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Announcing Our Partnership with Innovatory Solutions and WE Labs

We are happy to announce that today is our first day in partnership with Innovatory Solutions at WE Labs in Downtown Long Beach. This endeavor brings together Amara Omoregie, Lincoln Bauer and Ted Sieving as managing partners of a creative marketing and business development agency that will draw on the talent and experience at the WE Labs coworking location on Broadway. By providing Long Beach’s businesses, government, established and aspiring entrepreneurs with access to local artists and creative services, Innovatory Solutions will bring authenticity and originality back to Downtown and Greater Long Beach. Amara put it best, saying “Long Beach has so much talent and is capable of so much, all with its own unique and amazing identity. It’s time to start believing it by building businesses and campaigns that speak to and about our community in authentic ways. Local is authentic. Long Beach is authentic.”

 
Lincoln goes on to explain the efforts to champion local business and emerging brands from this area, stating “we don’t sit around and wait for opportunity and change, we actively seek both out.” To this end, Innovatory Solutions will offer two monthly sessions to develop the entrepreneurial culture in Long Beach and will be participating in I Week this October. In addition, Lincoln Bauer hopes to develop a strong brand incubation program to select businesses this year. All brands that work with Innovatory Solutions will benefit from the over 30 combined years of experience that these three managing partners brings to the table and the support of dozens of working professionals that Innovatory Solutions will partner with. The sky is the limit for this collaborative agency and we are proud to be joining the journey.

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Tinder’s Three Prong PR Problem

On Tuesday, August 11, someone in the Tinder company utilized the company Twitter account to go on a “Twitterstorm” in response to a Vanity Fair article that uncovered some pretty unsavory uses of mobile dating apps like Tinder, Happn, Hinge, OkCupid, and more by members of the Millennial group. Without making predictions of how well Tinder will perform in the next five years, I have noticed that they have a pretty serious problem; their public relations. At Chapman University, I took a course in public relations where I learned a simple perspective on who is served by a company or brand’s efforts in public relations. My professor, Allen Levy, taught us that to be successful in PR, you have to nurture your relationships with three groups: your workforce, your customers, and potential customers (aka the world community at large). So, for instance, when it comes to your labor force, if you make sure that they are trained and equipped to do a job that they are proud of they become a word of mouth ambassador for your brand (and the opposite being very much true as well). As for your customers, keeping them happy by being accessible and providing them with solutions for their problems is the most important thing you can do to keep their loyalty and business. Finally, by maintaining a reputation of quality and esteem with the world at large, over time you may gain their dollars, but more importantly they won’t have a reason to question your value.

In the wake of the Twitterstorm, early on  August 13, Tinder announced that CEO Chris Payne (hired in March, with experience at eBay, Microsoft, Amazon and many others) was being replaced. So, who is being placed at the helm in these uncertain times? Former CEO and founder, Sean Rad. I repeat, former CEO and founder, Sean Rad, is taking his job back from Chris Payne after being demoted to president in November 2014 on the heels of a sexual harassment lawsuit that ended his friend’s career as CMO at the company. So, this may seem like old school, reaction-based management (and it is) but it may be more indicative of a lack of genuine leadership that can poison a company. High levels of turnover are not unusual at tech companies (ahem, Amazon), but this type of hire-fire-hire environment has led to some volatile conditions that affect loyalty and brand sentiment in the top tiers of the labor force and can make it difficult to attract a replacement squad further down the line. Maybe it’s NBD for the majority shareholders at InterActiveCorp (IAC), who in June announced plans to take their Match Group (containing Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid) public with an IPO, because Tinder is only a little fragment of their total investments in internet services and is becoming a bit of a black sheep.

I don’t doubt that there is talent at Tinder and a future for their app; I doubt they have a strategy for approaching their public relations proactively. That might sound harsh, so I’ll back it up a little. Their off-the-cuff “Twitterstorm” (which you can read in its entirety) started with a brief tweet eerily similar to the hyper-sexual communications that those interviewed in the Vanity Fair article reported as typical in their experience:

Littleknown

The message changes about 13 tweets later, but not the inflammatory tone:

Itsabout

Then 20 posts later this melodramatic martyr remark surfaces:

Sowearegoing

Dealing with negative press is difficult, but a professional public relations department works on their reputation consistently to ensure that they keep their customers happy and to gain consumer trust. In order to do that in this case, they would be better served to follow up in a manner that would discover to what extent this environment may exist and then act on it if it is not in line with the environment that they want to provide to the Tinder community. Why didn’t they point out that their users are able to report members of the community that send “harassing or offensive messages” along with the other safety issues that they may be exposed to on the platform? Afterall, educating the consumer is the responsibility of the brand and this could have been seized as an opportunity to strengthen a perceived weakness. Why didn’t they ask people to reach out directly to them via a feedback link to show that they are listening? This would give them an opportunity to highlight positive feedback and control the narrative. What they did instead was demonstrate an attitude of arrogance and insouciance towards critics who believe their product to nurture unfulfilling social experiences.

