Archive for November, 2011

Two ways to build customer loyalty


Loyalty programs can work well, whether your business is or a mom-and-pop operation.

But first make sure you have a good product and good service. I know Pensacola business-owners who secretly shop the competition on a regular basis, yet they need to shop their own businesses, too.

That’s why a “secret shopper” can be worth the expense — someone who will quietly find strengths and weaknesses in your business and tell you, not the competition, about your flaws.

For more on loyalty programs and other ways to build good will, check out this brief report on loyalty programs and secret shoppers:

Pick your fights


There’s always a fine line when deciding whether to respond to criticism.

Usually, you should respond, provided you have a valid answer.

Then again, don’t get into fights with a Twittering teen-ager.

That’s what happened when a student tweeted unkind words about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback when he spoke at her high school class. The governor’s staff over-reacted, the school administration demanded an apology, and the teen cited her First Amendment rights. Advantage: teenager

The governor, however, showed smarts by going on Facebook to apologize to the girl for his defensive staff.

Case closed, although the student is getting her 15 minutes of fame with the news media. Still, there’s much less to the story since the governor smartly apologized and removed himself as an easy villain.


Effective speaking can depend on your ear


It’s important for a speaker to vary his pace. Speak a little faster here, a little slower there, and you will keep the audience listening.

And please — my pet peeve — stop making inside jokes or comments that only a few people in the crowd will understand.

Check out this article for some more tips on effective speaking — and, at no extra charge, a historical look at differences between the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Plan first, then write


Writing is much easier if you first have a plan.

If an article is going to be longer than a few paragraphs, I first sit down and develop an outline of items I think are important for the reader to know. The outline doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a few words to show my plan. And I don’t always stick to it, either. That’s the nice part about writing; a story can change on you.

But a story won’t get a good start unless you have a good outline.

C.M. Clifton has nine suggestions for folks who want to write.

Internet business takes time, which can be a challenge


One frustration about Internet businesses is the need for patience. Sure, you know you have a vision, but why aren’t customers eagerly knocking down the portal?

Chill a bit, keep working and look out about 18 months.

That’s advice from Drew Sharma, who has built and sold several web-based businesses, including

The biggest challenge to developing an e-commerce site is “the waiting game,” he says in an interview excerpted in

“Even before you have revenue, you need to build and grow your website. You can go a year and a half just shoving coal into the fire without getting anything in return,” said Sharma, who said often the tipping point comes about 18 months, when the fruits of labor finally start paying off.

Clients can make or break a p.r. man’s day

Somewhere in California, one public relations team is grinning and another is grimacing.
The happy team is the one that handles p.r. for Rob Kardashian — yes, one of those Kardashians, the ones who seem to haunt cable TV with vapidness and bad taste.
But Rob, the lone brother, has transformed himself in a matter of weeks. He’s gone from a pudgy layabout into a likable dancer of some skill and charm, thanks to “Dancing With the Stars” and professional dancer/coach Cheryl Burke.
Who would imagine rooting for this guy, who started the show as a sullen whiner?
But now he has blossomed with self-confidence and stands a good chance of winning the event, which concludes tonight.
Even if he loses, this Kardashian will draw plenty of positive coverage, and that’s enough to make a p.r. man’s heart beat fast.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are tears being shed at University of California-Davis, and not only by the students who were doused with pepper spray for sitting on a road.
It wasn’t just that they were sprayed while being peaceful. They were sprayed by a cop who looked ever so casual, as if he were watering the garden, not putting toxic stuff on people’s faces.
Somewhere, a p.r. person is being summoned to a university honcho’s office and told to “fix this mess.”
Easier said than done.
The cops flunked Basic Public Relations 101 so badly that all the p.r. men in the world can’t put this Humpty Dumpty police department together again.

Not too late to get Thanksgiving coverage


Legend has it that Thanksgiving Day’s newspaper is the most read newspaper of the year.

That’s because people are leafing through the pages between football games and big dinners, in search of Christmas sales and other items.

But you might be too late if you waited until now to make your pitch for coverage from newspapers, TV or other media. After all, even media people have families and like to have a holiday now and again.

Still, it’s worth a try. Follow these tips and you could get some prime-time coverage:

Tips for shining in a media interview

Practice for a media interview just as you would for any presentation before  a potentially large audience.

You want to refine your message in advance for maximum impact. Here are some tips:

A p.r. person can help you practice your message and anticipate surprise turns in the conversation.

Find new ways to cut overhead

Look for new ways to sell your product or service, and find ways to cut overhead.

Amazon seems to be doing just fine and it has no — NO — sales representatives on its payroll.

Perceptions in politics and pizza



Turns out that politics can shape your taste in pizza.

A survey finds that Godfather’s Pizza is doing better with Republicans and worse with independents and Democrats now that former CEO Herman Cain is running for the Republican nomination for president and getting into trouble for alleged sexual harassment.

Today’s New York Times has this slice of news: