Posts

3 PR and Marketing Must-Haves for 2019

The signs of autumn are all around us—shorter days, pumpkin spice in abundance and 2019 budgets looming over our heads. Take this opportunity to revitalize your efforts. There are some evergreen items that are important to any successful marketing and public relations campaign, including pertinent social media, thought provoking content and strong media relations programs. However, what additional PR and marketing must-haves can you explore now to supplement these programs and make sure the budget is in place for them in the coming year?

As we say goodbye to summer, there are a few additional initiatives that are essential to giving your company an additional marketing edge:

  • Website refresh: A bit like spring cleaning, updating your website is a chance to rejuvenate it, make sure the messaging projected is current along with any facts and figures that are used. Still citing 2008 statistics? Time to find new content. Verify links and calls to action, ensuring they are all still relevant. Criteria to enhance SEO benefits are always being updated, so this is a chance to check meta tags, keywords and make sure that your site adheres to Google’s Mobile First push, which uses the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site. Adding fresh content, including blogs and video, helps with your search ranking and keeps visitors returning for more.
  • Webinars: Continue building thought leadership and trust with your target audiences through webinars. Increase brand awareness and get your messaging across while adding a human element to your company. People often view speakers as authorities on a given topic, so take this opportunity to show your knowledge. Webinars also are a chance to gather information on potential leads to supplement your sales funnel. These sessions can be recorded for future use and repurposed into whitepapers, eBooks, blogs or bylined article. Video bites can be captured and shared on your website and social media.
  • Customer testimonials: A recent study found that 86 percent of respondents felt online reviews were extremely, very or moderately important before making a purchasing decision. No matter how good you are, it carries more weight if someone else says it. Whether via text or video, having the people that use your product discuss how it helps them humanizes your company, lends credibility and illustrates the power of your solutions. These “reports from the field” give media and sales prospects narratives about how a solution is applied in a real-world situation and serve as tools for your sales team, along with fresh content for your website, lead generation and social media efforts.

These three tactics each have value on their own, work well together and will enhance an established public relations program or kick-start a new one. Better yet, there is no “one size fits all” approach to any of the above programs, so they can be tailored to your comfort level. Start at one level and scale up once you see results. Use your 2019 budget to employ tactics that will establish brand loyalty.

Webinar Wisdom

Webinar Wisdom: 3 best practices for webinars that wow… and get results

I have a confession. I’m not ashamed. It’s my truth. I love a webinar. I love everything about it. I love writing the title and description. I love promoting it and watching the registration count rise each day. I love when the day finally arrives and the presentation comes to life.

I even love the items on the post-webinar to-do list like sending the follow-up emails to keep the audience engaged, warming up the leads for the sales team or converting them into new sales opportunities. Yes, that’s really why I love webinars. I love the results—and by that, I mean the results when everything is done right.

However, I’ve found that many marketing and PR professionals don’t share my pro-webinar passion. In fact, much to my horror and astonishment, many of them are firmly planted in the anti-webinar camp. But I understand their point of view. Most likely, they have been discouraged by a webinar that fell flat, or they simply don’t understand how to harness the true power of a webinar.

As a lover of webinars, with a successful track record over the last decade, I’m here to help with some tried-and-true best practices.

Create customer-focused content

There is almost no better forum than a webinar to highlight your customer’s successes. Why? It’s much different to just read a case study than to have your customers verbally share their stories. On a webinar, attendees can experience that case study live, identify with the challenges and celebrate in the successes – which could soon become their own successes with the help of your company.

Now, having a customer co-presenter is the best-case scenario. We know that complete, fully baked customer case studies can be hard to come by or even nearly impossible when companies are launching new products. But there is incredible power in a customer case study that’s still in progress as well. Whether the journey has just begun or the results are preliminary, it’s still better for attendees to hear from their peer rather than just your team.

