How to Keep Business Leaders From Going Off-Message in a Time of Crisis

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Evidence suggests that a lot of executives and business leaders have been going off-message recently, and as a result, landing themselves in hot water. Remember Elon Musk unexpectedly getting rid of his PR team or Howard Schultz potentially violating union bargaining laws? Even when communication professionals put a lot of time and effort into training executives and prepping them for interviews, some business leaders have a tendency to go rogue, disregard the rules and stir up controversy.

Oftentimes it happens just because they feel like they are the only person who can handle crisis communications, resolve problems and nail the most challenging interview questions. Sadly, this is not always the case.

There are a few crucial strategies to keep execs on track and out of trouble and prevent potentially embarrassing missteps in the face of a crisis.

PR is a discipline steeped in psychology. That’s even more obvious when you are working one-on-one with an executive. It is important to know what makes them tick, how they are likely to react and respond to stressful situations and how you can help them position themselves in the best light possible through all the turmoil happening around them.

It is crucial that a PR professional takes time to get to know that CEO and build trust. After all, business leaders usually regard PR representatives as the safety blanket. It is important to find out what the CEO’s main triggers are, the hot buttons, potential reactions, emotions, concerns and how they are likely to respond to a sticky situation.

The time to do this, of course, is not in the middle of a crisis. It’s long before. In other words, the time to start preparing for a crisis is now. A crisis professional can simulate various high-stress environments and run his/her executives through scenarios intended to mimic upcoming disasters that would have them interfacing with the public. This is a great exercise and a valuable strategy that will enable crisis professionals to understand their executives and figure out what their biggest strengths and weaknesses are.

While it is very important for PR pros to get to know their execs, they should also make sure that execs have an opportunity to get to know their reps. Why? Simply because a crisis communications specialist does not want to be some nameless, faceless flack giving urgent advice once the calamity strikes. He or she should become a trusted advisor long before crunch time hits. In fact, it is critical to organize regular meetings between PR specialists and business leaders, even when times are good and everything is under control.

Putting that time in advance can make a huge difference, and business executives will be better prepared to share all the crucial insights as well as the pros and cons of addressing challenging situations.

Ready to reignite your PR, marketing and social media campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

4 Steps to Successful Rebranding

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

As businesses evolve, they may start outgrowing their branding, especially if it no longer effectively represents the company and its services or products. To stay relevant, organizations should periodically upgrade, enhance and refresh their brand which should reflect their progress, growth and milestones. In fact, it should represent the company’s evolution, brand promise and vision for the future.

While rebranding may be crucial, companies should keep in mind that there are risks involved. If it’s not executed well, it can create a great deal of confusion and frustration among customers and clients. Eventually, it may result in lost market share and money wasted on ineffective rebrand.

Here are a few important strategies to incorporate into your re-branding process that should help you avoid common pitfalls and do the right thing.

  1. Timing is crucial

When it comes to rebranding, timing is of the essence. There are quite a few strong indicators that it’s time to get your creative juices flowing and make a change. Ask yourself a few probing thought-provoking questions which should allow you to determine your next move.

Do you want your customers or clients to change their perception of a new product or service you are offering?

Are you concerned about the way things are or a lack of stronger results? Do you feel that current performance is not up to par and it’s time to secure a stronger foothold in the market?

Are you concerned about the look and feel of your brand which may appear outdated?

Do you feel your existing brand is too generic and does not stand out from the crowd?

Some businesses may be contemplating a merger, while others may be recovering from a public incident and trying to get back on track. There are companies striving to capitalize on current trends and would like to position themselves as modern and forward-looking organizations.

If any of the above apply to you and your organization, it may be a good time to start thinking about rebranding.

2. Gain a better understanding of your target audience

Before initiating the process, take stock of your target market. Take time to figure out how they perceive your organization and react to your offerings. What do you think you could do to expand your outreach and capture new customers or clients?

I recommend you conduct a survey and find out what your stakeholders and customers like or dislike about the current brand. What emotions do they usually exhibit when engaging with your brand? If you get the most of their feedback and ideas, you will be better equipped to determine how to proceed and successfully complete the process.

3. Do your homework, invest in research and develop a strategic plan

When it comes to rebranding, it is critical to invest time and effort into an extensive learn-and-discover phase that will influence the outcome. That’s when you take a deep dive into your top competitors’ brands to understand how they are similar or different from yours. Do you know what sets you apart from others and what are some of your most attractive or unique attributes? In addition, you need a clear idea of what kind of marketing or branding partner is more likely to help you attain your goals.

