Planning for the PC (Post COVID) World

I find infrastructure planning related issues fascinating.  The complexity of it, and the requirement for long-term strategies to come up with solutions that not only solve today’s issues, but generational ones.  A local example would be road widening projects within your community or if a roundabout should replace a traffic light. 

An even bigger example is one I heard in the late 1990s about undeveloped countries and the issue of connecting villages.  Without phone access, people needed to travel to the next village and were often cutoff from the outside world. Not an easy task if vehicles are scarce.  Instead of building a physical telephone line infrastructure, the solution was to skip phone lines altogether and jump straight into a new technology using cell phones with towers replacing the need for telephone wires.

With thoughtful planning, solutions are available and achievable.  As 2020 thankfully comes to a close, I kind of feel like many businesses are staring at a similar opportunity as they look to the PC World. PC as in Post COVID. 

We’re finally seeing around the COVID corner. With the election in our rearview mirror and vaccine distribution starting, it’s easier than ever to see an ending of this unprecedented time.  Sure, we’re months away from people gathering together in mass, but the start of 2021 feels like the year when “the world re-opens.”  As we believe the finish line is in sight, it should also serve as a wake-up call to many businesses. They better start preparing for the PC world now or risk their business being too far behind their competitors to catch up.

We couldn’t predict COVID, which is why many businesses had trouble adjusting.  But knowing there’s the light at the end of the tunnel means we need to start thinking about new approaches now.  This need to plan mindset isn’t reserved solely for hibernating companies that purposely paused or struggled during the pandemic.  Companies that pivoted to existing COVID realities and found an opportunity to grow their business during this time, need to start preparing and positioning themselves for what’s next after the immediate fear of contracting COVID subsides.

COVID isn’t going away any time soon, even after vaccinations are commonplace.  Vaccines aren’t a cure. Caution and awareness of the importance or reducing risks will remain for years even as people will slowly start gathering in groups again and face-to-face interactions return.  We’re likely to see a mindset shift among the public beginning this Spring or summer. 

This provides an opportunity for companies who plan ahead for it.  Needs won’t change, but how we talk about them likely will.   We’re also likely to see businesses and institutions trying to return to their pre-COVID normal by fall.

Now is the time to plan, and to start establishing your company in the new marketplace. View Q1 and maybe part of Q2 as planning time and as an opportunity to reintroduce or reposition your company by utilizing a strong public relations strategy. Using this time to rebuild or grow your brand may prove vital because by  Q3 we’re going to start seeing some companies winning, and others falling too far behind to regain their previous market share.

Think about what is likely to occur once the vaccination levels reach 75% or herd immunity is established.  One simple example is that people will be anxious to explore and travel again, once confidence in public safety returns.  Travel destinations and attractions should be planning now how they plan to attract people. 

Companies also need to be wary and thoughtful of what’s going to happen next.  If asked what the first thing I’d want to do in a group post COVID would be, I’d say that I’m most excited to attend concerts again with thousands of other fans.  The challenge might not be getting me to go to a concert, but how many I’ll be willing to attend, financially.  I expect the 12-18 months after COVID there are going to be a glut of concerts worth attending as every band is anxious to get back on the road and generate revenue. The problem is that concert goers still have limited bank accounts, so fans are going to have to pick and choose, which is likely to result in a lot of lost ticket sales for bands who are used to sell-out crowds.

It’s going to be the same for businesses. Every competitor is going to be fighting for the same $100. It’s the businesses that have their strategy and plan in place that are most likely to win, while those starting to rebuild late find that all the key customers have already chosen their vendors, and that available cash has already been spent.

The lesson is that now’s the time for your company be planning for the Post COVID world.  Whether your company is just starting to rebuild after the stress of COVID, or your organization has thrived in this chaos, Q1 and Q2 are going to be pivotal in deciding which companies make it to 2022. 

Now’s the time to map out your destination and make sure your company is ready for arrival in the PC world.  

