Time for a “Brand” New You?

September 11th, 2017

Your brand evolves over time, reflecting a personal and professional commitment to your goals, beliefs and the expectations of others. Your brand is what we (consumers, employers, colleagues, friends, and family) trust you for.

Each of us has a personal brand – characteristics and experience we offer. Many, many articles and books discuss personal branding and the importance of authenticity and trust. Here are some resources that offer insights and advice that will help you establish a successful brand.

► Your Personal Brand Needs a Growth Strategy, Entrepreneur Magazine

www.entrepreneur.com/article/242504

► Clients Want Authenticity – Your brand needs to reflect the real you

www.healyourgrid.com/clients-want-authenticity-your-brand-needs-to-reflect-the-real-you/

► How To: Build Your Personal Brand on YouTube

http://mashable.com/2009/11/04/youtube-personal-brand/#ZvFxBvFeK5qc

► 4 Examples of Brand Strategy Driving Organizational Success

http://www.setteradvertising.com/4-examples-of-brand-strategy-driving-organizational-success/

► Brand New You & 1st Person PR

www.sallychapralis.com/blog/?p=336

► Why is Branding Important?

https://strategynewmedia.com/why-is-branding-important/

Best wishes to you and your branding success!

Entrepreneurial Spirits from Youngsters to Seniors

August 28th, 2017

Entrepreneurs usually start their own businesses because they see opportunities and needs in the marketplace that trigger their interests. Or, they work for an organization that values their entrepreneurial savvy and contribution to company goals.

The entrepreneurial spirit can also apply to individuals facing the business of everyday life. They see alternatives, take initiative, make sound decisions, create new strategies or techniques, and assume the risk of innovation when exploring approaches to life’s challenges.

Meet some entrepreneurs who reflect all ages and stages of life experiences, from pre-school motivated kids with ideas, to baby boomers and older who thought they had retired but then took new directions.

►Ready to Become an Entrepreneur?

“What’s the Best Age to Launch a Start-Up? Founders Young and Old Tell Us”

http://venturebeat.com/2013/04/09/whats-the-best-age-to-launch-a-startup-founders-young-and-old-tell-us/

►Are You an Entrepreneurial Spirit?

“Spirit of the Entrepreneur – These 5 characteristics will take you far as you start your business”.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/190986

►Entrepreneurial Kids & Finance Prodigies

“10 Successful Kid Entrepreneurs under the Age of 13”

https://www.fastupfront.com/blog/entrepreneurs/10-successful-kid-entrepreneurs-age-13/

“9 Young Entrepreneurs Who Became Personal Finance Prodigies”

 http://quicken.intuit.com/support/help/fun-with-finances/9-young-entrepreneurs/INF16221.html;jsessionid=HmlFgPi4k6yDT+Y1eNVJlA**.p39-2

►Entrepreneurial Adults

“ Older Entrepreneurs find new niches and potential in start-ups”

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-03-11/older-entrepreneurs/53483890/1

“The entrepreneurs over 70 taking the business world by storm”

https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/dec/16/entrepreneurs-over-70-business-world-by-storm

 

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? Share your story and experience on First Person Public Relations!

 

Getting Ready to Negotiate with Others? Start by Negotiating with Yourself

August 4th, 2017

Whether we are negotiating with managers, parents, colleagues or friends to find a mutually rewarding agreement or relationship “…the biggest obstacle is actually ourselves – our natural tendency to react in ways that do not serve our true interests….But this obstacle can also become our biggest opportunity.”

In his book, Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents, author William Ury explains “that if we learn to understand ourselves first, we lay the groundwork for understanding and influencing others.”  http://www.williamury.com/

Ury introduces “Six Challenging Steps” that may at times seem like common sense…common sense that is uncommonly applied.” Ury’s experience includes 3 ½ decades of working as a mediator with people and organizations from all walks of life. The Six Challenging Steps offer specific, in-depth information on how to negotiate with yourself (“Inner Yes Method”) and how this approach will lead to rewarding outcomes for yourself and the “other side.” Here’s an introduction, and there’s a detailed chapter on each in his book.

