

Local First Springfield Illinois

Local First Springfield Illinois

Custom Cup Springfield IL Kate Spencer Photography.jpg

The 12 Days of Local campaign launches on Friday, November 24. Each day we will feature several businesses and or organizations, which are members of the non-profit Local First. Each day has also been sponsored by a member business, which means Local First has been able to raise funds to further support its members in 2018. The 50 or so participating members have sent us copy, which I’ve had a lot of fun reading and editing, from Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet and Engrained Brewery and Restaurant to District 23 and Arlington’s. Kate Spencer of Kate Spencer Photography kindly donated her skills and has spent the past couple of days visiting 12 participating businesses by taking fantastic photos.

We’re proud to provide our services to Local First in kind, to support our community, and most importantly to remind people in Springfield to buy local, shop local and embrace this fantastic city that has so much to offer.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois Labor Day Ducky Derby goes swimmingly

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois Labor Day Ducky Derby goes swimmingly

At Gem PR & Media we’re always keen to give back.

We are proud to be involved in a number of non-profit organizations in Springfield, Illinois. As well as developing communication strategies for charities, providing sponsorships, and coverage through our free online lifestyle magazine, Eighteen21, we sit on boards and volunteer at fundraisers in the city. This week is a particularly busy one for the team with Monday's Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois inaugural Labor Day Ducky Derby fundraiser at Knights Action Park, Thursday's 6th annual Illinois Women in Leadership Women’s Symposium, and the inaugural Junk In Your Trunk For A Cause fundraiser for Compass for Kids, which takes place on Saturday, September 9 at Marine Bank on Robbins Road from 8am to 1pm.

If you're organizing a fundraiser or need support, getting the word out about your cause, get in touch with us by emailing

Here are a few photos from yesterday's Labor Day Ducky Derby!


The importance of networking

The importance of networking


A few months ago I wrote a blog about networking groups and provided ideas for bringing the energy back. In the past nine months, life has been pretty hectic with the arrival of our daughter (and the real CEO of Gem PR & Media) Olivia. This has meant that at times we have had to miss out on networking opportunities as, although Gem PR & Media is a priority, family comes first. I know many of you will agree. 

Networking is extremely important when you’re developing a client base from scratch. Even several years after launching your new venture, you need to get out there and meet business owners and entrepreneurs. Through networking, you have the opportunity to spread your message, tell people about what you do, how and why, and build relationships and contacts. So, last week I decided to make an effort to attend, in a single day (not an unusual activity pre-Miss Olivia), our Central Illinois Networking Group meeting, a Springfield BNI chapter, and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce after hours event. 

I’ve always loved networking. After years of acting classes from an early age, I don’t generally fear walking into a room of people I don’t know. But, it’s been a while since I did that. So, I put on my lippy and heels and headed on up to the 14th floor of the Crowne Plaza. 

I was one of the first there. I walked on over to the viewing area where a few people had gathered to observe Springfield from a height and struck up a conversation with a young girl from AT&T. In her early 20s, I was reminded of my early networking years – being the newbie in the room (or on the rooftop) and how just one person that came across to say ‘hello’ helped my confidence. We chatted for a while until a connection I had met at the lunchtime meeting came across to say ‘hi’ and joined us in conversation. This gave me the opportunity to further develop the professional relationship I had begun to nurture earlier that day. Adding another person to your conversation also helps it progress and change direction, which is helpful if you’re struggling for topics, after the initial introduction.
I think the biggest takeaway from networking all these years is to make sure you don’t just talk about yourself, but listen to and engage with the person you are meeting. 

I stayed at the after-hours event for a while, handed out a few business cards, and then left feeling pretty satisfied. The heels came off and flip-flops went on as soon as I got in the car of course. 
The following morning I took out the collection of business cards I’d gathered and began writing follow-up emails – thanking the BNI chapter for having me, reminding them about and Junk In Your Trunk For A Cause, and mentioning I’d hope to see them again soon. Another thing I came to realize while developing our business is the importance of follow-up. Never forget to follow-up with a new connection. I admire those who do it over the phone. I usually send an email. 

