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7 Tips for an Eye-Catching Subject Line

An email’s subject line is just as important as the actual content, acting as its own mini-marketing campaign.

47 percent of recipients open emails based on the subject line.

Coming up with the perfect email subject line is as much science as it is art. Here are seven approaches that work:

  1. Ask a question. Pique your audience’s curiosity.

Example: “How can you increase e-commerce revenue in 2017?”

  1. Imply that the recipient isn’t good enough.

By suggesting the reader is flawed, you’re likely to induce them to open the email. Proceed with caution, though; there’s a fine line between grabbing people’s attention and insulting them.

Example: “Don’t make these 7 email subject line mistakes.”

  1. Identify with your audience. Get your recipient to identify immediately, saying, “Oh that’s me!” and open it.

Example: “Poor college student’s guide to healthy shopping!”

  1. Use a “cliffhanger.” People feel driven to resolve a conflict. If half the subject line is readableand it’s followed by an ellipsis, a recipient will feel compelled to open it to feel satisfied.

Example: “The secret to streamlining your workday is …”

  1. Be direct. Make a promisein the subject line, and deliver a solution in the body copy. Be concise and specific.

Example: “Increase your web traffic by 40 percent.”

  1. Get personal. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent likelierto be opened. To a human being, nothing sounds sweeter than his or her name.

 

  1. Employ emojis. 56 percent of brands using an emoji had a higher unique open rate.

 

The effect of specific words will depend on your industry, goals, and calls to action.
What not to do:

Just as some words can be opening triggers in subject lines, others spur recipients to send it straight to spam. Avoid these:

  • Phrases like “Winner!” “100 percent Free!” “Free Money!”
  • Special characters
  • Excessive punctuation
  • Spelling errors
  • ALL CAPS

4 Phrases to Remove from Your PR Vocabulary

Every industry has buzzwords and jargon we wish people would stop using.

The most tired and frustrated things to hear in the PR industry by far are why a public relations program can’t or won’t work.

Below are some of the worst phrases a PR professional can use, along with how we can replace them:

 

  1. “It’s hard to measure that.”

 

It might be hard, but it’s not impossible. Stop talking about how hard it is to define success. Instead, craft measurable, sustainable programs that garner results. The first step is to ensure you’re set up for success by defining goals and objectives. Your goals must be tangible and not broad. PR is not defined by earned media anymore. Because so many of the ways we promote our clients are digital, we have tools and resources to track our results beyond vanity metrics.

Start saying, “Here’s how we can measure this.” Set goals and implement the systems to measure them.

 

  1. “Nothing is ever guaranteed.”

This is probably the single most harmful sentence for the PR industry. It implies: “You can pay us, but we might not deliver.” Clients hire PR agencies for creative ideas, relationships with members of the news media, and for industry knowledge. A PR agency should never use “earned media is never guaranteed” as an excuse for failing to deliver against its goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). The better option is to start out with an inkling of what will work and what won’t before sending the pitch.

Instead, tell clients: “If this doesn’t resonate with our media contacts, here is plan B.”

 

  1. “That idea probably won’t work.”

Stop telling clients “no” when they come to you with a perfectly good idea.

When a client or boss suggests a PR pitch or program, you immediately figure it’s a long shot. It’s called covering yourself, and we all do it. What it communicates to clients, however unintended, is that you’re uninterested or uninspired by their business.

 

Instead of having an awkward conversation about whether something warrants media attention, think creatively.

Instead say, “This might not garner much earned media attention. However, we can do a Facebook Live post from our next trade show. Then, we could invite three major industry influencers to run bylined guest blog posts the following week.”

 

  1. “There’s no news here.”

One of the most frustrating moments as a PR pro is when a new PR agency pitches you a great plan and proposal full of fresh ideas then says, “There’s no new news,” when you don’t see any earned media placements.

The first thought is “Why did you sign our business? You didn’t seem to think that was an issue in your proposal.” Followed by, “Isn’t it part of your job to create news?”

Some organizations have obvious stories to tell, but it’s part of a PR practitioner’s job to anticipate journalists’ needs and sniff out the real story so we can be successful in generating media placements.

If we don’t think we can do that, we must ask more questions during the proposal process, or decline the business altogether. If we realize we are in over our heads and the news hook isn’t obvious, it’s our job to find a legitimate news hook.

Next time try, “In order for our media contacts to go for this, we will need access to XYZ. Is that something we can have? And if not, what else is in the pipeline?”

 

 

5 Tactics to Live by for a Successful Social Media Presence

To keep up in today’s digital age it is vital to have a savvy social media presence that captures an engaging following.