“1. Put Yourself in Your Shoes — From Self-Judgement to Self-Understanding.  “Understand your worthiest opponent, yourself.  Don’t prematurely judge yourself. Listen to and explore your underlying needs, which will influence your negotiation strategy.

“2. Develop Your Inner BATNA — From Blame to Self-Responsibility.  “Almost all of us find it difficult not to blame others with whom we come into conflict. The challenge is to do the opposite and to take responsibility for your life and relationships. More specifically, it is to develop your inner BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), to make a commitment to yourself to take care of your needs independently of what the other does or does not do.”

“3. Reframe Your Picture — From Unfriendly to Friendly.  “The challenge is to change how you see your life, creating your own independent and sufficient source of contentment. It is to see life as being on your side even when it seems unfriendly.”

“4. Stay in the Zone — From Resistance to Acceptance.  “The challenge is to stay in the present moment, the only place where you have the power to experience true satisfaction as well as to change the situation for the better.”

“5. Respect Them Even If — From Exclusion to Inclusion.  “It is tempting to meet rejection with rejection, personal attack with personal attack, exclusion with exclusion. The challenge is to surprise others with respect and inclusion even if they are difficult.”

“6. Give and Receive — From Win-Lose to Win-Win-Win. It is all too easy, especially when resources seem scarce, to fall into the win-lose trap and to focus on meeting only your needs. The final challenge is to change the game to a win-win approach by giving first instead of taking.”

Ury also discusses The Three Wins: A Win Within, A Win With Others, and A Win for the Whole. “As I have personally experienced,” Ury says, “getting to yes with yourself is not just the most challenging, but the most rewarding negotiation of all.”

 

 

Have You Considered Buying a Franchise? Learn More from Owners of a Top-rated National Franchise

July 17th, 2017

“My husband and I were in our mid-60s and retiring from corporate America when we considered opening a business together. Friends suggested that we go into franchising and offered resources that could help us decide if franchising would work for us,” explains Gale Cohen-DeMarco.

After lots of research and working with the franchise consultancy FranNet.com, Gale and her husband Peter began to clarify their interests, professional strengths and goals. They identified three possible franchise opportunities. One was Sport Clips Haircuts, which focuses on men and boys’ haircuts in a sports-themed environment. “After more research into Sport Clips, we were comfortable with its business model and potential for us, challenging as this new venture would be.”

“Peter and I also complement each other’s strengths. He understands the financial side of businesses, and I am experienced in operations, and sales and marketing.”

Started with 3 Locations  – Growing & Learning

“We chose to start with 3 licenses which gave us the potential to open 3 stores.  When we looked at the financial impact of the Sport Clips business model, and spoke to existing owners, it was apparent that we needed 3 sites to be profitable enough for us.”

Gale and Peter’s new venture began in 2010 with lots of training and significant Sport Clips support. “We learned more about their local and national franchise policies, technical concerns, business, marketing, and real estate issues. We interviewed current franchise owners, former owners, and much more.”

“We had applicable skills and experience, we knew ‘best practices’ that were transferable to different businesses, and we accepted that we would be working long hours. We realized there was no such thing as a dumb question and could have gone on much longer asking more and more questions!”

Among the challenges in the hair stylist profession is the availability of licensed stylists who want to cut men’s hair. “We’re always in the hiring, referral and marketing mode, and there’s lots of competition.” To address this, Cohen-DeMarco’s marketing activities include Facebook, advertising, referrals from stylists and clientele, networking, membership and volunteering in local organizations.

Is Franchising for You?

Gale offers important advice as you consider franchising. “Peter’s financial experience has been critical, including his understanding of due diligence required by both franchisor and franchisee.”

Sport Clips gave them a list of current and former franchise owners who could explain the pros and cons of owning a franchise. “Over the past 7 years the business has continued to evolve. We currently face a national shortage of licensed stylists which has become the most limiting factor to growth that we now deal with. Even though we investigated the Sport Clips opportunity for several months, there was no way we could have seen this issue developing. Ultimately, you make the best decision you can with the information you have at hand, and then you dive in and work your heart out!”