Webinars with customer co-presenters are almost always more well-attended and more successful. Plus, with customer co-presenters, your company also benefits from being associated with your customer names and brands. Even if someone doesn’t attend your webinar, they may remember that you work with that top hospital.

Prepare for an interactive experience

Even though a webinar is somewhat similar to any other speaking engagement, it’s technically much different. It’s challenging to speak into the phone rather than speak into a crowd of faces that may be either nodding their heads in agreement or nodding off out of boredom. That’s why it’s so important to leverage the technology to create an interactive experience that benefits both your attendees and your speakers.

Even the most basic webinar platforms offer a polling feature which should be used 2-4 times throughout the webinar. We often recommend to clients that they start with a poll question to get a better understanding of what the attendees are looking to learn or why they chose to attend. It can also be helpful for the initial poll question to serve as a gauge for understanding the “level” of attendees. For example, how would they rate their organization’s progress on the journey to value?

Also, did you know that one of the easiest, most painless ways to drive future registrations is right at your fingertips during each webinar? At the end of your presentation, while you still have a captive and hopefully happy audience, simply invite attendees to the next relevant session in your webinar series. When sessions are monthly or quarterly, attendees who enjoyed your webinar usually will vote “yes” via a poll to be automatically registered for the next session.

Focus on follow-up, not just promotion

Lastly, it’s incredibly common for even some of the savviest marketers to focus almost entirely on webinar promotion rather than placing equal importance on the webinar follow-up communications.  Don’t neglect the attendees who just spent 30-minutes or an hour with you! They are now primed and ready for more so it’s mission critical to send timely (ideally within 24 hours or less but 48 hours max) follow-up emails to attendees and those who registered but didn’t attend.

It’s also important to send them more than just the webinar recording or the slides. Perhaps you can offer them a new eBook about best practices featured on the webinar or you may have a written case study to share on the same topic. It’s not always about having new content to share. It’s about having relevant content to share and becoming a go-to expert.

Regardless, it’s important for your follow-up communication to be educational and informative to drive continued engagement. After all, once someone spends an hour with you via a webinar, they are more invested. Now it’s about keeping them invested in your content, your customers and most importantly, your company.

Keeping the Drum Beat Going on Marketing

Summer conjures many images that are symbolic of a slower pace – relaxing by the beach, sipping lemonade by the pool or reading a book under the shade of a tree. These relaxing pictures of a simpler time rarely include your marketing efforts, although they can fall into this summer haze if you don’t take steps to keep them amped up and the drum beat cadence strong.

New customer wins, moving into an expanded headquarters and launching innovative products are obvious reasons to keep your name in the public eye; however, summer seems to have a way with slowing down major events such as these. How do you stay in front of your main audiences without appearing overly promotional?

Conduct Surveys—Can you survey your customers to discover a new point of view? Do you have access to de-identified data within your product that could point to an industry trend? One example would be discovering which state’s residents are more likely to take their medication as prescribed than in any other state. Facts and figures are generally well-received and can support your company’s position. These results can be used for a press release, infographic, social media and media relations outreach.

Create a Campaign—Develop videos, blog posts or other content addressing problems that your product solves and position yourself as a thought leader. Champion a cause or highlight a struggle like Healthsparq’s #WhatTheHealthcare and athenahealth’s #LetDoctorsBeDoctors campaigns. Branch out as a mover and a shaker to help fix a problem even if your product alone won’t do the trick. Doing this shows you as a trusted ally and advocate.

Offer a Fresh Perspective—Your company has knowledge and a viewpoint that is unique. Does your CEO have a fresh position on leadership? What insights can you bring on the industry? Refine that information and share it through media relations, webinars and bylines. Reporters are looking for new ideas that shed light on a relevant topic in a vendor-neutral manner.

Whether done on your own, with a customer or through partnering with a publication, webinars are a great avenue to harness your knowledge about a topic and share it in a way that gives a personal connection. Attendees can get a taste of your personality, in addition to knowledge on the topic, and the chance to ask questions depending on how the session is structured. Contributing articles to publications is also a great way to extend thought leadership by sharing your perspective in your voice.

