MY SPACE: A PR PLACE

By Shelcie Takenouchi
This month’s column is brought to you by Shelcie Takenouchi, an associate with Fujita & Miura Public Relations and student at USC pursuing a major in public relations.

One of the most popular websites in the country right now is an online social network called MySpace. You may not have heard of it, but today’s teens have become experts on using this site to create a nationwide social network. MySpace allows users to create their own web page and post personal information from hobbies to photos to phone numbers. Users accumulate a “friends” list composed of others from around the nation who have MySpace accounts. Then, friends can post comments on each other’s pages.

According to ABC News, “…more and more teens are leading high-tech lives connected through instant messaging, cell phones and the Internet for hours at a time… ‘Seventeen’ [magazine] has dubbed today’s teens ‘Generation Speed.’” The same story mentions a survey done by “Seventeen” magazine and Johns Hopkins University, which found that “40 percent of responding teenagers spend a week or longer online without ever logging off, and 90 percent are adapting to multi-tasking.”

Will this trend spread to the larger population? Probably. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of “Generations, The Fourth Turning and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation” wrote for USA Weekend magazine, “The truth is, this generation is a trend-turner…They’re smart, teaming up, doing well — and volunteering at a level and intensity we haven’t seen since the 1940s. Millennials — America’s new ‘Junior Citizens’ — are destined to be a political powerhouse of a generation in our not-too-distant future.”

Already, musicians, artists, and entertainers are turning to MySpace to advertise their talents. Businesses too are beginning to use social networks like MySpace. Receiving millions of hits per day can be a great way to spread the word about products or services.

Recently however, the security of MySpace has been questioned. There have been reports of sex offenders using MySpace to lure children by posing as teenagers. On the business side, hackers are learning how to break into accounts and launch online attacks on businesses.

That said, social networking sites like MySpace can be useful if you know how to use them. Enlist the help of a technology specialist who can inform you of the perks and dangers of posting information online and take all the precautions necessary to protect your page and your business. Then, you can take a hint from the millennial generation and make MySpace your space.

COMPANY REUNIONS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Your family might have had one.  Your high school class probably has had several.  What are we talking about?  Reunions.  High school or family reunions have been common events for folks to get together every so many years to catch up and reminisce about the past.  Reunions are filled with ono food, good friends, and lots of fun; however, businesses should take PR cues from these gatherings as they offer a time to connect and maintain strong relationships with your most powerful ambassadors: your employees, former employees, and retirees.

The idea of company reunions is not new.  On Kaua`i, the Waiohai, Coco Palms, and Kaua`i Surf Hotel have brought together staff members for reunions.  “The Garden Island” reported on Jan. 11 that “About 60 former employees of either GTE Hawaiian Tele­phone Co., or Verizon Hawai`i, or both, accepted the invita­tion of leaders of successor company Hawaiian Telcom to attend the first of a series of statewide Homecoming 2006 events…Daniel ‘Dan’ Smith, vice president of corporate communications for Hawaiian Telcom, explained that Homecoming 2006 was a means for the new owners and managers to connect with and acknowledge the efforts of those who built the company to what it is today.”

Inviting past employees to your reunion helps you to reconnect with individuals that you may not see often, but have had a significant impact on your business.  And, it communicates to them that you are appreciative of their contributions, value keeping in touch, and want them to still feel a part of your corporate `ohana.  Allowing current employees to learn about the history of your business, especially from those that were there before them, is invaluable messaging that helps your staff gain accurate understanding about where your business came from and relate that to where your business is headed and their role in the big picture.  It’s important to note that your employees, old and new, are the people that know your business the best, and their opinion of your company carries the greatest weight to your customers and the community.  When planning your next company gathering, consider a reunion.  You’ll have a great time while doing great PR.

FIVE TIPS FOR THE FIRST FIVE YEARS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Reports from Feb. 2002, marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years and after five years, approximately 10 percent of marriages end in divorce.

The Oct. 2005 CBS News Poll reports that after nearly five years as our nation’s leader, President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to its lowest ever with 58 percent disapproving of the job he is doing as president.

According to About.com’s Small Business Information site, over 85 percent of small and medium-sized businesses fail in the first five years.