With every brand being completely different, it’s more important than ever for every social media marketing campaign be just as unique.

There are countless strategies that help guide you to a successful social media presence, but we’ve rounded up the tactics we believe are the most efficient for garnering a large and active following.

 

1. Brand development and consistency. 

Branding is one of the most valuable components of a company. Branding is responsible for public perception of a company’s philosophy, tone, character, values and commitment to customer service.

Without a solid, well-defined brand, customers will have a hard time understanding what you’re about, and you won’t carry much appeal with your specific target audience.

2. A/B testing. A/B testing entails executing and comparing two similar yet distinct experimental conditions. When you start out in social media marketing, you won’t have a reliable idea of which strategies work and which ones don’t; you may have an inkling based on your prior experience, but you don’t have any hard data. Over time, A/B testing can help you find the best of the best strategies to use.

3. Social media monitoring. Sprout Social says this entails “tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.” It’s a way of learning what your customers are talking about and what’s important to them. With that information, you can build a better all-around strategy, sculpting your content to appeal to people in those demographics.

4. Follower engagement. It’s not enough to create and upload posts; you also must help your followers realize that they’re an active and recognized part of your community.

You can do this through follower engagement, which can be as simple as responding to a user comment or as complex as having an ongoing conversation with your followers.

Doing this makes each individual feel more engaged, and it’s attractive to prospective followers who see how your brand responds to vocal followers. If your followers feel unheard, they’re going to unfollow you, so this strategy is crucial to success.

5. Measurement and analysis. In addition to A/B testing, you should be measuring multiple metrics related to your campaign: “likes,” shares, comments, post popularity, and click-throughs and traffic patterns to your site.

Without this objective information, you’ll be flying blind, unable to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign. You should also be able to tie these metrics to a return on investment (ROI) figure, so keep track of how much you’re spending on your campaign.

 

Say Hello to our Summer Intern, Alexis!

Alexis Evans-Bendel, a senior at San Diego State University, has joined Heying & Associates as an intern account coordinator.

 

Graduating from SDSU in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in French, Alexis will assist clients with writing and editing press releases and media advisories, client research, and special event planning.

How to write a successful blog post

Blogs provide tremendous opportunities for companies in almost any industry to expand and thrive through the relevant posts they make. Sharing expertise, establishing credibility, and identifying the unique factors of the company, blogging can serve as a manifesting branding technique. However, it is imperative that one doesn’t jump into blogging without having done prior research. Before you start, here are a few suggestions to consider even before the first draft of a blog post:

  1. Plan

Research, Research, Research! The stronger grasp you have on the topic will likely translate to the quality of your writing. Observing other blogs within that industry or ones that provide inspiration from company leaders can be helpful to get the ball rolling. The enjoyment of writing and networking with others can often provide the inspiration necessary to discuss a controversial issue or the future of the industry.

  1. What’s the point?

Depending on the industry and the overarching goal of the company, blog posts can be distinguished in several directions. Here are a few types of posts to look out for:

  • How to posts– These are considered educational posts that offer special insight on a topic, task, or an issue.
  • Case studies– By analyzing the industry, these type of posts add knowledge to individual situations and generate a profound view of those within that field
  • Problem-Solution– Developing a problematic situation that may face the audience and discovering potential solutions to take advantage of make for excellent and beneficial posts.

 

  1. Schedule

One of the largest components of blogging isn’t necessarily the part involving the writing, but planning when to post it. Creating a schedule for when certain blog posts will be published by is an excellent tool to stay focused. Extending this further to a calendar will also give you a visual time frame to assess how busy your work days are. Planning for the future will also assist in the development of the blog and allows for manipulation of the content. Lastly, blocking out a time of the day to work on these posts is highly beneficial and is the best option to avoid procrastination.

  1. What to write?

One aspect great writers have a grasp on is their adaptability. Most blog posts are written online, and people often struggle modifying their writing style to be suitable for the online format. For example, if a post exceeds 700 words then it might be too much text for its readability. Using a subheading can be useful to lead the reader in the right direction. There is a lot to account for, but keeping a thorough understanding of the audience and who will see the post through which platform will determine the success of the post.

  1. Network

Blog posts are only beneficial if people read them, and by diversifying the audience then there is an opportunity to increase the number of readers. Making a stronger effort to extend the audience takes a lot of online work. Sharing the posts to other social media sites, commenting on other blog posts, and making your blog post shareable are all effective techniques to gain more readers.

Now that you have the tools, go write a post!

How Traveling Solo Can Make You a More Successful PR Pro

Traveling enriches you personally, of course, but how does it help you become a better PR professional?

