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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! 

Small Business Week 2018 in Springfield keeps us on our toes

Small Business Week 2018 in Springfield keeps us on our toes

It’s National Small Business Week and, like most small business owners around the world, no two days are the same. 

So when we got a call from the Governor’s office on Tuesday at midday to ask if we could help pull together a visit to Sangamon Reclaimed – and a roundtable with other small businesses in Springfield, Illinois, for #SmallBusinessWeek at 11am the next day - we jumped into action.

It was a rather whirlwind 24 hours, but a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity too, for Brian Frieze, Sangamon Reclaimed founder and owner, and his team, and other small local businesses such as Serious Lip Balm, Sensible Innovations, and Free Press Coffee to talk about the subject of small businesses - and their importance to the economy – and to gain exposure through local media. This was such a great public relations opportunity for our client and - as expected - everyone also shared out the occasion on social media.  

Here are some of our favorite photos from the day. You can see more on our Facebook page or Instagram.

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.

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!  

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!


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.  

Improvements to LinkedIn

Improvements to LinkedIn

My user experience, when it comes to LinkedIn, has improved in recent years. Over time I built up a hefty network, being a journalist and working in public relations you tend to make a lot of connections, but I never really took it too seriously until a few years ago. Now, as the platform continues to improve its features, I find myself spending more-and-more time engaging with my connections and adding relevant content, all in an effort draw my audience back to and That’s not to say I couldn’t improve my interaction because, in the ideal world, I would.

In the meantime, LinkedIn has added new features that are definitely worth mentioning. You now have the ability to select multiple images in a single post on LinkedIn. Upload is currently available on IOS and the platform is currently working on making the feature accessible on Android and desktop too. Simply select the images, create the post, and share in your feed. A nifty feature for those of us that have trouble choosing just one image or want to share presentations in their entirety. 

The next feature isn’t widely available yet, my guess is the platform is testing out the kinks before it’s rolled out to all users, but an addition I’m excited about no less. You’ll soon be able to record and post videos directly from the LinkedIn app, making sharing content on the go so much easier. Say you’re on a job, at a conference, networking event, or just see something you really want to share – now you can do so, via video, on the go. Remember though people, keep it short and to the point.

Here’s one I really like, you can now share your posts, videos, and articles, with those who are not logged onto LinkedIn (or aren’t members yet), on other social media platforms. As a social media manager, and someone who is constantly searching for content to share, this is an invaluable feature. Thanks LinkedIn. 

If you’re brave enough to ask for feedback on an article that you’re about to publish you can now share it with your connections. However, it’s worth noting (and perhaps reassuring), that your drafts are only visible to those that have access to the direct links that you create. 
Finally, a welcomed feature for many, you can now manage the comments on your posts and articles; providing you the opportunity to enable or disable comments. From those of us working in crisis comms, you can hear a sigh of relief. 

So, there you have it. LinkedIn is making changes to provide a more professional environment, a more interactive platform, and giving members with the opportunity to share content on other platforms – with non-members. All good stuff in my book. 


In-house training

In-house training

As the success of our PR & Media Toolkit classes continues to grow we have decided to expand our services by offering in-house training to companies, and their staff, that want to brush up on their social media skills, improve their writing techniques, and seek out more rewarding sponsorship deals.

We are working with small, medium, and large businesses to develop classes for their PR, marketing, communications and admin staff. We are also working with a number of nonprofits that have limited funds and want to maximize opportunities to communicate their message to the public and fundraise.
The classes being offered in-house are based on the PR & Media Tool Kit series currently being taught on Tuesday evenings at Gem PR & Media HQ. However, changes are made for each business or nonprofit to meet their needs and interests.
We believe strongly that equipped with the latest information, the most up-to-date tools, and a different perspective on social media, writing for promotion, sponsorship and creating PR plans, you and your teams, businesses, or nonprofits will work more efficiently, be able to measure the success of your campaigns, and meet your goals. 

If you would like more information please email 

The bigger picture

The bigger picture

I‘ve been thinking a lot recently about how we can add value to our clients. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the bigger picture means including the little things. As well as doing a good job it’s important to remain connected with clients. One way to do this is to stay abreast of issues or trends in their industry. This takes time of course, but it can be as simple as setting up Google alerts and subscribing to industry websites. If we do not manage a client’s social media we always like, follow, and engage with their platforms so that we remain up to date with their daily activity.

I’m also a great believer in bringing different clients together to create meaningful professional relationships. If I see an opportunity to introduce one client to another I will make the effort to do so. My clients know this too – and appreciate it.

We are often asked by clients if we are interested in writing an article for about an organization they are involved with, such as a nonprofit or association. It may even be that they have a client that has a story or is involved in a nonprofit that would appreciate the coverage, exposure, and opportunity to share content on their social media platforms – and website. 

