PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR THE LOCAL RETAILER

According to the Public Relations Society of America, by definition, public relations is ‘the strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Essentially, public relations is the ability to influence the way the public perceives your business and products.

Now, public relations can often be confused with marketing and advertising, but the three should work in conjunction with your sales team to improve and promote your business in the best possible way.  Whether you have previous experience with using public relations as a business tool, or you are thinking about using this for the first time, we’re going to cover the basics of public relations and press releases to help you design an easy and effective campaign.

Why Public Relations and Press Releases?

Public relations and press releases are great business tools for several reasons, with the main being that you are the one in control of the information released.  Since you are in the driver’s seat, you can regulate your image, the tone of the message and medium where the message is sent, thus creating the ultimate booster for you and your business.

Other benefits include increased brand awareness and public influence, image building and increased credibility.  Plus, aside from the cost to actually create the message, it is essentially free and it works directly with your current advertising and marketing plan.

What information to release?

There are several things to keep in mind when determining what information to put in press releases:  does it have an impact on my public or local community?  Is it current news?  Will it boost my credibility as the local expert?  Will it set me apart from other businesses?  Consider some of the following topics to use for press releases:

  • Sponsorship of local charities
  • New products or channels available to your community
  • Grand Openings or Open Houses
  • Expansion
  • Contests and Giveaways
  • Industry awards or customer service awards
  • Unique or new services not offered by other businesses

Although you may be partial to your business, not everything is newsworthy.  Only release items you are truly proud of, or know will set you apart from other businesses.  Another thing to keep in mind is to stay positive – remember, you are in control, so make sure to generate excitement and upbeat responses from your public.

Where to Send your Releases

Now that you have determined your press-worthy story and typed it up for publication, where do you send it?  That all depends on the topic you are releasing.  For the most basic answer, your local TV stations, newspapers and radio stations are a good place to start.  For newspaper (or print in general), contact the beat writer directly.  For TV and radio stations, get the information for the assignment desk editor and send the story to them.

Another thing to keep in mind is industry news.  If the item you are releasing is directly correlated to a specific industry (partnerships, new product lines, etc.), don’t hesitate to send the release to the publications for that industry, which can include magazines, newsletters and online sites.  For example, when DOW Electronics recently announce its new partnership with Mobile Solutions, we sent our press release to the top 12 Volt publications, such as 12voltinsider.com, 12voltnews.com and Mobile Electronics Magazine to name a few.  These types of publications often rely on their readers to provide them with current news, and appreciate those who are proactive about submitting information.

Public relations and press releases are truly an art, so don’t get discouraged if your release doesn’t get picked up the first time you send one out.  Often times it takes several releases before you get even one mention, but once you perfect the ‘magic formula’ and create your contact lists at individual publications, it will be no time before you get mentioned on a regular basis.  Just keep at it and continue to build the business image and credibility of your business.

Preparing for Team Summit – Part II

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Now that you have begun prepping for Team Summit, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of all the things you will need to be prepared for.  You will need to think of all the expected, and unexpected, scenarios that could possibly happen so you are not stuck with your hands in your pockets.

What to Bring?

There are always the usual items you need to bring with you: comfortable, yet professional, clothing, a good pair of walking shoes and personal items; but what about your business items?  Get an extra set of business card printed before heading to San Antonio – you will be meeting numerous connections, and you want to make sure they have your contact information once everyone heads home.  And, when you are taking the business cards of others, make conversation notes on the back so you can reference them at a later date.  Also, for training classes, a recorder (or app on your cell phone) to log the information can be much better than actually trying to write notes – the recording will be much more detailed, and if you have any questions when you get back, you won’t have to wonder what was noted in your class.