Now, I didn’t do this – although I thought about and wish I had, why not take a selfie with your new connections too. Post on your social media business profiles and tag your new ‘friends’ in. This will also encourage them to like and engage with your online platforms. But don’t worry if you forget, you’ll do it next time. 

It’s never too late to network – or get back to it. If you’ve lost the enthusiasm, or haven’t simply had the time to do so, throw yourself in when you get your next chance. It’s a bit like riding a bike – once you get back on you’ll remember how. If time is an issue I recommend picking one day out of the week and devoting that day to networking. It’s hard to concentrate when you get back to the office because often you need to follow-up on the emails, calls etc. that you’ve missed. So know that it’s ok because tomorrow you’ll get time at your desk. Make those networking moments count. Don’t forget to take business cards, always follow-up, and get the next event in your calendar. 

Content marketing

Content marketing 

Are you doing a good job at content marketing?

Essentially, content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, strategically, to attract and engage with a defined audience – and ultimately, result in a profit. 

Content marketing is part of all forms of marketing and includes social media, SEO, PR, inbound marketing, and strategy. Strategy is at the heart of everything we do at Gem PR & Media. It’s the strategy that allows us to meet our goals (and our clients’ goals) – or objectives. SEO, social media, and inbound marketing (which I’ll go into more detail about at another time) all go hand-in-hand. And PR, well, that’s at the core of everything we do. 

Business owners, PR and marketing professionals, and those tasked with maintaining an organization’s website or social media platforms often tell me they struggle with content. They get stuck with what to post, how often, and when. It’s not hard to create content, but you need to know how, and where, to find it. However, it does take time and that’s something many of our clients don’t have. That’s also one of the main reasons we created, a year ago on September 1st in fact, to provide businesses with a source of content for an extremely reasonable price. Our advertorial features cost just $125 (and that includes a boosting fee for Facebook). We offer a profile piece, ‘My not so 9 to 5’, for $99. Our articles reach thousands of people – and because we don’t publish editions – this isn’t a monthly magazine as the content is loaded almost daily – they are accessible online for as long as is in existence. 

So, as I said earlier, what we do is content. We create it. But essentially we’re marketing that content to your audience so that you can provide services and products – and remain profitable.  

PR & Media Toolkit

PR & Media Toolkit

So often we are approached by small to medium business owners that have a Facebook business page, Linkedin account, or Instagram but simply do not have the time or resources to manage these platforms effectively. They know that they need to better communicate with their audience, update their website more regularly, and get more from sponsorship activities but don’t have the tools at hand to do so.

Well, we have created a four-part toolkit with classes on social media, events, sponsorship and crowdfunding, creating a PR and media plan, and writing to promote for any business owners, or those responsible for marketing their organization, that feel they need help getting their message out to the right audience in order to help it grow, recruit, or fundraise.

Our plan is to hold 90-minute classes on Tuesday evenings (cookies and coffee included) at Gem PR & Media, either immediately after work or a little later. Each class is $50 or $175 for all four. There are 12 spaces. We are looking to kick this off on July 11 but will delay until the end of the month/beginning of August if those interested need to organize their calendars. If you have any questions or would like further information please email


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. 

What our clients have taught us: part two

What our clients have taught us: part two

More than a year ago I wrote a blog about what our clients have taught us. I had a conversation this week, which reminded me of that blog. I was talking to a client for the first time and I told them that they were paying for my advice, that I would give it to them, but if they didn’t like it that was their prerogative. 

When I first launched Gem PR & Media I was reluctant to say exactly what I thought when counseling clients. This was unusual because previously I had been very upfront as an account manager. I think, no, I know it was because I was afraid to offend Gem PR & Media clients and lose them. Then, a client asked me for my professional opinion and I didn’t give it to them. Instead, I told them what I thought they would want to hear. Well, eventually, my ‘politeness’ came back to bite me and the client told me not to tell them what I thought they would want to hear, but give my professional opinion because that’s what they were paying me for – even if I knew they weren’t going to like it.