This reaction may not be damaging to their current members, who will probably come and go naturally, but could be a turn off to the world at large. This is the third, and equally important demographic, that good PR practitioners address in their strategy to maintain a good reputation and strong presence in the market. If it is true, as GlobalWedIndex has reported, that “about 62% of all location-based dating app users are male” and Tinder wants to increase their female presence on the app to better serve and retain their male membership, it’s important to pay attention to what they can do to draw in the ladies. This could even present an opportunity for them to explore the possibility of horizontal growth. If they do their due diligence and discover that there is a group that is being underserved due to the environment that their users are creating on their app, they could begin targeting a whole new segment of users that need a solution to mobile dating with a different purpose in mind. Given their access to innovators in technological development, and the billions they could raise when they go public, they could truly be sitting on a goldmine. The emergence of dating sites that target people looking for a particular result in mobile dating (such as J Date, Christian Mingle, Farmers Only, heck even Ashley Madison) hints at how specific people are when it comes to their expectations from service providers. No matter what their findings, once they do the data collection and analysis, they will have a convincing argument for their investors and a clear path for their evolution that will attract new users.

Was Vanity Fair unfair? What would you have done differently if you were on the Tinder team? Does this sound like a publicity stunt to you? Do you second the reactions that fans of Nancy Jo Sales are putting out there on Twitter? What do you think the future holds for the mobile dating industry? There are a lot of different ways to interpret the leadership changes Tinder is going through, their approach to understanding the market, and their public reaction (labeled a meltdown on AdWeek online) to Vanity Fair. Our job, is to practice the type of PR that we are confident in and encourage other entrepreneurs to do the same.

 

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Next Monday, August 24, Join Us For a FREE Strategic Marketing Planning Workshop

Our mission, since the inception of our company, has always been to give back to entrepreneurs, and we accomplish this in a number of ways. One of which is to host educational events on a regular basis to support businesses with their sales and marketing objectives. This month, we are proud to partner with WE Labs for an evening of hands-on training for business owners and/or startups who are looking for support with creating a strategic marketing and communications plan, retooling their existing plan to address changing marketing needs, or ask questions about what they can do next to support their growing brand.
This event is FREE when you RSVP! You will walk away with invaluable insight and a plan of action to help you get to the next major milestone in your business. If you are available on Monday, August 24th from 7-9pm, please click the link to reserve your spot. Space is limited, so do not delay. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Hootsuite Inducts Instagram to their Platform

Have you heard the news!?  Hootsuite has recently added Instagram to its platform!  Up until now, I could monitor all my brands via Hootsuite, but then had to constantly log in and out of Instagram to post to individual accounts: I also had to set alarms to remind me to post in synch with what I had scheduled on other networks.  Finally, now it is possible to integrate Instagram to my editorial calendar seamlessly (well, almost) along with all other accounts through a centralized hub.  Hootsuite published a few videos and sent out a quick start guide to give everyone a head start.  The process is relatively the same as other social media tools, with a few minor differences.  Check out the videos below and I’ll give you the takeaway points.

Posting in Instagram

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0hR3Awb4Xg

 

Managing Your Accounts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro61fFYIWLw

 

When posting to Instagram there are a few nuances that are noticeable, some will get addressed as Hootsuite gets feedback on this feature.  The process is a bit lengthier and bothersome, but it’s better than nothing I must admit.  

Let’s go over the details:

  • Make sure to set up your Instagram account in Hootsuite, download the Hootsuite app on your phone or tablet as prompted (or update to the latest version) and enable ‘set up publishing now.’
  • Compose the post within Hootsuite online via computer – Write the content as usual, adding hashtags, and attach the image.
  • Click ‘send now’ or schedule the post for a later time/date.
  • You will receive a push notification on your phone at the time you planned to post, open it and inspect your post for quality/clarity.
  • If you manage multiple accounts, as I do, make sure you are logged in to the correct Instagram account before you proceed!
  • When you are satisfied, tap ‘open in Instagram’, the verbiage will be copied to your clipboard and the image will be opened in your Instagram app.
  • Filter the image (if necessary), then double tap in the content area and hit paste to insert your verbiage. NOTE: At this stage, you can still edit the content you wrote if needed.
  • Share!

My takeaways from this Hootsuite update:

Pros:

  • Easy to plan ahead/schedule posts in synch with your other social platforms
  • The ability to set up search streams for hashtags/locations/etc to listen to activity in your community/from your audience.
  • Easily respond to comments and amplify content to other social streams from one place.
  • Easy break down all content you wish to monitor by adding as few/many streams as you wish.
  • Keep tabs on those you follow and who follows you.
  • Add third party apps to help monitor and garner content/followers.