— written by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

A Lesson for Business During March Madness

A Lesson for Business During March Madness

It’s that time of year- The March Madness college basketball tournament.  If you’re not a college basketball fan, keep reading. Don’t worry, what I’m going to share should still make sense.

Like a lot of people, every year I complete a bracket of the participating teams to predict a winner. But, in truth, I barely pay attention to college basketball during the season.  So how do I choose which team I think will win?

Sometimes I favor teams from my hometown simply because I want to see them win, or the team representing the mid-major conference that my alma mater plays in.

Like most people, I usually just go with the teams I’m most familiar with, or the teams with higher rankings. 

Duke Basketball is the perfect example.  For the first time in decades, Duke did not make the tournament, but had they squeaked into the field of 64 my assumption is that a lot of casual basketball fans would have chosen them to make the Sweet 16. Simply off of name recognition, awareness of their team history, and out of respect for their well-known coach.  Their legacy matters- and people are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt even during a tough season. 

A lot of people choose a product or business the same way. 

There’s comfort in familiarity.  There’s confidence in a track record of success, even if the current task is something new.  Belief in individuals transfers to trust in an organization.

How does a business achieve this?  By playing the long game and promoting their successes along the way.  It’s not by announcing one big new contract, it’s by announcing a steady stream of contract wins over time.  It’s not by creating one single event, it’s by promoting numerous events throughout the year.

One good season or one good story isn’t going to earn long-term loyalty. It’s repetition of actions, over long periods of time, which ultimately breeds public confidence. It’s that awareness and reputation which will sustain a company even during a rough patch.

Finally, allow me to share one last off-topic story simply because it makes me smile every year around this time.  Probably a good 15 years ago or so, a friend of mine had a vasectomy.  He had to book it far in advance because he wanted the timing to coincide with the start of the basketball tournament.  Turns out he had to book early because a lot of guys have the same idea. They figure if they had to sit at home with a bag of frozen peas in their lap for a couple of days, they might as well do it while there were constant basketball games on TV!  

PR for the Win

PR for the Win.

While this new year has just begun, it already feels like a sprint. Not just from the renewed energy of our current clients, but as demonstrated by the significant increase in prospective client inquiries that we’ve already received this year.

Why is this year different? Significant change is imminent.

2021 initially might feel like a continuation of 2020, but the ending will be far different. I’m not just talking politically, but as it relates to the pandemic and ultimately the economy. The general public can finally see a potential end to the pandemic once enough vaccines are administered. Businesses are seeing it too.

But this year, it’s like everyone is on the same compressed schedule to make up for time lost due to the pandemic, forcing many companies to work harder to ensure they’re at the front of the pack when potential customers cross the pandemic finish line. 

Thinking about this finish line, I can’t help but think about how a company’s PR strategy correlates to a race day strategy.

Back to high school when I ran track, my primary race was the 400 (one quarter of a mile) or one full loop around the track. I was decent at it. My freshman year, my best time was 55 seconds, good enough to earn a spot at regionals. My coach tried me in some other races like the 100, but I didn’t have a great start out of the blocks so my times were never great. He tried me at the mile, and while I started strong, I would fade to the back of the pack as the race went on. 

My success at the 400 wasn’t based on technique or skill. Ultimately it came down to one thing: I always ran the race as a flat-out sprint. I wasn’t the fastest out of the block, but I was by far the fastest in the middle of the race building up a lead. By the end, I was running out of gas trying desperately to hold on to the lead that I had built. This often led to my getting passed at the end by a closing competitor who had saved some energy for their sprint to the finish.

It’s okay to sprint the entire way from start to finish, it is a valid strategy for some cicumstances. But if you want to win the race, the strategy is done before you ever step foot on the track. It means before the race even begins you need to know what length of race you need to enter to make sure you end up in the right spot at the right time. Otherwise, you risk of running out of gas as you to watch your competitors run right by you into the arms of your potential customers.