This was one of the most important lessons in my professional life. I just needed to be reminded that I do a good job for my clients because I am always upfront with them.

I enjoy working with clients that have a strong personality, that challenge me, and question my approach. There are times, of course, when you need to evaluate the extent to which you ‘push’ your point (as a friend once said to me ‘lose the battle but win the war.’) I’m actually quite good at this – especially when I’m dealing with a crisis – the gloves come off and I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect that client. In my life, I’m terrible at seeing the big picture. Sure, I have no problem telling friends what I think and why, but me, personally, I’ll jump in before I’ve taken the chance to consider all options and evaluate the situation properly. I was talking to a friend the other day and I told her something I knew she needed to hear, but that I also knew no one else would, we were on the phone but I could hear the relief in her voice because all she needed was someone to be totally honest and upfront with her. 

As a professional that, at times, along with a team of attorneys, insurance advisors, even police has to lay out the ups and downs of their future, the future of their livelihood, you can be nothing but honest and upfront. Experience has taught me, as have my clients, that I’m here to help them navigate a path that they alone cannot. 

Gem PR & Media: Good as gold!

Gem PR & Media: Good as gold!

On Monday evening Gem PR & Media was selected for the 2017 Good as Gold Business Honor Roll at the Good as Gold Springfield Volunteer Awards in recognition of commitment and dedication to volunteerism, service to community, and financial support of non-profits and charitable organizations. The event was hosted by the University of Illinois, Springfield at the Public Affairs Center on campus and is supported by the Junior League of Springfield and United Way. The room was packed with individuals, organizations, and businesses that give back to our community and it was a very humbling experience for our team. 

This perhaps is the award we are most proud of because we feel extremely honored to be recognized alongside such fantastic people. Once being Patty Stremsterfer, who we recently featured in, for her more than 40 years of volunteer work at Memorial Medical Center. Patty received the Good as Gold Springfield Volunteer Awards Distinguished Volunteer Award and I cannot think of someone more deserving. Congratulations Patty! 

Something we have learned, and continue to remind clients, is that it’s ok to take a minute every so often and acknowledge your achievements – then it’s time to get back to it and work harder. For our family owned and run business it’s about raising the standards of our industry, helping businesses to grow and meet their goals, and giving back to our community. One of the ways in which we like to support our community is through our free, online, lifestyle magazine

If you’re involved in a non-profit or charitable organization in Springfield that you believe deserves recognition or you have an event/fundraiser planned that you’d like to promote please get in touch with us. Email  and we’ll get back to you. 

A great public relations campaign – by today’s standards

A great public relations campaign – by today’s standards

When we talk with clients about their public relations campaign strategy we divide activity into traditional and digital media. Traditional media being TV, radio, and print and digital being anything we do online. 

Online activity plays a major part in communicating with stakeholders. But you can’t just throw out content, hope it sticks, and that it influences behavior. You must be strategic. 

Consumers jump around online; from Facebook to a news page, to a Google search to Instagram, back to Facebook, next a blog, online shopping, and then back to Facebook. So, in order to capture their attention you must be visible. 

It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you have on your Facebook page, the way in which you influence your audience has nothing to do with this. It’s about your ability to affect change through your stakeholders. And by the way – this has never changed – it’s always been the case that the job of public relations is to persuade. We’re just applying it to the online world in this instance. The key here is engagement. The actions that follow a post will prove whether your campaign is a success or not. 

If you’re not thinking about SEO, when planning a public relations campaign, then you might as well go home. SEO should be part of your integrated approach today. As public relations professionals we are perfectly placed to impact search results. 

Traditional media can also play a vital role here. A TV interview or newspaper article is highly likely to appear online at some point – and on multiple platforms. It’s what you do with this content that matters. 

