The News Chair
  1. The PR game has changed, but hasn’t gone away

    October 9, 2015 by Christopher Lloyd


    Recently entrepreneur Grant Cardone penned an article with the provocative title, “The PR Industry is Dead To Me.” In it he details his failed partnerships with public relations firms, which he claimed promised him the moon and delivered moon pie.

    Cardone says the information pathways have become so many and varied, it’s better to just get the word out about your company on your own:

    “There are more than 800 channels on TV, thousands of satellite-radio channels and social-media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Medium, Meerkat, Periscope, Blab, blogging and all of the other platforms. No PR firm is putting you out on every possible social channel and every stream you can be on.

    PR firms can be lazy and have too many excuses. They simply can not keep up.”

    Obviously, as a copywriter at an integrated marketing company that still includes a healthy chunk of PR in its business model, I might have a quibble or two with Mr. Cardone.

    But he’s right to a large extent: the old game of exclusively pitching to traditional media outlets, then hoping for coverage, has largely faded. That doesn’t mean you don’t still do it, with television more important than print newspaper and magazines these days.

    The onus, however, has shifted to the companies to spread the word themselves: blogs, social media, content marketing, etc. At Coles Marketing, we talk about it all the time.

    The problem that Cardone fails to grasp, in my opinion, is that few businesses have the time, expertise and talent to do this all on their own. That’s where agencies like ours come in.

    For some clients, we handle the outreach almost entirely, from newsletters and press releases to posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and more. For others, we essentially start them down the path to self-publishing and train them up until they’re ready to do it all on their own.

    So Cardone is right when he says, “You want PR? You must become the PR machine, create the story, the news and the excitement and then disseminate your story on every vehicle possible to tell the world.”

    For those less media savvy than him, though, taking those first steps are the hardest.

  2. Take a small business image inventory

    September 16, 2015 by Barbara Coles

    Whether in the smallest town or the largest city, as a small business owner, you are your business. EverytBarb photo largerhing you say and do impacts your image either positively or negatively. Therefore, everything about you – from your personal appearance, to your language, to the way you deal with your employees – is a billboard advertising your business. Perhaps it’s time to take an image details inventory. Note and evaluate the following details:

    Awareness of your appearance when clients see you

    Take a good look at yourself. Acquire a core wardrobe that suits your new endeavor and makes you appear successful. Don’t skimp on the details like a good haircut, appropriate jewelry and polished shoes. Your clothes should mean business.

    Even if you do home repair work, gardening or carpentry, clean work clothes are a must for sales calls. If you consult, you’ll probably need conservative clothes. You may have to spend precious capital on new business outfits and accessories, but you will never be taken seriously if you make your first appearance a poor one.

    Your business location and how it looks

    Just as your personal appearance impacts your client’s perception of your business, so does the look of your office. Evaluate the style of the furnishings, the cleanliness and the neatness of your office. If it doesn’t look first rate, it’s not making a positive impression on your clientele.

    If you work from home, does your working area present a professional image? If clients will have to walk over piles of laundry, or if you expect to have distractions on site (such as children or neighbors peeking in), it may be best to meet with your clients at a different location.

    The quality of your business cards and other printed materials

    In many cases your initial contact with customers will be by letter or direct mail, so you want that first impression to be impeccable. That first-class look can be achieved less expensively than you might think.

    If the services of an offset printer are beyond your financial reach, try your local quick-print shops and full-service office supply stores. These vendors offer good quality business cards, letterhead and other materials at a reasonable price – often carrying large sample stock and print catalogs so you can choose different styles of letterhead, typefaces, layouts and colors to achieve a professional look.

    The way you greet customers

    Analyze everything that makes contact with your customer, from the tone of your voice on the telephone, to the firmness of your handshake. You want to present an image of competence and friendliness.

    If you work from home and a dedicated business land or cell phone line isn’t financially feasible right now, always answer the phone appropriately for your business image. Your friends will understand an unusual salutation, but your clients will not likely forgive an inappropriate greeting. Take special care to minimize distractions and background noise (children, television, lawn mowing, etc.) during telephone conversations.