“Being financially capable is very important, because it took us three years for our franchises to become profitable.  It’s an expensive learning process, but our success has been rewarding.” Today, the Cohen-DeMarco’s own 6 locations and plan to open 2 more.

To succeed in franchising, Gale offers tips and insights:

  • Lots of research is necessary before making a decision.
  • Being self-directed is important.
  • You should understand finances and requirements in franchising.
  • Do you have good relationships with other people?
  • Would you like being in a store-front business?
  • Do you have lots of time, which is required?
  • Networking in your community is important.
  • Marketing and a positive feedback is critical and ongoing.

And, Gale adds, remember this:

  • People – clients, staff and others – are your most important resource.
  • Don’t just think about money. How can you be the best and contribute to your community? Reciprocity becomes profitability.

Gale Cohen-DeMarco, gcdemarco1@comcast.net

Public Libraries Help Communities Grow in New Ways through Community Engagement

July 5th, 2017

 

While the Skokie Public Library has always been active in the community, the library formally established its Community Engagement department in January 2014. “Besides programs held at the library, we have been continually involved in a variety of outreach activities. However, as we researched our 2013-2016 strategic plan, we looked for a community engagement model that would help guide the new department’s work,” explains Susan Carlton, the library’s Community Engagement Manager.

They found it in Turn Outward, The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries, a 2 ½ day training class presented by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and the American Library Association. The Lab helps library directors and staff to more effectively interact with their communities, develop and implement new programs and work with library supporters. Seven libraries in the Chicago area have participated in this training session over the last three years.

“Harwood’s model for engaging the community helped us identify the residents and groups that are in need, how we can improve library programs and initiatives to better address community needs, and how we can partner with others to help the community solve problems.

“The results are mutually rewarding for the community – from individuals with ideas and questions to community organizations with their goals and unique needs. We all collaborate to see what’s possible,” says Carlton. The Community Engagement department now has nine full time and four part time staff members including Bookmobile staff.

Skokie and Community Engagement

Skokie is a unique community with a population that includes more than 65,000 diverse residents speaking more than 76 languages. As a result of facilitating a series of community conversations with Skokie residents Community Engagement staff identified three major themes that resonated with participants: the importance of a sense of safety; the wish for a vibrant downtown area; and the desire for a sense of belonging in this very diverse community. In an effort to find ways to address these themes the Community Engagement Department brought together a group of seven community stakeholders including school districts, village departments, social service organizations and the Niles Township English Language Learners Parent Center.

The group, SkokieCares, has been meeting to discuss how they can work together to help address some of the community’s needs. “As libraries rethink their roles in their communities, they understand that they are key, trusted entities and they bring numerous resources in addition to well established relationships and partnerships to the table. We want to partner with other organizations to address some of the community’s aspirations and challenges.” Carlton notes.

For example, the library sits on the Village Health Department’s Strategic Planning Committee contributing research skills and information resources as well as information about immigrant communities in Skokie. The goals of the Health Department’s strategic plan cover senior citizens, adults and youth with disabilities, school children, and others facing health challenges.

The Skokie Public Library’s Business and Career Center and the library’s business librarian are examples of how the Community Engagement Department works to identify and address the needs of business owners. Using information gleaned from conversations with small business owners throughout the community the business librarian designs trainings and conducts individual consultations targeting their information and technology needs. The library’s Business and Career Center was developed based on input from business owners and the local Chamber of Commerce to provide space for meetings, training sessions and appointments with clients.

Turn Outward

“We have an awesome staff that has enthusiastically helped us shepherd the Community Engagement’s new department and programming. It’s amazing what libraries can offer their communities.  Libraries need to help communities see the role they play and what they can do. It’s really exciting and the opportunities are endless,” Susan Carlton enthuses.

https://skokielibrary.info/

 

Want to Connect with the Media?  Time for a Pitch Letter!

June 12th, 2017

Are you a  public relations pro or citizen journalist who wants to share a newsworthy subject with an editor or producer, the “gatekeeper” to your targeted audience? Then you should know how to approach them because they want to hear from you.

The following pitch letter resources include pointers, samples and a quirky pitch letter.

How to Pitch the Media

Pitch letters target a specific publication or media outlet (local newspaper, radio or TV station), explains David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, latest  5th Edition.

