Thursday, April 28, 2011

From New York to Chico

At M Communications (a California based company), we have clients from coast to coast. I had a meeting go over this AM, and the day plummeting on itself. Great new project in New York and now all I have is Chico on the brain. I am on aiport shuttle duty tomorrow as well. Any marketing advice in this blog? No. My only point is as an entreprenur you can play with clients in one state and stay in the next.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hang Loose!

I had to share this picture - I am guessing his future office will be on the islands.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Questions to Ask a Publicist

Most people in general are clueless when it comes to hiring the "right" publicist for them. Many people do not even know what a publicist does and most people assume they are going to be put on Oprah (not happening). Here are a couple of key questions to ask when you are looking to hire someone to publicize your book/product/company.

1. What is your area of expertise? A PR company who says they specialize in everything most likely does not have coverage for every product and every start up. Also, you do not want to hire a PR company to promote your health product if they specialize in the automotive industry. Make sure you find the best fit for you.

2. What actual media coverage have you gotten for your clients? PR coverage is never guaranteed, but a PR company should be able to provide coverage lists, as well as references.

3. What does PR mean to your company? Do you want speaking gigs, book signings, social media marketing or just media relations? Look at how you want to promote your product or service and make sure the company you hire can incorporate all areas of interest.

4. Where do you get your media contact lists? Now, most people can boast they are friends with every media personality on the planet, but that is truly not the case. Most PR companies have to buy lists, and buy new ones the following year so they are updated or fresh. The best type of list subscription a PR firm can have goes by the name of Vocus and is one of the most extensive & targeted database that exists. What does that mean? I can plug in a term like "senior" and have every relative producer, editor, and online website come up in a search with contacts who cover anything pertaining to seniors. The results speak for themselves with actual media requests.

My point? Don't be afraid to ask away.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Caveat Emptor - "Let the Buyer Beware"

This is one legal definition all my fellow entrepreneurs should be aware of and I was reminded of this one while at a very nice restaurant over the weekend, specifically over what I would describe as some very overpriced shrimp. Did I mention the food server had to show me how to eat it? You have to laugh and I normally do not play with other people's food. The lesson learned here is if the product or service does not have a price tag you might just want to ask. My advice is as follows:

1. Get everything in writing.

2. Never be afraid to ask questions.

3. A signed contract is always a nice one as well.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Doesn't the Easter Bunny Hand out Adult Easter Baskets?

I think it would be really cool for the Easter bunny to drop of some goodies for the adults as well as for the kids. Here is what I would like to see in mine. I would like two airline tickets to travel anywhere in the world I want to go ... first class of course. I would also like ear plugs - an unlimited supply for sleeping and blocked out unwanted noise such as Scooby Doo marathons and annoying people. I would also like an I-Tunes gift card that doesn't run out ... ever. You can never have too many I-Tunes. Last, I would really like it if you could include a lobster - a live one. I haven't had surf & turf in awhile. OK that's it. And, if you want to set up an Easter Egg hunt with eggs stuffed with $100 bills ... that is fine too.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Cheerleading Squad

You need a cheerleading squad as an entrepreneur especially if you are not a self-motivated nutcase such as I. And, even more especially if you get the real idea of having a support team behind you. Without further adieu ... meet my cheer leading squad.

Editor Extraordinaire: Editor extraordinaire is not only super-duper talented from an editorial/ghost writing perspective, she is truly an outside-the-box thinker. I hate that phrase too ... it is way overused. I love the fact I can say what I think, and she tells me should would like to take a vacation in my brain to truly understand my attention deficit disorder in the nicest way possible. I am not being sarcastic either. She very nicely says slow down, you are all over the place and in the same breath asks me what the status of my next book is. The editor extraordinaire is friend status just like the rest of my cheerleadling team. I think if I referred to her as a cheerleader she would also vomit ... a lot.

The coachess with the mostess. I have a gal pal kicking it on the beach in Hawaii right now and she is one of the most inspirational people I know. I feel warm and fuzzy inside each time I talk to her and most conversations are coupled with phenomenal business ideas, even while she is diving for lobster and barbecuing them on the beach. I seriously think that is why she needed to get off of the phone yesterday. Anyway, if you need a truly transformational coach and there are a ton out there and all have their strenghs ... I know one for you. And, I am going to send you information her next event ... and I do not even care if my flight is at 5 a.m. and that is saying ... A LOT. I will be there or be square.