It’s why you see a lot more in-race strategy occurring in longer races. The goal isn’t having your personal fastest time across the finish line, it’s simply about crossing the finish line first. It’s why you often see a clump of runners in a pack despite everyone having a different strategy. The goal is about trying to force the competitors to react the way you desire to advance your strategy to win. The runners with a fast last leg sprint try to stay with the pack and keep the pace slow until the end knowing they can outrun the rest. The runners less known for their sprint abilities may try to push the pace faster early in hopes of leaving others so tired or far behind they have nothing left at the end and can’t catch up before the race ends.

Which brings us back to today’s race to the pandemic finish line. Current predictions are that sometime later this year, we’ll pass a threshold where enough people have been vaccinated and it becomes safe to start gathering in groups again, going back to the office or booking travel plans.

As a business, you need to think about this race route from start to finish and how a public relations strategy can help you come out ahead. Along that route, you need to place different potential “PR story” flags along the way. Maybe the best strategy is placing the flags equal distances apart and simply sprinting as fast as you can through all of them to reach the finish line before anyone else. Or, maybe your strategy is to start off slower and clump more of the flags towards the end to ensure you’re at your top speed as you reach the finish line. 

As a PR firm, my team excels at developing a plan, planting flags and implementing the strategy. If you need help, let us know. We’re already wearing our running shoes and are ready to go.

— written by Josh Weiss

Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

My PR team is always looking for opportunities to draw some media attention to our clients for doing something positive.  As part of this effort, we often coordinate media efforts around various holidays and shared cultural events. Out of all the dates on the calendar, I never expected Veterans Day to become my favorite. Both because of what it represents, and the media opportunities it has provided our clients.

Veterans Day has long been one of those specialty holidays recognized mostly by those who have a personal connection to the military.  It’s not part of a three-day weekend, and people often mix it up with Memorial Day which honors the fallen vs Veterans Day which recognizes the living who have served.

My team took Veterans Day efforts to an entirely new gear this year, and I want to share what we did. Not to brag, but in hopes of sparking your imagination or participation for Veterans Day next year.

The Veterans Day Giveaway Idea

We have several HVAC and plumbing clients. One of those companies was founded by a Veteran after WWII, and the company is now lead by his granddaughter (3rd generation).  Five years ago, we launched a now annual Veterans AC Giveaway Contest where the public could nominate a Veteran or their family member in need of a new AC unit or furnace. After verifying nominations and choosing finalists, the public was given the opportunity to vote for the recipient, with the prize awarded on (or around) Veterans Day.

That single contest has expanded.  In 2020 we held the contest in five different cities spanning the U.S. from Miami, Florida to Spokane, Washington. Yes, the contest is a nice thing to do and it’s generated publicity and stories in each City we’ve done it. But it’s much more than a contest.

Our goal is to share personal stories of local Veterans and active duty members that most people never hear about. These are the men and women who left their homes, their families, and their friends to dutifully serve our country across the nation and around the world. Their stories are incredible. Like an Arizona man who joined the Army after the attack on 9/11 to protect our nation and came back with a life-changing injury from a rocket propelled grenade. Or the Florida man who joined the Navy at age 17 and got to take a newly commissioned ship through the Panama Canal. Or the woman who was the first female in her family to join, and now copes with the debilitating effects of PTSD.

In our eyes, they are all heroes. They all deserve notoriety.  So we share their stories using videos, blogs, social media, and often the news media will help us reach a wider audience. These stories have helped old friends reconnect providing them with a sense of hope and some comfort during an increasingly stressful time.

It amazes me how grateful these Veterans are to be recognized. I am also impressed by their shared bond. They understand what it’s like to be too far from home, and why it’s so hard to talk about what they experienced. We are saddened by how many suffer from mental trauma and inspired by how many of them volunteer to help other Veterans heal.

The other major effort we launched was the #VetDayPledge.

