One of the biggest challenges to brands and companies that are just starting up is public relations. When you’re new you’re dealing with a real Catch-22 situation in trying to get your name out there but lacking any type of budget to hire a good agency to nurture and guide your business in the marketplace. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live without, for some companies good PR is a crucial element of success. This is why I often urge people to do their own public relations, at least in the short term until they can hire outside help. One of the most important aspects of this is generating an effective press release that will not only be read, but given the attention and consideration that you want and that it deserves. Continue Reading
The world of public relations is constantly shifting to new trends and platforms that cannot be ignored if you’re going to compete in a crowded marketplace. Everyone’s coming up with the next big game plan for getting your product out there and any good public relations firm will have their pulse on the evolution of the culture. Social media has been one of the most significantly beneficial methods of marketing we’ve seen in some time, and it’s vital to take full advantage of all the influential benefits that offers to brands and companies that are both starting up and have been well-established for years. Continue Reading
Marketing executives struggle with this every day, getting content to go viral. What does that mean exactly and how does one achieve this Shangri-La of popularity? It means your brand recognition is through the roof, content spreading across the Internet like wildfire, retweeted and shared across Facebook at a truly amazing rate. This all adds up to free promotion online, on television, the news, it’s everywhere. It’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy and gets millions of eyeballs on your brand and product.
Public relations firms all over have been studying the statistics behind viral content, trying to harness and recreate it. But like lightning in a bottle, it’s almost impossible to capture and control to your advantage. Everyone has their own beliefs and tips as to how to get something to go viral but unfortunately, the minute you’re trying to generate content with that sole purpose you’ve already failed. When something really sparks national or worldwide interest, it’s almost entirely unpredictable. Is it luck, good planning, or omnipotence? It’s all and none of them at the same time.
Creating content that can be poised to take the world by storm certainly takes a whole lot of good planning. Knowing your limitations as well as your audience is also an important part of it. Luck, we can all use some of that from time. So what are the secrets to getting your brand name out there for everyone, and I mean everyone, to see? First off, don’t rely on some of the old standbys. Most people think humor is the way to go. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? The problem is, humor is subjective. What I think is funny, others may not. I have friends who love the show Family Guy but personally, I think it’s the dumbest thing on television and I’ve never found its creator Seth McFarlane very funny. So if you’re using humor to get over, you could be alienating a large portion of your audience.
That’s not say you shouldn’t use humor in your content. Commercials that go viral are often universally, laugh out loud funny. But again, what exactly IS funny? You don’t know. Most comedians can’t give you a definitive answer and you’re likely no comedian. If you want to use emotion to sell your brand and for that content to go viral, tap into more than one emotion. It can be funny yet stirring, sad but hopeful, dramatic and silly. It’s a fine line that you need to navigate just right to strike a chord in the biggest way possible. But when you do, it’s a magical thing.
Above all though, make it special. Be certain about your content. But don’t look desperate either. The last thing you want to do is come out and ask people to share your content. Nothing will kill it off faster. You have to convince them to do it with subtlety…or even better, let the content speak for itself. The cream rises to the top. If it’s worthy, the public will recognize that.
“It’s easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman” – Federico Fellini
There are days when I think I ought to have my head examined for getting into this business in the first place. What was I doing becoming involved in the ownership of a restaurant? I’m not shouldering it alone of course, but being a partner in an endeavor like this has some definite ups and downs. In fact, it’s been a downright freakin’ rollercoaster ride with high peaks and some pretty scary drops.
When we decided to open up a steakhouse, we didn’t go into it with the notion that it would be a place to hang out with our buddies. We have backyards and private dens for that. This is an entrepreneurial pursuit with a specific business plan and intended goals that we are striving to achieve. We put careful time and consideration into picking our location, offering a high quality dining experience where there were merely inferior chain store alternatives while keeping our prices competitive with both their brand of fare and other dining options in the region. We have carefully built a menu with top quality meats and uniquely styled meals that fall in line with the expectations of our customers when they decide to patronize our establishment.
These are all very important things to consider for any restaurant. The control is all in our hands and that can sometimes be a double-edged sword. We call all the shots but the financial obligations rest solely on our shoulders, the decisions we make are ours alone, we take the risks and there are plenty of them to face. There is an almost endless parade of challenges to navigate, coming from all kinds of places and reasons for being.
But when you get it right, there are few things more satisfying in this world. Fellini’s quote has always spoken to me. I love dining out and there are some restaurants that I’ve been loyal to my whole life. Only one still exists today, the others have disappeared over time. Fallen under the weight of mismanagement, changing menus, an ability to adapt with the preferences of the marketplace. Competition simply putting them out of business by offering something better. Or at least perceived as better by paying customers – that’s not to say the food was actually superior in such instances. After all, McDonald’s boasts about selling their food to billions of people worldwide.
Restaurant ownership is like anything else really. It requires smart brand management, dedication to the customer, smart and savvy business acumen and an ability to stay connected to your fanbase while leading with your head and not your heart. Tough decisions are made daily. People are fired. Menu items change. Market analysis is incorrect. New competitors crop up and you have to deal with it, or in some cases, not. You let them wash out and go under all on their own. Making the right decisions can be the difference between success and failure. We don’t know what the outcome will be with every one of them, but you know what they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish.
We have a plan, and so far it’s working. But it took a lot of time and effort to get there.
My professional life can get pretty stressful. Whether it’s consulting on public relations challenges for small businesses, speaking at conferences on related subjects, and of course, there’s Chuck’s. That’s the name of the steakhouse I co-own with my good friend of 17 years, Peter. So what do I do when it’s time to unwind, let off a little steam, need to get my self re-focused and my mind off my work? I go bowling. I once read somewhere, someone defined bowling as “the sport of first-dates, Homer Simpson, and weekend afternoon programming on ESPN 2”. Now that is pretty darn funny and yes, very true in many respects. The most important one being the qualification of bowling as a sport.
That’s because it is one. Bowling is absolutely, positively, without question a sport.
Now when I’ve stated this fact in the past, I’ve had push back from those who want to debate the merits of such a declaration. I’ve heard a few different arguments aiming to debunk my theory of bowling as a sport. They’ve said some pretty ridiculous things. It’s not a sport if everybody can play it. It’s not a sport if you can play, and often score better, when you’re drunk. It’s not a sport if you can play it while drinking. I’ve even heard the argument that people who couldn’t be less athletically inclined have bowled perfect 300 games. Then there’s my favorite one: have you seen what professional bowlers look like? Most of them are overweight and look like they couldn’t run a 100 yard dash.
Well I’ve got news for these folks – bowling is a sport for a couple of reasons, the first of which is because they can’t seem to differentiate between what we play at the local lanes on a Friday night and what the professionals work and train for day in, day out. Even league bowling, organized at your local alley lanes, is a highly competitive affair. Just because anyone can participate in a sport doesn’t mean it’s not a sport. That would be like saying baseball isn’t a sport because of Little League or when a bunch of guys and gals get together and play flag football in the park that obviously means football isn’t a sport anymore either. You don’t have to be at the top of your game to play one. Sports are played on a number of levels.
As for the “common man” scoring a perfect game so therefore it’s not a sport, I say poppycock. First of all, do you know difficult it is to score a 300? I play regularly and have only sniffed greatness on that level twice, with a 245 score at my highest. It’s incredibly difficult. There are so many factors that need to fall in line all at the same time, but it can be done. The secret is doing it again afterward or at least coming close. See, that’s how the pros do it. Your buddy can bowl a perfect game but can he do it a second time?
That’s the difference. That’s what makes bowling a sport. Now go out there and play a few frames. Enjoy the sport of bowling!