Other items to think of: gum or breath mints, extra sets of personal items, a credit card or cash, extra writing materials, brochures on your company, a camera, aspirin or other medications, batteries or chargers, sewing kit, city maps, sunscreen, lanyards, band aids, hand sanitizer.  If you are staying the extra day in San Antonio, don’t forget your golf clubs. J

Pre-Training Study

I know you have assigned your team members specific training classes (as mentioned in Part One) – so why not get yourself ready for class?  Trainers love when attendees are active and vocal within the seminar, so go ahead and make a list of questions you have for your trainer.  Consider mentioning situations that have occurred within your business or relevant industry trends to make the training applicable to your everyday business issues.  This will make you stand out and memorable to those attending the conference with you, you will get the information you desire from the training, and those who are teaching will appreciate you did your homework.

Other things to keep in mind: arrive on time, keep your sense of humor and listen!  While it is work, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time and you want to engage those around you.

After Team Summit

Now, time will go quickly, and soon you will be headed back to every-day business.  But, one important step many forget is to follow up with those connections you made while at the conference.  It can be as easy as writing an email, a short thank you note or sending pictures you took with your new friends.  Don’t be shy about reminding them on why you connected in the first place – and, after all, it is business, and you‘ve already completed the toughest first step, which is getting your foot in the door.

Additionally, if you have any social media accounts, be sure to share what you learned and pictures with those who follow you, and connect with your new friends on your feeds.   Invite your new connections to follow you or like your page, as this will be an easier way for you to keep in touch.  Plus, people love looking at pictures, and learning new things, so go ahead and share away!  It will only net you more traffic to your sites, thus branding your company.

All-in-all, Team Summit should be a good way for you to connect with others in business just like you, so make sure you stay open-minded so that you can share, and others can share their tips with you.  Keep your good attitude and enjoy all the new things you will learn and people you will meet.  There’s also some amazing entertainment at this year’s event, so don’t miss out on all the fun!  And when it’s all said and done, let us know how your Team Summit experience was for 2013.

And, make sure you come by to visit the DOW Electronics booth in the distributor area – we’d love to meet all our friends and followers!

Employee Training – Get the Most from your New Hire

New employees, and the training process, are bound to happen when you run a business.  According to Forbes Magazine, the average person changes jobs every 4.4 years, especially Millennials, so it is inevitable that you will have to hire and re-train a new employee.

So, what is the best way you get the most out of your training process, and the best performance from your new hire?  Many feel that education solely on role responsibilities is the best; however, the manner in which you approach training, combined with supplemental materials can provide the best method for your new worker.

POSITIVITY IS KEY

Creating a positive training environment is crucial in getting your new employee off on the right foot.  It will not only foster development in their new role, but will also help with confidence levels.  Being patient is also a part of the process for you or your trainers – beginner mistakes will happen, so gently remind him or her why this step in your process is important, and reward achievements.  Feedback should be relayed as helpful, whether it is positive or negative, so that your new employee does not become hindered in the course of learning responsibilities.

PROVIDE RESOURCES

Creating an outside list of reference points other than your company training manual can also be important in ensuring the new hire gets all the information they need.  These resources can be anything from a list of industry circulars, annual company reports, company newsletters or articles featuring your company.  This can provide insight for them to not only understand your company culture and environment, but will acclimate them to your set of expectations.  Allow them to review these materials in their training down-time to make them feel part of the team and so they are not overwhelmed with their current training.

CONTINUOUS EDUCATION

Encouraging continuous education is important for all employees in any industry, especially those that handle anything concerning new and ever-changing technology.  Urge your employees to read industry publications and subscribe to email blasts that relate to their job responsibilities so they can stay updated on trends and changes affecting your industry.  Other options for continuous education are conferences that offer training classes and feature important keynote speakers, or you can compensate those employees who take the initiative to complete training courses outside of work hours.   While we are never too old to learn, these actions will nurture an environment suitable for learning and allow your employees to be fulfilled within their professional lives.

There are a thousand different ways for you to train and guide your new employee to get the most from their time with your company, but what and how do you like to teach your employees to ensure you get the most from them??  Comment and let us know so we can share your tips with our DOW Electronics family.

Preparing for Team Summit – Part One

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With Team Summit just two short months away, it is never too early to prep yourself, and your team for the event.  More information will soon be coming from DISH, but this is just to help you with mentally preparing for Team Summit 2013.