I recently also launched a PR & Media Tool Kit and am offering discounts to organizations we are involved with, such as Illinois Women in Leadership, Business Networking International, and Central Illinois Networking Group – as well as nonprofits. May of our clients are members of or involved in such organizations – therefore they enjoy the discount.

If we are not managing a client’s social media platforms, but we are in fact creating content for them through, and we believe we can add value by providing training on the platforms, we will do so free of charge. It’s important for our clients that they gain value from any work we do. If we are creating content we want them to be able to social it out, provide links to our site from their website, and help improve their SEO or Google rankings. Taking time to support their other PR and marketing activities is a solid investment for them and us. 

At the end of the day, we want our clients to be successful because as their businesses grow so will ours. 

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. 

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. 



Why you should hire a social media manager

Why you should hire a social media manager

Gem PR & Media can improve your social media and manage the day- to-day operation of your accounts.  We know you're busy and social media often is pushed back to take care of your clients. That’s where a social media manager comes in. 

The main role of a social media manager is to represent your business through the various social platforms and engage with your stakeholders. The return on investment comes with his or her know-how, experience, and time. 

If you work with a team, such as ours, you don’t just get the support of just one, but of many. When immersed in the world of social media it’s easier to respond quickly to changes on individual platforms – and to stay abreast of current trends. We know the central Illinois community and manage numerous accounts in the area successfully.

A good social media manager should respond effectively to questions from your stakeholders, create original content, remain informed about best practices and provide feedback after analyzing results. 

If you want a successful social media campaign there must be a strategy, defined goals, and a chance for evaluation. You should expect to engage with your social media manager on a regular basis. He or she should develop a relationship with your key staff and have an opportunity to meet with them to find out about activity within the business so that they can inform your stakeholders. 

Make sure you work with someone who is enthusiastic about social media. And, like I’ve said before, don’t be afraid to ask for samples of work from past clients, this is a good way to evaluate whether he or she has a clear understanding of how social media plays a key part in any marketing plan. It certainly doesn’t hurt to do a Google search of the social media manager and their own social media platforms. Their image is as important as yours. 

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? 

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. 

Ten tips for social media managers

Ten tips for social media managers

If you’re the one in the public relations department, or business, tasked with creating and curating content for your online activity – on a daily basis – we know it’s tough at times. Coming up with new content when you’re between campaigns, or there’s a lack of inspiration, can cause the equivalent of writer's block. So, here are a few tips to help get you started – or keep you moving in the right direction when it comes to creating and curating content for social media. 

1.    Follow daily themes. What’s trending? Who’s #s are getting noticed? Are there any world events you can piggyback on? Look to others for inspiration.

2.    Can you use daily #s to your advantage? #ThrowbackThursday or #TriviaTuesday, for example. 

3.    Mark unusual holidays. There are a plethora of daily holidays out there (and easy info to access on the internet) from doughnut day to black cat day. Use these to your advantage – especially when fun or relevant to your business or cause. 

4.    Ask questions of your audience – make sure they are engaging – and one thing social media marketers often forget is to a) tell people why you are asking the question and b) follow up and let your audience know the outcome/response. 

5.    I say this to all our clients ‘people are inherently nosey’ they want to know what goes on behind the scenes of your organization – and they want to learn about the people running it. I think it’s important for your employees or volunteers to build a relationship with your audience, customers or clients, on and offline. So why not profile an employee or volunteer once a month? 

6.    Share news about your local community and what’s going on in it. I always say ‘It’s nice to be nice’ so why not share upcoming events in your local area and give a shout out to the charities or non-profits working to improve the lives of the people who may be the friends or family of your employees or customers? 

7.    Share links to updates on your website or blog. This is a great way to improve your SEO and curate untapped content. It’s good to remind your audience of the places they can find more info about you – your website and alternate social media channels are right there and waiting for you. 

8.    If you are REALLY struggling here’s an easy go to. There’s no reason you can’t revisit and share an old post! If the subject or topic is still relevant then what harm is there in reminding people of the post that already exists. I’m not saying this should be your everyday fallback. However, on the odd occasion when you have a million things going on and you’ve got to social something out – go for it. 

9.    If you’ve got a big event approaching what about a weekly countdown? Or, if you’re fundraising, what about a weekly, or daily, count? When people are contributing to an event or cause they like to remain informed. When the head coach of the Springfield Jr Blues was raising funds for the ‘Men Making Strides’ campaign to raise funds for breast cancer during October we asked each of his team’s players (during the countdown to the end of the month/fundraising goal) to tell us why they were supporting their coach and wanted to help beat cancer. The posts did exceptionally well because people related to the players and their own stories of cancer. 

10.    Share news with your audience. I get most of my news from the internet and I’d say 50% to 75% of that through social media. If you’re competing in a busy marketplace – and you can’t afford paid content, advertising or boosting, share valuable, relevant and FREE information with your audience. Look to the news for inspiration – is there a journalist or reporter that you follow because they are industry relatable – will your audience gain from this info also? There is always something interesting, funny, quirky out there in the news to share. 