Cons:

  • Posting must be done through the Instagram app – Essentially this adds more steps to the process but spares you from creating your own solutions.
  • Logging in/out of different accounts – Although it seems minor, as you manage more clients it is a hassle to constantly log in to different profiles.  Not to mention the anxiety of posting content to the wrong Instagram!
  • Push notifications – I deny almost all push notifications that come to my phone, which is a personal choice as I can’t stand them.  However in this case they are helpful so you do not have to remember all your different posts and their coinciding post times.

Conclusion:

Overall, Hootsuite’s addition of Instagram is a great asset to your social media arsenal, allowing you to organize, post and moderate from a centralized hub.  The cons are mostly unavoidable with or without the app and far outweighed by the benefits.  It is time efficient and, because of its adaptability to filter content, it is also more effective.  There are multiple platforms that serve the same purpose as Hootsuite, I simply advocate for them over the others because their organization process fits my needs.  Regardless of your choice I highly recommend you learn to use one, it will help take your social media to the next level while saving you from the migraine of managing multiple accounts individually and reactionary social content swarming through your brain.

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How Do I Handle Online Reputation Management?

How to handle online reputation management is a question that plagues both businesses and individuals alike.  A negative sentiment can cause a business loss of both revenue and trust.  Whereas the wrong perception of a person can strip them of job security or even bring retaliation from others.  About 5 years ago, many Facebook users were changing their real names to nicknames in an effort to keep any “negative activities” from potential employers.  The case of Lindsay Stone is a severe one, in which a single picture ruined her life.  What started as an inside joke between friends became a public controversy with many sensitive layers, finally resulting in a lost job and hate mail from veterans and their supporters.  Similar things have happened to huge companies, where the opinion of an individual created a PR nightmare for the corporation (ie. Chick-Fil-A scandal).  In addition, websites like Yelp are thriving and a common point of reference for consumers, a negative review can destroy a hard earned reputation.  The major takeaway is that if you do not monitor and maintain your brand’s image then it is at the mercy of the masses.  Here are some tips to keep you and your company in a truthful, positive light.

1. CLAIM IT – Gather all urls similar or even close to your name.  This tactic will hinder imposters from acting on the behalf of your company in an effort to ride your coat tails or simply damage your image.  Value and urgency of this process increases as you gain notoriety, also be sure to remember social media platforms, review sites, YouTube and other video sharing sites.  These efforts will keep your brand, customer loyalty and satisfaction in high ranking.

2. MANAGE IT – Make sure you have consistency in your voice, verbiage is key, and also be clear on the use of each platform.  Twitter is primarily to field client questions or concerns, while Facebook is used for reminder advertising, client interaction and company updates.  Set up canned responses so if there is any negative interaction, it gets resolved appropriately.  Also, make sure everything posted is of high quality.  This sets the tone of professionalism, giving current and future clients insight on how you run your company.

3. WATCH IT – At this point you cannot only pay attention to what you are putting out, you must be cognisant of your five W’s: Who, What, Where, Why and When.  Have you ever googled your own company?  You should, it will allow you to keep tabs on anything brewing online that isn’t in line with your brand.  You may find people complaining about you or your product/service and you will be able to rectify the situation, creating a better experience for that client and other potential clients.  Companies can also find knockoffs of their product just by looking up the hashtags they have created, so it is great practice to monitor those as well.  All of this will enable you to be proactive vs reactive to potential threats, which is essential in global business today.

Some people are unsure on how to do online reputation management, or just don’t have the time for it.  Drop us a line and we can help you out!

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Back 2 School is here! Learn how to create social media magic with amaraREPS!

Following up on the success of our Google Analytics for Beginners class, amaraREPS is pleased to present Social Media, Strategically!  This interactive class will cover points such as: how to set up an account, knowing when and what to post, and how to convert followers into dollars!  Specifically created for the independent entrepreneur, this class will help you lay the groundwork for your booming business!  Sign up by clicking here.  Keep in mind, $20 early bird tickets are only available until July 7th!

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Diversification & Growth in Business – Part I

When companies get good at what they are doing, I mean really good, I imagine the next viable step would be to expand vertically.  Introducing you, Brand X-traordinary, to the markets that have eagerly been anticipating your arrival, so they may experience that one SUPERB thing you do that makes you special.  However, for some, expanding horizontally seems to be the new course of action.  For example, the crowd-sourced taxi cab company Uber is testing a delivery system for groceries, couriers and meals in select cities.  So how do you know which course of action to take?  Today we’ll take a quick look at the pros and cons of vertical growth, with a follow up on horizontal growth on our next post.

