It’s about the art, not the photographer.

Time and time again, I tell customers to make their online presence client focused rather than self promotional. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this online:

“…is an award winning professional photographer with a masters in fine art who’s passion is…”

This is great for an ‘about’  page on a website, but that’s where this kind of content should stay. Content like this sends the message that the art is all about you, the  photographer, and not about the client. There is a simple way to establish your credibility and market your brand.

Understand your audience.

Know what need your clients want to have fulfilled and tell them how you can satisfy it. Many years ago, a mentor once told me: “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.” More pointed – they buy the emotional connection behind the experience. He was bang on. Throughout my entire career, from marketing cars and IT services, to donations and memberships, it all comes down to this fundamental principal: Selling the experience will resonate with your audience better than a pitch about product features.

The hard-hitting truth.

When it comes to your photography, people aren’t buying you, the photographer, (or even your photos for that matter), they’re buying the benefits they get from your photos. The emotion evoked and the need satisfaction met. Keep in mind that different market segments will have different expectations, so be sure to promote your photography business accordingly. The photographer behind the work will sell itself.


About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, representing Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers who are looking to create and perfect their work, while we stay keenly focused on the marketing side of their business.   www.storylinepr.ca

Content marketing – beyond images

Most photographers share their images on their website in hopes of driving a ton of traffic to complete the ‘contact us’ form. Unfortunately, in today’s digital world that’s no longer enough. You need a content marketing strategy. What is content marketing exactly?

Definition of Content Marketing In my view, content marketing provides relevant, useful content to your audience online without actively pitching them. It’s about providing information that makes your target audience become more informed before they buy. By doing this in a consistent manner, you’ll earn brand awareness and they will ultimately reward you with their business.

I won’t lie to you – it takes work. Relevance and consistency are key. How does one get started? Here are some of our top go-to recommendations when building a solid content marketing plan.

Get social

Dread it or like it? Some photographers dread the idea of social media while others embrace it and utilize it to engage. It’s a necessary evil in an effort to reach your target audience.  Have a presence and aim for good engagement activity.

Share stories

Posting images online is no longer enough. Blog about the experience. Tell a story about the image in such a way that will entice your target audience to learn more about you. Provide useful content and tips on ‘how to’ for your audience relative to your work.

Educate

Despite what some believe and in the wake of CASL, the art of newsletter writing is not dead. Provide an opt-in mechanism in all you do to have people sign up. Make it educational in tone. What better channel to distribute your content than to the ones who raised their hands to openly to receive it.

Keep SEO in mind

This goes without saying, but a good content marketing strategy will involve search engine optimization. And, if all the above things are done well, they will help with SEO.

In our next few blog posts, we dive deep into each of these with some tips on how to implement.
Stay tuned.

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About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. “Because we know instead of marketing your work, you’d much rather be creating it.” www.storylinepr.ca

‘Thanks Universe’.

Remember when I said I had big plans for 2016? Well, I’m thrilled to announce that StorylinePR has refocused to become a marketing & PR agency for fine art photographers.

Some might say I have changed tack 180 degrees and strategic direction completely, to which I would answer – “Not really.”

You see, when I first created storylinePR, I tried connect my business to my love for photography. In fact, back then, it was known as Storyline Photo Marketing. Here’s a bit of background to that story…

image of storylinePR logo on canvas in art gallery Upon graduation, I had grandiose ideas with images of photos on a gallery wall and me doing the PR to make that happen. College was great at teaching us hands-on skills to develop our talent, (not so great at helping us articulate a vision.)

Right after school, I put that practical knowledge to work at a big brand company in marketing and PR for almost a decade. I absolutely loved my job and learned a great deal, but my quality of life began to suffer. I found myself packing my things (and my vision) and moving to Ottawa in 2000.

