Best media coverage isn’t given – it’s earned

Press placement can bolster your credibility and create brand buzz

Even the most seasoned journalists (including those who work here at Ripley) would agree: Don’t believe everything you read in the press.

Most of those same journalists, however, would also agree with the mantra, “If your mother tells you she loves you, get a second source.”

Our experts know the width and breadth and power of the public-relations machine we fire up every morning at Ripley PR, a global B2B public relations agency specializing in franchise, home service and manufacturing.

There are pitches and paid and social media, and there is earned and unearned media. But one thing remains true, even in the digital age: People and businesses like to get their name in the paper (with the exception of the crime blotters some papers still publish). There’s a reason for that.

Amidst the hue and cry of “fake news” and an apparent waning of trust in the news media, all reputable, ethical journalists want to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They want you to be able to believe everything you read in the press.

Bloggers and blowhards with obvious agendas have diluted the credibility of all journalists, but there are still standard-bearers of truth out there. And you want your name in their publications, because, perhaps ironically, it can bring legitimacy and credibility to your brand.

Potential customers are going to look at paid media content and your company’s own social media with an understandably jaded eye. But the Fourth Estate provides a third-party communications connection. Most reporters, especially business reporters, approach their jobs with objectivity, despite notions to the contrary. If they can tell the story of your brand, or a story about your brand, it’s going to be a lot more credible to clients and potential clients than something they read in an ad or on your company website or blog.

Granted, different mediums bring different results. The New York Times or Washington Post is going to carry a lot more weight – and reach more people – than your local community daily. But as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity, and don’t discount smaller papers. They in fact might offer more intimate, community-level coverage that’s good to build a brand upon. You can be a big fish in a little pond.

Earned media coverage doesn’t just apply to traditional, legacy media. If you can get a popular and respected blogger to mention your brand, you can pile up web hits and further your reputation as an expert in your field. The same applies to positive conversations and links about your business bandied about on Facebook or other social media.

While most businesses would equate earned media coverage success as a front-page story with splashy photos, there are many different sizes of success. Even a business brief or web-only blurb can spark some fire for your company and brand and cast you as an expert in your field.

For more information on earned media and how we can help you attain it, give our experts at Ripley a call today at 865.977.1973, or visit www.ripleypr.com.

Thomas Fraser, Senior Content Specialist

This post was written by on June 22, 2017


How to Use PR to Build Your Brand

Strategic Franchise Public Relations Will Help Grow Your Brand

Branding is a term that is used in the franchise public relations industry (and others) to describe a number of activities a PR agency might use to increase awareness of your franchise business. It also refers to your business’ image within its industry, with customers, clients and the general public.  As an example, if you hear the word “Coke” you know exactly what someone is talking about, and the world’s recognition of Coca-Cola is a great example of how excellent branding helped make Coca-Cola a household name.Brand Building concept - Construction public relations

In the franchise world, there are so many amazing brand success stories, it is hard to know where to start. Think McDonald’s, KFC, Maaco, Hilton, Ace Hardware, Anytime Fitness and more. In fact each year Entrepreneur Magazine complies the Franchise 500 list composed of the top 500 companies in franchising according to certain criteria.

None of the brands became a household name on their own – it took a lot of hard work and promotional strategy for each brand to gain success. Branding does not happen overnight, but here are some of our best tips to start:

  1. Write compelling press releases

Think like a reporter. Write a press release that reads like a news story, and more news outlets will pick it up.

  1. Cultivate the media

Get to know your local business reporters and writers, send them your business news, ask them to lunch or invite them for a tour. Tell them a compelling story about a customer or staffer that draws them in.

  1. Be active on social media

Post to social media (80 percent information and 20 percent promotional), follow industry experts and media, use images and respond when you get comments (good or bad!).

The most successful brands make sure their PR efforts work together synergistically, and use content across all platforms to make the message stick.

Heather Ripley, Founder/CEO

This post was written by on June 20, 2017


Your Franchise Needs a Social Media Strategy

Just when you think your franchise is doing great and your franchisees are off and running, one of them decides to go rogue on social media. They start posting to every imaginable platform with information few of your customers will connect with.

