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Archive for April, 2012


April 26th, 2012

PR Opinion: See all about it – pictures and pitches

PR Opinion: See all about it – pictures and pitches

Brits prepare to win the Olympic gold in swimming

Anyone who has worked with me for longer than, er, about ten minutes, knows that when it comes to pitching stories to the press I think there are many other ways to skin the proverbial cat than just sending out a press release.

One great way to get your story noticed is to include photos, as all publications, whether print, online, app- or smartphone-based, need to have engaging content, items that catch the eye, make readers pick up a paper, flick-and-stay on a page, or circulate a story to their friends (aka potential new readers). Images also break up the text, making the page or screen easier on the eye and encouraging viewers to read on.

In today’s London Metro, the front page image, showing a rain-deluged London (this is a good day –the Met Office’s Rain Alert is a pitiful ‘Yellow’) with a seemingly ironic statement emblazoned on the side of a London bus about the UK’s drought (the hosepipe ban continues, despite near-constant rainfall), is a great example of how a picture can entertain, tell a story, and present two interpretations of a situation at once.

I constantly encourage our clients to do photo stories – back in the day (i.e. when I worked as a PR consultant in the pre-internet era), we would lovingly include hard copy photographs with stories we were pitching, complete with sticky white labels providing the details, names, titles, our contacts and the date (I have the amazing Lucy Saunders to thank for drilling such attention to detail into me), and then mail them out.

Photos were important then and they still are today – they get our attention and they can still paint a thousand words (in a few million pixels).

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April 24th, 2012

Earth Day Evidence: Resolute Marine Energy and its commitment to global innovation

Earth Day Evidence: Resolute Marine Energy and its commitment to global innovation

On April 22, millions around the world paused to celebrate Earth Day 2012, a time taken to consider the ways in which we can band together to nurture our nature.  The Boston Globe put together a slideshow spotlighting the wonderful environment that surrounds us and some ways in which companies are attempting to save it.

Resolute Marine Energy, based in Boston and a close friend of Prompt’s, is highlighted in this list, and deservedly so.  Since founding the company in 2007, Bill Staby and his team have worked tirelessly to produce clean energy from ocean waves.  Their goal is to one day develop wave energy converter solutions appropriate for electricity generation.  Resolute Marine Energy’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.  In 2009, it was named to the Marine Technology Reporter’s “Top 100 Global Innovators” in ocean science and engineering. Resolute Marine Energy feature in Boston.com Earth Day slide show

See Resolute Marine Energy’s wave energy converter prototype (picture 22), as well as the rest of the slideshow, here: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/04/earth_day_2012.html.  Congratulations to Bill and his team on their well-deserved recognition!  They are a reminder to all of us that preserving the environment should be an intrinsic part of our everyday lives.

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April 19th, 2012

Event recap: Business Innovation in Technology at MIT Media Lab

Event recap: Business Innovation in Technology at MIT Media Lab

One of the many great things about working in Kendall Square is the proximity to MIT. We are, quite literally, a stone’s throw from one of the most innovative and inventive communities in the world, and while MIT may be most known for its work in technology, its business and media resources are also impressive.

Last week, we were lucky to attend MIT Sloan’s ‘Business Innovation in Technology’ event at the MIT Media Lab. The event featured notable entrepreneurs, from businesses both large and small, who provided insight into the innovation we see, and expect to see, in the web, mobile, media and entertainment markets. For example, Stephanie Tilenius, VP of Commerce and Payments at Google, discussed and demonstrated how Google Wallet works, and shared some interesting statistics about mobile phone use. (I now know that, on average, a person’s smartphone is never more than 3 feet away from them – says the girl whose phone doesn’t leave her peripheral vision.)

And while all of the speakers were informative, insightful and funny, our favorite speech of the day came from Clarence Wooten, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and Silicon Valley heavy hitter. His presentation was simple and to the point: ‘12 Lessons in Entrepreneurship’

  1. A paycheck is an addiction: “Much like heroin or crack cocaine”, as explained by Clarence. Entrepreneurs have to possess a different type of drive, as their paycheck isn’t simply determined by hours clocked, but by company success and hard revenue.
  2. Beware of Naysayers: Where would Instagram be if they had listened to everyone who said their idea was stupid? 1 billion dollars poorer, that’s where
  3. Just do it: This goes hand in hand with #2. If you have an idea, act now. Because someone else will if you don’t
  4. Fail fast. Fail cheap: It’s very rare that your first idea will be a success, so live lean where you can
  5. Partner Pitfalls: You will almost always have a co-founders dilemma, so contribute 50/50 and set up reverse investing
  6. Be naïve: Try to unlearn the rules of corporate America
  7. Business is a team sport: So always try to recruit A players
  8. Challenge your comfort zone
  9. Image matters: If you’re uncomfortable with or lack artistic creativity, hire design people
  10. Shadow a leader: learn from the best because they’ve already figured out what it takes to succeed
  11. Investors expect their money back: You may only get a couple chances to lose VC money, and you definitely only get one chance to lose an angel investor’s money
  12. Cash and customers: These are two things that you must learn how to manage properly to succeed as an entrepreneur

And as a Maryland native, Clarence closed his speech with a quote from football great, Ray Lewis. “You need to be pissed off for greatness. Otherwise you’re okay with being mediocre.”

