Category Archives: Fostering Ideas Newsletter

Tapping into Media Minds: Tips to Sell Your Story to an Industry Publication

By Anna Scordos
Public Relations Account Executive at Foster Marketing

Your company is doing great things. You just developed a new technological innovation that is a step change for the industry. Or, you just got the results back from a field trial on your new equipment and the client is extremely pleased. Or, your amazing team of forward-thinkers has come up with a new and improved way of approaching problems that have foxed and foiled other industry players for decades.
 
You’re proud of what your colleagues and your company are achieving. But this isn’t the time for only quiet congratulations amongst them. If you want your clients to be assured that they’re working with an innovative company; if you want potential clients to give you a call; if you want your competitors to break a little sweat, then you need to recognize where the story is and shout it from the rooftops. Luckily, the media are there to help you do just that. But, in such a noisy environment, sometimes you need to fight to be heard.


Here are 10 tips to make sure that the media has the confidence to share your story:

1. Know the Publication

Magazines, journals, e-news – they’re all basically the same, right? Wrong. Not all publications are created equal. Some employ in-house journalists to write their stories, some only accept by-lined copy provided by you as a company. Some are looking for in-depth pieces, others are looking for short snippets. Aside from these creative differences, it’s important for you to know the readership of the publication (and the publication’s reputation), before you commit the time and effort to collaborating with them.
 

2. Know the Editor(s)

The editor is the gatekeeper of the publication and gets the final say on the inclusion of every word that makes it into print. It’s therefore very important to develop and nurture relationships with editorial representatives from the publications that most closely align with your intended audience. Once the editor knows who you are and understands your business (and is suitably impressed by the industry-enhancing advancements you must share) they are more likely to trust that future stories won’t be a waste of their valuable time.
 

3. Understand Their Objectives

Publications are businesses too, and their objectives are usually twofold: to disseminate newsworthy information and to make money. Some turn a profit from limiting access to editorial content via paid subscriptions. Others profit from the sales of advertisements. When “selling” or promoting a story, make sure it really would be considered “newsworthy” to an industry circle significantly wider than your own company – people may be paying to read it or paying to advertise next to it.
 

4. Prepare a Concise Abstract

Editors are called “editors” for a reason – they prefer brevity. In a publication, space is money and word counts rule. It is not a place to be verbose. In your initial pitch, prove to the editor from the get-go that you will not cause them a headache in the editing process. Prepare a succinct abstract of what you wish to write about: a couple of sentences to demonstrate industry context, a short summary of the “core” of the story and spell out why readers will be interested. 
 

5. Talk About Success

Aside from the fact that nobody likes a Debbie Downer, be aware that people read industry publications to learn how to improve their businesses and operations. Emphasize, wherever possible, success stories or case histories, and it will not only portray your company in a more favorable light, it will generate more readers keen to learn something from your article.
 

6. Stay Objective

In this day and age, readers are savvy when it comes to detecting vaguely disguised advertisements. Articles will usually be vigorously vetted to remove any language that betrays that the author is biased. The place for advertising is in a paid-for ad. A well-written, objective article that reports technical achievements rooted in supporting case studies is a far more sophisticated form of company promotion, in any case.
 

7. Communicate Value

The story represents a great success for your company, but so what? You need to make it clear to the editor and the potential reader how your success can be their success – how your innovation stands to benefit the reader in their operations in the Gulf of Mexico; how what you learned in your field trials has saved the reader from making a mistake in their upcoming operations in West Africa; how working with your team will save them time and money in the long run.
 

8. Be Relevant and Timely

News gets old, fast. As soon as you have the kernel of a great news story that is relevant to a current industry problem, it pays to let a communications expert like Foster Marketing know, so we can guide you into crafting the full story and getting the word out and funnelled into the right channels, quickly.  
 

9. Be Trustworthy

Publishing an article is a great way to position your company as a respected industry thought-leader, but a quick way to hurt your integrity is if the story isn’t accurate or the facts exaggerated. Whatever you do, make sure that every part of the story is verified, and that you would be happy to field any questions arising as a result of it.  

 

10. Be Appreciative!

There are a lot of companies vying for the attention of the media, and a lot of them are doing great things that are worth talking about. Each publication has a finite amount of space to allocate, so it can be quite an honor to score a spot for your story. It always helps to personally let the editor know that you appreciate them lending you their support.

Anna is based in the U.K. and has a wealth of industry experience gained as an editor with various global oil and gas industry publications, including magazines such as Oilfield Technology and LNG Industry and online publications such as EnergyGlobal.com and WorldCement.com.

Need help with your next technical article or other communications efforts? We can help. Call us today at 281-448-3435.

Staying on Track: An Athlete’s Approach Works Well in Marketing

By Beau Robinson
Intern at Foster Marketing

Being a student-athlete requires dedication and drive as well as balancing the demands of a full-time class schedule, practice, workouts, studying and, in many cases, a job. All the lessons student-athletes learn in their collegiate experience make them perfect candidates for the workforce and, more specifically, a career in marketing.