4. Evaluate the overall customer experience

What you need to do is consider whether your company needs to upgrade its messaging, voice and tone in an effort to align with the new brand. Make sure your messaging is consistent across your company’s website, social media, blog or other materials. Engage your marketing and customer service team to find out if your website is easy to navigate and if there are any significant pain points that need to be addressed. The goal is to ensure you are demonstrating the value of your company, product or service to the customer. Help them understand why they should choose you over your competitors and provide an outstanding customer experience that ensures satisfaction and leads to long-lasting relationships.

Ready to reignite your PR, marketing and social media campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

Content Marketing vs. Thought Leadership

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Many savvy business professionals are well familiar with thought leadership, a very important strategy allowing them to highlight and promote their expertise. The same applies to content marketing that helps businesses build trust and attract more leads. However, it appears to me that many business owners are unaware that these two strategies have differences.

Let me explain.

When it comes to content marketing, the main objective of this strategy is to start a relationship with readers rather than initiate a dialogue, and it can be promoted to businesses and/or consumers.

With thought leadership, the content aims to develop a strong connection with readers instead of exploiting the value provided to them by selling to the audience. In addition, thought leadership incites a business relationship and starts a dialogue with the audience.

Of course the ULTIMATE goal of both content marketing and thought leadership is to sell. That being said, we are talking about two different forms of marketing utilizing different assets to trigger the audience’s attention.

Impactful content marketing provides value, is informative, useful, and engaging. It’s designed to position the business as the best and most reliable vendor to choose from when the audience is looking for a particular product or service. Content marketing is mainly published on the company’s blog or other onsite resources.

Now let’s turn our attention to thought leadership again. The goal here is to develop compelling and original content and leverage a certain idea into realizing more business opportunities. Because of this, the promotional aspect of thought leadership tends to be limited to the byline of the author and works best for offsite placement. Usually it is being done by PR practitioners. By providing additional and more in-depth research, statistical data or groundbreaking information about the industry at large, a company offering thought leadership may garner more attention from a bigger pool of readers, which may create a dialogue with more people.

Here is another important differentiation. In most cases, thought leadership is being used by bigger companies that sell high-ticket solutions in complex sales processes. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a tactic preferred by B2C businesses trying to promote shorter sales funnels and aim to close on a lead faster.

Ready to reignite your PR, marketing and social media campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

3 Best Ways to Help Leaders Become Great Storytellers

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Dear Savvy Business Professional:

Do you know who the best person is to tell a compelling story about your business? Whoever gets to “do the honors” should be well-equipped to present information in the best, most impactful and riveting way possible and help you get ahead of the game.

From working on your body language to enhancing or repurposing your soundbites, here are the three crucial tips to make your brand storytelling stand out.

  1. Choose the right person to impart your brand story

So who is the right person to tell your story? What is your selection criteria? Whoever can bring the most authenticity to this task, should be chosen to represent your brand. In other words, it should be someone who is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, eloquent and reliable, among other traits. It can be the CEO…or it can be someone else well-suited for this task, someone who has what it takes not only to educate, inform or inspire your audience but also motivate them to take action. Please note that if we are talking about shooting a video, there could be several people involved, especially if it’s the origin story of your company.

2. Repurpose your soundbites and get the most of them

If your spokesperson is reading from the script, you can easily pre-write social media nuggets to publish during the event. Once you tap into these sound bites, you have the opportunity to publish a summary or release the full video of the event. Always keep in mind where your audience is. Are they on Twitter or LinkedIn? Depending on your line of business, you may have more people on Instagram or Facebook, if you have a more visual audience.

3. Make sure those representing your company appear confident and comfortable on camera

As we all know, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many events and speaking opportunities moved online. That said, many public speaking strategies and guidelines have remained the same. Therefore, there are a few things to keep in mind during the pandemic and after. Make sure you don’t use your hands too often and avoid loud clothing prints or flashy jewelry. In addition, your camera background and good lighting can make a difference and make you look more credible. Keep in mind that your spokesperson telling your story should be aware of the technical nuances of a video. Also, if a “storyteller” stands right in front of the camera when presenting or giving a speech, it may potentially give an extra air of authoritativeness.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

5 Marketing Themes That Have Stood Out in 2022

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Dear savvy business professional:

As you already know, the marketing and communications world is constantly changing and evolving. It means that we should keep tabs on new strategies and developments, figure out what themes are resonating the most with our audiences, and what we should keep in mind going forward.