Identify Your Goals

Why exactly are you attending Team Summit?  If you step into the conference with no defined goals or purpose for attending, you are bound to leave disappointed.  Do some homework about the schedule of events, training seminars and entertainment now so you can compile a list of goals you would like to complete while you are at the conference.  This research will let you know what to expect before you arrive and will help you determine where you and your team need to be. Whether it is networking, learning more about your role as a DISH retailer, or simply focusing on training, knowing your own expectations will set you up for success from the start.

Plan an Agenda

You can find this year’s tentative schedule here with a more defined list of training classes and schedule available in April.   Go ahead and start planning where you want to be and what classes and seminars you know you want to attend.  Planning for this now will allow you to make the best of your time at Team Summit, and ensure that you haven’t overbooked your time in San Antonio.  Also, if you have a team going to Team Summit with you, planning ahead will allow you to pick the individual training seminars that will benefit your team members the most.  For example, if one of your sales team needs help with general marketing, you can send him to any one of the marketing seminars offered, instead of the sales training.

Check, and Double-check

 Since you will be gone from the office or store-front for several days, just keep in mind that you may need to double-check that all your travel arrangements are set up.  I like to ensure I have booked the correct flight to and from the event, the hotel has my reservation noted, and everything has my name spelled correctly.  On top of travel arrangements, you will need someone to ‘hold down the fort’ while you are away.  Letting people know you will be out of the office in advance is always a good start, but you will need to make sure someone is available to take orders, handle issues and anything else that arises while you are out.  Emergencies and glitches are bound to happen, but having someone handle this office matter while you are gone will enable you to focus on the conference.

As more and more information comes in, we will be sure to pass your way.  And stay tuned in for ‘Prepping for Team Summit – Part II’ which will be a more in-depth look at those items you will need to prepare prior to leaving for San Antonio!

Best Sales Practices for dishNET

Since dishNET internet is a fairly new service, everyone is still learning the ins and outs of selling what is best for the customer.  Now that we have been in the game for a few months, some trends have emerged, and below describes those emerging trends so you know the best way to sell this service to possible dishNET customers in your area:

Gamers:

Those customers indicating they having gaming units, like Xbox or Playstation, are generally not happy with the dishNET service.  The delayed response time from satellite back to earth interferes with the ability to successfully game while online.  DishNET is not recommended for this style of internet user.

Multiple Dwelling Units/Multiple Dishes:

Those people living in a multiple dwelling unit may have a limitation to the number of dish units they are allowed to mount on their porches.  Additionally, many homeowners were not aware that multiple dishes would be required.  This creates an aesthetic issue for the homeowner or dweller, and disappointment that not one unit can be used for both internet and video.  Be sure to clarify this with your potential customer, noting that there is not a plan for a solo-dish solution coming anytime in the near future.

Data Caps and Throttling:

Some potential customers may be hesitant about using dishNET, even though their internet usage falls within a specific data plan.  When speaking with potential customers about using dishNET, shDoc1ow them the Plan Selector Tool to right-size their internet needs.  This tool easily converts normal internet activities into a usage estimate and gives you a personalized data package recommendation.

 

In addition to data caps, many customers are concerned about throttling.  Because so many have generated a very large cellular phone bill because they have exceeded their monthly data cap, they believe the same will happen if they exceed their internet data cap. This is not an issue with internet usage, as it will only slow down the data speed until the data cap resets.  Resets happen monthly, on the anniversary date of activation, and are throttled to about 128Kpbs to 256Kpbs.

Urban Issues

It is always important to remember dishNET is not offered to or recommend to those in urban areas.  There are better and less expensive options for those living in metropolitan areas, so trying to sell dishNET to someone living in or near a large city is only going to result in a future cancellation, as they will eventually find a different service for a lower price.

Being aware of these points can prevent cancellation or refusal to purchase from the beginning.  Remember to always keep your customers’ needs and situation in mind so you can always offer them what they need from the get-go.  This will not only help generate more sales, but prevent those from cancelling service.