Experts, you’ve been warned!

Public Relations Espresso

The term ‘expert’ is now used by anybody claiming some degree of knowledge on a topic, but did you know that there is only one legal usage?  If you claim to be an expert without the evidence to back it up, you could be heading for trouble.

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Let’s Get Social? | Haters Gonna Hate

Public Relations Espresso

They say that theses days if you don’t upset somebody you’re doing something wrong. But haters are going to hate, right? Well, if the reaction to this song, written by Phil Mershon, Director of Events at Social Media Examiner and performed by Mary McCoy at Social Media World earlier this year is anything to go by then the song is an almost perfect. It has upset lots – and I mean LOTS – of people – most of them the socialites the song places in its ironic crosshairs.

The song sums up the current state of social media and the problems it faces – where the often self-appointed doyens of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the ilk turn on what, by the  number of views, shares and comments it has received, would appear to be a perfect example of everything they evangelize.  It has ticked all of the boxes of the perfect piece of social content marketing and has got people talking about it.

The only problem is that it pokes fun at the behaviour of the people that have assumed the role of the socialati  [OK, I made that word up!].  Many of them – in the audience at Social Media World – were willing participants in the prank dutifully pulling out their cellphones to take ‘selfies’ at the order of Phil Mershon.

I wrote about the dark side of social media a few months ago – where those that have presumed leadership of the discipline [although it is, in reality, only the use of a collection of platforms] seek to retain their superiority by attacking those that seek to question their authority.  The more that we stand up to the so-called social ‘experts’ and call them out the sooner they might understand that social media is about conversation and not about vanity metrics and superiority.

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Engage Brain. Open Mouth. Not the other way around

This advice greeted me every time I walked in to a broadcast studio – and served me well over the years.  It’s also good advice for small businesses and startups starting public relations, marketing and social media activity.

Too often organizations rush to do something rather than spending time planning it.  The result is, often, failure to deliver the desired outcomes and – occasionally – embarrassment.

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What Is Engagement

Engagement comes up in almost every conversation about PR, marketing and publicity, yet very few people are able to define it, how you measure it, or the value it delivers to an organization. What it’s not is an exchange on twitter or Facebook or shared content because you have asked them to. Engagement is the new ‘awareness’ that traditional PR agencies have sold for decades.

True engagement is where a defined audience is taking a distinct action because THEY want to. In the next edition of the THINK PR Espresso we’ll be talking about how best to engage an audience.

What Is Awareness?

Awareness is what most PR agencies sell, but here’s why it is probably not what your business needs unless it is delivering the right message to the right audience, via the right channel and at the right time.

Let’s face it, how many conversations have you ever started with a megaphone?  If your business needs tangible commercial outcomes, rather than just awareness call us on +1. 647.773.2677 or email

How important is a name

In today’s THINK PR Espresso we’re looking at names and naming in relation to startup and small business public relations and marketing – specifically URL selection, website and visual brand look and feel and PR. Thank you to Carmen Rojas for the question.

This is a slightly longer video – perhaps a lungo rather than an espresso -and is something that could be the topic for a future Google Hangout, but I hope that there is something valuable in this edition.

The name of a business, product or service is an important part of creating something new. It is often the first thing that prospects, customers, investors and the media will hear and see and you’re going to repeat it many thousands of times over the life of a business. That said, a business idea, product or service shouldn’t be defined by a name. It should be short, memorable and the URL needs to be available without too many substituted letters or numbers.

It is also important that there is a story behind the name. Some stories will be stronger than others, but you need to be able to answer the question about where the name came from. As an example, THINK DIFFERENT[LY] is partly a doff of the cap to Apple and the THINK DIFFERENT campaign that started the process of reviving the companies fortunes; it’s also a reflection of the way that I think – anybody that knows me personally will tell you that I am not a conventional thinker.

Differently is also an adverb – a doing word – which is about actually doing something – in this case thinking – differently, rather than just thinking about it. It also describes the way in which we are trying to change the PR industry and encourage entrepreneurs to think differently about public relations. The square brackets also point to by journalistic days where editors comments or corrections were often placed within square brackets – signifying a third-party, and often silent – voice.

We want to help small businesses owners and startup entrepreneurs to take charge of their PR and marketing and, in the majority of cases, talk for themselves, rather than paying an agency to be their publicist or spokesperson. We are the silent voice – the coach in the background – whispering advice and guidance – in their ears.

The look and feel needs to reflect both the name, the value proposition and the values that you want your audiences to associate with your company, product or service – but in many cases the visual look and feel will be defined more by the intended audience than by the name.

In the case of THINK DIFFERENT [LY] the website is partly a result of my desire for simplicity, partly an attempt to differentiate from the majority of PR agency websites that make many bold claims and, in my opinion, use too many words doing so. We’re also trying to make a subject that is seen as complicated and full of smoke and mirrors as clear and transparent as we can – our audience is, after all, entrepreneurs not marketers and PR people.

In many cases the logo and colour scheme will take care of itself. Ask a designer to create multiple versions of a logo so you can compare and contrast. It’s also a good idea to ask a few peers, customers and prospects what they think if you are able – better to get their feedback before you share it with the world than afterwards.

The problem with most press releases

Press releases are inextricably linked with PR – despite the fact that they are most often used as a publicity and promotion tool [there is no intent to use them to develop relationships with an audience – not even the media]. Press releases can – and, arguably, should be a valuable part of a small business and startup PR toolkit but they must be done properly.

Rather than trying to communicate every feature and function, make wildly overoptimistic claims or tell the world about a minor point release, find one thing that is likely to start a dialogue between your organization and the intended audience. Rather than using one release and sending it out to everybody, develop multiple releases that communicate the most important piece of information to a specific audience.

The press release should be the start – or continuation – of a relationship building process; too often it is used with the intent to get press coverage and most miss the target by a wide margin.

What Is The Right Delivery Channel?

In this edition of the THINK PR Espresso we talk about the right delivery channel.

Social Media is touted by many as being the silver bullet for marketeers and PR people – it is a must-have tool for all organizations in order to deliver messages, content and to communicate with their audiences in real-time. It’s not true.

The truth is that there is no default delivery mechanism – social or otherwise – that will guarantee that you’re able to build mutually beneficial relationships between your organization and its audiences – it depends on your your business culture, your products and services and, most importantly, your audience. These factors, along with your message and timing will determine the best delivery mechanism.

The rule of thumb is that in order to have a conversation you need to be in the same place as your audience -whether that’s physically or virtually – and you need to understand how they use each mechanism or platform. This will enable you to develop a strategy to deliver the right message to your audience using the most appropriate platform.

I always tell people about Apple – arguably the best example of social media communications we have. And, yet they use none of the established social platforms. It always amazes me that more companies don’t follow their lead.

I’ll tell that story in more detail in a future PR espresso.

If you have any questions about any of the PR espresso so far then please drop an email to or call me on +1 647.773.2677. If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future espresso then please let me know and I’ll be happy to include it.

When Is The Right Time?


Timing is often overlooked by organizations planning their PR activities.  If the timing is wrong everything else you do could be in vain.  Imagine trying to start a conversation with somebody as they exit a room or start a conversation with somebody else!

Most look at the best time for their business rather than looking at it from their audiences perspective.  Get the timing wrong and you can find you waste time and money trying to communicate with the audience only to find they are distracted, you missed the window of opportunity or are trying to compete with competitors for your audiences attention.

When you’re planning a PR activity ask yourself, is this the right time for your audience?  If not, work out when is and reschedule.