    The service you offer after your product is sold.

    In a world long on hype and short on quality, most people are willing, even eager, to share their discovery of good service. Therefore, take special pains to always deliver and maintain the quality that fulfills your claims. Sales will inevitably follow.

    The way you interact with your clients or vendors

    Think of the market you operate within as a little community, where vendors are potential clients, and visa-versa. In this climate, the way you run your business will be quickly observed. If you outsource work, free-lancers soon learn whether your pay is competitive. Once you buy services and goods, creditors know whether you pay bills on time. A sincere and timely note of thanks to vendors and clients can create a positive “buzz” that boosts your image and brings in repeat business. Meanwhile, any parties who are left to feel unrecognized or under-serviced can reduce your client lists in weeks.  Since these factions communicate among themselves, your every word and action in dealing with business matters must be consistent with the image and reputation you hope to develop.

    Maintaining your good reputation is the most effective (and least costly) form of advertising available. The suggestions listed above will aid you in your quest to be your own best billboard -making all of your appearances count!




  3. Building a Strong Public Health Campaign

    September 15, 2015 by Tiffany Whisner

    public health campaign

    Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    It takes organization, planning, a solid leader and a supportive team to pull off a public health campaign.

    Coles Marketing is in the process of working on a public health campaign for the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire a healthier America by raising awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood.

    Team leader Chris Mercier has a lot on her plate as the team works to hook some meaningful partnerships.


    Changing the tide on seafood

    In 2014, Indianapolis was one of two pilot cities selected by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) to conduct a grassroots public health educational campaign.

    Chris Mercier

    Chris Mercier

    “Indianapolis was one of the cities selected because of our high incidents of heart disease and also because we are a population without as much access to seafood, therefore lacking the knowledge of how to select and cook it,” Mercier said.

    Only one in 10 Americans follows the USDA Dietary Guidelines of eating seafood twice a week. And the biggest barrier to eating seafood is a lack of confidence to select, buy and eat it.

    Coles Marketing was chosen to lead the campaign in Indianapolis — which included a series of educational events in business, healthcare and culinary communities — to raise awareness of the benefits of seafood and how to include it more frequently into daily meals.


    Ingredients for a whale of a campaign

    This year, as Coles Marketing prepares for a new wave of activities in October as National Seafood Month, Mercier highlighted the essential ingredients to a successful public health campaign:

    • Coalition: “Develop a local coalition of community leaders who support your mission and goals,” Mercier said. “It’s important for them to have an influential network of followers or constituents to help carry the campaign’s message.”
    • Events: “The goal of these educational events is to bring awareness to large and diverse groups of people about your message — in this case, seafood nutrition and the benefits of eating seafood.” These events include health fairs and cooking demonstrations.
    • Health screenings: Depending on the particular health campaign, coordinating screenings may be an important component, whether it’s Omega-3 screenings, or screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or osteoporosis.
    • Communications and media outreach: “Use e-newsletters and other communications to keep your coalition in the loop, offering them information and updates to share with their network,” Mercier said. “And getting the word out through traditional and social media channels helps give that third-party recognition, endorsing and validating the campaign.”


    How to reel in success

    But what do you need to do to set your team up for achievement? Mercier said:

    1. Start early. “Get your messaging down and event dates secured in advance as much as possible.”
    2. Stay organized. “You are handling so many different tasks; you are bound to miss something if you don’t keep organized.”
    3. Have a committee. “Share duties with your team. Each person can work on a different aspect of the campaign so one member doesn’t have to do it all.”
    4. Gather a team of experts. “Meet both face-to-face and over the phone with coalition partners and other campaign leaders to get their feedback and support early on in the planning process.”
    5. Follow up. “It’s your duty to follow up with coalition members, team members and members of the media to keep your campaign on their radar.”


    If you need help getting the word out about your health campaign, let us help you capture the message and audience you want. Contact us today!



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