The idea started in 2018, when one of our large construction related clients was looking for ways to recognize their employees that were Veterans. We suggested that the company gather employees on Veterans Day a job site or in their warehouse and simply invite all the Veterans to the front of the group to lead their co-workers in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We used smartphone video to then share it with media and post it on social media.  The response from employees who participated was so positive that the construction company expanded it to multiple cities and job sites the following year.

This year, with permission from the client we decided to expand the idea to include any company willing to participate.  Our only request was that anyone who participated include the hashtag #VetDayPledge to unify the message and make it easier for others to see and hopefully participate on their own. In addition to sharing the idea with other companies (clients and non-clients), we invited other PR firms to share the idea and created a website with free resources and tips for companies to do it on their own.

I’m so proud that during this campaign’s first year going national and mainstream that we had participants from 10 states!  While some videos came from our clients, the majority of the participants were not!  In addition to several businesses, an elementary school participated, as did a senior living community!

A Wisconsin TV station even did a news story about one of the participants. You can watch the story by clicking here!

We’re excited to grow the #VetDayPledge further next year and believe that without the election (and COVID) related distractions, even more businesses and organizations will participate.  This idea has become a passion project.  We love that it’s a simple, no cost idea that anyone can do to thank our Veterans and their families.

Ultimately, the most important thing for companies to remember when doing a PR campaign around Veterans Day or Memorial Day is to do it for the right reason. We believe that the VetDayPledge and the Veteran AC Giveaway Contest fit that purpose.  Sure, it might generate some positive publicity for our clients, but most importantly, it generates recognition for those who’ve served and sacrificed- the individual veteran, and their families alongside them.

There are lots of great ideas that companies are doing to recognize Veterans. Share them below and help us inspire others!

To Hibernate or Accelerate. That is the COVID Business Question.

A lot of business leaders are worried, and unsure what to do.  I get it.  Initially I was too but luckily, I’m past that stage.

Early in the crisis, I read a blog on LinkedIn written by an acquaintance, small business owner Derrick Mains, Founder of Playbook Systems and President of Phat Scooters. The blog had a big effect on me and gave me confidence in choosing my own path forward through the COVID crisis.

The Lookback

Here’s the gist… at least what I took from it. 

The blog talked about the fear that many companies have about going backwards in a bad economy, and how to prepare, protect, react, and recover from business setbacks. Too many business owners are stunned into paralysis if they have a big drop in revenue or business and are unsure what to do—putting the survival of the company itself at risk.

Instead, he suggests that business owners actually DO know what to do- because they’ve already been there. He refers to it as “the Lookback.”

If a million-dollar business loses 20%, it already knows what the company should look like at $800,000 because the company has already been there. He suggested simply going back to the same staffing levels, expenses, and footprint you had at that income level, then rebuilding yourself back up to that million-dollar company the same way you did the first time.

That thought process really resonated with me, removing my own fears of what I would do if my company, which had been steadily growing, started trending backwards in the new economy. With a potential path forward removing my impending paralysis, I didn’t feel the need to hibernate. Instead I choose to try and accelerate my business.

Hibernate vs Accelerate

When I say hibernate, I’m referring to companies taking a more defensive, protection-orient approach. Many of these companies are using the strategy of hording their cash and reducing expenses with plans to ride out this crazy time by retaining enough resources to quickly rebuild.

In contrast, companies that chose to accelerate took more risks and essentially “doubled down” during uncertain times. Working harder and faster in an attempt to pivot or grow their business while their competitors were sitting it out or waiting to see how things turned out before charting a path forward.

Both strategies are sound, and both can backfire. It’s really a decision of risk and comfort as you can’t choose either half-way and succeed.

Our Decision to Accelerate

Early March I made the decision to accelerate. With so many PR and marketing agencies struggling, a big piece of our strategy was to make sure everyone knew that we were strong, and that we were going to thrive in the new economy.  

I started by talking to my staff and making sure they felt personally safe, knowing that we’re full steam ahead. Even if we lost a few clients in the short term, we could weather the hits so not to become afraid or distracted. With the team confident that their jobs were safe, consciously and subconsciously they can pass that confidence along to our clients and others in the community.   