Last but not least, the terrific trainer. Personal training is almost a therapy session combined with someone royally kicking your ass. I am not kidding. I normally babble through training sessions in order to not die on my carpet in my house. Talking helps. Maybe that is an Italian thing? I am not sure. Anyway, 4 dress sizes later, great business conversations and said terric trainer on her way to being super-duper famous due to upcoming new book and all over awesome national personal training (in-home) company, well friend staus too. Today we broke into an abandoned house after working out. Am I kidding? No. Scary. I need to get the scoop from my neighbor who feels it is OK to talk to me over the fence.

My point? Have a cheerleading squad to motivate you when you are down, kick you in the butt when you are being lazy and inspire you to recycle a bad investment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It Never Hurts to get a Second Opinion

We do a ton of marketing projects at M Communications, as well as press releases, etc. Just like if you were having a surgical consult, it never hurts to get a second opinion. If I for one get stumped with an angle for a press release or am not sure what direction to give a graphic artist, I get a second opinion from a peer. Now, I would like to enforce the peer aspect. You do not want to get a second opinion from grandma who is going to tell you everything looks great just because you are related or ask you what a press release actually is.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Office

Future entrepreneur and a three-year-old. Enough said.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mind Your Time Zones

At M Communications, we have clients all over the country. With that being said, I have the time zone game down pretty well. I only call people during business hours unless it is a PR emergency, i.e. you just got television coverage for your company and I need to book the spot. Anyway, and maybe shame on me for leaving my phone on - when clients call at 5 a.m. PST, because they are already at work on the East Coast ... I am not going to answer. I do not start work at 5 a.m. and it's more like 8 a.m. So, if you choose not to mind your time zones I am A. Probably not going to pick up and B. Chances are you may be giving me a heart attack because I am thinking there may be a family emergency going on. And, do not get me started on the 5 a.m. calls ... on a Saturday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Be Careful What You Put in Writing

Entrepreneurs beware. Always be careful what you put in writing. Email can be used to establish a contract and used for a whole bunch of other things to nail you in the rear at a later date. Also, if you are in corporate land ... most companies keep everything on their server and not just email, Internet monitoring as well. In my corporate life, I would always make friends with the ITs guys for two reasons:

1. My computer was always having problems due to too many emails (more like to much space being used up - if you are managing a 7M marketing budget that comes with a bunch of emails in the form of advertisements and graphic projects you need to approve.

2. I was able to get away with having programs my compute not corporately approved of like Yahoo IM.

Last, do not send out nasty grams ever. Although, I am not the type to forward that type of nonsense some people do. Well ... I take that back actually, I did forward an email to my manager in corporate once and let's just say a certain department head wasn't too happy with me. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Perks of an Entrepreneur

Aside from hard work there are a couple of fun perks, I enjoy as an entreprenuer. In my opinion ... work hard, play hard is a great philosophy.

1. Have laptop? ... you can work anywhere. This is especially great if you are staying in the country, but if you leave ... you may have to check out time zones and have the added bonus of doing all of your work before everyone gets up. Quick tip: if you are taking say your iPhone only - check data roaming fee's ... I personally had a pretty ugly bill after my trip to Mexico and I was only online my last day of the trip (I believe in shutting down on "real" vacations, and this is something you can do when you have back up).

2. Pajama time. When you are not out and about networking (and you need to get out and shake hands), you do get some extra pajama time in ... which I especially like when it is pouring rain outside. Not a winter person ... can you tell?

3. Flexibility. If I tell you this is a 9 - 5 job, I would be a big fat liar. You do have flexibilty though, say when you have day care issue or you want to take a Friday off to go skiiing with your Dad. This is not to say you do not make up the time afterward, but if something comes up you have the flexibility to attend or not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Editor, Edit Button or Both?

One question or rather statement I hear more often than not, is "I do not need an editor." My typical M Communications response? "Yes ... you do." Here is why:

1. Your editor will prevent you from making somewhat snarky comments in your newsletter. You may think you are being funny, when it may come across as the opposite. Negative is never the way to go, and what can I say? Writing is subjective. That goes the same for text messages, but that is for another blog.

2. If you stare at something long enough, you are not going to notice your own mistakes. Even if you are a professional editor, you can be your own worst enemy. Hire someone. Period.