Here are a few themes that have stood out to me so far this year.

1.Communications has become more important, impactful and valued that ever.

A new strategic communications survey reveals that more than 80% of communications professionals agreed that their organizations now place higher value on communications. Over the past two and a half years, communicating frequently, clearly and eloquently was crucial and the necessity of effective communications has fundamentally changed for the better.

2. Great storytelling critical to organizational success

Telling an impactful story can no longer be just an afterthought. In fact, it’s a non-negotiable in today’s cluttered and attention-fragmented world. Why storytelling is so important? It evokes emotion. Helps build relationships. Creates deeper connections. Reveals crucial facts and inspires action. While misinformation is running rampant on the internet, try to become a source of truth for your audience. Keep in mind that in order to create a riveting story, you have to know and genuinely care about your audience.

3. Make sure you maximize your content across different channels

Here are a few content maximization strategies you could use for your marketing campaign. You can develop a blog post, then share a slightly different perspective on LinkedIn. After that, you can break that content down for your weekly newsletter. It goes without saying that not everyone subscribes to your newsletter or reads your blog or follows you on social media. Therefore, don’t assume that one stellar piece of content on one channel will get the job done and make an impact. Your job is to slice and dice your content and tailor it to the most appropriate audiences and on the most appropriate channels.

4. Journalists and PR professionals should have a mutually beneficial relationships

Those who work with journalists are well aware that most of them are swamped, stressed and overworked. Securing media coverage is no easy feat. That said, reports suggest that 60% of journalists think their interaction or collaboration with PR professionals is mutually beneficial. Furthermore, 80% of journalists say pitches account for a quarter or more of their articles.

5. Internal communications is just half the battle

Employees expect leaders to be transparent and authentic and to showcase empathy and inclusivity. Especially in the wake of the prolonged pandemic. However, important as it is, great internal communications is only part of the employee retention equation. Maintaining strong internal communications in a hybrid environment is difficult but increasingly important.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

A Few Steps to Creating Powerful Brand Messaging

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

When it comes to crafting brand messages, they should be timey, straightforward, well-articulated, and credible. In most cases, these messages should be built around the answers to three crucial questions: What happened? What is being done about it? And what has been learned?

Once you are done crafting key messages, the next step is to develop a communication plan to ensure it reaches all the relevant target audiences. Keep in mind that crisis can unfold so quickly and unexpectedly, therefore, your communication strategies should be flexible enough to deal with rapidly changing circumstances. Furthermore, you should ensure that you maintain message consistency across all audiences, at all times. From senior management to employees and from customers to suppliers, consistency is key to success.

So how do you go about developing a solid crisis management strategy? Start off by clearly identifying the types of situations that are more likely to emerge. Can you figure out which ones can be potentially damaging and which ones pose the most risk to your organization? Remember, a good rule of thumb is to list three to five categories of crises, such as operational failure, product recall or workplace misconduct, and come up with specific scenarios that might follow and the impact they may have on your business.

In addition to outlining a few key issues, it is essential that you determine who should be involved in managing a crisis and who is responsible for communicating with various stakeholders. It goes without saying that the more clearly you define these roles, tasks and responsibilities, the easier it will be to function when you are under tremendous pressure during a crisis. Therefore, you should take the time to develop a highly detailed crisis plan for each category of issue as stated in the previous step.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

A Few Simple Insights on Effective Brand Messaging

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

In an effort to convey their message, so many business professionals still get carried away and use as many words as possible. What they don’t realize is that being too wordy or constantly resorting to industry-specific terms can be counterproductive to a brand’s message and turn off a lot of prospects. Therefore, it is crucial that businesses create pithy and easy-to-understand messages that resonate with their target audience; this is especially important in the B2B industry, where technical jargon and highly complex buzzwords, concepts and explanations can obscure the message and do more harm than good.

So what are some of the best ways to create simpler brand messages?

The first thing to do is just start writing every thought or idea that comes to mind about a particular subject matter, without worrying about the grammar, potential mistakes or typos. That’s what some communication experts call Free Writing, a valuable strategy that can help you open up your mind and get your creative juices flowing. It can also include any information about the topic at hand that is worth discussing, some key takeaways for customers or clients, or even potential objections to your message.