You need a social media strategy, and you need it yesterday. A franchise public relations agency can help. An experienced agency has the street smarts to develop an excellent strategy that can be deployed across the board to all of your franchisees.

Here are some fundamental questions that must be answered in order to have a rock solid franchise social media strategy:

  • What is your business? – Know thyself. This ancient Greek aphorism applies to modern business when it comes to laying out a social media strategy for your franchise. If you don’t know what your business is really all about, how in the world is anyone going to understand it via social media. Identify your core competencies and stick to them.
  • Who is my audience? – Identify in which direction your franchise demographics skew. Once you know your audience, hammering the right message on the right virtual bulletin board becomes much easier.
  • What should I try to be? – Stay on target with your messaging at all times. Don’t try to be something to everyone. Be the right thing to your target customer. Oh, by the way, while you are keeping it simple, keep it light and non-political. Most people won’t follow a dreary, opinionated company.
  • What does success look like? – Make sure you know early on what your measureables are. Depending upon the platform, metrics will take different shapes. Set goals and keep track of them. It’s hard to tell where you are going if you don’t leave some tracks. It also helps pinpoint when and where something went wrong. Fixing your courses becomes much easier.

A good franchise PR agency can develop an effective, manageable social media strategy for you and your franchisees.

If any of the above resonates with you and your business, we at Ripley PR would love to talk with you. We are not only a B2B public relations agency, we have the experience and knowledge with franchise companies and can help you grow using a sound social media strategy. After all, that’s what it’s all about in the world of franchising.

John Cherry, Senior Brand Manager

This post was written by on June 20, 2017


Raise the Roof: How Public Relations Can Help Your Commercial Roofing Company

Commercial roofing companies face daunting challenges in the marketplace. With a seasonal business model, it can be either feast or famine when it comes to generating leads. The services of an experienced commercial roofing public relations agency can help generate the attention necessary to power through the lean times, too.

There are many ways to generate positive media coverage about your business. It’s also possible to leverage social media to spread the good word for your company. Even if your internal team isn’t able to focus on gaining earned media coverage, it’s still within reach through PR services.

Everybody talks about the weather

People are especially concerned about keeping a roof over their heads during extreme weather. You can expand your brand through weather-related media coverage. An experienced agency like Ripley PR can leverage its relationships with regional and national media and trade publications to market your business as a reliable source of information on weather-related roofing issues for articles and broadcast interviews.

Be an expert. Let people know about your projects.

Industry publications and other media outlets are always looking for stories. It could be a feature. What’s the oldest building you’ve roofed? What was a particularly challenging project?  It could be technical. What tips can you offer regarding roofing issues for species types of facilities such as hospitals or manufacturing plants? What are the environmental factors in your region of the country that can degrade commercial roofs? Ripley PR’s experienced team can identify story opportunities and earn your company the kind of media attention that can help grow your company.

Give people something to look at

In the realm of social media, everyone likes a good video. Time-lapse videos of the roofing process can provide the perfect fodder for online sharing. Cultivating a good social media strategy is vital to the growth of your business. Being able to rely on a specialist PR agency that really gets your business to develop and execute that strategy can help you quickly level the playing field.

For help with commercial roofing public relations, give us a call at 865-977-1973.

Heather Ripley, Founder/CEO

This post was written by on June 19, 2017


Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Think About Preparing for a Crisis

There’s one phone call every CEO or company president never wants to hear no matter if you are an automotive parts supplier or manufacturer of major components. It’s a phone call from the chief of security or the assembly line foreman…maybe it’s a call from local law enforcement or other civil authority. It’s the phone call that sets your company’s crisis plan into motion…if you have one.automotive - crisis communications

Your company is focused on providing the best automotive industry materials, but someone needs to help set up a crisis communications plan. One that can be set into motion with one phone call. If your company is focused on its piece of the automotive industry and not necessarily how to communicate, an automotive public relations agency can help. An experienced agency has the street smarts to develop a sound crisis communications plan, train key personnel on its implementation and make sure it works well under the heat of a real emergency.