It seems that the longer you stick with something, the more chances you have to mess it up. On the other hand, here on Kaua`i, time can be a charm. One of our clients just finished a three-year use permitting process. Another has just begun blossoming by making its sales goals. Our own company is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, and we’re doing better than ever. Locally, we like shiny new things, but we also like to wait and see how things are going to shape up for new businesses before we patron them wholeheartedly.

From a PR perspective, here are the five things we think are most important for businesses in the first five years (actually, they’re applicable to marriages and presidents as well):

1. Appreciate. Taking your success and your customers for granted will have them looking for another company that makes them feel special. Just saying “mahalo” to those who contributed to your success can score you points.

2. Improve. PR can only do so much if your services, products and processes don’t meet the needs of your customers, employees, or vendors. Analyze your procedures often and fix them when needed. Learn new things at every opportunity and be fearless about evolving.

3. Communicate. The level of effort that businesses put into exposing themselves to their publics (and we mean that in a good way) in the first year doesn’t necessarily need to be upheld, but consistent, honest, positive and effective means of reaching out to your publics is critical to keeping your relationships strong. Remember that everyone receives information differently so use a variety of communications vehicles.

4. Plan. Most successful businesses develop business and marketing plans at their kick-off but often as the years go on, the plans gather dust. Make it a habit to revisit vision statements and goals, revise them as necessary, and distribute them to all who need to know. Writing down your objectives and aspirations and sharing them are powerful steps toward manifesting them.

5. Celebrate. Ron and Laura Wiley take this tip seriously. We all should. Get a calendar and a camera, document your milestones and victories, and savor them with your publics. Otherwise, five years can pass in a blur.

DO HOME-WORK

By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

In the midst of the return of school year traffic and mounting gas and real estate prices, we can’t help but wish that more Kaua`i folks could work from home. Home-based businesses and telecommuters help the environment by decreasing traffic and pollution, keep our neighborhoods safe by their presence during the day, and generally give superior service to their clients and customers because they can work all hours (and often do) and keep costs down as a result of low overhead. On the family, leisure and community side, once home-based business owners and telecommuters can learn to balance, prioritize and set clear boundaries between work and play, family and business, and pro bono and for-pay work, they can lead exceptionally high-quality lives.

If you’re a leader in a Kaua`i company, we encourage you to investigate which (if any) positions/people might be able to work from home, and then develop and rollout a telecommuting policy. If you’re an employee who has an interest in working from home, do some research about the realities and ups and downs of telecommuting. If you’re still up for it, make a proposal to your employer including how you’d plan to stay in touch, share files and information, show your work progress, etc.

Some positions or industries that can mesh well with the telecommuting lifestyle are real estate, information technology, data entry, writing, freelancers of all sorts, and many others. For new and current entrepreneurs, a good way to assess if a home-based business is right for you and your company is to evaluate the option via your business plan. Telecommuting may not fit every company, position or person; a special set of circumstances is necessary to make this a workable venture (literally). Also, all home-based businesses must operate within County zoning ordinances and subdivision rules so research these before you set up shop.

So what’s this got to do with PR? There’s no better PR than doing something to mitigate a community problem and increasing the quality of life of our island’s residents. If your business implements a telecommuting policy, be sure to inform your employees and the public about it so they are aware of the benefits and your role in helping our community. This type of positive, business policy news will build a strong, positive PR foundation. So where home-work will work, we say, “go for it.”

For more information about telecommuting and home-based businesses, go to the International Telework Association & Council at www.telecommute.org, The Office of Personnel Management at www.telework.gov, and The American Telecommuting Association at www.knowledgetree.com/ata. A search on Google for “telecommuting” and “home-based businesses” will yield thousands of more results. We also recommend “The Everything Home-Based Business Book” by Jack Savage.

THE BUSINESS OF BLOGGING

By Taren Fujimoto
This month’s column is brought to you by Taren Fujimoto, a recent graduate of Kaua`i High School and an intern with Fujita & Miura Public Relations.

Exploiting the appeal of reading someone’s personal diary and the ease of exposure, blogs or Web logs, are “all the buzz” today. The sprawling populous of blogs has invaded every online nook and cranny imaginable, from personal websites to online communities to political pages.