To feel more at home than I already (instantly) did, I took a few weekend photography courses in the Gatineau Hills and registered my business as Storyline Photo Marketing. Through referrals of friends and colleagues, my business morphed into a communications and media relations company known as storylinePR. (my other love)

“The universe knows exactly where you’re going, even if you don’t”

As I grew my PR business, I continued to pursue my love for photography on a personal level while providing PR services to small business. Along the way, I met some pretty amazing local artists, (photographers in particular), that I deeply admired.

In conversation with this group, I often heard how difficult it is to get their work noticed by the right audience and how frustrating and time consuming it was to market their own work when all they really wanted to do was focus on creating it. And then that’s when it happened. That ‘ah ha’ moment. A partnership between marketer and photographer, both subjects I knew intimately well.

You know that saying? ‘The universe knows where you’re going even if you don’t?‘ It really does. Timing and experiences play a huge factor and I feel as if everything I have done up to this point has guided me here. That I’ve finally created the business I’ve envisioned with subject expertise I’m so passionate about.

The connections I’ve made and relationships I’ve built over the years with magazines, publishers, galleries and agencies was in some small way, significant.

Thanks Universe!

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About the Author

Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. Learn more and connect at www.storylinepr.ca

Business guts, signs & opportunities.

IMG_1327

 

Fearlessly moving forward

I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for a few months now on a new focus that essentially requires rewiring and a reboot of my business. While I am very excited and have a target date set as the goal, my rate of momentum has slowed a tiny bit.

My fellow entrepreneurial friends will understand the moments of trepidation and self doubt that comes with high risk and ambitious plans.

That is until I was contacted by a VERY influential and high profile person, (from what will be my new target audience), who asked me for the very same thing I’ve been working on. How synchronous is that?

As I mentioned, I have been working behind the scenes. I’ve told no one of my plans (except for my financial advisor). This request was out of the blue.

If that wasn’t a sign to fire with all engines, I don’t know what is.

The takeaway

As entrepreneurs, we have to stop shrugging off signs and opportunities as coincidences. We have to believe in ourselves, our business and our abilities, (even if you’re as crazy as me in endeavoring to build a whole new business model). We have to embrace the fear of the unknown with open arms and with child-like wonder and innocence. In the words of Deepak, “Coincidences are not accidents but signals from the universe which can guide us toward our path.”

So, you know, that thing you’ve been seriously thinking about? Go for it! You never know what opportunities will present themselves along the way.

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About the Author Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

Using Social Media as a Newswire

We recently participated in a survey by TekGroup who were interested in finding out how social media users are following, sharing, posting and monitoring news on various social media outlets. In their ‘2015 Social Media News Survey Report’ -survey respondents indicated they are using social media tools habitually with more than 90% saying they use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs on a daily basis to follow and monitor news and information. We thought we would share some tidbits we found interesting.

Image of news release with soical media icons Where do social media users go?

73% use press releases when following, sharing, or posting news info. Your news releases must be available on your online newsroom when you use social media for distribution. Links from Twitter and Facebook should go directly to your online newsroom and your branded press release.

Controlling your own story on social media

84% of survey takers believe news gathered via social media sources are more timely than traditional media. It is imperative that you update your corporate social media sites regularly so that you are in control of your own story. Being able to publish your news content on your online newsroom and then making it immediately available on social channels will increase your chances of reaching your audience in a more timely fashion.

Gaining visibility

88% believe social media tools are important for following/monitoring news and information. A lot of people are alerted to breaking news using social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. By including your own corporate news on these channels, you give your organization more visibility in the social media universe.

Just how important is social media to news content

With 95% of users finding social media an important vehicle for sharing and recommending news and information, it is essential that you have social sharing icons readily available on all of your news content, not just press releases, but also photos, videos and other news assets.

The key take-away?

More and more bloggers and journalists are writing about companies every day – both positive and negative stories. Comments on Facebook and message boards also are becoming more commonplace as areas to discuss products, services and companies. Make sure that you are involved and engaged with posting and writing content on a regular basis. You can download the full report here: http://www.tekgroup.com/social-media-news-survey/

Are you fully taking advantage of social media to share your story? We can help! Contact storylinePR and tell us your story.