Here are 4 things that tie together PR success and solo traveling:

  1. Sharper decision-making skills

Public relations professionals often make decisions with long-term impact for clients, so we must evaluate our options carefully and consider our clients’ overall objectives.

When traveling by yourself, you must make thousands of decisions that affect your safety and the overall outcome of your trip. You learn the importance of making and sticking with decisions; trust your judgment.

  1. Cognizance of cultural differences

In today’s global economy, you’re bound to work with clients or partners based in other parts of the world. The more aware you are of cultural differences, the smoother that partnership will be. Travel immerses you in another culture, pushing you outside your comfort zone.

Language barriers can hamper international partnerships. Be patient and appreciative when communicating with people who aren’t native English speakers. Furthermore, if someone in another culture doesn’t respond to your email quickly, it might be because they have different expectations about timeliness.

  1. Adaptability to changing circumstances

If you’ve ever traveled to a faraway nation, you’ve probably experienced questionable accommodations and confusing streets signs, perhaps even a three-hour bus ride that turned into a seven-hour journey. Unexpected things happen when you travel, and you learn to cope.

In the PR world, things can change quickly. Your client might have a crisis that needs immediate attention, or a journalist might leak news that you’ve been carefully preparing for weeks to announce on a specific day. When these things happen, it helps to be highly adaptable.

  1. More confidence

You never know what you can do until you do it. Traveling solo can be challenging, overwhelming and scary at times, but all the lows make the highs more satisfying.

Knowing that you can handle the challenges of solo travel can give you a new sense of confidence that will help in all aspects of your life and career. Having the self-assurance to stand behind your ideas, speak up in meetings and push back against clients will go a long way as you climb the corporate ladder.

Three Common Public Relation Struggles

Developing a successful Public Relations firm is a daunting task that takes an effective team, extensive experience, and the utmost dedication. Throughout the developmental process, PR professionals have noticed several issues that inhibit the quality and progression of the firm’s intentions. While most of the problems are intertwined, we can observe how their individual flaws can be improved. It is imperative to realize that regardless of the preventive measures, these common struggles are likely to arise and as PR professionals it is our duty to face them with confidence and team unity.

  1. Can your business run without you?

The encompassing aspect of a PR firm is that they provide a service, not a product. Service-based perspectives will often trick its more valued employees to a be more involved with the clientele. The distribution of work and interdependence amongst team members is essential. Just because a client prefers one individual to handle their needs rather than another, if job duties and tasks become too individualized then the business won’t be able to run itself without constant assistance and updates from high-tiered employees.

  1. How to manage and delegate?

Developing a business takes a cohesive and hard working group time to create an effective plan. Professionals in the PR industry, however, have been accustomed to not illustrating a business plan because of the lack of time. Being able to prioritize tasks throughout the company is an essential management skill that will spread the workload amongst employees. Delegating a task that you don’t have time for, don’t want to do, or need help with creating are a few examples of where this skill becomes convenient. Some are so used to having the majority control over a project and feel that any delegated work will produce a less quality of work will never produce successful results. Releasing the burden of tasks to be accomplished saves everyone the stressful tension.

  1. Is it the problem that needs fixing?

One of the biggest issues with people facing a problem is that they want to fix it, but do not expect to make any changes to achieve the solution. Analyzing bad habits can be an extremely critical individual process, yet it is necessary for self-improvement. If a person is upset their workload interferes with their ability to eat healthily, go to the gym, or have personal time to think, then it is necessary to assess any bad habits that may interfere with such goals. It may not be comfortable at first, but the result provides a positive transition. This can be similar to a business model; when put into effect and the issues arise, it is important to analyze how the habits affect the end goals.

PR Skills for the Future

About seven years ago, the Public Relations industry faced one of its greatest transformations: social media. Entering the digital age, technology will continue to provide necessary adaptations through social media and old-school practices to emulate what a successful Public Relations firm is. The circulation of information and data is at an all-time high, and soon jobs may be created simply to filter through the ‘fake news’ and the pertinent information. So, we must ask, what skills will be necessary for the Public Relations field over the next five years?

Crisis Management

This year, brands and companies have already had to ‘up the ante’ on their crisis management. For example, Pepsi and the Oscars, admittingly have come out and apologized for the mistakes in commercials and ceremonies. However, social media has created a new fuel behind identifying slip-ups in inaccurate information, political correctness, and misinterpretations from every angle. Don’t be senseless with your media, be conscious of what you put out in the world because the emergency brake on a social media blunder has become inherently ineffective. The treacherous momentum in a lapse in thinking is almost impossible to stop.