Now more than ever, businesses are taking advantage of the phenomenon. In fact, a Google search for “business blogs” yielded exactly 36,800,000 results. Despite this, experts reluctantly admit that the marketing reach of blogs is surprisingly low. According to statistics of a Pew Research Center Survey mentioned in “BusinessWeek” magazine’s online article “Blogs Will Change Your Business,” “only 27% of Internet users in America now bother to read them.”

But how does this “blog boom” affect Kaua`i businesses? Would a venture down “blog lane” prove to be worthwhile for such a tight-knit community, especially one that relies heavily on word-of-mouth communications? Just how effective are blogs here in persuading consumers to purchase your product or service?

When done the right way, for example, a personal blog on your company website, blogs can be good PR for all companies, including those here on Kaua`i. Although seeing customers in person is often the best way to do business, business blogging gives you an additional way to communicate. Blogging can have that homespun, up-to-the-minute feel that websites can lack. While websites can be sterile and created to have a broad appeal, consumers know blogs are written and updated by a real person in your company. Blogs might not be as pretty as the overall website but they are no doubt, directly from you. Given this, blogging can make the company-consumer relationship much more intimate than a website ever could.

If your company decides to start a blog, remember to keep it personal just like a journal. No one wants to read ads regurgitated as blogs. Maintain it regularly to keep it fresh and interesting. Also, it’s a good idea to allow individuals to subscribe to your blog so that you can alert them via email once you have added a new post. This not only makes it easier for them to use your blog, but also provides you with a great ally database and assures that these folks will be constantly connected to your business. And remember, even though a small percentage of Internet users read blogs, those who are perusing your blog can be your most interested, high-potential targets that will most likely give you business.

INVEST IN AN INTERN

By Shelcie Takenouchi
This month’s column is brought to you by Shelcie Takenouchi, a recent graduate of Kaua`i High School and an intern with Fujita & Miura Public Relations. Congratulations to Shelcie on her acceptance to USC where she will pursue a public relations major!

As a college bound student itching to get out of high school, I can’t wait to explore the many opportunities at college that will help me become an outstanding prospect in my chosen profession. I aspire to have a career in public relations. Truth be told, until recently, I didn’t even know a profession such as public relations existed.

What I did know was that I found pleasure in listening to and communicating with other people and participating in discussions about society, our local economy, world issues, and ethical issues. I also had an appreciation for the English language and I enjoyed writing.

Many students graduate from high school not knowing what they want to major in or what they want to become. Although beginning college with an “undecided” major is perfectly fine, being aware of your interests can be a huge factor in choosing a future career.

I felt like the black sheep at school because it seemed that everyone knew what they wanted to become. Among my classmates there were future nurses, doctors, and engineers. So, I decided to take action. Several months ago, my father told me about Fujita & Miura Public Relations and suggested that I consider asking the company’s partners Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte if I could be their intern, to find out if public relations was the field for me. I followed my dad’s advice and I found my intern experience to be totally awesome. With the help of Jenny and Joy, I have gotten a glimpse at what public relations is all about and the work experience has made me excited to go to college and study the field.

Businesses of all kinds and sizes can offer a great community service by offering internship programs to high school students. There are many students out there who, like me, just want to explore their interests and potential careers. Allowing students the opportunity to intern gives them an edge over other students who are completely baffled about what they aspire to become.

According to a study done by Manchester College (NACE Job Outlook 2004), “Employers report that 59% of their new hires have internship experience” and that they “rate internship programs as the most effective recruiting method they use for hiring new graduates.” The Gold, NACE Colleges, Employers Report on Experiential Education goes on to say that “Companies offered 56.9% of student interns at their organizations full-time jobs after graduation.”

By allowing students to intern for just a few months, businesses can help students assess their interests and skills, prepare young people for successful careers, and in turn, strengthen our local economy. As an added bonus, in keeping with the above statistics, interns often return to the business that they interned with fresh out of college and become a vital part of the company.

Having confidence in selecting a college major has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I am so thankful that Jenny and Joy offered me this opportunity to intern for them, and I would gladly help them out in any way possible in the future.