The next step is to revisit the basics and clearly identify your prospects, customers and clients. Even if you have done it before, it’s worth doing it again, revisiting the details and readjusting your approach. Please keep in mind that people usually take action and make a purchasing decision if they fully understand the message and call to action. In fact, companies should ask themselves whether their message is written in the exact same way that the target audience regularly communicates.

When finalizing your communication materials, make sure you get rid of filler words. Remember, passive sentences should be transformed into the active voice, and long sentences should be broken down into smaller and simpler ones. Without a doubt, this is a great way to shorten, simplify and enhance your brand messages and encourage your prospects to take action that you want them to take.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

How Emotionally Intelligent Business Leaders Become Exceptionally Persuasive

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

We all know that coming up with a compelling and impactful message takes time. However, crafting, tweaking and editing it, and ensuring it’s efficiently tied to your desired outcomes, can take so much more time.

Now let’s say an interesting and lucrative opportunity unexpectedly lands on your desk – some kind of a sizable job for a dream client. But you realize that you are short-staffed and the pandemic is still here, while you need everyone’s best efforts to fulfill the client’s expectations. So how do you get your team members excited?

Here is the deal. The average leader might gather the team and explain why it’s such a great opportunity for the company, and why everyone is expected to pitch in and put their best foot forward.

But how would the emotionally intelligent leader handle the situation? She /he would frame everything from the point of view of her / his team and articulate what the opportunity means for every single team member. She/he would explain what it means for individual contributors, how they are going to benefit, what they are going to learn, and what’s specifically needed from each person to achieve great results.

The hard part? It takes so much more time to think about all of these angles and craft the right message. If done correctly, you stand a better chance of achieving bigger, better and more impressive outcomes. That’s what emotional intelligence is all about – it’s about becoming aware of both your emotions and other people’s emotions and then leveraging them to attain your ultimate goals.

That said, silence speaks volumes. Taking some time to eliminate the many issues you might want to discuss (because you are thinking emotionally) and instead, focus more on the ones that you truly need to say, can spell the difference between confusion and clarity.

But don’t be surprised if you find the extra effort pays off, as you remove the impediment of misunderstanding from more of your most important conversations.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

Top PR Strategies for 2022

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Now that we are coming off one of the most disruptive years in history, we should probably come to terms with the fact that we might be operating in a business environment that has been transformed for good. Influenced by the prolonged pandemic and rapid advancements in technology, there we will be a wide variety of new strategies emerging in B2B and B2C marketing.

Here are a few to keep in mind as we turn the page on 2021 and transition to 2022.

Media Outlets Are Relying More on Contributed Articles

Since 2008, newsroom employment in the U.S. has fallen 26%, and demand for online content has grown exponentially. What it means is that media outlets have fewer full-time writers, resulting in increased demand for contributed articles by outside authors – the kind of thought leadership that is highly effective with B2B buyers. By the way, if you have been struggling to convince your executive team to invest the time and effort required for strong thought leadership, 2022 should be your year to change this.

PR Professionals Will Use a Variety of Channels to Identify Media Opportunities

From Muck Rack and Help a Reporter (HARO) to Twitter and Slack channels, it is easier for PR pros to respond and pitch via a plethora of new emerging platforms and channels. And that’s what digital transformation is all about.

Public Relations Campaign Needs a Purpose

In 2020 many brands were being heavily scrutinized or criticized for outdated policies, a lack of diversity in the workplace or reluctance to get involved in social issues and make a difference.

In 2021, however, so many organizations have finally upgraded their policies, revamped or re-introduced DEI programs, openly expressed outrage over social injustices and promised to step up their game. In 2022 brands should highlight their mission-based efforts across different communication channels and demonstrate more accountability. PR efforts should be focused on philanthropic involvement and social awareness; it’s crucial that businesses start transitioning from “talking the talk” to “walking the walk” and following through on “do-better” initiatives.

Podcast Appearances Should No Longer Be Swept Under the Rug

While local and national radio are still best for breaking news, podcasts seem to be more appropriate for extended discussions of hot topics. These podcasts may not have a huge number of listeners, however, those who do tune in, will be highly engaged. If you were putting your appearance on a podcast on the backburner, it is time to give it some serious consideration.