Here are some ways to tell whether your crisis communications plan is ready for prime time:

  • Do you have a plan? – The first step is developing a solid crisis communications plan tailored to your company, its people and its mission. The plan cannot possibly take into account every conceivable crisis scenario, but it needs to have all the key elements needed for success. It needs to address roles, message development and audiences at a bare minimum. It also should have a supporting media policy that ties into it.
  • Have you made crisis planning a priority? – If you are going to roll out that new product line, you know you have to make certain aspects of the roll out a priority. The same holds for crisis planning. Every member of your management team should have no doubt that the boss is serious about being prepared.
  • Does your plan have dust on it? – Derek Jeter didn’t play shortstop for the New York Yankees for 20 years based on his good looks. He practiced his entire life…even after he made it to the majors. Exercise your plan by taking it out and testing yourself, your company and your communications team. Exercises can be table top or practical. What’s important is that you practice.

A good PR agency can help any company prepare for a crisis, develop the best messages to deliver during the heat of the moment, and decide upon the right way in which to deliver them. Make sure you are teamed with professionals with the right kind of real-world experience before you experience a crisis in your company.

If any of the above resonates with you and your business, we at Ripley PR would love to talk with you. We are not only are we a B2B public relations agency, we have the experience and knowledge in the automotive industry to help prepare your company for any crisis that may come your way.

John Cherry, Senior Brand Manager

This post was written by on June 16, 2017


Ripley PR Receives Keep Blount Beautiful Bravo! Award

Global PR agency specializing in franchise, home service and B2B honored for the renovation of its headquarters in downtown Maryville, Tenn.

Ripley PR received the 2017 Keep Blount Beautiful Bravo! Reuse/Redesign Award for the renovation of its headquarters Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in franchise and business-to-business (B2B), has received the 2017 Keep Blount Beautiful (KBB) Bravo! Reuse/Redesign Award for the renovation of its headquarters at 357 Ellis Avenue in Maryville.

KBB presents the award annually to a business or organization that has creatively reused or redesigned existing buildings in Blount County. The agency moved into the new office in July 2016 after Maryville-based Leon Williams Contractors extensively renovated the space.

“Thanks to all those who voted for Ripley PR for this wonderful award,” said Heather Ripley, CEO of Ripley PR. “Not only did we want an office that would make the community proud, we also wanted to create a great place to work. The location is perfect for our employees, and we are especially grateful to Leon Williams Contractors for making what should have been a difficult transformation easy.”

Studio Four Design, a leading architecture firm located in Knoxville, did the redesign work for the entryway, stairs and conference room.

“We were able to combine functionality with a nod to mid-century modern through furnishings and the use of color throughout,” Ripley said. “We’re thankful each day to not only be in this building, but to see beautiful Pistol Creek from our office windows. We’re located along the Maryville-Alcoa Greenway. To be so close to such a community treasure is a real benefit to our agency and our employees.

“I chose Blount County as the home for my business because I can think of no better community in which to invest. I grew up in Blount County. I’m passionate about this wonderful community and so proud of the commitment of its citizens to preserving the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. I had a vision to create a world-class PR agency right here in East Tennessee, and we’re proud to win this award and call Blount County home.”

About Ripley PR
Ripley PR, Inc. is a global B2B public relations agency using a blend of strategic business accounting and creative public relations branding to deliver measurable results. Specializing in construction, franchising, technology, home services and manufacturing, the agency offers a full range of strategic communication services, including crisis management, media relations and social media strategies. Ripley PR is a partner in IPREX, the $250 million network of communication agencies, with 1,800 staff and 120 offices worldwide. For more information, visit www.ripleypr.com or call 865-977-1973.

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Celeste Vlok, Senior Brand Manager

This post was written by on June 14, 2017


Why Successful Health IT companies Never underestimate Social Media

Is your digital marketing as effective as your face-to-face marketing?