CULTURE STEW FOR ME AND YOU

By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

A few weeks ago, one of us passed by a tour boat company. Outside, a young man was giving a briefing to an assembly of visitors before they departed on their excursion. The man started off with a big “AlOhaaaa.” Then he told the group “E komo mai!” and asked “Do you know what that means?” No one raised their hand so he obliged: “It means ‘good morning!’” Huh?

More recently, we heard an individual, who could count his residence here in days, chide another individual for wearing a flower behind his ear, apparently oblivious that wearing flowers behind one’ s ear is a Polynesian custom practiced by men and women alike.

These incidents occurred in professional settings and are reminders that it’s good PR to know and honor the place in which you conduct business so you can speak and act with knowledge and sensitivity. After all, you never know who might be listening or watching.

We all contribute to the culture of the places we live, whether we are born and raised or relocated there. But it’s up to all of us, in and outside of business, to learn about and carry ourselves in accordance with the root culture, values, and traditions of where we work, live, and play. This doesn’t mean we should all morph into new people or deny our original cultures. It just means we should be aware of where we are and adapt gracefully.

Though Hawai`i is a cultural melting pot, some of its ingredients are in chunks while others are well blended. Navigating your way through the stew can be a complex endeavor, especially if you’re a newcomer. As we are all well aware, tourism is Hawaii’s top industry. One of the big reasons visitors come here is because of our special sense of place, including the aloha spirit, our pace of life, and our ways of doing things, some ancient and some new. All facets of business and society flourish when there’s understanding and harmony. To that end, a great resource for Kaua`i businesses, especially those that have newcomer employees, are Hawai`i culture courses. These classes teach Hawaiian history, local customs, and that “e komo mai” means “welcome,” not “good morning.” Whether you’ve been here forever or for 129 days, take the time to learn about and gently perpetuate Kauai’s culture.

THE PASSION OF THE FAITH-BASED PUBLIC

By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

When identifying target publics for PR efforts, faith-based communities are often overlooked. They may not be top-of-mind because religion and personal beliefs are not liberally discussed at work, in public school, on TV, or in social settings. But when it’s appropriate, the faith-based public is a great segment to reach out to and communicate with.

The recent wave of publicity and box office success of the film “The Passion of the Christ,” which interprets the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, is a solid example of the size and influence of the faith-based public. According to E!online.com on April 11, “The Passion of the Christ” garnered more than $350 million in sales and was the top-selling movie three weeks in a row. Church groups planned trips to the theater and religious leaders were asked to comment on various TV news programs. All types of stories surrounding the film have appeared steadily in the media since its opening this February. The hype even swayed individuals who don’t consider themselves part of a faith-based sector to see the motion picture.

Faith-based communities are large, active, and influential. In many instances, they are well organized and have regular methods of communicating via websites, newsletters, direct mail, and face-to-face interactions. But focusing on these groups must be done carefully and with great respect. Like any other group, learn about them first and only reach out to them when it makes sense and if you have reason to believe that they’ll benefit from or have interest in your product or service. For example, if your restaurant is near a church, make sure your hours and staffing can accommodate parishioners before and after church services, and let the church leaders know you are happy to serve their members. If you are near a Jewish temple, you may want to offer some authentic Jewish and kosher food items. You get the idea.

When communicating with faith-based communities, stay within your boundaries as an outsider. Be sensitive to and informed about the reason that they exist, whether you agree with their principles or not, and be sure your staff follows suit. Faith-based publics have the potential to be passionate allies.

THE MORE-FORS TREND

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Today, if your widget has only one use, it’s not likely to get a lot of consumer support or attention. Cell phones now have PDAs, cameras, and email capabilities. Universal remote controls can turn an assortment of home entertainment equipment on and off. Many vehicles are now equipped with computers, GPSs, TV screens, and DVD players. Even defense contractors are aiming their research and development efforts towards “dual use technologies,” which can be used by both the government and civilian world. The shopping public seems to want a bang for their buck. Two-for-one deals used to be a bargain. Now consumers expect to get three-, four-, or more-for-one for their money.

