Tag Archive | business tips

5 Public-Relations Best Practices from Corporate PR Pros

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Expert Panelists at the PR Summit.

As a member of the Media Team at RingCentral I know just how important press can be. We’re no strangers when it comes to receiving great press mentions, such as the ones we recently received from a PC Magazine Editors’ Choice award to positive coverage at Laptop.com. But still, we’re always looking to step-up our public-relations game. That’s why I recently attended the PR Summit in San Francisco. The annual event, organized for start-up companies, focuses on the impact that powerful creative campaigns can have in burnishing a company’s image.

Dozens of ideas, suggestions and strategies were presented. Here are the five that impressed me the most!

1) Learn to spin your story

“It’s not enough to have a good product: you have to romanticize it,” said Noel Lee, the founder of Monster Cable. In other words, how you spin your story – and educate your target market – really matters.

“It’s better to be the big company in a niche market than to try to get everyone’s attention,” Lee added.

2) Take the Facebook test

When you are creating new content, run it through a “Facebook test”. Would you want to see your content on your own Facebook News Feed? If the answer is no, the content probably isn’t worth sharing, emphasized BuzzFeed‘s Chief Revenue Officer, Andy Wiedlin.

To create the best PR content, be strategic in your efforts: focus on those who will be more likely than the average person to embrace your message.

Consider the relevance and timeliness of what you’re saying, too. Strive to keep the conversation going and engage your audience – just as you’d do on Facebook.

3) Trade in share-able, snack-size bites

“In social advertising, you don’t create one thing and see how it goes,” BuzzFeed’s Wiedlin noted. “You create 12 and see what catches your audience’s attention.”

The lesson for PR professionals? Keep your message short and simple. And don’t be afraid to re-iterate.

4) Show me! Don’t tell me!

In PR, as in art, what is depicted is less important than how it is interpreted.

“Emotional engagement with your audience is the only thing that is going to drive your product forward, and get people to come back,” stated Kym McNicholas from PandoDaily.

Your company should come off as transparent and candid as possible so your audience can create their own opinions.

5) Write content for a person, not all people

“The ultimate moment of truth is the next person’s zero moment of truth,” Altimeter’s Brian Solis (author of The End of Business As Usual and  What’s the Future of Business?) observed.

Translation: there is no way to reach multitudes with one message, so you must narrow down your target audience. Once you have reached a single person and established a connection, your message will be able to take root and spread.

Ultimately, PR is about creating stories. Narratives that touch people at a personal level are what separate superb PR campaigns from less-effective ones.

Do you have additional pointers on how to build a strong PR campaign? Share your experiences with readers below!

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4 Points to Keep in Mind When Trademarking a Brand

The RingCentral legal team would like to offer a friendly reminder that the following should not be construed as legal advice.

Trademark signSpoiler alert: We at RingCentral are getting ready to introduce some very cool new products and features. These offerings are so awesome, in fact, that we have to trademark their names. It was with this in mind that our external counsel, Lisa Greenwald-Swire of Fish & Richardson, spoke to us recently about the trademark process. Here are four of the lessons we learned at Lisa’s presentation:

1) Know the different categories of brand mark.

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Lisa Greenwald-Swire

There are five brand mark types. Fanciful brand names, like Google, are the easiest kind to protect legally – a “coined” name (e.g., Verizon) is best from an ease-of-trademarking standpoint. Next-easiest are arbitrary trademarks, like Apple. Arbitrary marks use real words, but they do so in an unconventional way. Suggestive brand marks fall in the middle of the pack. Suggestive names, like Coppertone, hint at what the product in question provides but don’t state it outright. Descriptive marks, on the other hand, are less vague (and therefore tougher to trademark). Think Chap Stick. Finally, there are generic marks, which are impossible to trademark. (Try bringing “aspirin” to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for proof.)

2) Think about real-world use.

Ease of pronunciation is a key consideration when picking a brand name, particularly if you’re taking the “fanciful” route. It may also be good to employ stems from Greek or Latin, which can confer upon your brand a certain familiarity. And make Google Translate (or a real-life translator) your friend: you don’t want a mark that could be transliterated into something ridiculous.

3) Start the trademark-search process early.

Lisa counsels (pun unfortunately intended) that businesses begin searching for trademarks long before starting to use them commercially. Why? Quite simply, it’s good to cover your bases. Be proactive about making sure your target trademark isn’t in use already (and hasn’t been claimed on social channels like Facebook and Twitter). In addition, filing an intent-of-use application with the U.S.P.T.O. will position you well to defend your mark, should the need arise. When the mark registers, you will get presumptive nationwide trademark rights dating back to the day on which you filed.