Artificial intelligence and augmented reality also play a part in the field of public relations – and even more so in the future. In fact, we already work with clients to ensure that intelligent assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, are working in their favor. 

For years, those in the field have struggled with evaluation and measurement. Thanks to the data we are now able to extract online we can make improvements in real time. We’re also better able to prove ROI. 

I actually remember the day I sent a fax to the media when there was a crash landing at the airport and the airline was the client of a consultancy I worked for. A fax! Civic journalism and the digital world now take care of ‘breaking news’ now. This is what crisis comms people live for – the fast paced unfolding of a story that’s likely to hit the World Wide Web before you can even utter the word ‘let’s get out in front of the story’. Therefore you need a solid plan when it comes to crisis comms.  

Whatever your budget and timeframe, you need to make sure all of the above is fully considered – and acted upon – to deliver a successful public relations campaign.

United Airlines: You must apologize

United Airlines: You must apologize

Today the main trending topic on social media was a video showing a man being wrestled from his seat and dragged, by law enforcement officers, from a United Airline’s plane at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport because the airline had overbooked the flight.

United has said it is reviewing the incident. Frankly, that’s not good enough – you need to say sorry – now. The CEO apologized for having to ‘re-accommodate these customers,’ but he didn’t say sorry to the passenger assaulted on his plane. He said it was upsetting for the staff. What about the gentleman and passengers? If you watch the footage, caught by passengers on their cell phones, these people look genuinely shocked and concerned for the gentleman’s wellbeing. 
The actions by those involved are bad enough, but why didn’t the CEO drop everything to meet with this man and apologize? It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t his staff that removed the passenger – it matters that it happened on his watch. The video has gone viral. There’s no stopping this one. The damage has been done. I don’t envy the PR team at United they have a tough challenge ahead. 

Having run crisis communications for companies in the UK and the US my recommendation is to issue a statement, saying that the organization puts customers first and is appalled at the way this situation was handled. As well as launching an investigation into the matter I would have the CEO take full responsibility, given the incident occurred because his airline had overbooked the flight. This was a paying customer it’s not his fault that greed supersedes service. Then I’d have the CEO go on TV, do the morning shows, look the public in the eye, and say this will never happen again. I have no doubt that the passenger will appear on TV and in newspapers over the coming weeks to have his say about the matter. Damage limitations are all about a quick response, getting ahead of the story, and saying SORRY. Good luck United. 



Sensible Innovations

Sensible Innovations

For more than a year now, we have been working with Rasha Said, founder and CEO of Sensible Innovations. When we first met with Rasha in early 2015 she had recently launched the first version of the Aware app. Aware is designed to help improve the lives of America’s 21 million visually impaired, using Apple iBeacon technology to communicate information about a person’s surroundings.

The app has been created with the visually impaired in mind, but is also being used by people with dyslexia and the elderly, who find it difficult to navigate a new environment. The iBeacons' signals trigger the app, which identifies the location, downloads the information and a text reader on the smartphone describes the environment. Access to information at the right time and place for the visually impaired, or individuals who have difficulty understanding signs, negates the need for memorization or fear of getting lost. Rasha’s ultimate goal has been to provide the visually impaired the opportunity to explore the world without limitations – and she’s doing exactly that. 


After her pilot installation at Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois, Rasha then placed iBeacons, free of charge, at The Mary Bryant Home for the Blind in Springfield, Illinois. Gem PR & Media has worked with Rasha to develop a pro-active public relations campaign, which has built brand recognition here in Springfield, in the state of Illinois, across America (especially amongst her target market), and around the world. Rasha is now installing iBeacons across the country and will have a pilot scheme go live in London, UK, later this year. 

We have spread word of Sensible Innovations’ Aware app through a number of channels, including attendance at conferences for the visually impaired, technology symposiums, building a relationship with and installing iBeacons at Chicago Lighthouse, speaking occasions, interviews on TV, in newspapers and magazines – including, and perhaps one of our most successful activities, an interview in the American Foundation for the Blind’s publication and online. 