Digital channels can be as effective in triggering a dialogue about your health IT products as face-to-face selling, according to a recent survey done by Bain & Company.

Websites and digital channels of B2B companies burst with product information, but few really offer insight about how the products truly solve customers’ problems.

The Harvard Business Journal published an article, Social Media Works for B2B Sales, Too, stating:

“One effective way to make a strong impression with buyers early in their search is to develop authentic, insightful content and syndicate it through relevant channels where buyers can easily consume it. Content that speaks to customers’ pressing needs — such as speed to market, cost reduction, reliability, and reputation building — proves more influential than traditional advertising or a sales brochure that outlines features and functions.” 

A good example is IBM’s security business. The company had roughly 23,000 followers on LinkedIn in January 2016, compared to 45,000 at the time of writing this blog. This is where they raise awareness and gets useful feedback from their target audience through the volume of “likes” and comments. IBM also has the IBM Security Access Manager/Tivoli Access Manager group, with 2,635 members, for separate conversations among group members.

As a PR agency specializing in health IT public relations, Ripley PR has helped many technology companies succeed with effective social media strategies.

Here are few ways how health IT public relations can help you:

  • Create content that shifts buyers’ perceptions. This includes blogs, case studies, webinars and white papers that answer pertinent questions about your products that potential buyers have.
  • Share content on the right social media platforms that reach your target audience. Not all social media platforms work for all types of businesses. Identifying which platforms will be the most effective channel to reach your target audience is key to a successful strategy.
  • Leverage each social media platform’s functionality to provoke conversation. Building an audience and positioning your business as a leader in your industry will go a long way in provoking dialogue about your products. Tactics, like creating a LinkedIn Group or using boosted posts, will help you connect with the right audience.

If you are interested in learning more about ways social media can help you grow your business, contact Ripley PR today.

 

Celeste Vlok, Senior Brand Manager

This post was written by on June 14, 2017


Boost Your LinkedIn Lead Generation with These Three Tips

If your LinkedIn page is not generating leads for you, you need to change your mindset about this powerful network. The majority of the people see LinkedIn as a job site, where you make your resume digital, put up a nice picture and sit back and wait for the job offers to come in. There is so much more to LinkedIn.

Did you know that out of the five social media platforms, that LinkedIn is the most effective at generating leads? According to Business 2 Community, this platform generates more than 80% of business social media leads. If you combine all of the other social media platforms together and the leads they generate, it only amounts to 19.67 percent of leads. The bottom line is this – LinkedIn works for construction and B2B companies.

As a B2B and construction public relations agency, we are Ripley PR want to help you leverage LinkedIn the best way possible. These three tips will help you do just that:

  1. Refine your profile — We all know how important first impressions are, did you know that the first impression window on LinkedIn is less than 7 seconds? You have to make sure your profile is complete and professional. Your profile picture needs to be a high-quality photo, not an unprofessional selfie. Your biography also needs to be well written with no grammatical errors. You may want to have someone proof your bio BEFORE you post it for the world to see.
  2. Create a LinkedIn Group – When you start a LinkedIn group and participate in discussions, you showcase your brand and expertise. We suggest that you add content to your group before you start adding members this will offer more value to your audience. LinkedIn stats show that group participants get four times more views to their profiles than those that do not participate.
  3. Connect and engage with prospective customers – Create a list of the companies or potential customers that you would like to target. Do not think small on this list, make up your dream list of the top 500 clients you would like to work with. The next step is to use LinkedIn’s search tool to find those clients and connect with them. Invite these members to your group and spend a couple of months building up a rapport with them. If you stay active in your group, publishing relevant content these prospective clients will begin to see you an expert in your field

Keep in mind that this lead generation process is not an overnight windfall, it takes time to build up these relationships. It may take a few months before you begin to see the results, but it is well worth it in the end. It is like a seed, you have to keep watering it until you see the blooming flowers.

If you are interested in learning more about ways B2B and construction public relations can help you maximize your exposure on LinkedIn, contact the professionals at Ripley PR.