Impactful PR Will Have to be Part of a Larger Marketing Ecosystem

It goes without saying that PR usually generates more traction when combined with other marketing strategies. Let me assure you that in 2022 this will be vital. PR is a piece of the marketing puzzle and needs to be combined with a strong content strategy, paid ads strategy and social strategy for bigger, better and more powerful results.

Keep it Simple

We are living in turbulent and unpredictable times. Sadly, these days, attention spans are short and anxiety levels are sky-high. But the most crucial and impactful form of communication is also the most overlooked. Therefore, in my professional opinion, simplifying a brand message will be one of the most essential trends in PR for 2022. Companies of all sizes should make sure they avoid fancy language, long-winded copy and tedious or complicated explanations. Keep your story short. Make it concise, easy-to-understand and void of “highfalutin” terms. Just explain briefly what is it you do, why it matters and how your prospects are going to benefit.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!

7 Crucial Ways to Drive Your Account-Based Marketing Process

By Angela Kambarian, Founder, Essential Communications

http://www.kambarian.com

Dear savvy business professional,

As you may already know, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) continues to gain momentum as many companies and marketing departments are embracing this concept in an effort to create a completely aligned sales and marketing process. In other words, it serves as a better alternative to casting a broad net and may result in deeper and more long-lasting relationships with a highly targeted set of accounts.

Account-Based Marketing is a focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales team work together (as I pointed out above) to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers or clients. At a time when marketers are vying for the attention of potential prospects, they should strive for the highest possible ROI and fully focus their attention on the high-value accounts that matter the most.

There are quite a few fundamentals to consider when it comes to ABM. I am hoping a few tactics below will come in handy and help you dramatically improve results.

How to Identify Your Target Audience: A 5 Step Guide

1.Develop prospect-specific offers

It goes without saying that relevance and personalization are the key aspects of ABM. When businesses resort to this strategy, they usually target a small number of specific accounts and expect their offers to deliver high conversion rates. Most potential buyers feel compelled to open that personalized report because it might bring a lot of value to the table.

2. Makes sure your offers will lead to meetings

A lot of marketers come up with offers designed to generate leads from webinars and white papers which may help sales teams take things to the next level and schedule meetings with prospects. For example, a company specializing in social analytics could offer a thorough report examining and analyzing a business’ social media efforts versus their competitors. Additionally, they may provide free technology assessments or security audits.

3. Personalize the account’s experience on your website

One of the most effective tactics you can implement is personalizing landing pages. What marketers can do is create account-specific landing pages that showcase custom copy, images and forms that are in line with the person or account visiting the landing page. In addition, you can display the name of the visitor on the landing page – but tread with caution, as some prospects may find this overly intrusive.

4. Test direct mail with executives

Due to the fact that most executives do not register for white papers or webinars, do not respond to unsolicited emails or follow companies on Twitter, direct mail (believe it or not!) remains a highly effective strategy to reach these individuals. For example, in advance of a big trade show, one company sent empty iPad boxes to top executives with a note encouraging them to come by the booth to receive the iPad. Guess what? It worked! Many recipients came by to interact with the business.

5. Put together a list of role-based contacts

This is certainly a smart way to seed the database with the right contacts. Here is why. Titles do not always tell you the whole story and can even be misleading. That’s where a role-based list comes into play and you can request “the person in charge of IT infrastructure or the person in charge of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”. By the way, companies such as Televerde or Reachforce can help with that.

6. Invest in white paper or webinar leads for target accounts

While in the past a buyer could only purchase leads from a media company and select company size, title or geographic location, now online lead generation organizations allow companies to filter their lead purchase by company name. Of course the cost-per-lead will be higher, however, it’s worth the price to ensure successful account-based marketing efforts.

7. Dig up some valuable connections via non-sales employees

This approach can easily be overlooked but can make a dramatic impact on your marketing efforts. Why don’t you let some of your employees pitch in and contribute? After all, you are in it together. LinkedIn Sales Navigator, for example, has a feature called TeamLink that provides visibility into the connections other employees in your company have with contacts at your target account. What if there is a potential connection to leverage? You never know. Get the most of it and reap the benefits of expanding your outreach.

Ready to reignite your PR and marketing campaign? Please email: angela@kambarian.com, visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 724-4372 today. Let’s connect and find new ways to build your business. Looking forward to speaking with you!