Aware App Sensible Innovations

Most recently, and the reson for this blog, we entered Rasha for two regional awards: the ATNENA Leadership award, which is presented to female leaders in the community for their personal and professional dedication and the Springfield Business Journal’s Women of Influence award. Rasha has been shortlisted for the ATNENA award, of which there are 10 nominees, and is one of five 2017 winners of the Women of Influence award. 

It goes without saying how extremely proud we are to work with Rasha, continue to help her build the Sensible Innovations brand, and deliver the Aware app to those who will benefit from it most around the world. 

If there was ever the perfect example when it came to a client who understood the positive impact of public relations Rasha Said and Sensible Innovations is it. 

Writing award entries

Writing award entries

It’s that time of year when we sit with our clients and recommend a list of awards they should enter some local, some statewide, and others that are national. Our experience and some research mean we are able to identify award opportunities that will not only suit them best, in terms of their business development goals, but we genuinely believe they have a chance of winning.

In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of award entries in building brand awareness, but I haven’t talked about how to write an award entry, which I will do now. 

First, you must identify which awards suit you, and your goals, best. If you want to build your brand in the community perhaps you need to look at a volunteer award. If it’s the community you want to relate to you must focus on local opportunities. If you want to demonstrate your capabilities then you’ll want to enter a business award, such as the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce awards, for example. Perhaps you want to gain recognition for something more specific to your industry. If that’s the case you may need to look to an association. We have a number of female clients who have not only excelled as entrepreneurs – there are plenty of award opportunities here too. 

Once you’ve identified the award to enter you need to read over the criteria. Can you fulfill all of the criteria? Will you stand out against others in the same category? If so, you can begin drafting your responses. If you don’t meet the criteria, work out what it is you need to do in order to meet the requirements of the award entry and work towards this over the next year. 

I always start by copying and pasting all of the questions into a word document. Often, these awards are entered online so it’s a good idea to create a draft in case the site crashes. It’s also a great reference point for future entries. 

Make sure you have all the salient details correct, such as contact numbers, email address, names etc. When responding to a question I like to highlight the words that explain what the judges are looking for. That way I can refer back to make sure I’m answering the questions.  
I always try to write award entries in the first person. This demonstrates the relationship between the nominator and the nominee. It is a much stronger entry if the judge believes he or she is reading the words of the person who has nominated the nominee.

If you’re entering your business for an award, opposed to an individual, you need to write passionately about your business. As in all good stories, especially if the entry form calls for it, start at the beginning, work through the crux of the business, and talk about your future goals. 
If the entry asks for additional documents, in support of the nomination, choose wisely – don’t send too much that you’ll drown out the reasons for the nomination. 
Proof your responses, errors are frustrating for judges who must read multiple entries and, if you’re entering an award for your business, appear unprofessional. Don’t waffle; get to the point. Have another member of staff review the entry; there may be something you have forgotten, which is crucial. 

Finally, make sure you make yourself available to the judges if there are any further questions.  

Public relations and media outsourcing

Public relations and media outsourcing

Have you ever considered outsourcing your company's communications to a consultancy like Gem PR & Media? Well, if you haven’t, you should. We think you might be surprised at how cost effective it really is. 

Recruitment costs are high; you have to get the word out about the fact you’re hiring, pay for advertising in print or online, sift through resumes, conduct interviews and negotiate a salary, plus benefits. Once you’ve hired your new public relations, marketing, or social media manager you then have to train them, again, this can be costly and extremely time-consuming. After all that, you’re only getting one person for your money. That person may get sick, for example, and then you’re left without the support you need to promote your business successfully.

What a consultancy, like Gem PR & Media, offers is an experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified team right at your fingertips. There’s no such thing as a sick day – because we are not one individual person, but a well-oiled, fully functioning team that gets to know your business as well as you do.