Versatility

Another astronomical change to social media has been the ability to reach an audience that was previously viewed as inaccessible. To be able to communicate across the spectrum and variety of the channels available will improve the accuracy of reaching a multitude of audiences. Building a company reputation can be difficult, but Public Relations professionals can adapt the advertising, marketing, and media relations strategies to fit core concepts. Writing will always be the most fundamental component of the Public Relations field. Matching the message to fit the medium is what has evolved into a glorified and necessary skill of this industry. The ‘one-stop-shop’ ideal is becoming less elusive and more concrete.

Conflict Resolution

The receding face-to-face communication style of the industry and the emergence of a digital workspace has made it extremely difficult to apologize. Saying sorry has never been an easy task, and pushing the platform to social media has made it even more difficult. The need for an immediate response, the round-the-clock nature of attention, and the public space of handling such issues from customers over this channel is extremely stressful. Although some companies will elaborate on the closer connection they now have with clientele, many will not highlight the emergence of a new system that has been created. It is now that much easier to reach a company and explicitly illustrate their wrongdoings and what everyone is upset with. The social media interface does not create a constructive environment to deal with customer service issues and instigates an option for them to continually criticize the company.

5 ways to improve your people skills in PR

Too many PR agencies continue to take a dismissive approach when it comes to managing people.

Good consultants might get promoted as a result of retaining clients, bringing in new business, or delivering great results from the accounts they work on. Once they’ve been promoted, they’re often expected to replicate that success among junior team members, usually with little or no training or understanding of how to get the best out of people.

Poor management can lead to employees feeling frustrated or lacking direction. It can diminish relationships in the office, create an unpleasant working environment, and reduce the effectiveness and success of the organization.

Here are five tips that can make the difference between being a great manager and one who just muddles through:

  1. Understand how much guidance your team members need.

If you’re not sure whether you’re being too controlling with your team members, or if they need you to be more specific and precise when setting objectives, ask them. They’ll let you know whether they’d prefer a different way of working.

  1. Give your team the opportunity to get new experiences.

Some agencies take a regimented approach to client management, with younger consultants restricted to desktop research while senior team members go to events and build relationships with clients. This can lead to frustration as junior team members feel they aren’t getting the opportunity to develop professionally. You might think the person you’re managing isn’t quite ready to attend that important meeting or write the next strategy document, but if you don’t let them try, they’ll never learn.

  1. Don’t be afraid to let your team make mistakes.

If you’ve been in the PR industry for a few years, you probably have tried things that didn’t work. You can impart the wisdom of this experience to your colleagues, but you also must let them make their own mistakes and discover things for themselves.

  1. Don’t undermine your colleagues in front of others.

If you need to give someone negative feedback about a piece of work, don’t do so in front of their peers. Instead, speak with them privately and discretely. Also, if you and a junior employee have a disagreement about how to do something on an account, keep the discussion between you. Don’t debate it in front of others, or you’ll undermine your own authority.

  1. Don’t tolerate bad behavior.

Sometimes agencies make bad hires and bring in consultants with a bad or confrontational attitude. There is often a tendency to ignore the situation and hope that things get better on their own. If you have a team member who is dragging everyone down with negative or unpleasant behavior, make an early decision about whether you want to keep them on staff.

How to take advantage of a slow news cycle as a PR pro

Press release announcements, new hires and ground-breaking business decisions are important decisions made by PR professionals on a regular basis. Following that, many brand managers might not realize that reporters are searching for interesting commentary.

Those who are in the office attending luncheons and company parties are realizing they have extra time to catch up on work that they could not get to right away. That’s good news for you, in terms of PR.

Take advantage of the slow news cycle. Your target journalists might have more time to review your pitches about your organization and its view on industry trends. This can also be a good time to test new waters and reach out to reporters that generally would be too overwhelmed with research and guest-written pieces.

It’s also good to think about your PR and marketing goals. Review what your firm has accomplished and how you can improve your efforts for the future.

PR pros can also use slow time to lay the ground work for a successful PR year. This can include:

  1. Reviewing your list of journalists covering your industry to introduce or re-introduce your organization’s spokesperson who can address relevant topics within your respective space.
  2. Putting together key messages and talking points that might be of interest to a journalist covering your space taking into consideration a timely event in the markets that you can tie into your views.
  3. Attempting to schedule a meeting with a journalist when you are in town or at a conference so you can get on their radar.
  4. Looking at the editorial calendars that trade publications put out and discussing the potential of a byline or commentary on features scheduled for the outlet.
  5. Developing a press release that lays out your organization’s views on trends within your industry, what to expect and what your organization has accomplished so far. This will provide searchable content for journalists that are seeking commentary.