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Should Your Small Business Have a Website?

Should Your Small Business Have a Website?

The answer is an emphatic “yes!” The bottom line is that today your customers expect you to have a website.

What! No website? Without a business website, potential customers form a certain view of your company, and it’s not favorable. Whether it’s legitimate or not, “no website” says one or more of the following:

  1. You don’t believe in the value of technology.
  2. You’re too lazy to put together a website.
  3. You’re too unorganized to make it happen.
  4. You can’t afford to pay for a website.
  5. You’re going out of business or are already closed.
  6. You don’t have anything to say to your customers.
  7. Your competitors are better.
  8. You think social media is good enough.
  9. You don’t have anything new and exciting to offer.
  10. Plus, about a dozen other things you don’t want folks thinking about your business.


If your business doesn’t have a website, today’s technological customers may go somewhere else. You see, 75% of them will determine your company’s credibility based on your website.
So, what does that mean if you have no website?

That means less business for you.

Last year, Google found that at any given point in time, 84% of Americans are shopping for something. Thus, an online presence and particularly a professionally designed and maintained business website are essential for marketing your small business.

How Do Consumers Find Information?

Today—and by today, we can say, especially in the midst of a pandemic—customers want to be able to find information about your company quickly and intuitively from your business website. Again, that’s just expected, meaning that it is standard practice.

Your customers expect an easy-to-use menu and navigation, as well as readily available contact info. They want a website that makes sense and one in which they can click a few times to arrive at the content they need.

Consumers conduct research online before they make a purchase—even if it’s to buy something they want to pick up down the street at your store. They’re verifying that you have the item in stock, that you’re open, and what the item will cost.

If you don’t have a website (or one that’s easy to use), you’re sending a message that the doors are locked, the lights are off, and their patronage isn’t required.

Your customers and prospects are living online. That’s even more true as the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person business harder to safely conduct. As a result, your small business must have a presence. 93% of online experiences start with a search engine, and 47% of people click on one of the first three listings.

Over 60% of Small Businesses Don’t Have A Website

While it might bring you some comfort to know you are in the majority, you’re losing out on sales, and that’s only going to continue to a greater degree.

Executing an online advertising strategy is vital for businesses in a post-coronavirus world. As consumers migrated to online shopping during the pandemic, it has become less expensive for businesses to purchase digital advertising.

Takeaway

There’s never been a more opportune or more critical time to invest in a website for your business. A website offers a wide variety of benefits for small businesses, and most of these will grow in value year over year.
The argument for your small business to invest today in a website has never been more compelling. Your customers are definitely spending more time online. That means increased opportunities to get your message in front of prospective clients and customers.

Playbook Public Relations can help your small business get results. Let us put together a digital marketing and advertising campaign during the pandemic to get your company increased web traffic and more business. Our market knowledge and support team will provide your company with the best multi-faceted publicity or marketing campaign. Let us create a “playbook” for your business.

Contact Playbook Public Relations today in Tampa, Florida at (813) 789-7122 or use our web contact form.

Internet Usage is Up 70% During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Internet Usage is Up 70% During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Americans are definitely spending more time online. That means increased opportunities to get your message and website in front of prospective clients and customers.

In addition to watching favorite indulgences like Netflix’s Tiger King, research from The New York Times on recent internet usage in the United States shows that our behaviors shifted. In some cases, quite drastically, with the impact of the coronavirus and the need for searching online for working at home, doing schoolwork, and passing the time playing and connecting.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix added 15.8 million new customers in the first quarter and currently has 182.9 million subscribers worldwide. This says that we’re looking for entertainment options on streaming services like Netflix and YouTube and seeking to interact with friends on social media sites like Facebook.

The Need for COVID-19 Updates has Increased Viewing of Traditional News Sources Online

Trying to find accurate information and updates on the coronavirus has increased readership for local and established newspapers, The New York Times reported. We’ve also been searching for more established media brands for information on the pandemic and its vast economic fallout. For example, the business news site CNBC has experienced a massive increase in readership of nearly 100%. Likewise, the websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post have both grown traffic more than 50% in the past month, according to SimilarWeb.

However, this bump didn’t also follow on partisan sites like breitbart.com and Infowars.com. Also, The Daily Caller on the right and the liberal Truthdig.com have seen stagnant or falling numbers. And, it’s local news sites that are really enjoying big jumps in traffic, as users try to learn how the pandemic is impacting their own hometowns.

But besting all of these news sites, as far as increased popularity, is the home page for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s now getting millions of readers after previously having almost next to none.

ISPs See Usage and Users Skyrocket

Internet providers across the U.S. have been experiencing drastic spikes in usage since March, as many Americans started to telecommute or take classes online. Nortex Communications in Texas saw an increase of 30% more data usage for customers since March 12th and almost triple the subscribers over the past two months compared to previous months.