Support a Charity—There are many great causes. Perhaps your company already supports a charity, which would benefit from an event or donation. Another option is to find an organization that allows personal involvement, such as sponsoring a build day with a Habitat for Humanity® site near your office. Not only will it be a great team-building exercise, you could get some local press for your efforts. Employees and customers enjoy working with socially responsible companies, so it is a win from all sides.

Everyone hits a slow news cycle at some point. Use this time to refine your position, create a conversation and support a great cause. Each of these methods will extend your brand and deliver more content, including for your social channels.

7 Tips for Improving Your Next Webinar

Having worked for a professional hospital CIO association for over six years, I’ve moderated and attended my fair share of health IT vendor webinars.  I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Webinars should not be taken lightly, and should ultimately provide educational insight to attendees and your business. A webinar can help establish you as an industry expert, attract new customers, and add value to your brand.

Here are seven tips to help boost your next webinar and key mistakes to avoid.

1. Don’t be a Car Salesman

Nothing will kill a presentation faster than an overly aggressive, unsolicited sales pitch. Leave that to your sales team. If you want to be truly compelling and solidify your company as a problem solver, focus on the key issues that impact your audience and share best practices for overcoming them.  Rather than sell every bell and whistle of your product, draw upon examples of how your business is allowing existing clients to reach their goals. Focus on lessons learned.

2. Don’t Pull a Bait and Switch

Your webinar title and abstract say you are going to discuss how to build and maintain an effective population health strategy, yet you spend 60 minutes doing a product demo.

3. Be Polished and Prepared.

The best presenters are experts in their field, have a strong voice, and are experienced.  It’s always good to have a presentation outline in hand with concise bullet points for each slide. Don’t write a script out word for word. Not only will you sound like you’re reading it, you’ll end up relying on it – and if you lose your place, you’ll become flustered.  Plus, it’s a distraction from the computer screen should any technical issues arise (i.e. you are on the wrong slide, a question is asked).

4. Don’t Save Questions for the End

Don’t save the Q&A until the end of your presentation. Strike while the iron is hot and take periodic breaks throughout the webcast for questions. This makes the presentation more interactive and gives you a breather from being just a talking head. Also, not every attendee can stay the full duration and will appreciate the opportunity.  Additionally, it helps if you have a team member dedicated to monitoring questions or comments that come in from the audience. This is an effective tactic to ensure questions are addressed – or even skipped over. Nothing worse than reading a question a loud and it’s one you can’t answer or completely irrelevant/inappropriate.

5. Survey Your Audience

Nearly ever webinar platform has a poll feature. Take advantage of your audience as your own personal focus group. They have already proven interest by registering and showing up, so leverage their time and insight to help your business. Plus it makes the webinar that much more engaging if the audience feels involved, and they will be interested in the feedback of their peers.  Just be sure to give attendees sufficient time to weigh-in. Strong questions ought to lead into the next presentation topic and help dictate the amount of time you should spend on that issue.

6. Don’t Bedazzle Your Slide Deck

Slides should be visually appealing but keep the animations at bay.  They rarely ever work on cue, and slow your presentation way down.  Also, don’t use hyperlinks in your slide deck. Any sites you’d like the audience to visit should be posted in the chat window. Keep your slide deck font simple. Avoid elaborate fonts that almost never translate to webinar platforms. Arial is an easy to read, universal font. Try to stick with one color palette and select data and images that reflect your key points.

7. You Nailed It, Now Continue the Engagement

When the webinar has ended, continue the engagement by sending attendees a pdf of the slide deck and an archive link to the recording. Be sure to include the speakers’ contact information and request attendee feedback via a brief survey. Entice your participants with a special offer or prize drawing.

With the above in mind, here are a few other tips to ensure your next webinar is a winner:

  • Be cognizant of time zones and holidays when selecting a date and time for your webinar.
  • Send an attendee reminder the day of and the day before.
  • Log in early. Show up at least 15-20 minutes to ensure the audio and technology is working, Test advancing your slides as well.