In his book, Scott elaborates on these “How to Pitch the Media” bullets.

  • “Target one reporter at a time.
  • Use the tip line if the media outlet you are targeting has one.
  • Help the journalist understand the big picture.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Try newsjacking! (use current events as hooks)
  • Explain how customers use your product or work with your organization.
  • Don’t send email attachments unless asked.
  • Follow up promptly with potential contacts.
  • Don’t forget, it’s a two-way street – journalists need you to pitch them.”

Scott also quotes a newspaper editor: “The single most effective thing people do is watch and read my stories and send me personalized, smart pitches for stories that I am actually likely to cover.”  In other words, your pitch should reflect your familiarity with the medium and reporter.

Learn how to effectively connect with your target audience through pitch letters “social media, online video, mobile applications, blogs, news releases & viral marketing to reach buyers directly” in The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Pitching Media – Samples

“Sample Magazine Query or Pitch Letter”  https://www.thebalance.com/sample-magazine-query-or-pitch-letter-1360426

“The Pitch Letter”  http://www.sandralamb.com/writing-grammar/the-pitch-letter

Quirky Pitch Letter http://www.sallychapralis.com/pr_letter4.htm See below.

Editor/Producer/Contact
Medium/Beat

Dear (name of editor),

The shoes you wear take you to work, to the ball game, to the mall, to school, on a hike, or stepping out for a special event. If the shoes you wear are perfect for the occasion – comfortable as well as stylish – they help you feel more confident anywhere you go.

Into Shoes knows about the shoes you wear. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the downtown Somerset shoe store has fitted scores of women and men with shoes that take them everywhere. As one of the relatively few independent retailers, Into Shoes serves the young and older, liberal and conservative and all those walking spirits who want comfort, quality and style.

As part of its celebration, Into Shoes will donate two percent of its anniversary month’s sales to the Somerset Child Care Center and the Somerset Social Services Agency.

When Into Shoes initially opened, it focused on a few brands of comfortable shoes. It now offers more than 50 brands of women and men’s shoes from many international designers, attracting local customers as well as those from miles away who appreciate the eclectic variety, comfort, quality and style.

We think (name of medium) your followers will be interested in a sole-searching feature on shoes. We, of course, will be delighted to step into it, offering our 50-year perspective.

We look forward to talking to and walking with you.

Sincerely,

Bob Grant
Owner

###

Visit Sally Chapralis & Associates, Business Communications & Public Relations, www.sallychapralis.com

Could You Take Over a Business If the Owner Was Closing It?

May 25th, 2017

It now seems inevitable that when Yolanda Simonsis entered the package and converting industry in 1978 by working for a B2B publisher and within five years on a magazine as an editor-in-chief and associate publisher that she would one day establish an online magazine.  Sometimes, however, an opportunity suddenly emerges and you know it’s time. If you have entrepreneurial inclinations, Simonsis’ sudden transformation from employee to owner offers interesting insights and suggestions.

From Employee to Boss

“In August, 2011, we were advised that Paper, Film & Foil Converter magazine, which had been established in 1927, was closing along with other properties and employees would receive severance packages. In discussing our futures, three of us with long industry experience considered buying it, since the website and e-newsletter were very successful,” Simonsis explains.  “We did, and in addressing the new challenges, we have learned a lot and have been rewarded by the industry, advertisers and readers.”

By September, 2011, YTC Media, Inc. was established as the new owner of an online magazine: www.pffc-online.com. The new owners are: Yolanda Simonsis, President and Editorial Director; Timothy Janes, VP Online Sales; and Claudia Hine, VP Managing Editor.

In September, 2011, Simonsis attended an industry exhibition/conference in Las Vegas. She told attendees, including advertisers, about the new ownership and that Paper, Film & Foil Converter would no longer be a print publication.  Because PFFC had a prominent history and exhibiting participants knew and trusted Yolanda and the YTC staff, advertisers were very receptive. “They believed in us and our ability to make the new online site a success. PFFC also publishes a weekly newsletter via email. In fact, since 2011, we have increased revenues by 35% and have seen growth each year.”

