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Communicating During COVID-19

We are living in an intense and unprecedented time. The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is changing human interaction, business operations, and paralyzing the globe in a climate of uncertainty. Organizations are having to rapidly respond and change the way they communicate during this pandemic. I like to call it, “Contingency plans on the fly.”

“Business as usual” isn’t possible right now. Organizations need to shift from operations mode to crisis mode while communicating in a calm and consistent manner to guide their employees, stakeholders, and customers through this emergency. This is not a one and done communications plan.

At its core, crisis communication is about honesty, transparency, accountability, and consistency. More than ever, companies need a clear and deliberate communication strategy to maintain operations and build trust with their community. Successful communication strategies begin with employees, vendors, and stakeholders.

Now is the time for CEOs to communicate directly about the challenges their companies face and reassure employees and stakeholders about the steps they are taking to ensure workplace safety and business continuity. Trust me when I say “They want to hear directly from you!”  Communicating your company’s plan to manage the crisis and mitigate the negative impact will not only reassure the public it establishes credibility.

In this uncertain time, silence is NOT golden. Be transparent, concise, and sympathetic. Share facts and updates, but do not downplay the realities facing your company and the world. Utilize all the social media outlets available to you. They are a lifeline between you and the public – calming fears, disseminating information, and supporting online activities that may help keep your business afloat.

Information about the COVID-19 is changing hourly, and sometimes answers are hard to find, even from experts and elected officials. Misinformation is spreading almost as quickly as the virus itself. Right now, business leaders need to communicate in a direct, timely, and honest manner. The key to navigating this crisis is to remain calm and flexible, understanding that you may have to change course multiple times.

On a personal note, I think this is the ideal time to look at how your organization can help the community you serve. How can you use your local platform or global reach to help those in need? Whether it is sponsoring a food drive, donating money or supplies to local organizations, providing resources so that students can distance learn, companies big and small can do their part to help communities through this crisis. It will not only resonate with stakeholders, but it is also the right thing to do.

We urge you to follow CDC guidelines and local government guidelines. Be smart, and stay healthy!

Sally Dee

Spring Cleaning: Update Your Company Boilerplate and Summary

Spring Cleaning: Update your Company and Boilerplate and Summaries

We are well into the new year…heck, we’re heading into a new season. There is no better time to do a little corporate spring cleaning. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but updating your company’s boilerplate and “about us” summaries can be a yearly refresh that helps you better communicate your brand’s mission and accomplishments.

Where to begin?

Take a look at your company’s year-end reports, such as sales, HR, and operations. What stands out? What goals did you achieve or surpass? Comb through the numbers and pull out the figures that best represent your growth in the past year.

What are the top metrics that show what’s behind your brand? Maybe they highlight new leadership, completed projects, number of clients, RFPs won, or cost-reduction strategies. Whatever the metrics are, highlight them in a prominent and interactive way on your homepage. Draw potential clients in with three metrics that show your brand’s success and impact.

What should be included in your company’s boilerplate?

There are five key pieces to a company or product boilerplate:

  1. Who you are.
  2. What you offer.
  3. Why are you different?
  4. What is the value to clients?
  5. A call to action.

Clearly state who you are and what products or services your company offers. What services or philosophies set you apart from the rest? What results and benefits should the client expect if they use your company? Remember: keep this section brief and simple. Use easy to understand language and avoid industry jargon or cliches. Each sentence should highlight your company.

Almost every boilerplate includes a call to action, which often looks like “Visit <insert Your Company URL> to learn more.” Here’s where you can get creative. Why should people click on the link and visit your website? Help direct them to what you want to do by using helpful resources such as a savings calculator, a list of top awards, free resources, or premium contact where you can capture contact information.

Where else can I update my company summary?

To ensure that your company messaging is consistent across all channels, we recommend updating pictures and summaries on news releases, online directories, social media, Google My Business profile, awards lists, online review sites, your company’s “About Us” section, LinkedIn profiles, and Wikipedia.

You want to always present a fresh, active, and productive face to new and established clients. A yearly refresh of your website, photos, social media messaging, boilerplates and summaries can help you stay current, relevant, and connected in the ever-changing and ever-blending social and corporate spheres.

CIty line
CIty line

Logo Design – IQuit

AHEC_IQ_Logo_RGB_650x650

Logo Design – Creating a Brand

USF Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is an administrative office that has two nonprofit community centers: Gulfcoast North AHEC (GNAHEC) Gulfcoast South AHEC (GSAHEC).