If you make and sell widgets, think about how you can give your customers added benefits by combining product features so that they serve more than one purpose. If you provide a service, think about how your expertise can be applied to accomplish more than one goal for your client. In terms of PR, consider what makes your communications methods better than the next guy’s. For example, when sending electronic press releases to the media, provide reporters with links to websites and email addresses so they can easily access additional information. Employee and consumer newsletters could include coupons, tips, and surveys, and be delivered via postal mail as well as email. Furthermore, any type of credible alliance or partnership, such as testimonials or co-hosting an event, that you can form and portray in your communications increases your saturation and elevates your reputation.

Whatever you do, figure out a way to pack all the value you can into your product or service and you’ll come out ahead. If you’re not sure what added benefits you can offer, ask a colleague for ideas. After all, two heads are…well, you know the rest.

GET THE SKINNY ON TRENDS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Pacific Business News recently reported that “Hawaii’s ubiquitous L&L Drive-Inn chain has rolled out a low-carb meal it calls the Hawaiian Atkins Plate…a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate meal with no rice and no macaroni salad.” However appetizing (or not) that sounds to you, the move to tap into a trend was a smart one PR-wise. The trick is to know what’s trendy and how to apply the “fashion to your passion.”

In general, the following are good places to find out what’s hot and what’s not: www.msn.com, In Style magazine, TV, cartoons like Doonesbury or Dilbert, the New York Times bestseller list, the water cooler at work, E! Online, the stock market, the World Future Society at www.wfs.org, political speeches – there are tons of sources.

If you want to know the next big thing for your particular target public, a little research may be in order. Check out publications, organizations and products aimed at your audience. For example, if your target is children, you can bet Nickelodeon will be marketing all things cool and tasty to our keiki. If it’s seniors your after, AARP will be one aficionado on elderly issues.

There are also a wide variety of trend-spotting specialists like www.springwise.com.

Whatever resource you use, if you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s popular and adjust your products, services and messages appropriately to fit the times, you will be able to continuously spark the interest of and please your publics. And remember, once you make your move, tell the world.

WHEN ‘THE INIKI EFFECT’ IS A GOOD THING

SCH087If you look back over the past year, what kinds of things have you done in the community? Probably a lot if you’re the typical Kaua`i business. According to the Hawai`i Community Foundation’s (HCF) “Hawai`i Giving Study 2002,” “Kaua`i led the other counties in terms of the percent of households that contribute at 97 percent.” Why are we so generous? HCF says “Kauai’s impressive charitable giving participation can be linked to the high levels of civic engagement, or social capital, among its residents. This connectedness is referred to by many Kaua`i residents as The Iniki Effect – when they all came together after Hurricane Iniki devastated the island in 1992.” (more…)

TOGETHER IS BETTER

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

The Kaua`i Chamber of Commerce recently presented a rare and interesting opportunity to hear a futurist’s take on what’s ahead for Kaua`i. For years, the business community has been told to “lead, don’t follow.” However, according to Ed Barlow, futurist with Creating the Future, Inc., the new trend will be to align. For the business community this means partnering with other entities to gain efficiencies and enhance customer service. Aligning will not only improve your day-to-day operations, but also provide a priceless PR opportunity.

Whether you call it aligning, partnering, teaming, or collaborating, the important thing is to start doing it. From a PR perspective, it’s essential to do that consciously. Determine why you should collaborate before you choose your partners. The “who” question will be easy to answer once the “why” is resolved. For example, consider your short- and long-term business goals and the barriers to achieving them. What would you need in place to accomplish X? Money? Administrative assistance? Space? Equipment? Information? Whether you want to expand your customer base or add a new service to your offerings, there’s someone out there you can connect with to get it done.

Now choose the best entity or individual to team with. Be creative. Think about whose involvement will help you serve your customers better, quicker, and less expensively. Also reflect on what formal or informal partners share your values and vision, and who will lead the team. Effective leadership will be critical to building trust with your publics.

Once you’ve formed your alliances, PR-wise it is important communicate with your internal and external publics about why you are partnering and how they will benefit. The profit you’ll reap with appropriate, innovative aligning will go further than money or smoother operations. More people will know about your company and its products and/or services, your partner(s) will become your advocate(s), and our community’s resources will be used to everyone’s best advantage.