Simonsis started her career in the packaging and converting industry at the former Delta Communications and immediately knew “I loved publishing, particularly trade publishing. In fact, it prompted me to seek additional training and education in publishing to prepare me for new responsibilities.”

When she and her colleagues began to set up the new YTC Media publishing company, Simonsis, Janes and Hine’s goals included maintaining their positive reputation, not disappointing staff and partners, and responding to subscribers and advertisers interests and feedback. “Our Online Buyers Guide, for example, is very popular.”

How to Purchase the Company You Work For – Simonsis’ Advice & Suggestions

  • Find a good lawyer who has experience in buying/selling in the trade publishing industry or your industry.
  • Be sure your key contributors are on-board before sharing any news about your new ownership with others. Once you are sure you have the elements in place, move on to the next step. . .
  • If you require “angel investors,” line them up before talking to your lawyer and accountant.
  • When starting out, it’s important to deliver your new message of ownership to key advertisers in person. You are asking them to place their trust in you with a monetary investment that you expect to return with a surplus of advantages.
  • Develop a reward system for those who are loyal to you as charter advertisers.
  • You don’t have to spend a ton of money in legalizing the formation of the corporation (we used LegalZoom), but you do need to do your research prior to forming the corporation in order to decide what fits your needs best. Will you form an S-Corp, an LLC, Inc., etc.? My advice is to check first with a CPA who will be doing your taxes. Tax law can make or break your fledgling company.
  • Create a detailed press release announcing your new company’s ownership and spread it far and wide. In a competitive situation, you don’t want fake news to become the reality for your potential advertisers and/or subscribers. The best scenario is to share your news at a large industry event/conference/trade show where people can ask you questions and you can provide the final word.
  • Don’t forget to take advantage of past relationships to navigate where and how to set up reliable vendors who will provide valuable services.
  • Don’t commit to using service providers whom you’ve never used in the past. Network and use your past experience to find the best vendors.
  • This is your chance to implement new concepts that will make your product better than in the past. Identify those concepts and innovations and “make them so.”
  • Constant communication is your best ally. We worked very long hours with not much sleep when starting. But, our constant communication made sure we were all on the same page. We opted for three partners, and it was the best thing we did. All of our decisions come down to majority rule. It makes the difficult decisions much easier.
  • Make customer service a priority. Go above and beyond, and people will remember.

At first the challenges of keeping track of all you must do seem endless. Keep a running list and cross off each item as it’s accomplished. This is incredibly important to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Identify whose responsibility it is to do what. While these responsibilities may change in the future, someone must take on even the most onerous of duties at first. And you or a partner may discover that you surprisingly enjoy doing what you may have hated in the past. Somehow it’s different when you become the person in charge rather than doing work for someone else.

Rewards

It may take a good two to three years of maintaining the status quo before you start to see real growth. Don’t be frustrated. If you’re slowly but surely paying off your start-up loans and meeting your fiscal obligations, then your third or fourth year will be gratifying.

 

 

“Conversation cleanup – The way you communicate at work may be hurting you.”

May 10th, 2017

 

We may have some annoying communication habits “that are driving people crazy.” It’s probably time to address them. Author Kat Boogaard discusses “eight common faux pas” in her (Inc.) article, “Conversation cleanup.” Here’s a brief intro to each one, and you will find more information in the article itself at: http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=ac32ff11-f660-4dc2-bd29-c98aefaf117b