Next, I reached out to clients and asked if they needed help or flexibility in the short term. While our client base is pretty diverse, we still have some travel and real estate related clients who were getting hammered or faced a lot of uncertainty. Our early offer of flexibility not only demonstrated our good will, but potentially stopped clients from leaving, even if some had to initially pause or alter their budgets. To our great delight, several of the effected clients were able to return to their pre-COVID scopes of work within a few months- something that surprised us both. Had we not been flexible up front, we might have lost them altogether.   

The next major thing we did was invest back into the company. I renewed organizational memberships and subscriptions early, while I knew we had the money available in case I needed to stretch dollars later in the year. 

I also invested in advertising while others were pulling back. This gave us better placements at lower rates while other companies were hibernating.  Sure, fewer companies were looking for PR help, but there were also much fewer “window shoppers”. The few who were looking were much hotter leads and were much more likely to sign a contract with us, or someone else.

The strategy paid off quickly. While most agencies were losing clients, we added several new long-term clients. Some were COVID related, others were not. We celebrated these wins, announcing them to demonstrate that we were “open for business” at a time when a lot of companies were avoiding the news. This led to even more prospect interest and new conversations with additional companies.

Finally, we started offering free advice and PR tips to businesses that weren’t in a position to pay us. We created a series of 2-minute videos of COVID-19 Crisis PR Tips and shared them widely via social media. We offered free workshops through the Better Business Bureau and local Chambers giving away ideas and advice. Short term we knew this wouldn’t “pay off.” We just viewed it as the right thing to do, with the hope that it might show long-term benefits while growing our brand recognition in the short-term. 

What’s Next?

Now that we’re moving past the initial months and the initial shock of COVID, I’m predicting two big changes for the second half of 2020 that will again alter the health of economy and reposition companies long-term.

First, with the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) coming to an end, we’re likely to see a lot more layoffs in the coming weeks as the employee protections expire. We’re also likely to see a lot of companies announcing that they’re closing for good or entering bankruptcy. While the first wave of job losses particularly hurt hourly workers in the restaurant and hospitality industry, this next wave is likely to hit salaried workers even harder.

Second, I am predicting that more business leaders are going to start taking more risks as they realize that this new abnormal is going to last through 2020 and into 2021 until a vaccine is fully distributed. Hibernating companies are starting to peek their heads out again, trying to figure out how to pivot themselves in the new economy. This will create partnership opportunities for companies, and threats to others as they see competitors get more active and offer new variations to compete.

And that’s just the business-related changes in the second half of 2020. I’m not even talking about the news coverage related distractions (and likely chaos) with rolling COVID hot zones, the upcoming restart of professional sports (assuming they actually restart), social justice movements happening across the country, the start of the new school year (k-12, and college), and the November election.  

Predicting the future is impossible right now. All companies can do is choose a path. Accelerate or Hibernate. As for my current strategy, we’re keeping our foot on the accelerator. By helping our clients to grow and succeed, we help our own company as well. We believe that pushing for and securing a strong finish in 2020, it will carry us into 2021 and the new abnormal. 

And if we do take a few steps backwards– like a lot of companies will—there’s comfort in knowing that we’ve been there before and already know the path forward.

— written by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

Video Series: Public Relations Tips To Get Through COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, business as we have known it has been upended. While we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things companies can be doing to position themselves to withstand the pandemic, help the community, and ultimately come out of this crisis stronger.

Public relations can play a role in delivering on these goals. 10 to 1 President Josh Weiss has created a video series of brief videos to give you ideas on how you can best position your company utilizing basic public relations and crisis communications tactics.

You can check out our video series below or on our YouTube page.