7 Tips to Improve Your Webinars

Having worked for a professional hospital CIO association for over six years, I’ve moderated and attended my fair share of health IT vendor webinars.  I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Webinars should not be taken lightly, and should ultimately provide educational insight to attendees and your business. Webinars can help establish you as an industry expert, attract new customers, and add value to your brand.

Here are seven tips to help boost your next webinar and key mistakes to avoid.

  1. Don’t be a Car Salesman

    Nothing will kill a presentation faster than an overly aggressive, unsolicited sales pitch. Leave that to your sales team. If you want to be truly compelling and solidify your company as a problem solver, focus on the key issues that impact your audience and share best practices for overcoming them.  Rather than sell every bell and whistle of your product, draw upon examples of how your business is allowing existing clients to reach their goals. Focus on lessons learned.
  2. Don’t Pull a Bait and Switch

    Your webinar title and abstract say you are going to discuss how to build and maintain an effective population health strategy, yet you spend 60 minutes doing a product demo.
  3. Be Polished and Prepared.

    The best presenters are experts in their field, have a strong voice, and are experienced.  It’s always good to have a presentation outline in hand with concise bullet points for each slide. Don’t write a script out word for word. Not only will you sound like you’re reading it, you’ll end up relying on it – and if you lose your place, you’ll become flustered.  Plus, it’s a distraction from the computer screen should any technical issues arise (i.e. you are on the wrong slide, a question is asked).
  4. Don’t Save Questions for the End

    Don’t save the Q&A until the end of your presentation. Strike while the iron is hot and take periodic breaks throughout the webcast for questions. This makes the presentation more interactive and gives you a breather from being just a talking head. Also, not every attendee can stay the full duration and will appreciate the opportunity.  Additionally, it helps if you have a team member dedicated to monitoring questions or comments that come in from the audience. This is an effective tactic to ensure questions are addressed – or even skipped over. Nothing worse than reading a question a loud and it’s one you can’t answer or completely irrelevant/inappropriate.
  5. Survey Your Audience

    Nearly ever webinar platform has a poll feature. Take advantage of your audience as your own personal focus group. They have already proven interest by registering and showing up, so leverage their time and insight to help your business. Plus it makes the webinar that much more engaging if the audience feels involved, and they will be interested in the feedback of their peers.  Just be sure to give attendees sufficient time to weigh-in. Strong questions ought to lead into the next presentation topic and help dictate the amount of time you should spend on that issue.
  6. Don’t Bedazzle Your Slide Deck

    Slides should be visually appealing but keep the animations at bay.  They rarely ever work on cue, and slow your presentation way down.  Also, don’t use hyperlinks in your slide deck. Any sites you’d like the audience to visit should be posted in the chat window. Keep your slide deck font simple. Avoid elaborate fonts that almost never translate to webinar platforms. Arial is an easy to read, universal font. Try to stick with one color palette and select data and images that reflect your key points.
  7. You Nailed It, Now Continue the Engagement

    When the webinar has ended, continue the engagement by sending attendees a pdf of the slide deck and an archive link to the recording. Be sure to include the speakers’ contact information and request attendee feedback via a brief survey. Entice your participants with a special offer or prize drawing.

With the above in mind, here are a few other tips to ensure your next webinar is a winner:

  • Be cognizant of time zones and holidays when selecting a date and time for your webinar.
  • Send an attendee reminder the day of and the day before.
  • Log in early. Show up at least 15-20 minutes to ensure the audio and technology is working, Test advancing your slides as well.
  • Begin on time. If your registration number is high but the attendee number is low, allow one minute after the hour to begin. It’s unfair to hold up the rest of your attendees.
  • Include photos of any and all speakers. It makes the presentation more personalized and allows participants to put a face with the voice coming over their speakers.
  • Turn off all devices (and dogs).