We have a wide skills base, which is difficult to find in one person. And, we’re well connected in the community. We have a network of clients, suppliers, software, and contacts that we can call on when you need something. We can even manage the tender process for you – acting as a go-between so you can concentrate on running your company smoothly.

Outsourcing is a great way to manage your time and finances. Having an expert team on hand to support you, your staff, and your business in the most cost-effective way is the road to success. 

So what’s stopping you? 

Experience speaks volumes in our opinion

Experience speaks volumes in our opinion

Lead by our CEO, who has not one, but two degrees in Journalism, a diploma from the Press Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, one of the largest bodies representing public Relations professionals in the world, our team has worked in marketing, PR, and media roles around the world.

Together we have worked on political campaigns, helped bring companies back from the brink, and won numerous awards for our clients. We believe in creating and delivering a strategy tailored to each client and their business’ individual needs.   

So, next time you hear or see that someone ‘does’ PR, social media, or marketing ask what it is exactly that they do. Don’t be shy about asking for examples of their work.

Ask to speak with clients to find out if they had a good experience. Do clients feel they have achieved a return on investment? And, with that in mind, did the consultancy meet the objectives set at the beginning of the campaign?

For the team at Gem PR & Media, it’s about putting into practice the skills we’ve learned, the knowledge we’ve gained and the experience that sets us apart from all others that say they are experts or visionaries in the field.

10 tips for a press release

10 tips for a press release

When I began drafting press releases more than a decade ago there was really only one consideration – how would the information appear in the newspaper? That may sound a little harsh, but often when it comes to TV or radio the news editor wants a sound bite from the spokesperson you are representing they don’t want to read from your press release. Now, you’re not just writing for print, but you’re also writing for online content too – and that’s a whole other ballgame. The headline you write for a newspaper will be significantly different to the one you write for the web, for example. 

So, how do you combat this? Well, when I launched Gem PR & Media three years ago I began writing content for individual media outlets, whether radio, TV, print or online. A few tweaks here or there can make all the difference. This is definitely something to think about. 
If you’re a complete novice, or it’s been a while since you drafted a press release, here are 10 things to take into consideration.

  1. Make sure you cover the who, what, when, where, why and how of the story 
  2. Provide a title – ensure you adapt it for different media 
  3. Write a great intro  
  4. Provide contact info for the company’s spokesperson (and yourself) 
  5. Don’t bury the lead – that never works 
  6. If you need a sponsor included in the published version weave this into the quote (from your spokesperson) 
  7. Don’t use jargon - Joe Blogs on the street needs to be able to understand what it is you are saying 
  8. Don’t cap up job titles or roles - the only people that deserve caps are the Queen, the President, and the Prime Minister 
  9. Include a release date 
  10. There’s no need to rewrite War and Peace – a press release should be clear and concise – I try to keep mine to 300/350 words

When drafting and issuing a press release make sure you are a) writing for individual media platforms, b) providing all of the salient details and, c) communicating clearly with your audience. 

Internal communications

Internal communications

I would strongly argue that internal communication is just as important, if not more important, than external comms. Your people are your brand. They are the ambassadors for your company. If you want to develop a great reputation and relationship with your stakeholders you must first address the way you communicate with your team. 

There are a number of ways of you can improve your internal comms. One is simply to communicate clearly with your staff. Make sure they understand all policies and procedures. Ensure there is two-way communication – do your staff have someone they can go to at any time to discuss questions they have? Do you keep your staff updated with the latest information about your business, whether that’s the opening of a new branch, the recruitment of additional staff, or a new bonus scheme? How do you keep your staff updated? Do you have regular meetings? By regular meetings, I mean more than once a month. Do you have an internal newsletter or blog where you can share the success of staff members – inside and out of the workplace? Do you recognize when someone you employ reaches a milestone – say their fifth year of employment? Do you have an employee of the month program or an internal awards process? 