4) Put yourself in consumers’ shoes.

The single most important question to ask when trademarking relates to consumer perception. With a trademark, is there a likelihood of consumers confusing your brand with another (existing) one? This question forms the basis of all trademark law, Lisa noted. So think about your desired trademark from the perspective of a disinterested consumer. If bewilderment is a distinct possibility, you should probably pursue a different mark.

Featured image courtesy of: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc.

Checklist: 10 Essential Items For Conference Attendees

Baochi, the Director of Social Strategy at RingCentral, showing off her conference style!

Attending conferences and events is a great way to learn industry best practices and network with other like-minded professionals. But working outside the office can be challenging if you’re not well-prepared. As frequent conference-goer, on behalf of the RingCentral social media team, I have made my fair share of misses and mistakes. Luckily, I’m a quick learner! Below, is my list of essential items to bring when attending conferences.

Did I miss a must-have conference item? Let me know in the comments section below.

1. Smartphone – This shouldn’t be a difficult item to remember, since every business professional is often tethered to their smartphone anyway. Beyond the obvious functions of voice calls, texts and emails, use your smartphone to follow/participate in the conference’s Twitter stream. The smartphone camera is also a great asset for snapping photos of presentation slides or recording videos of speakers.

2. Broadband Wireless Card – Most conferences offer free Wi-Fi,  but the connections are almost always slow because attendees are accessing the same network and maxing out the bandwidth. If you don’t want to play the Wi-Fi lottery and risk the frustration of connectivity issues, bring your own hotspot. I like the Verizon MiFi hotspot, which gives me secure and fast internet access. Bonus: if you happen to meet a new business contact, you can show them what a kind soul you are by sharing your personal hotspot.

3. Chargers – Mark my words: you will run out of battery juice on whichever device(s) you bring. Bring chargers for all the devices you plan on using. Tip: purchase an extra set of chargers for your most well-used gadgets and reserve that set expressly for conferences and travel.

4. Power Strip – Even if you come prepared with all the necessary gadget chargers, there’s no guarantee you’ll find an outlet that is conveniently located or not already in use. That’s why a power strip can be handy — use only one power outlet to charge multiple devices. Even if you don’t need to charge multiple devices, you’ll be a hero to others in need when you offer up the extra outlets from your power strip. Power strips are relatively inexpensive, and these days you can find hybrids that also offer USB ports.

5. iPad/Tablet – While laptops are popular items to bring to events, they aren’t easy to lug around all day. Tablets are great conference companions because they’re smaller and lighter than a laptop, yet easier to type and navigate on than a smartphone. And if you have trouble typing on a tablet, you can always use a portable keyboard that connects to your tablet.

6. Business Cards – If you forget to bring business cards, it’s going to be tough to connect and follow up with other attendees  you meet. Don’t be that person desperately looking for a pen and scrap paper to scribble down your contact information — chances are, your “business card” will be mistaken as trash. So bring business cards or have a paperless alternative like the CamCard app.

7.  Get the App – Conferences are increasingly offering custom apps that include event agendas and the ability to build personal schedules that sync with your Outlook calendar. Some apps even allow you to view a list of attendees and connect directly with individuals to schedule meetings. Consulting an app is so much easier than carrying around a conference brochure!

Don’t fall victim to bad breath.

8. Gum/Mints – If you’re at a conference, then you’re talking to people. If you’re talking to people, don’t be a turn-off by having bad, stale breath. Have gum or mints on you (mints are better because you don’t want to be chomping away while you’re conversing). And be kind to anyone who asks for some.

9. Confidence – Events are great opportunities to make business connections so don’t squander the time by being shy. Get your confidence on! Scope out attendees ahead of time, and make a list of people you want to meet. Introduce yourself to a particular speaker after an especially insightful presentation. If you’re mining for prospects, have your company pitch ready and deliver it with oomph!

10. RingCentral app – The RingCentral app is an invaluable part of any mobile professional’s toolkit. With the app installed on your Android or iOS device, you can place VoIP calls over a Wi-Fi or cellular network, change your phone system settings on the fly (e.g., have your desk phone calls forwarded to your cellular phone), and view and forward fax messages. The RingCentral app puts your phone system in your pocket, keeping you plugged in and connected from just about anywhere — even while you’re at a conference. End shameless plug.