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About the Author Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

Surprise and Delight your Customers

a supriseWe are big fans of ‘Surprise and Delight’ marketing. How can you not be? The impact is emotional and powerful. The term is fairly new to the marketing realm, but the concept isn’t.

Designed to be fun, ‘Surprise and Delight’ is a marketing strategy where companies randomly select an individual or group to receive a gift or experience.

The unexpected “wow” factor, coupled with a personal touch, is what makes marketing human and memorable.

Not all brands have the kind of budget to pull off a campaign on the same scale as some of these examples, but with the right strategy in place, you can create an impression with your customers in creative and cost effective ways.

Here are a few of our fav’s.  These should get the creative juices flowing. Enjoy!

Westjet

Thanks to a team of merry WestJetters and the power of technology, Westjet showed their customers miracles really do happen with this video. Read their blog post to learn more about the making of this video.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/zIEIvi2MuEk]

TD Thanking Machine

TD turns ATMs into ‘Automated Thanking Machines’ to create some very special moments for customers across Canada using the hashtag #TDThanksYou

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/bUkN7g_bEAI]

Tropicana

Tropicana brings the sun to the Canadian Arctic after 31 days without sunlight in their “Brighter mornings for brighter days” campaign.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/4Krky4i6Xk8]

Coca-Cola

A Coca-Cola delivery truck is converted into a happiness machine on wheels delivering “doses” of happiness in the streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/hVap-ZxSDeE]

Honda Loves You Back

In appreciation of  fans, Honda set out to put a smile on a few faces. Watch what happened when they paid the parking fee for some Honda lovers at a recent NHL hockey game.

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons surprised customers by taking away their senses and inviting them to Get into the Dark. What happens next is an experience with Tims Dark Roast that no one saw coming…

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/svfFvkHgeWY]

Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign

What women in the world didn’t fall in love with this campaign? As women, we are our own worst beauty critics. Dove decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.  Talk about surprise and delight.

[youtube video=https://youtu.be/litXW91UauE]

What’s your fav?

Makes you want to go out and surprise and delight your customers right now doesn’t it? What’s your favorite surprise and delight marketing campaign? Share here in the comments.

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About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

how technology has changed how we tell brand stories

Who remembers this? It was similar to our first home PC, bulky equipment that required you to dial into a modem number and attach the phone receiver to a coupling device.

Image of old home PC technologyI also remember our first home PC game, it was a text based treasure hunt where you mapped out the adventure in your mind.

My, how times have changed.

My daughter now uses skype to show her friends her latest craft project and connects with her grandparents 8 hours away to help her with her homework. She uses her laptop to find answers to questions and as a science lover, discovers new and exciting creatures that live half way across the globe through Google images.

I remember watching this commercial and thinking this was sci-fi stuff and how I would never see these things happen in my life time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kfIFDX9kE4&w=420&h=315]
That was about 20 years ago. If you think back to vintage commercials, you will find companies like this one ahead of their time in creative storytelling. Funny how advertising has gone full circle to storytelling through content marketing.

Are you telling your brand story?

With social media, we now have so many options to tell our brand stories. Video is great for doing so and up until now, it has been price prohibitive for small business to get in the game. I stumbled across this entrepreneur.com article that provides a few options for affordable, online video-production services. There are many others – but the key is in the concept and delivery.  Perhaps it’s time to get out a pen and paper and start drafting an old-fashioned story board to get the creative juices flowing.

What’s your favourite storytelling video of today or yesterday? There’s no shortage of inspiration out there!

About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

 

Hashtag lessons from #Ottawa

We’re often asked why should one use hashtags and the best way to use them. Put simply, you want to use hashtags to drive conversations about your business. At the end of the day, you want to be able to measure how many people posted tweets about your product, brand or service and how many people you reached. There are some fundamental guidelines to creating and measuring the use of hashtags.

twitter-new-hashtag-pages-are-for-events-not-brands-c8320d8342

Creating your hashtag.