USF AHEC is funded by the Florida Department of Health to train future health professions students and current health professionals about how to work with tobacco-addicted patients. They are also funded to run cessation groups to help people stop smoking. USF AHEC has two different programs, which are both offered free of charge.  The first is called Quit Smoking Now (QSN).  QSN is a 6-session program―1 hour per week in a group setting. The second is called Tools To Quit (TTQ), and it is a 90-minute one-time session.  Both programs offer free patches, gum or lozenges to help with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that occur when people quit using tobacco.

“WHAT!?! I don’t care, I just want to quit smoking!”

Creative Process

That’s what we thought too, so we went to work on creating a brand that people who want to quit tobacco could easily identify with. First, it is important to note that AHEC operates in conjunction with Tobacco Free Florida (TFF). Since TFF has well established brand we want to piggyback off their success by choosing a matching color scheme.  Next, we began to brain storm with little game of free association. We won’t bore you with the all the ideas that wound up in the trash can.

Here are the cliff notes on how our team came up with the “IQuit” brand:  We wanted the new logo to be culturally relavent, so we considered “iQuit” (Let’s face it, Apple knows marketing-the company has more revenues than Exxon Mobile). But we decided that “iQuit” was just too  trendy, and it had the potential to render itself obsolete in the near future.  So we scratched the “iQuit” and started playing around with IQ. We liked the “IQ” and intelligence aspect it brought to the forefront. We knew we were on to something here:  Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, right? But a high IQ is not enough to get people to quit tobacco. We all know intelligent people who are addicted to nicotine. Further, an IQ is not something that is identified with smoking cessation, so we played with our IQ’s.

no smoky

NO SMOKING ALLOWED!

 

We made the “I” look like a cigarette, and played with the  Q so it resembles a “not allowed” sign. We stilled needed a tagline to tie all the aspects of the design together.  Informed to Quit. Inspired to Quit. I Quit with AHEC.

The Brand, The Tagline, the Win!

IQ_HeaderPlaybook Public Public Relations, LLC is proud to announce the “IQuit” brand was so well received that it has recently been adopted across the entire Florida AHEC Network.  That means our “IQuit” brand will be used in all of Florida’s 67 counties!  Further, we ensured the successful launch of the “IQuit“brand by developing and redesigning www.ahectobacco.com, the Florida AHEC Network’s website (more about that in another post).

The Florida AHEC network agreed that Playbook Public Relations, LLC was able to grasp the irreplaceable value proposition that the “IQuit” programs offer to Floridians who wish to break free of nicotine addiction.   Over the course of this fiscal year, our firm’s marketing and PR initiatives helped USF AHEC reach its yearly program goals before the start of the 4th quarter.

An identifiable brand can increase your bottom line!   

Website Design & SEO Services- LCS Stone Care

L.C.S. Stone Care’s website needed an overhaul.  Aesthetically, their old site looked good, but it had some serious design problems.  Most business owners do not know that a flawed website design can be a factor in poor “Search” results on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

Playbook Public Relations understands that great Search Engine Optimization (SEO) begins with effective website design and website content.  How does website design and website content affect SEO negatively?

Goodbye Flash, Hello WordPress

Well, one factor that negatively affected L.C.S. was that all of their website headers were built headers in Adobe Flash (Flash).  Google’s search engine cannot read Flash, so if Google can’t read who you are and what you do quickly, it will negatively affect your search ranking.  Playbook was able to take the website design elements they liked from their old site and recreate them in a “Search Engine Friendly” customized WordPress website.  L.C.S. had their new WordPress website up and running in three short weeks.  To the naked eye nothing had changed, but internally, everything had changed…for the better.

Meta Titles Matter

This first step in executing an SEO strategy for L.C.S. was redesigning/recreating their old website.  Next, we rewrote their meta titles and much later their meta tags.  Google does not like too many changes too quickly, therefore, we held off on changing all the meta title and tag information at once.  We continue to write keyword-focused blogs, and do back end submissions at a feverish pace.

Results Matter

In three months’ time, we have helped L.C.S. dominate the search terms for their industry on a local level.   As of this writing, we have them ranked as high as the 7th position on Google, nationally, for “terrazzo” related keywords.  Now old and new clients are able to find them near the top of Google’s, Bing’s, and Yahoo!’s search engines.  L.C.S. Stone Care is able to track their amazing progress with Playbook’s easy to read weekly Keyword Ranking Reports.

Playbook loves helping our clients achieve their marketing goals.  By the way, if you are looking for terrazzo restoration or marble or travertine polishing, you should have no problem finding L.C.S. on Google, Bing or Yahoo!