PR & COVID-19: Share Your Expertise

PR & COVID-19: Find Opportunity for Every Story

PR & COVID-19: Walk Through Your Warehouse

PR & COVID-19: Pivoting The Right Way

PR & COVID-19: Follow The Leader

PR & COVID-19: Be Honest With Your Customers

More videos will be added on a regular basis – stay tuned!

What’s with the Marble Wall? Explaining Why Companies Should Invest in a Signature Piece

When I first told people about my idea for a custom designed marble wall, some asked me if I was losing my marbles. It’s not your typical office artwork. There are flashing lights, bells and things that twirl. But once they see the 10 to 1 Public Relations marble wall, everyone loves it and just wants to watch it for a while because there are so many moving elements. 

The response grows even more favorably when they hear the story behind it and recognize how it visually demonstrates our unique strategic approach to public relations. They love how we’re using the marble run to showcase our team’s success on a regular basis, too.

I’ve been asked several times for the backstory on it, so I’ll share that in a moment. What I really hope this article does is encourage companies to invest in and promote some type of signature piece in their office that describes their brand and approach to achieving success.  Not just for their clients that visit their office, but for their staffs as well.

There are actually two different audiences that you’re doing this for. First are your office visitors, as you’re trying to give them something visual that they can remember that ties them to your brand or strategic approach. The second is your staff who see it or interact with it regularly.  It serves as an excellent reminder of your philosophy and the company culture whenever they see it and provides reinforcement and acknowledgement for their great work in promoting the brand. 

With that out of the way, here’s the backstory on our marble wall.  We recently moved into new office space and wanted to create something that would really stick out as a signature for the office.  Something worthy of sharing on social media, but also something that fit the company brand. 

To create this signature piece, 10 to 1 Public Relations commissioned an art piece that is a 4 ft. wide by 3 ft. tall marble run with a public relations theme that reflects our philosophy. 

We believe it takes 10 good things to be said about a company to make up for one negative comment, and our public relations strategies for clients generate lots of positive stories to create a “good will bank.” This helps our clients inoculate and protect their brands and their people when that negative story eventually occurs. 

We started out with an idea for a selfie-friendly wall graphic in our conference room that would reflect our philosophies towards PR. While the designs on their own were impressive, none felt right for 10 to 1 PR. 

Our team was trying to think of something unique around the 10 to 1 philosophy, and someone brought up the “drip” analogy that I use when describing our strategy to prospective new clients. The drip analogy refers to how small seemingly minor stories on their own (like new hire announcements or minor contract announcements) can add up to have a big impact. Like drips out of a faucet, if collected the water adds up and can be used however it’s needed in the future. We tried to think of alternatives to a faucet analogy and thought of a marble run where the marbles could each represent a different story and could be collected at the end like drips. 

That night I searched for artists that created marble runs and found Matthew Gaulden of Rolling Ball Structures. I sent an email to him and we quickly started talking about what a public relations themed marble run might look like. Ultimately, we came up with the following.

  • Bells that sound like the NBC news theme
  • A spinning “Breaking News” sign
  • An “On Air” light that would turn on
  • A press conference scene which would flash like flash bulbs
  • A spinning microphone
  • Reference to print and online media
  • A television set
  • A social media carousel

Matt added some additional elements including a waterspout where the marbles would drip out and be collected.

Every week, our team now counts out how many stories we helped our clients earn, and we do a “Running of the Marbles” to celebrate these successes. We then collect those marbles and add the count to a separate jar for the year. 

Since January, we already have more than 900 positive stories for our clients, and that number continues to grow daily. 

Every time we run the marble wall and share on social media our new count of stories generated for clients, it serves as a reinforcement; reiterating to our team, our clients, and our supporters that our 10 to 1 long-game public relations approach and strategy work, making it an office signature piece worth sharing. 

Click here to watch a short video with a tour of our new offices including the marble wall.

Look at the Calendar to Generate Newsworthy Company Stories

A common refrain among companies is that they can’t get positive stories from media unless it’s for something really big like a major new product launch or a new facility opening.  They couldn’t be more wrong. 