  • Make it unique. Before tweeting your chosen hashtag, search ensure it’s not already being used. You want your hashtag to be relevant and exclusive to you.
  • Make sure its meaningful. You want to create a hashtag that means something to users and one that people can easily understand. i.e. “#SLPRBS” means nothing to users, however “#StorylineBigSavings” will have a better impact.
  • Make it simple. Using a myriad of hashtags in a tweet in order to be picked up by search dilutes your promotion or event message.  For example – “#PR #smallbiz #entrepreneur in one tweet will result in being lumped in with other tweets using the same hashtags and your message will get lost.
  • Make it short. Try to include your business name. If your business name is too long, use an acronym. For example – instead of “#StorylinePublicRelationsTips”, shorten it to something like this: “#storylinePRtips”

Monitoring your engagement.

  • Manage Expectations. In order to trend on twitter, you have to tweet a lot in a short time and generally geared around a promotion or event. Our case study in this post provides a good example of an trending event.
  • Use Tools. Monitor. Using third-party apps such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, you can set up permanent columns using your hashtag to keep track of who is actively engaging with you.
  • Engage. Engage in conversations using your hashtag – don’t just stand by the sidelines and watch it happen. You’ll have a better chance of going viral, as demonstrated in this case study:

Case study

If you’re from Ottawa, you’ve likely heard of the inaugural #NatureNocturne event at The Museum of Nature — the after-hours “grown-up playground” this past January. It’s a great example of local hashtag inspiration. The communications and PR staff did a tremendous job of communicating a fabulous event that in our humble opinion, was much overdue for Ottawa. They managed their social media channels extremely well, engaging fans and followers – live tweeting and communicated often. Literally hundreds of #NatureNocturne guests were engaged in conversation and talking about the event – tweeting & blogging about their experience, posting photos of drinking wine beside hissing cockroaches & kissing dinosaurs.

Was their hashtag unique and meaningful? Absolutely. You can bet no one else was using it. The unfortunate result of having a rather long hashtag, (or one with terms not easy to replicate), is that it can get inadvertently changed in the process – as in the case with #NatureNocturne. Cold finger tips trying to navigate smart phones while standing in line outside in the cold likely had something to do with it. Somehow – the “N” got dropped transforming their hashtag to “#naturenocture” and this is the one the media picked up their headline.

The use of their hashtag, (retweeted correctly or misspelled) got them noticed. The event was a huge success from an engagement perspective – both pre and post launch. Check it out yourself by going to twitter and search #NatureNocturne. You’ll see what we mean. They also managed to get their hashtag trending on TrendsMap Ottawa.

New Year’s Resolutions to Kickstart your PR

image of 2013 clockDo you have New Year’s resolutions set for your business in 2013? I have many. On the top of my list is face time. Personally, I plan to get out from behind my computer screen and set more appointments for coffee / lunch with cherished colleagues, (who I have cancelled on far too many times in 2012 than I care to admit). I want to reach out to new contacts that I have established a rapport on social media & have been wanting to meet in person to further build on those relationships. 

I also intend to work smarter, not harder. Here at the office, we’ve been really focused on our new business model. We’ve been testing various elements of storylinePRO for several months now and are very excited about our 2013 launch. Details to come.

Does your PR need a kickstart in 2013?
We’ve highlighted the following New Year’s resolutions for you to consider to kickstart your business PR profile.

Write Better Headlines

Whether it’s a blog post, a news release, email campaign or a Facebook or Twitter update, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about restructuring your headlines in 2013 to appeal to a broader audience.  There are a couple of reasons for this… 

a)  
The headline is what journalists see first in news room wires and the first thing your audience sees in RSS feeds, email in-boxes and status updates on social media. You have to make it compelling to ensure your message gets the attention it deserves. 

b)
Search engines place extra weight upon the text at the top of the page and only index the first 65 characters of the headline. 

Addressing both these issues when creating headlines can be challenging, but can be accomplished keeping these tips in mind… 1. Think like a journalist 2. Point out the benefits and 3. Be concise.