Importance of Website Design

Importance of a Website Design

There is little doubt that search engines have replaced the Yellow Pages. If consumers want to find a business, even just a business’s phone number, they are searching on the Internet.  Search engine usage is not limited to the computer savvy; consumers from 10 years old to 80 years old use the Internet on a daily basis.

Whereas your business used to be one line in the phone book, now your business’ website is a visual presentation of your company’s vision, culture, and products and services.  Let’s face it, the marketplace demands instantaneous information, resulting in a less patient consumer.  Your website should immediately appeal to your potential customers.  A recent study conducted in Canada found that business literally has milliseconds to grab a consumer’s attention before their minds form an opinion*.  You should think of your website as a storefront.  What does your website say about your business?

Too Much is Too Much

Many businesses provide too much information that is lost on their potential client.  Information overload causes your “hook” or marketing message to become lost in a sea of information, resulting in your potential customer clicking off your site and looking at your competitor’s website.  Keep it simple! Don’t make your customer work to do business with you.  Your potential customers want easy to use information about your business and an easy way to contact you.  Think of shopping at the mall.  It’s always a better experience when you find what you are looking for and when you have a helpful salesperson.  Your website’s design and content are key to customer conversions.

Website design is also very important.  If you walked into the grocery store and found the milk with the dog food, how would you feel?  Customers like things to make sense.  There is an expectation that the milk will always be with other milk items and that the dog food will be found in the pet care aisle.  People expect the same kind of shopping/information gathering experience on your website. Organized website design results in consumers clicking through to multiple pages on your website, thus they stay on your site longer.

Mobile Ready

Obviously, your website design should convey the culture and vision of your company.  Your website design should be simple, clear, and represent your company.  Since the majority of consumers are finding your website with their smartphone or tablet, make sure your website is mobile-ready.  Some studies suggest that over 55% of all searches are done on mobile devices.  Further, bounce rates are close to 60% when a business’ website is not mobile responsive.  Isn’t it annoying when you constantly have to enlarge and scroll a non-mobile ready website?

If you are not sure if your site is mobile-ready, give us a call.  We are the experts in website design, from content creation to mobile readiness. If you are not using technology to maximize your business outreach, you are falling behind. Playbook Public Relations, LLC can help you stand out from the crowd and attract more business this year with great website design.

Sally Dee, President
Playbook Public Relations, LLC

*BBC News Jan 16th, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4616700.st

Website Design – Part-1 of 3

Website Design – First Impressions

Our three part Blog series will help you make the right first impression with great website design.

One of the meanings for the word impression is a “sensation”. Impressions have strong effect on our psyche, as they produce feelings on a sub-conscious and conscious level. Researchers from NYU found that we make eleven major decisions about one another within the first seven seconds of meeting. Our minds are quick to critique and judge whether we want to stay in this interaction or if we need an immediate exit strategy.

Part 1: How alluring is your homepage?

Your homepage has seven seconds to make either a positive or negative effect on your potential client. According to a recent study, 70% of people go online first to help them locate a business. Are you making the right impression?

Identify the goal of your website. Consumers want to know what sets you apart from your competitors. It is a good idea to convey your company’s mission statement and your brand’s philosophy. Make sure website design matches you company’s overall brand message.

Set the tone and image for your site. Think of your site as putting on clothes in the morning. Is your site saying shorts and flip-flops when a shirt and tie would make a better impression?

Add teasers to your homepage. Adding articles to keep your users informed is very important in order to keep users coming back to your website. Post updated related articles only displaying a portion for the viewer to read. If they more they can click “read more.”

Check back next Wednesday as we share Part 2 of our series, “First Impressions are Strong: Make Yours Rock”.

Website Design – Part 3 of 3

Part 3: Website Design – Connecting

So you have their attention, but are you making a connection? People like to feel like they are a part of something big. Having a compelling statement will draw your visitor in and entice them to take action further within your website.

Develop a connection. Visitors to your site should feel like they are part of your family (your brand). Ask your first time users to sign-up for an account, subscribe to newsletters, or share your site with others. Have the links available to do this directly on the homepage so you won’t risk losing visitors as they navigate throughout your website.

Be social! Blogging will help you connect with your customers. Blogs reinforce your company’s brand and your expertise in your industry. Update your events, new products, or any other relevant information religiously and encourage your visitors to stay connected through your company’s social media sites.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the most effective way to drive traffic to your website. Websites are ranked by design usability, the amount of relevant content, and social media activity. Every ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on social networks will help increase your search engine ranking. Your website design structure and the proper placement of high value keywords will help optimize your homepage and increase your search engine ranking. The goal is to keep visitors on your website, therefore, strategic website design is imperative. All good relationships are built on trust, so make sure visitors to your website can find the essential information they are looking for with quick, readily accessible, and functional hot-links.