Sure, big announcements can make great stories.  It’s the small stories where the true PR pros really shine.  The secret for these pros isn’t really a secret. Companies already have an important tool to success that they look at daily. They just need to look at it differently.  That tool is a calendar. 

When we start working with a client, the first thing we ask for is calendars because looking at what the company already has upcoming allows us to start building the PR calendar we intend to follow for the coming months.  Beyond the obvious stuff (like launch dates or major conferences you’re attending), look deeper at the calendar to identify story opportunities.

Hard dates on the calendar.

Start by looking at the dates on the calendar that don’t change.  Halloween, Christmas, July 4th, Valentine’s Day, all of these dates happen every year like clockwork.  You have no excuse to claim you didn’t know they were coming, so the question is, how can you create an event around those hard dates? 

For example, doing a story around Tax Day (April 15) is an obvious opportunity for a CPA firm.  It could be last minute tax filing tips, or a story about how the company got all their filings done early so the entire office went out for lunch together on the filing deadline day since they had nothing to do because they’re simply so great at their job. 

Another idea would be a care facility taking advantage of Valentine’s Day to focus on a couple that met and married at the facility or some other appropriate love story.

Media are always going to acknowledge hard dates on a calendar, and media are often looking for a unique way to talk about it.  Find a way to insert your company within that hard date to increase your chances of generating a positive story for your organization.

Soft Dates on a Calendar 

While the exact date each year might change, school always starts around the same time of year.  The baseball season always starts around the same time of year. High School prom and graduation always happen around the same time of year.  Take advantage of these annual events and identify a tie-in for your company.  

For example, if you work for an air conditioning company, look up what days of the summer are historically the hottest, and watch the temperature.  If you’re in Arizona, have a story ready to pitch for the first time that summer the temperature tops 110 (you’ll notice I didn’t say 100 because anyone in Arizona a few years will tell you that 100 isn’t considered that big a deal). 

Scheduled Dates on the Calendar

Look at the events your company is scheduled to attend in the next year or any travel key staff may be making related to work. Take advantage of travel plans and other events to generate stories.  For example, if your company is exhibiting at an event for disabled Veterans, identify some appropriate involvement stories or employees that are veterans that you can spotlight as part of your acknowledgement of that event.

Made up Dates

It seems like there’s a made-up date for everything.  Talk Like a Pirate Day.  March 14th is Pi (3.14) Day, May the 4th (be with you) is Star Wars Day.  But there are also days, weeks and months for different issue topics. Construction Safety Week is in May.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Do a search and read through the lists of all the different days, weeks and months.  Identify any that could relate to your company or an issue that is consistent with the company’s values and find a way to be part of that calendar event. 

There are story ideas everywhere if you’re willing to look for them. Start by looking at the calendar. 

by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

How to Use Engaging Video to Land Media Coverage

A unique opportunity arose for one of our new clients, Casago which is a leasing and vacation rental company in resort communities across Mexico and the U.S..  While holding a staff retreat meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, news hit of Hurricane Willa rapidly approaching them. Our team took quick action and was successful in leveraging the situation to land several key media placements in local and national markets for our client, including Good Morning America and World News Tonight!

How did we make this happen? The key was dramatic and engaging video provided by the client. This video is from nearby Boca de Tomatlan before Hurricane Willa reached land but after more than 30 straight hours of rain, with flood waters coming down the nearby mountain.

There were a lot of factors that went right (and that we had prepared for) for us to see such success. Here are five tips for how you can leverage engaging video to land national media placement.