SEE J. LO ON MTV ASAP!

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

www.AcronymFinder.com boasts being the web’s most comprehensive database with definitions for more than 269,000 acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms. On its Fun Stuff page they recount the following story:

“In 1968, ‘Newsweek’ magazine published a short, but humorous article, How to Win at Wordsmanship. It described the ‘Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector,’ a concept developed by Philip Broughton, a (then) 63-year-old worker in the US Public Health Service. He must have had a delightful sense of humor.”

Broughton’s system used a three-column list of 30 buzzwords taken from the mouth of corporate America. For example, the three words “synchronized organizational contingency” are randomly chosen to form the acronym SOC. The story goes on:

“The idea was to drop these random buzz phrase nuggets into conversation or technical reports. Broughton said ‘No one will have the remotest idea of what you are talking about, but the important thing is that they’re not about to admit it.'”

A delightful sense of humor indeed…It used to be that people like Broughton were only at home in the business world or the military. Now, our fast-paced world and penchant for doing everything more “efficiently” have resulted in acronyms galore. Acronyms have become a clever marketing tool, enabling companies to change their names without, well, changing their names.

Take Kentucky Fried Chicken. When they became KFC they remade their image and boosted their business. Saturday Night Live, after the departure of the classic greats like John Belushi and Jane Curtain, went through a low ratings period until they began calling themselves SNL. Then there was MTV and J. Lo and the rest is history. We even have a few of our own here: KCFCU, KIUC, KCC and PS&D among them. In some cases, we don’t even know what the letters stand for, and for the most part, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we have a hip new way to name our services, products or companies. Thank you, Mr. Broughton.

MONSTER PR

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

You may be one of the millions of fans of “Monster Garage” and “Monster House,” Discovery Channel’s new hit TV shows. The concept of the shows is extreme makeovers – taking a police car and making it into a donut machine or taking a ho-hum house and transforming it into a sultan’s palace.

Over-the-top renovations have become a trend, but they’re not something you want to do if you don’t have to, and if you don’t have the time and resources to take the project full circle. However, the results can be fantastic and even produce long-term process improvements. For example, the donut making police car can pursue a “perp” without having to stop for a morning snack. What could be better? (No offense to our men and women in blue).

Here’s the public relations application to this idea: take a look at your goals and determine if your current modes of communication are helping you achieve them. Then, think about how you can improve your communications, and how you can push the envelope. If you’re sending holiday cards to your customers year after year without much of a “wow” effect or any positive response for your business, consider what you can do to get their jaws to drop and their wallets to open. In other words, what will awe your customers and stimulate their patronage? Send something different, say something inspiring, do something tremendous. Think big. Really big. And way out of the box.

Before you implement your monster PR move, get back in the box and make a detailed plan including a timeline, budget, labor requirements, materials, etc. Make sure you’re up to the task, and then go for it. Sometimes a major change, a business facelift of sorts, is just what we need to get out of a rut and on a new, fun, lucrative path.

ODE TO PUBLIC RELLATIONS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

The year is a endin’, you did all the PR you could,
Your budget was spent for high impact and a greater good.Promotions, press releases, newsletters, speeches,
You did everything but skywrite your logo over Kauai’s beaches.
2003 is approaching, but where do you start?
Square one? All over again? Is that very smart?
Evaluate your results: have your targets been hit,
With the key messages and strategies that you saw fit?
What worked and what didn’t will help you decide,
Things to repeat or tweak for the next high tide.
PR’s foundation of building relationships and reaching out,
To the right people in the right ways and times is the plan to tout.
Using the right recipe you’ll derive your ideal outcome,
Good tactics and messengers will make you number one.
Be proactive, honest, and strategic with flair,
Know your public and your goals, be creative and aware.
Take aim, be focused, don’t settle for less than your best,
You’ll be successful in `03 with aloha and zest.

POLITICS TEACHES PR LESSONS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Even if your business is skyrocketing, ongoing public relations (PR) is critical to maintaining a high level of success. During this exciting political season, businesses can learn a lot about the benefits of ongoing PR by observing political campaigns.