Stop ‘Selling’ and Start ‘Telling’ your Story

Great communication is about telling stories well. Some of the largest and savviest organizations are using “stories” as a core foundation of their marketing efforts and are discovering that storytelling is very powerful in the world PR. Public Relations is no longer about developing messages to be pushed to the media. Rather than tug on the sleeves of the media and beg for mentions, tell your story – everyone has one, what’s yours? In this issue of ePRnews, we shared some tips on understanding the use of stories in PR.

Add  More Video

And speaking of storytelling, video can bring your stories to life, creating emotion and visually stimulating assets to drive home points that your audience cares most about. It just takes a little creativity, a good story and solid planning.  Here is a recent ePRnews newsletter on this very subject.

Evaluate your Social Media PR Channels

Journalists and bloggers who are at the top of your pitch lists – consume content digitally. Sharing on social media can have a lasting effect on the online visibility of your message. Ensure that you have the right set of social media PR channels to tell your story.  Of course, it doesn’t make sense to invest time and effort in a particular social network if your clients are not there. How do you determine where they spend their time? The easiest way is to ask.  Compile a quick survey!

Build Relationships with Media

Invest time in building relationships with reporters, not just media databases.  Watch the conversations being created around the news that is being reported in your industry.  Follow the source of the news. Find the names of the journalists who cover your specific topic. Search for articles by those journalists and start engaging.

Target your Pitch

Remembering a media survey we stumbled across a few years back, it revealed startling stats….  ‘Over half of journalists say unsolicited pitches result in a story only “1% to 20%” of the time and 44% say only “0 to 25%” of the pitches they receive are related to what they cover’.  On behalf of my industry, “tisk.. tisk…” You will have invested a lot of time and research into ‘the perfect pitch’, so make sure you are sending it to the right media contacts that would have a genuine interest in your story.

Our Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions
Setting goals is a wonderful thing for your business and your spirit. A new year ahead with nothing but promise and inspiration is rejuvenating. What other New Year’s resolutions have you planned for your business that will kick-start your PR profile in 2013?

Telling stories with video

An interesting conversation was sparked on Facebook by a few of our newsletter subscribers about business videos.  The gist of the conversation was about structuring good video.

We believe it all comes down to storytelling. Great communication is about telling stories well. Some of the largest and savviest organizations are using “stories” as a core foundation of their marketing efforts and are discovering that storytelling with video is very powerful in the world PR.

A Classic Story
Here is an example of storytelling in its truest form, created by Chevy. In this 5 minute long video, a son (as a kid) witnessed his dad give up his old classic when things got financially difficult for the family to manage. 

Hearing the countless stories about the memories and how much that car meant to his father, his son decided to track it down as a surprise to him.  He followed the VIN number online and tracked it down through multiple owners  across several states over the next five years, always one step behind its’ last known location.  Short of hiring a private detective, he finally found it for sale in Montreal, QC and bought it back for his dad.

This video was created and shot by Chevy, who convinced the father that they were filming a documentary on three generations of an American family. Little did he know, they were actually filming the return of his beloved Chevy. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CER06i-qvyo&w=560&h=315]

 

What Chevy created next was really smart. They debuted the following 30-sec commercial, editing the longer version of the story and posted both to YouTube called “True Stories”.

We’re not car enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination – but we sure love a good story and this is one that struck a chord.

What we liked about this video is that it they told their story depicting the people and tradition behind the brand. Like all stories, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s emotional, heartwarming and compelling  to watch. 

“From Fathers to Sons… Chevy Runs Deep.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9OqyMSvTVM&w=560&h=315]

 

There is no doubt that Chevy has deep pockets to orchestrate this production, but creating a compelling story for your business with video does not take thousands of dollars.  It just takes a little creativity, a good story and solid planning. Next weeks’ edition of ePRnews is all about business videos and we’ll be providing some tips on how to create yours. Thanks @heathertwins and @DrAlanViau for the inspiration!

Not signed up for ePRnews?  Be sure to get on the list so you don’t miss another issue.