  •  “Constantly Interrupting. We all have one thing in common when talking. We want to be listened to. So if you’re one of those people who tend to jump in and interrupt or – even worse – try to complete people’ sentences for them, you need to…”
  • “Multitasking. Conversations deserve your full attention, not the halfhearted glances you’re willing to give them when you manage to rip your focus away from your iPhone screen. Multitasking is a habit we’re likely all guilty of, but…”
  • “Using Qualifiers. ‘Don’t take this personally, but…’; This might be a bad idea, but…’; I know what you’re thinking, but…if you tend to overuse them, you may be driving people up a wall. Why?”
  • “Equating Your Experiences. Someone is explaining a difficult problem he is currently facing. You immediately respond with ‘I know exactly how you feel,’ and then launch into your own long-winded tale … that’s not really relevant. It’s important to remember…”
  • “Floundering. We’ve all had to deal with those people who seem to just ramble on endlessly without a point and appear to be talking simply because they like the sound of their own voices. … When you decide to speak up, make sure…”
  • “Avoiding Direct Contact. …The never-ending assortment of communication tools available today has made us less willing to actually talk to one another. So before hitting send on a message, …”
  • “Waiting Instead of Listening. As my mom always loves to tell me, ‘There’s a big difference between hearing and listening!’ And when you’re having a conversation with someone, you should be actively listening. That means…”
  • “Using Filler Words. ‘Hey, Jason, Umm, I’m just checking in on that, uhhh, report to see if you think you’ll, like, have that done by, like the end of the day.’ This is perhaps the toughest bad verbal habit to break. … But…”

It’s time to tune in and address our conversational issues. For great advice before your next conversation head to:

http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=ac32ff11-f660-4dc2-bd29-c98aefaf117b

 

Books for Business and You

April 27th, 2017

Here are a few of the many, many books that offer incredible information and insights to help you grow your business.

Getting to YES with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents, by William Ury, Published by HarperCollins, 2015.

  • Put Yourself in Your Shoes
  • Develop Your Inner BATNA
  • Reframe Your Picture
  • Stay in the Zone
  • Respect Them Even If
  • Give and Receive

The New Rules of Marketing & PR, 5th Edition, by David Meerman Scott. Published by John Wiley & Sons, 2015. How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly.

Guerrilla Marketing In 30 Days, 3rd Edition, by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager. Published by Entrepreneurial Media, Inc., 2014.  This book gives you:

  • “Disciplined 30-Day Plan: One Action/Day
  • “Bonus Days and Actions for Maintaining Momentum
  • “Proven Tactics Adapted to New Customer Demands, Markets, and Technologies.”

Workbooks and other resources are also available.

The 25 Best Books for Entrepreneurs

“If you have your sights set on building a massively successful company where you call the shots, you might want to start with the following books.” by Jenna Goudreau, Inc.Magazine, First appeared in Business Insider, http://www.inc.com/business-insider/best-books-for-entrepreneurs.html

If you want to suggest your favorite books or resources for business, please do.

Want to start a website without using a designer? Consider WordPress

March 27th, 2017

 

If you want a website but don’t have the budget for a designer and don’t know how to create one yourself, then consider WordPress. “It is a common and popular web design solution, and most web-hosting companies offer it as an option,” notes Christopher Merrill, Christopher Merrill Web Design, www.christophermerrill.com

“I caution people to use WordPress through a web-hosting resource such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions or DreamHost. but not a free version. These web hosters usually provide a simple way to create a WordPress website offering many templates and design options. WordPress acts as a content management system that helps you create and manage digital content. So, with WordPress you can add text, images and links to your menus.”

Christopher also suggests that if you have questions about WordPress, you can also type that question into Google. For example: How do I create a website page in WordPress? Or, How do I add images in WordPress? Search engines are smart and understand the full question and your goals, leading you to answers.

“If you want to create a template yourself, then you must create a ‘child theme’ based on that template,” Christopher explains. “A ‘child theme’ is a universal theme in WordPress that you select, and it’s the only theme you will use.  And, once again, Google the question: How do I create a child theme in WordPress?; and up comes an  explanation. If you’re not comfortable doing it, then you may need professional assistance.

“On another note, you will need to learn how to upload files from your computer to your server, where your files are stored, using the file manager that comes with your account, or an ftp (file, transfer, protocol) program. You might need a professional’s help with this.

“If you’re the adventuresome type, you might want to know the difference between a widget and a plugin and other ‘fancy stuff.’ They may not be necessary, but WordPress offers the basic plugins you need. And, of course, you can Google: WordPress Plugins vs. Widgets: What’s the Difference?

“Finally, when WordPress asks you to update your website or your plugins, do it. This is important for keeping your WordPress site secure. This also reflects the importance of the “child theme.” Without it, you will lose updates. WordPress and your website can give you power and can be an exciting and rewarding adventure.”