3. Your editor will twist your words around if you are having a bad day, freshen up or ask you what the status of you next chapter is to keep you on track. Me likey on all counts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Referral Ever

Referral business is absolutley the best. You know you are doing your job and a good one when you have referral business rolling in. The best type of referral though comes in the form of someone you have not even worked with yet who offers you an intro to a new project. Me likey!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shopping for Bridesmaid Dresses is Icky

I love my bride-to-be, but bridesmaid dress shopping is never fun (the company is fun though) for two very important reasons.

1. The stores are a huge cluster f*** during the weekend. My friend and I were crammed in one dressing room (good thing we are good friends) and most of the dresses are pretty beat up due to the 10 million women who have already tried them on. I really hope no one prior to me had a skin disease.

2. The sizes are off - big time and that is really good for one's ego. Apparently, I am a size 16 and last time I checked I was a size 8. I won't tell my personal trainer - she will be hugely disappointed I gained 8 dress sizes in one week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Wedding Industry

Here at M Communications we pay attention to marketing and there are definite marketing lessons learned from the monopoly that is the wedding industry. The wedding industry is one example of several businesses that drive revenue with deadlines. For example, you need to order XYZ dress, by XX/XX/XXXX in order to have it for your wedding. Also, another line a thought is that every business element that is "expected" at weddings: flowers, cake, etc. Have you ever been to a wedding without flowers? I have not. Anyway - here is my entrepreneurial line of thinking and that is not to act like a crazy bride, but maybe align your business along this thought process and generate more business as a result. Let me know how it goes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where Costco Sampler's Get it Right

I avoid Sam's and Costco like the plague Friday through Sunday; not just for the crowds, but those darn sample tables. You have the annoying people that decide to graze and leave their cart in the middle of the aisle in order to eat free food. Now, I avoid the sample people like you would not believe and you can only imagine the glares I receive as I push on past. Ironically, it feels at times I am the only one there to shop. Anyway, on a non-weekend night I happened to be in Sam's and they had an On The Border table there. For those of you not in Cali - this is a Mexican restaurant and I am pretty fond of their non-chunky salsa. Zero pressure to try or stop by the table and I not only leave with a gallon of salsa, but a big bag of potato chips to boot. My point? I attend a bunch of networking events and if you are offering a food/skin care sample type product have samples for people to try. They are more apt to buy. Do not shove them down their throat however. I have been to more events where people try to slap wrinkle cream on my face or give me a sample of beet juice (yuck) where I have not asked. Keep samples on hand and be passive - sales will result.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Marketing Should Be the Perfect Blend

We see a lot of marketing disasters at M Communications, which we will happily fix. One thing I have been seeing quite a bit lately is the lack of cohesive brand. Basically, all of your marketing needs to have the same look and feel. Your marketing all needs to match and be the perfect blend. You can have items that are great on it's own ... but if your blog, website and business card look completely different you may end up like you are running three different companies. This is kind of like drinking really good coffee. Starbucks Cinnamon and Starbucks Vanilla are great on their own but when you mix them together (which I did) the result is blech. My point? Do not blend things that are clearly not meant to go together.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hot Sauce Help!!

Please see the photo ... this is my absolute favorite hot sauce ever. And, I mean ever. I told someone once that you could only buy this in St. Lucia without really checking out the facts first. I hate being right. Yes, you can only buy this puppy in St. Lucia or on Ammazon with shipping costs more than this yummy product. Help please. Anyone? Any ideas? St. Lucia blog followers ... feel free to chime in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Best Book Review Ever

At M Communications, there are no guarantees in the public relations game and there are good days, as well as bad days. Good days include coverage in Ebony magazine, Success Magazine, ABC National News and the list goes on and on. Bad days = well, zero coverage. Attached is the best book review ever, because it contains all elements an author would ever want. Now, the review is not a perfect one, but it is very good. The Rightful Heirs review also contains the following elements (kudos to the editor): the author's website and even their video trailer of the book. Oh, and did I mention the website gets 1.75 million hits per month? Me likey and enjoy! Click here to read the review!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Top April Fool's Day Joke

I think the picture says it all ... and the parents did not think it was very funny.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Best Holiday Ever

In my book, the best holiday ever is April Fool's Day. Why? It is fun for the prankster and pretty much for everyone else involved. I think that it particularly brings up office morale in corporate land. Here are my top five pranks:

1. Phony press release with profanity.

2. Getting a whole department to call in sick (fake) at a Fortune 500 company.

3. Having 100 friends submit phony job applications at a security guard company (think criminals, terrorists, etc. )

4. Running into senior manager's offices and installing funny screen savers.

5. Today's big whopper. Sign up for the M-Dash for details.

Happy Holiday!