Against the Grain: Public Relations




  • Todd Senne

    Win or Lose, Be Sure They Know Your Name

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    In the height of March Madness, collegiate powerhouses are facing off, each searching for the glory of a championship. But for some smaller, lesser-known schools, just making it into the NCAA tournament will go down in the record book as a win. Take, for instance, Liberty University, which sent both its men’s and women’s basketball teams to the playoffs. Even though they didn't advance, the school will enjoy more national name recognition than it likely has in years. And, for all organizations, that’s where success in marketing begins.

    Of course a company must sell its products or services to survive and thrive. But, depending on your market position, rushing to “slam dunk” a sale might not be where your efforts are best spent. Rather, start with getting your name in front of the right audience. People need to be aware of you before they can buy from you. Maybe that means a sponsorship at an event you know your target customers attend. Or perhaps you should engage in media relations to try earn your business news coverage. Or how about a Facebook ad that links to your company’s Facebook page so consumers can get a feel for your products and company culture.

    There are many effective, affordable ways to simply get your name out there, which for most businesses is often the first step down the court.

    For ideas or to learn more, contact me or visit

  • Trilix

    Do YOU have an Opportunity Management Plan?

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    Words like “engagement” and “join the conversation” are buzzing around marketing strategies today as new vehicles for communication emerge all the time. Thanks to inventions like mobile devices, in-house editing programs and social media, there are more avenues than ever to connect and make our brands more personal, responsive and timely.

    A snack food’s simple, well-timed ad makes an opportune moment out of a nationally televised mishap, and a cell phone company’s ability to air ads in real-time during the Olympics are just a few examples of how brands are striving to make their presence known when and where their target audience is already tuned in. We often have a crisis management plan in place to react to negative circumstances, but why not have an opportunity management plan ready to take advantage of local news and events, political seasons, pop culture or national headlines?

    One step toward this strategy is to put a team in place that can regularly research and prepare content and manage an efficient approval process while topics are hot. Social media is certainly one tool that can be used in this way, but with each component of an advertising campaign, you can bring this conversation to the table and create a plan that utilizes these tools and topics for compelling, relevant advertising.  

  • Tucker Vasey

    A Writer’s Guide for How Not to Suck

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    Whether you’re writing for a class, profession or pleasure, every writer invariably comes to the same overwhelming question: How do I avoid sucking? To resolve this complex issue, I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips guaranteed to keep your suckitude to an absolute minimum.

     1.  Cut. Whether you’re writing body copy for a print ad or 15 pages for a short story, you should never be afraid to slash excess fat from your work. Make your writing lean and concise. Too often, people muddy their message with superfluous clarifiers and modifiers. Get out of your own way and say what you want to say.

    2.  Do it again. Writing rarely comes out perfectly the first time. From words to sentences to paragraphs, everything you write requires multiple readings. Once you’ve finished, go through and do it again. Seek the weak spots and make them strong. Give your piece punch.

    3.  Be different. Most writing is full of clichés. People use the same words to communicate the same message time and time again. If you can work out a unique way to convey your idea, then someone might actually pay attention to your work instead of tossing it in the trash next to last week’s crossword.

    4.  Give it time. Have you ever said a word so many times that it began to sound strange? Writing is much the same. After reading the same passage for two hours straight, it becomes impossible to identify what is good and what is not. Your view is distorted by familiarity. To fix this, take an hour to step away from your work. When you come back, you should have a clearer idea of what needs to be done.

    5.  Experiment. Once a piece is finished, writers tend to view the structure as something that is set in stone. While they may be willing to change words or even sentences, the idea of shifting paragraphs intimidates. Be brave with your writing! Move your intro to the end and cut out that middle bit altogether. Keep changing until the writing is perfect.

  • Kristin Sunde

    Keep the Spotlight on Your Message during TV Interviews

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    We’ve all experienced it – you’re watching a piece on a local or national news broadcast and when it’s finished, can’t quite recall what the person being interviewed said because you were so distracted by his or her appearance.

    The opportunity to promote your organization, product or service in a TV news story is a wonderful thing, so take care your message is actually heard. Follow these tips to be sure your appearance doesn’t detract from the points you’re trying to make:

    • Leave bold jewelry at home. Subdued and understated is best (unless, of course, it’s the jewelry you’re trying to sell). You want viewers looking at your face, not your earrings, necklace or jangling bracelets.
    • Solid colors work better than patterns, and layers camouflage trouble spots, especially in seated interviews. Both men and women can’t go wrong with a jacket layered over a blouse or button-down shirt. Just remember to dress for the occasion. A suit jacket doesn’t necessarily work well if you’re doing a neighborhood clean-up.
    • Keep hair simple. If you tend to play with your hair or constantly tuck it behind your ears, pull it back so you aren’t tempted to fidget with it during the interview.
    • Avoid shine. Men, especially those with less hair, might want to use a bit of powder to reduce forehead shine.
    • Women can apply a little more makeup than usual when doing a TV interview. Be sure to check that you don’t have lipstick on your teeth before smiling big into the camera.
    • Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a friend or co-worker whose appearance is always polished, ask for some advice before the interview. He or she can help you feel confident that you’re looking your best.

    Once you feel good about your appearance, you can concentrate on delivering your key messages, and likewise, the audience won’t be distracted while listening to them.

  • Trilix

    Make Your Next Event Memorable

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    Though much of today’s business can be handled via phone, email or web conferencing, the value of face time with clients and prospects will never diminish. That’s not only face time over a conference table, but also in a casual setting where the most important topic might be the scores from last night’s game or an upcoming vacation. A company event can be a great stage for connecting on a personal level while offering your guests networking opportunities.

    Whether it’s your organization’s anniversary, you’re touting a new service or you want to show off a new building, think “theme” when it comes to planning an event.

    Consider all the pieces that should work together to create your desired atmosphere. Do you want outside casual? Maybe a beach theme is best. Something formal for a big announcement? Maybe a sit-down dinner works better. Think of your audience and what they’d most enjoy, as well as what you’re trying to achieve.

    Getting people to your event is half the battle, so focus heavily on your communications pieces. They should look and sound great, so use creative, colorful language to relay what’s in store. Consider save-the-date cards, and plan on multiple touches before the event. That might include a printed invitation, a follow-up email reminding guests to RSVP and another email reminder a day or two before the event. Trilix has created microsites designed with event themes where guests can find information and RSVP.

    For the event itself, carry the theme through everything you do, from the decorations and food to signage and music. Don’t forget promotional items or giveaways that guests can take home. Also, designate a team member, or hire an agency like Trilix, to plan, design and manage the event details and the day-of activities. Put someone else in charge so you and your management and sales team are free to focus all attention on your guests.

    For ideas about making your event memorable, contact us.

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