Vertical integration is where a company envelops or creates departments that they have previously outsourced so they are less dependent on outside companies.  This allows the company to cut costs and have more control overall.  It can include various resources such as production, distribution, logistics and marketing.  The company’s best bet to expanding the business is to dig deep into their existing clientele and contacts, while also sharpening their skills and becoming a specialist in their industry.

This is where a lot of entrepreneurs that run on structure and repetition succeed.  They do what they do well, so well that they become known for that one product, service or experience.  Expansion within their market share is key.

An example of vertical growth in recent years comes from Boeing.  They chose to purchase a factory that was making parts for their 787 Dreamliner.  That move will help to reduce the amount of supply and assembly issues that has knocked the Dreamliner more than two years behind schedule.

Vertical growth isn’t for everyone, stay tuned to learn more about horizontal growth and see if it’s the next step for you.

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3 Reasons to Blog for Your Business

Writing a blog can be a tedious task for those entrepreneurs who are always busy, running around at breakneck speed, and attempting to build their business. BUT, being a consistent blogger has great benefits for your business, and here are 3 main points to help you consider making time for such a rewarding task that pays off in the future:

1. Reputation, Credibility and Relevance

Frequent blogging proves, to people looking for your products or services, that you are active and expert within your field. Writing about current projects, clients, events and updates in your business also allows people to have a “sneak peek” into your company.  This is important because it gives potential clients an opportunity to check you out and see the results you are creating for others. They will also be able to see if your company can service their needs and what kind of results that they can expect from you. If you can prove that you know what you’re doing, people are more apt to trust in you.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Having a consistent stream of new content allows your site to be indexed more by the search engines. Google and other search engines are looking for websites with a lot of content, so that they can better understand what makes sites most relevant to the people searching for that content.  Why not give them what they want?  PLUS, adding pictures, videos and interactive content will keep people on your website longer, which is also great for the user experience, and supports your goals of improving your ranking.

3. Lead Creation

If you are ready to expand your business but don’t want to rely on doing a ton of time-consuming networking, dredging for referrals or paying for leads, then this is for you. With frequent posting, leads to increased traffic, increased traffic begets a greater chance that you will generate qualified leads that want more information about what you specifically offer. Don’t be shy, put a call to action within your posts.  If people like what they read, encourage them to reach out for more information, share with others, or engage in some way with you or the content. People that like what they read are more apt to download your free e-book, schedule a consultation, or sign up for your mailing list.

Branding guru, Simon Mainwaring, states “brands, and their advertising partners, must wake up and define themselves with clarity, consistency and authenticity…otherwise they just might find themselves shouting in a ghost town.” Luckily for you, amaraREPS is well versed in all the above.  If you don’t know where to start, and need some help, contact us for a free consultation!

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Simple Website for Shannon Ellis

Working with preschoolers as a school psychologist, Shannon Ellis gets to see the day-to-day behavior of students, good and challenging.  There are different ways that professionals and parents can attempt to curb undesired behavior exhibited by the children in their care. As an advisor on these tough subjects, Shannon has created Sunshine Preschool Adventures to help teachers, parents and children make great choices in behavior.

Her first book, Victoria’s Glowstick, was written to reinforce to children that sharing is fun. Victoria’s Glow stick has been reviewed as “ a great read for new parents” and one reader said “[this book] will also do a great job in exposing young children to cultural diversity through the characters in the story.” A Howard University grad, Shannon chose us to create her first website which she sees as a great resource for those looking for more information on “Victoria’s Glow Stick,” her upcoming books and speaking events!

See her reviews or purchase her book on Amazon and stay tuned for more by Shannon at shannonellisbooks.com!

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Festival Time!

Are you taking advantage of the major events occurring within your demographic?  Sure, not all of us can sponsor festivals or run major campaigns that connect with these gatherings.  However, it doesn’t take much to run a smaller sized campaign to be a part of these huge opportunities.  Take a look at these attendance numbers from 9 unique events from last year:

crowd_music_festival

 

coachella_music_festival_selfie

Exposure!

The point being, with so many attendees posting, blogging, and tweeting there is quite the incentive to piggyback on the exposure.  The question is how do you get involved?  The answer: the possibilities are endless!

  • Contests – Reward your following with prizes ranging from products, to tickets to the event itself. The cost of giving away tickets is “returned” with priceless buzz (and you likely have a fan for life).
  • Joining a conversation – Using #Lollapalooza, #SXSW, etc in your social media content can get your brand in front of eyes that may never have known about you otherwise.
  • Attend the event – You can create genuine content that is a mix of guerrilla marketing and social media, the result…GOLD!

Remember that a small ripple can turn into a big wake if you aim it just right.  Get creative with your campaigns, have a genuine approach, and in the end you’ll learn more about your target demographic.  Good luck!

 

 

 

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