  1. Anticipate Trending News – We were aware of Hurricane Willa heading towards Mexico, and based on previous hurricane coverage knew that there would be a decent amount of attention on this story. We pitched our story before Willa made landfall to take advantage of the full timeline.
  2. Shape the Story to be Relevant – Know the audience of the outlet you are pitching. For Arizona media, we pitched the story as Arizonans dealing with the storm in Mexico. For national media, we pitched the story as Americans in the path of Hurricane Willa. We also used the opportunity to help share the good works of our client, who ahead of the storm spent their time helping renters in their facilities get to safer locations more inland as well as sandbagging homes in the community to help protect against flooding.
  3. Stay Up To Date on Your Client’s Whereabouts – Making sure you have a schedule of where your clients will be at what time ensures that you can make the most of opportunities that come up. Had we not known that our client was in the path of the storm, we wouldn’t have been able to identify the story opportunity.
  4. Set Up Systems for Retrieving and Storing Videos – Prepare and train your clients to make sure they understand the importance of video and photos in telling any story. Make sure you have a plan for how videos get delivered to you and stored so that you can have access to them. Without the incredible video from our client, there would not have been a story!
  5. Act Quickly – In public relations, it’s true that the early bird gets the worm. By pitching this story before Willa made landfall, we could bet that we were one of the first ones to be talking about this story idea with local and national media, and were able to generate a lot of interest very quickly.

When it comes to engaging content, video is critical in helping to tell your story. Always have your camera or phone ready to capture video so you don’t miss an opportunity!

Finally, while unrelated to the tips above, let us take a moment to brag: It’s because of strategies and efforts like this, not only did we garner national coverage for the client, but if helped 10 to 1 Public Relations to recently be recognized as a top Public Relations Company on DesignRush!

By Erica Fetherson, Sr. Account Executive at 10 to 1 Public Relations

Why PR Campaigns Should Be Run Like Political Election Campaigns

A lot of people are rejoicing that the elections have ended.  Their elation isn’t necessarily about who won, but simply that they’re thrilled that the campaign ads are finally over!  For me, campaign season never ends, because I believe that the best public relations campaigns should be run like a political campaign- and that’s how we set our strategies for our clients. Let me explain.

Some of you may know that in the late 90s I used to work in politics— hardcore Illinois “machine” politics at that– before moving to Arizona and formally starting my career in public relations.   Working on multiple campaigns across the State, I learned several lessons which I still use today.

Plan backwards. What does a politician want when they start running for office? To win!  In order to do that, the candidate needs 50 percent of the votes plus 1 on election day.  Not today, but on election day.  So if election day is 15 months from now, circle election day on the calendar and start planning backwards to reach your goal.  For example, if the vote were held today and you were only at 35% and the vote was 15 months away, if you increase your percentage 1% each month you’ll be at 50% on election day.

When we first engage with a client, we want to know their end goal, and when they want to achieve that goal. We then plan backwards to get them there on time. It won’t happen the first month, but if we do our job right, we’ll get closer to their end goal every month and ultimately achieve our client’s desired result.

Make your negative your positive. Every candidate has a flaw that will be attacked or something which might turn off some voters.  The best politicians can acknowledge the negative and the best campaign managers will prepare a response to an attack in advance and will even work to turn that perceived negative in to a positive.   We view our role as a PR pro as the company’s campaign manager- identifying flaws and dealing with them head-on before they become fatal.  Sharing with media and the public how a flaw was fixed is often a great way to build confidence, gain support and grow a company.

Know what you want people to remember before you start talking. A good politician walks in to any speech knowing what they want to tell their audience before they say a single word.  A company needs to know what take-away they want their customers, prospects and employees to remember and feel before any action they take.  The public relations strategy and wording used needs to mirror the intended take-away.

Be consistent. It’s hard to trust a flip-flopper, so repeat the same message as often as possible.  Only then will people hear it and remember it.

Own it. In the rare cases where you must do a flip-flop, own it.  Explain why the change was the right thing to do.  People are more than willing to forgive a mistake, but only if you own it and don’t hide it.

There’s a lot more I learned working in politics which I credit to how we create strong, effective PR campaigns for our clients.  But, for the rest of this month, let’s all take a deep breath and just enjoy the end of the non-stop political attack ads.  Please?!?!?

Written by Josh Weiss, President, 10 to 1 Public Relations,