 Eight ways to engage with your local audience online

Eight ways to engage with your local audience online

It’s all very well wracking up the likes on your Facebook page or increasing your followers on Twitter, but how do you make sure you’re engaging with your local audience – the people that will walk into your gym for an annual membership or those who need a good realtor to find their forever home? Well, here are a few tips from the team at Gem PR & Media when it comes to engaging with your local audience. 

1.    Encourage your Facebook followers to check in when they visit your store or showroom. You could even run a competition; for anyone that checks into your location, a certain number of times each month, they get entered into a draw for a prize. 

2.    Use key messaging to target your local audience. This is so important. You need to remind people, your potential customers, and clients, why they are spending their valuable time visiting your social media platforms. Use local #s to emphasize messaging. We use #Springfield #SpringfieldIL and #LoveSpringfield in our local client posts all the time. 

3.    Relate to local events, activities, and news. Give people a reason to engage with your page. Post about an event and ask people to send in their own photos so you can share them on your page too. 

4.    Think of your social media as your very own newsfeed. If you don’t have the capacity for a blog or news page on your website, use your social media to disseminate important information, such as opening and closing times around the holidays, any special offers you have, when an employee has been promoted, or a new volunteer has joined the team. 

5.    Join local Facebook groups or professional groups on LinkedIn. 

6.    Create a call to action. We manage the Illinois Women in Leadership Facebook page, and so, in the run-up to a major event such as the annual women’s symposium or the ATHENA awards, I create a call to action – such as ‘Book now’ on the page and link that directly to the group’s booking system. Sometimes, I even create a banner for the page that reminds the audience the option is available. 

7.    Join in on the conversation, whether you’re focusing on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, engage in a dialogue with a business or individual in your area about a topic that interests you or relates to your audience. Remember, the key to a successful social media campaign is two-way communication – this is when our clients see the best results. 

8.    Give your audience a reason to ask questions. You always want to provide people with accurate and up-to-date information, but at the same time, you want your audience to engage with you. If you’re a retailer and posting images of products you have for sale perhaps leave off the cost of each product in order to prompt your audience to ask for it – this may seem counterproductive, especially when it comes to making your life ‘easier,’ but it will lead to open dialogue and create further interest in your post. one month on one month on

Since we launched at the beginning of September we’ve had more than 10,000 visits on the site and reached more than 30,000 people on Facebook. Our content has ranged from reviews of new businesses to interviews with artists to the donation of more than $90,000 to local non-profits by the American Business Club. One story, about The Real Estate Group, was shared on more than 50 times and reached more than 8,000 users. Proof that positive, quality, and relevant content about Springfield Illinois is what you guys want! 

In the first four weeks, we published more than 20 stories and we even broke news with the donation by the American Business Club because we were able to publish the article immediately. 
We are proud of what the team has achieved so far and are grateful for your support in reading and sharing our content. 

This month we’ll have a fall fashion shoot with clothes from the Itty Bitty Fashion Truck and photos by Kate Spencer Photography. We’ll also have further stories on businesses and people in, and around, Springfield that makes this great city tick. 

If you have a story to tell get in touch! If you want to gain exposure and build your brand on a positive, online, and FREE lifestyle magazine then get in touch by emailing 

5 ways to optimize your social media platforms.

5 ways to optimize your social media platforms.

1.  Make sure that updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. with the latest information about your company, is part of your social media strategy. On Facebook, for example, pay attention to your business description, category designation and fill in your address, hours, and location; providing relevant information on the platform can help boost your SEO. Think of the short description as your digital elevator pitch; use your platforms to network and business develop. 

2.  Reinforce your branding with your cover and profile photos. Cover and profile photos have a high level of visibility on your social media platforms so make the most of the potential brand awareness raising and exposure. You can promote an event, fundraiser, product or service through your cover photo. Use Photoshop or to add text to your cover image. Make sure your cover and profile photos look good on both the desktop and mobile devices. 

3.  Add a call to action button on Facebook. If you’re promoting an event you can link to the registration page on your website or if you are involved in a fundraiser link to the Go Fund Me page, for example. You can match your cover photo and call to action and even add an arrow to your cover photo pointing to the call to action button. 

4.  On Facebook and Twitter, you can pin posts to the top of your page so that anyone who visits will see these posts first. You can continue to send out posts to your followers, but this is a great way of alerting people to a campaign that you may be running, for example. Don’t forget to unpin when you want the most recent post to appear at the top of your feed. 

5.  Did you know you can add milestones to your Facebook page? Visit your timeline and click Offer, Event +, then click milestone and fill in the details. This is a great way to highlight your business’ achievements and continue to build brand awareness.