 

Jennifer Rice, Senior Brand Manager

This post was written by on June 12, 2017


Three ways to boost awareness for your franchise

public relations to help boost franchise developmentHow to promote your franchise brand and boost qualified leads (starting today)

As a growing franchise, there’s nothing better than seeing more and more qualified leads pop up month over month—especially when those leads turn into franchise agreements.

Though to keep those leads coming, and to avoid the dreaded sales slump, you have to continuously engage your target audience and ensure you stay top of mind. Here are three key elements you should be focusing on to improve not only the amount of exposure for your franchise, but also qualified leads.

1.     Invest in SEO

This includes optimizing your website, as well as your content. There are more than 2 million blog posts a day. While not all 2 million are vying for the time of your potential franchisees, you better believe there are enough there to distract or pull them from your content.

Google’s algorithms are getting smarter, and like it or not, they are behind the driver seat when it comes to content marketing and exposure to your audience. Keyword stuffing and thin content are out, and optimization is constantly moving toward your user experience and how much Google trusts you.

2.     Encourage online engagement

This can be anything from training your franchisees to encourage customers to review their experience to creating Q&A videos with your most successful franchisees. Regardless of the method, the more engagement you have online, the more awareness you will generate.

Online engagement also gives people a chance to see what the culture of your franchise is like. Potential entrepreneurs buy not only what you do but why you do it, and by engaging online with your franchisees and customers, you provide more insight to what life would be like if a potential franchisee was to come aboard.

3.     Build awareness in the media

Industry awareness, whether it be in the franchise space or your particular niche, is an important building block for qualified lead generation. That’s because the leads you want do their homework before they even reach out to you. Yes, that means coming to your website, but even more than that, it means they research what other people are saying about you. They look to find out what advice you offer, your expertise level, how you present yourself as a company (and often as a corporate team or ownership), and if you’ll be there to support them not only during the training process but after their franchise is up and running.

If you’re looking to boost awareness for your franchise and produce qualified leads, give Ripley PR a call at 865.977.1973. We’re franchise public relations experts who can help you generate fresh ideas to place your brand in front of prospects and keep the qualified leads rolling in.

JD Sizemore, Account Supervisor

This post was written by on June 8, 2017


Five Steps to B2B Success: Generating Leads with Content Marketing

To avoid getting lost in a crowd of competitors, content marketing should be part of your B2B public relations toolkit.Business to business graphic.

Content marketing is based on a simple equation. Give potential customers what they want (the right information), and they’ll give you what you want (money).

According to a 2017 report by the Content Marketing Institute, it is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Some examples of relevant content to provide to your audience:

Blogs

If you’re looking to offer real-world examples of why clients need your products or services, blogging is the perfect medium. You can become a genuine source of knowledge for addressing customer pain points. If a reader knows and trusts you as a subject expert from blogging, they will be more likely to become a customer.

Social media

Without a strategy for social media content, your B2B marketing efforts will be useless. To get your company seen, you have to go where the eyes are. Right now, that’s on Facebook and other social media platforms. You also have to know what communication platforms reach the segments of the audience you need.

White papers

White papers are a natural tool for generating B2B leads by presenting complex subjects in an easily understood manner for buyers while still providing enough technical heft to draw in the decision makers. Once completed, they can be repurposed for even broader marketing by using the content to create social media posts, blog posts and infographics.

Events

There are few ways more effective to generate leads than participating in a trade show. According Statista.com, about 80 percent of visitors to trade events purchased products or services that they sampled or saw demonstrated at an event. Also, securing a speaking opportunity at an event builds your credibility and name recognition as an expert in your field.

Webinars

Webinars are a great way to generate leads and increase sales. Use correctly, they can position your company as an expert in its industry. They’re also good tools for raising brand awareness with excellent ROI. If they are recorded, webinars can be leveraged to continue generating leads for years through continued social media promotion.

For help with B2B content marketing, give Ripley PR a call at 865-977-1973. We create compelling content that will engage potential customers and generate the leads you need.

Joel Davis, Senior Content Specialist

This post was written by on June 6, 2017


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