To learn more about the MIT Media Lab, MIT Sloan, or the ‘Business Innovation in Technology’ event, visit http://sloanhitechconference.com/. We’re already gearing up for next year!

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April 16th, 2012

Prompt Copywriting Corner: How poor grammar reflects on your brand

Prompt Copywriting Corner: How poor grammar reflects on your brand

We all know the importance of good branding. But it is amazing how many websites, press releases and ads directly undermine their business with uninspired copy and sloppy grammar.

For instance, if you are in an industry where attention to detail is important: a financial institution or interior design studio, for example, you may be saying one thing with your content but really saying another. If “Our customer service is unparalleled, we give each client personalized attention,” looks like this, “Our customer service is unparalleled, we giv each client personallized attention,” are you believing the pitch? Because I’m not. Prompt's copywriting corner: grammar tips

I’m getting a subconscious vibe that this vendor is not quite what they seem. And I would guess I’m not the only one. If a bank isn’t careful with how it portrays itself to the public, will it really be that careful with my money? How is a typo different from a missed crucial ‘0’ in my account summary? It raises doubt and questions about the firm’s credibility.

Copywriting is best left to the experts. Otherwise, your message is muddied. Creative, clear and correct writing is a value-add to your advertising dollars. It boosts your brand.

Prompt Grammar Tip: ‘Complement’ means to add to enhance something. The tablecloth complements the rich tones of the pottery. ‘Compliment’ means to give someone praise. I just have to compliment you on your nice-looking briefcase. A good way to remember this is complement with an ‘e’ means ‘enhance,’ and the first letter is ‘e.’

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April 13th, 2012

New copyblogger infographic: 15 grammar goofs that make you look silly

New copyblogger infographic: 15 grammar goofs that make you look silly

Here at Prompt we’re huge fans of Brian Clark and copyblogger and thought we’d share this fun infographic. Happy Friday 13th!

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

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April 6th, 2012

If you're in sales and you fear rejection…

If you're in sales and you fear rejection…

When I’m in ‘selling mode’ – whether it’s prospecting, cold calling, or pitching ideas for Prompt’s clients, I know it’s important to stay in the right frame of mind.  Selling is a fun, interactive process of intrigue—as long as you keep a positive mindset. My personal approach is to have mini mental rehearsals to consider what the conversation might be like, how it might unfold, which questions I should ask the person I’m selling to, and how they might respond. I then think about the ideal outcome, smile and dial (yes, it’s a cliché but it’s true), and work towards that ideal outcome.

When a call doesn’t go as you might wish, it can be very easy to blame either yourself or the person at the other end of the phone. But instead, try to really see things from their perspective. Any rejection isn’t a personal slur – they simply didn’t agree with your view that you have something they need, that’s all. (Of course if you’re trying to get someone to agree to something that isn’t in their best interest, then you’re miss-selling. In which case, you should blame yourself and go and do some more thorough research. You’re not doing yourself, the prospect or us any favours).

In a normal early-stage sales situation it is highly probable that you will get rejected. After all, if sales simply involved picking up the phone once, proposing something and hearing the person on the other end saying: “Heck, yes, count me in, where do I sign up?”, then everyone would be working in sales.

So instead, embrace the entire process: the fun of sales, the sense of achievement, earning the right to work and build a relationship with someone who was once a total stranger and overall, the fact that sales is a core business activity. As another phrase I have stuck to my wall rightly declares: “In business nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

So what are you waiting for? Smile to yourself, think what you want to say, and pick up that phone…

Hazel Butters for Prompt Communications discusses sales tips

I have this scribbled note-to-self stuck to my office wall.

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April 2nd, 2012

Pantone broadens color reach with Sephora partnership

Pantone broadens color reach with Sephora partnership

Prompt Communications blog post about Pantone and Sephora partnershipIf color is your business then it is only rational to expand your business into as many color outlets as possible. Take Pantone, for example. The absolute authority on color for design professionals worldwide has already launched its own range of household goods (who doesn’t love their color block coffee mugs?) and is now teaming up with cosmetics giant, Sephora. While I was slightly perplexed at first, after further thought, this partnership makes perfect sense – and not only because I’m am frequent Sephora customer!

And as a follower of Pantone (I spent many hours scouring Pantone color swatches as a high school yearbooker), I am always curious to learn what it will name as ‘color of the year’. For 2012 Pantone chose a rather saturated shade named ‘Tangerine Tango’, which it explains, “marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy”. So there. It will also apparently “provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward”, which does make me think of the tango – a possible inspiration for the name?

On the back of the partnership and the 2012 color launch, Sephora will now carry a limited edition line of products that will turn into the ‘Color of the Year’ collection, starting with Tangerine Tango. According to Gilbert Soliz, lead artist for Sephora PRO, this year’s collection is intended to “represent uninhibited expression while still remaining completely wearable for everyday makeup looks”. A challenging combination, especially since orange isn’t exactly ‘my color’ and my offices mates would most likely stare…

I’ll still check it out though – like I said, a frequent customer. If you’re a Sephora lover then check it out on the Sephora website. Just click on the ‘brands’ button and chose Sephora Collections and then head to the ‘Sephora + Pantone Universe’ page.  While makeup may not be my personal avenue, I’m still planning how to incorporate Tangerine Tango into my wardrobe this spring.

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