Candidates who won spots in the upcoming General Election aren’t sitting back and waiting for November 5th to come. They’re working hard to earn their votes, just like we have to earn business from our customers. How? By maintaining alliances, communicating proactively, and managing budgets.

Politicians know that allies are their most important constituents. That sounds obvious, but many businesses take their allies for granted and assume that they’ll always be there. Or, they get distracted with trying to win over non-supporters. Nurturing relationships with current allies helps ensure that the foundation of support you’ve toiled for remains intact. Allies are your strongest supporters and promote your business to others by word-of-mouth. They are the most credible advocates any organization can have because people trust “real” people much more than they trust advertisements or the media.

Proactively communicating with your publics is another factor in sustaining your hard-earned business. Businesses can follow the example of political candidates by including their contact information on all collateral materials, reminding the public about promises made and kept, repeating key messages, and informing them about anything new. Businesses that practice proactive communication are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy, approachable, and friendly, partially because they enjoy name recognition.

Budget management is often overlooked as being essential to the PR process. Because political spending is such a hot topic on campaign trails these days, candidates know that it pays to closely monitor their budgets, and to spend appropriately.

Once a PR campaign ends, many businesses assume that PR-related expenditures can also stop. Depending on the size of your target audience and scope of your outreach efforts, you may need to set aside a standard budget for ongoing PR. Keeping accurate finances not only helps businesses stay out of trouble and within budget, but also provides a way to measure the effectiveness of their PR efforts.

“I WON! I WON!”

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Are you one of those folks who peeks under the soda cap to see if you won anything? Most of us do it. People love contests. Plus, they’re a great, low-cost, low-effort way to gain positive exposure for your company and its products or services. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; poster contests, random drawings, half-court shots, and games like McDonald’s Monopoly can be re-invented for any business.

The trick to a good contest is having fair contest rules, a decent prize, and adequate contest promotions. Establish simple, clearly stated contest rules and stick to them. Be sure that all contest entries abide by the rules and that the winner is chosen fairly. This will help avoid any hard feelings from those who don’t win. When deciding on a prize, remember that it doesn’t have to be extravagant. People enter contests just for the chance to win something – anything. Take M&Ms Global Color Vote: those who vote on the new M&M color get nothing but the satisfaction that their color won.

To encourage participation, announce the contest on the radio, get the media involved, hold an event, or hire a mascot to wave down potential entrants. When it’s time to choose a winner, write a news release, take a photo, and maybe even plan a formal celebration. And be sure to tell the losers to “Try Again.”

In the end, you’ll have one ecstatic winner who will most likely become a your company’s lifetime patron and personal PR advocate. Furthermore, all entrants will be more familiar with your products or services, which may influence more sales.

Think Before You Speak

Think Before You Speak

The following is an excerpt from “The PR Fix for the Everyday Person” © 2013 by Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte.

“The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven’t thought of yet.”
– Ann Landers

Thinking before speaking seems obvious but most people don’t do it consistently. We have become a society of blurting out things without regard for the consequences.  We see it in politics when politicians put their foot in their mouth in front of a news camera. We see it in the grocery store when impatient people berate the cashier.  We see it at public hearings when people yell out their opinions.  We see it in high-drama reality TV shows and think, “Can you believe she said that?” (more…)

Why PR Matters to the Everyday You

Why PR Matters to the Everyday You

The following is an excerpt from “The PR Fix for the Everyday Person” © 2013 by Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte.

Have you ever been caught up in a drama with family, friends or co-workers? Those incidents usually boil down to what someone told so-and-so about someone else who told the next person, and so on.  In the midst of it, you feel like you’re back in high school, where everyone is acting pouty and impulsive.  One of the reasons we celebrated our high school graduations was to be done with those shenanigans! (more…)

Are You Linked?

LinkedInlogoThere are so many social media options these days, though for professionals, few have the benefits of LinkedIn, without the downsides.

LinkedIn started out in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002 and the site officially launched in 2003. At the end of the first month in operation, LinkedIn had a total of 4,500 members in the network.  As of February 2012, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories.  To us, this makes having a LinkedIn profile as basic as being a member of your local Chamber of Commerce. (more…)