If you develop clear communication with your staff when the going is good you’ll have a much easier time when things get tough. If you’re unlucky enough to experience a crisis the first person you should tell is your public relations consultant and the first thing they will tell you is to inform all staff so that everyone is on the same page. In my experience, if you are going through the closure of a division of your business or redundancies an open line of communication with those involved will prevent rumors and upset from the outset. 

If you don’t have an internal comms plan then I highly recommend that you speak with your public relations team about creating and enacting one. Happy staff mean happy clients and a better bottom line. 

Social media audits

Social media audits

At Gem PR & Media we often talk about how important it is to set goals and measure success, whether that’s a political campaign, marketing plan or public relations strategy.
Engaging in a social media campaign without having a clear strategy is a waste of time and money. You may have great content on your platforms, but without an objective and lack of measurement how do you gauge what is a success and what is not? The time you take developing goals, creating a strategy and measuring the value of your activity will truly pay off for you and your business. 

In order to develop goals, a strategy and measure activity you must first conduct an audit. 
To begin with, decide what your objectives are. Do you want to improve SEO? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want to engage a greater number of past, present and potential clients online? You may find it’s actually a combination of these things. 
Next, and this is something people often forget to include when developing their social media strategy, identify your competitors. If your competitors appear to be achieving the goals you have set for yourself check out what they are doing to make this happen and make sure you are doing it better. We can also learn a lot from what people do wrong so that we do not make the same mistakes ourselves. 

In the same way that you keep a close eye on your competition make sure you have a clear idea of your own strengths and weaknesses so you can combat these early on. 
Don’t think of an audit as a static thing. Continue to evaluate your activity and identify whether it is meeting your objectives. This will give you an opportunity to go back and correct what has failed or build upon what has proved a success. 
Make sure you know all of the social media platforms you are on and accounts you have – you don’t want a rogue Instagram account out there that an ex-employee set up that you no longer have access to. Have your passwords saved somewhere secure and make sure you’re not the only one who has access – what if you get hit by a bus? 

Measurement is key. I go on and on about it all the time, but that’s because it’s vital to the success of a campaign. Make sure you’re up to speed with the analytics each platform offers you and if you require a more in-depth look at your activity there are plenty of third-party platforms, which offer great insight. We use Sprout Social at Gem PR & Media. 
Don’t just rely on analytics, speak to your staff, customers and those that are engaging with you online. Are your posts engaging? Do they contain calls to action? Are your users acting on your posts? Are you asking new clients where they found out about you? Or what prompted them to use your service or product? It’s really important to gain feedback from clients – you need to know what is and isn’t working. 

Make sure you communicate with your team; relay positive and negative feedback and allow them to contribute to your audit so that they can take ownership of the strategy to follow. 
Don’t think of an audit as a chore; instead look at as the beginning of a great strategy, which leads to opportunities for you and your staff, happy customers and increased profits. 

What a year!

What a year!

Like I’ve said before, it’s important to celebrate the wins in this competitive world of public relations and media. So, now’s the time to recap on the year and celebrate all the good stuff! 

Our business has doubled in size in the past 12 months! We are working with clients in Springfield, IL, St Louis, MO, Guernsey and Jersey (the Channel Islands, Europe). Our portfolio of clients is rich and diverse. We’ve worked on state projects. We have worked with politicians. We are involved in a number of non-profits, civic and networking organizations. We sit, and advise, on several boards. We have opened our US headquarters in Springfield. We have welcomed two new faces to the team and we have launched our free, online, lifestyle magazine –

But what is most important is the recognition, awareness and revenue growth we have achieved for our clients. Several have been shortlisted and won awards. Others have appeared in a range of publications from The State Journal-Register to Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce magazine, Contact, and on TV from Good Day Marketplace Illinois with host Melanie Streeper to Fox 32’s Good Day Chicago with former Springfield native Natalie Bomke. We’ve seen their businesses grow and as a result the need to increase staff numbers and move into large offices or workshops. 

It’s been a great year and we cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.  Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!