Comcast, which operates the largest residential Internet network in the U.S., has seen “an unprecedented shift in network usage.” However, the company assures users it’s within the capability of its network. Comcast reported a 32% increase in upstream traffic growth and an 11% increase in downstream traffic growth from March to May.

A Move from Phones Back to PCs and Tablets

We have seen an industry-wide emphasis on mobile devices in recent years, with the latest and greatest smartphones being able to do almost anything we ask them to do. However, as Americans spend our days at home with nearby computers and smart TVs, we’re now enjoying larger screens.

This tablet and PC viewing have also boosted gaming and chatting with friends and family as ways to bring the rest of our world indoors.

And while school’s in recess for the summer, most districts were forced to finish the school year with online education, so classes were held on platforms like Google Classroom, and school gatherings and sessions on Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams. Comcast says that its weekday usage is up, driven mostly by VoIP, video conferencing, and VPN as people continue to work and learn from home. Its VoIP and video conferencing are up 210-285%, and its VPN traffic is up 30-40%.

Overall, Comcast reports that gaming downloads are up 20-80%, depending upon new releases, and its streaming and web video consumption is up 20-40%. Similarly, television viewing is up to about eight viewing hours per week per household, including streaming.

Takeaway

It’s all about “eyeballs” or website visitors. Playbook Public Relations can help your company get results as we see many more Americans searching online. Let us put together a digital marketing and advertising campaign during the pandemic to get your company increased web traffic and more business.

Large or small, we have a solution when you need it. Our market knowledge and support team will provide your company with the best multi-faceted publicity or marketing campaign. Let us create a “playbook” for your business.

Contact Playbook Public Relations today in Tampa, Florida at (813) 789-7122 or use our web contact form.

Five Communications Tips for Reopening Business

Five Communications Tips for Reopening Business

State and local governments are opening or setting dates for reopening businesses after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your company should consider its communications plan to the public and to your employees who may be furloughed. With that in mind, Playbook Public Relations provides these five tips for developing a communication plan before you reopen your business.

 

1. Create a reopening communication strategy. 

You probably have a good idea of what you need to do. You’ve been sitting around waiting for this day for several months. But the first step is to write it all down. List out a timeline of what has to happen first, second, third, so that you can see if there are gaps and anticipate issues before they arise. Create your plan to be an evolving guide that can be modified with the circumstances, but place emphasis on safety. A thorough communication strategy will tell your employees, vendors, and customers how you plan to operate in this new “normal.”

 

2. Communicate with your staff first. 

A critical component of a communications plan is telling your employees to come back to work. Solicit their feedback and get their buy-in into the new policies to keep everyone safe to restore your business to a new normal. Your employees can be your best champions or your worst detractors when it comes to change.

 

When you recall your employees, give them as much advance notice as possible, which will depend in part on the restrictions mandated by your local government. Your recall communications should set out your company’s plans to keep employees safe when they return. If employees are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks or gloves, communicate who is responsible for providing the equipment and when it should be worn. Include any plans for temperature check policies, sanitation policies, and staff contact tracing policies. All of this information in your communications with your employees shows them that you’ve thought this out, and you’re ready to go to work (and that they should be too!).

 

3. Communicate with your customers and suppliers. 

Like communications to your staff, make your customers and vendors aware of what you’re doing to protect them from the coronavirus. Clearly set out any policy or process changes that will impact their interactions with your company and ask them about changes that they may have in conducting business with your company.

 

Continue to keep customers up to date with your plans. If nothing else, we are all in a state of “flex” these days, so we have that in common. It’s okay to let your client base know that things are changing daily. Communication shows them transparency and that you’re on top of the situation.

 

4. Consider the tone of your business communications.

Refrain from sending marketing or promotional material about your company’s products or services. This isn’t the time for that message. It may turn off your customers. Instead, provide them with valuable, informative content, such as guidance on the steps they should take to ready themselves for post-COVID operations. 

 

5. Be helpful.

Everyone has a heightened level of stress about COVID-19 and its impact on them personally. Ask your customers how you can help them during the pandemic. This type of communication shows that you are a partner that’s in the same situation and is available to help.

 

Takeaway

A text may be the best way to communicate because people typically read text messages as soon as they come in. Email, on the other hand, can be ignored. Make efforts to communicate more frequently than before the crisis and work harder to get your messages through to your intended recipients. A great way to set your business apart is to make phone calls or send handwritten notes.

 

The most important part of reopening your business is your communication plan.

 

Contact Playbook Public Relations at (813) 789-7122 for help designing a plan that is customized to your company and your message.

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!   


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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!


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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


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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”.


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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.

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