Remember, people buy from companies they like and trust. Website design can strength or weaken your brand, make sure your website is an asset and not a liability.

We hope you have enjoyed our three part series on great elements of website design.

You Became Submissive and Looked What Happened

Building Healthy Business Relationships

Business is built on relationships. Thus, the terms B2B and B2C are referring to a symbiotic relationship.  Healthy and strong relationships take nurturing, neglect breeds apathy, apathy destroys relationships.

Think about your own business relationships for a minute.  Do you have good relationships with your co-workers and with your customers?  How do you think your customers and co-workers view your management style?  Here are five tips that may help you maintain and develop good relationships:

1.     Become submissive.

If you are drinking coffee right now, you probably just choked.  Culturally, we often associate negative connotations to the word “submissive.” Here submissive means to back off and actively listen, become open to different possibilities. Some of the most creative ideas emerge when we let our guard down and just listen to others.

2.     Set boundaries.

When clear internal and external boundaries are set, everyone knows what is expected of them. It is much easier to thrive when there are easy reference points of expectations for all parties involved in the relationship.

3.     Remember you are not alone.

The African proverb, “It takes a village”, is modern and relevant to all of us. Stronger business ties are established when strengths and weaknesses are assessed.  Not good at marketing? Designate this task to someone who can really shine in this area. In this way, your internal strengths are maximized. It’s not about you! It’s about creating a winning plan for success.

4.     Make your partner happy.

Weather your relationship is with your consumer or someone within your company; all parties need to feel contented. Think of your business relationship as a circle. When you have a positive effect on the person in your relationship, it circles back to you. Everybody becomes more vested when there is a sense of the relationship meeting their needs.

5.     Don’t be afraid to let an unhealthy relationship go.

There isn’t a relationship out there that doesn’t have some rocky times. When you communicate effectively and have tried to implement all the tips above, you will intuitively know which relationships are worth riding out for the long haul.  Often fear keeps us in toxic or unhealthy relationships. Unhealthy relationships are time and energy suckers, and keep you from focusing on what you are good at.

If you have a strong business model and the intent to nurture positive relationships, new relationships will continually flourish that offer abundance and satisfaction for all involved

Google+ For Business

google_plusPlaybook Public Relations, LLC receives numerous inquiries from our clients about why Google+. They ask us, “Why is it important for my business?” Playbook Public Relations has comprised a list of the top ten reasons why your business needs to be a part of the Google+ community:

[list type=”check”]

  • Your customers and potential customers are using Google+. Google+ has over 100 million users and is predicted to grow to 400 million by the end of 2012.
  • It’s a great way to improve your search engine ranking. Let’s face it. Google is the king of search and using their interfaces increases your company’s search ranking.
  • Google+ makes virtual collaboration easy. Google+ supports fast and easy sharing of documents or images. That results in greater productivity at a fraction of the price of conventional in-person meetings or videoconferencing.
  • Get your message to the right audience with a click. With Google+, you can put customers into different groups or “circles” (by geography, by age, by interest) and then easily communicate with each circle separately, or with multiple circles at the same time.
  • Google+ allows free video chats. One of the best features on Google+ is Google Hangouts, Google’s video chat tool. Google Hangouts works well for video conferencing with members in your circles.
  • Google+ provides free focus groups. Why pay for focus groups when you can use Google+ to get answers to questions, e.g., pertaining to how your brand is received in the marketplace. Google+ focus groups are a great way to elicit customer feedback.
  • This platform facilitates B2B marketing. If you are looking to connect with other businesses, Google+ Your Business is designed to help. Your circles can include other businesses or industries that you wish to target.
  • Google+ is a plus for PR. With Google+ circles, businesses can target the public and make desired media relations contacts. When your business delivers a message through Google+, it is going to be picked up by users who are more likely to respond, including key industry personalities and publishers.
  • This platform promotes brand awareness. Because of the emergence of social media, it is essential for brands to build their reputation and brand message online.
  • Google+ is another avenue for you to advertise promotions on. With Google+, it’s easy to offer promotions to your target audience within your circles.

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Playbook Public Relations’ team members are experts in digital marketing. Call us to today for a consultation and we will develop a powerful tool for your business―a Playbook!

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