There are many similarities between life as a student-athlete and a marketer – and a few lessons to be learned:

Time Management

There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. What exactly do those numbers mean? It means that in a typical 8-hour workday (accounting for an hour lunch break), there are only 25,200 seconds to get your work done, and it is important that you take advantage of every second.  While that might seem like a lot, fragments of a second have determined Olympic champions. A few seconds here and there can eventually add up to a much bigger chunk of time. 

Time never freezes, but we can agree that time is limited. Managing time efficiently can yield major benefits in life; not only for a student-athlete, but also for a marketer. And, with a million things on your schedule, time is of the essence. 

Everyone has heard the saying “time flies when you’re having fun,” and while true, an even more accurate statement would be “time flies when you have a lot to get done.” Time will not stop for you, so don’t lose the battle without a fight. Student-athletes don’t have much leeway on extra time, just like the typical marketer, so they must learn how to use it effectively.

Prioritize: What is the most important task at hand? Taking care of first things first will allow you to spend the necessary time not only to complete it, but to improve the quality of your work. If it is important, it should have your primary focus.

Hit the deadline: Deadlines must be met. Planning to stay ahead of your deadlines by prioritizing tasks will save you the stress of trying to catch up later.

Never Be Idle: Procrastination might offer you temporary relief, but it will hurt you in the long run. The hardest part of finishing a task is starting it. So, get to work!

Take a Deep Breath and Set Your Own Pace: If there is an avalanche of tasks to be completed and you are having trouble digging yourself out, remember this; it took Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay seven weeks to make it to the top of Mount Everest and they were no less successful for taking that long.

A Good Attitude Is an X-Factor

A good attitude is essential on the playing field and in the workplace. 

Be a Team Player: You won’t be successful without teamwork – whether the team is on a court or field or coworkers and clients. There are many moving parts that come together to make a team successful – none of which are more important than the other. 

Failing Isn’t Always Negative: You will learn more from the things you do wrong than the things that you do right. Not everything is going to run smoothly; in fact, a lot of the time it won’t. Use it as a learning experience instead of kicking yourself for it.

Bring Positive Energy: Optimism will affect others around you as well as yourself. A stressful and time-consuming task will be much more enjoyable if you approach it with positive energy. Appreciate the opportunity to be trusted with a task and challenge and run with it.

Work Ethic

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: We have all had to take on tasks we weren’t familiar with or comfortable doing. Tasks that challenge us to better our skills and expand our experience create a better-rounded person; so, take the initiative and work toward improving your skills – especially if it is something you didn’t consider a strength. Turn your weaknesses into your strengths.

Be Confident: You can do it, and you know you can do it. Confidence is key. Student-athletes and marketing managers alike must go into their work with confidence to be successful.

Pushing Past Your Limits: Limits are only as high as the barriers you set. Even you can surprise yourself. It was once thought that it was humanly impossible to run a mile under four minutes – until Roger Bannister did it on May 6, 1954.

Be Competitive and Accountable: In both sports and marketing, competitiveness will only improve the quality of your performance. Holding yourself accountable for the tasks you must complete can help you find extra motivation to finish on time and enhance the quality of your work.

Take Pride: This is something that we all have experienced. We work on a project for a long time and can look at the finished product and be proud of it. You should be proud of all the work that you do; if you’re not, then you probably didn’t do it to the best of your ability. 

Goal Setting

Goal setting is the blueprint to success. You might be able to cook without a recipe, but a recipe makes cooking a lot easier. Goal setting works the same way. Setting goals for yourself and the projects that are ahead improves focus, motivation, sense of achievement and helps clarify the desired outcome.

Plan the Work, Work the Plan – With Flexibility: Yes, a plan is extremely important, but things don’t always go according to plan. If you must stray from your plan, don’t panic. Adaptability is important when you’re setting goals for yourself. 

Be Patient: The road to success can be a long one with many hurdles in your path. You must trust the process. Your hard work and determination will be rewarded.

Whether you are a company owner, marketer or a student-athlete, sometimes it feels as if the number of tasks on your to-do list outweigh the time you have. If you find yourself lacking the time to successfully tackle your marketing to-do list, contact the expert team at Foster Marketing at 337-235-1848. We have been a successful addition to many marketing teams in our more than 37 years of business.

Beau Robinson is an intern in Foster Marketing’s Louisiana office and a student-athlete at UL.

A message from Beau: Once a student athlete’s four years of eligibility are finished, they begin to look for something else to spend their efforts on. Contrary to popular stereotypes about student-athletes, much of that energy gets transferred into their careers. All the lessons that student-athletes learn in their collegiate experience make them perfect candidates for the workforce.

Build Your Personal Social Brand

By Ambika Kashi Singh
Digital Content Coordinator

In a world where everyone from Beyoncé to President Trump is breaking their own news via Instagram and Twitter, building your personal social brand has power. With social media tools easily accessible via multiple platforms, you can Tweet from your phone, Snapchat on your tablet while watching TV or keep in touch with contacts around the world from your desk. 

Building your personal social brand is a valuable and cost-effective method to add to your online presence, allowing you to instantly connect with business contacts, build credibility and exhibit thought leadership as an expert in your field, as well as build trust for your business.
 
Social media should not be an afterthought. Building a personal brand takes commitment – and time. Make a plan for how frequently you will send out messages and engage with your target audience. Being consistent and committed to your social effort will help you build a following.

As you plan, consider what platform will work best for you and the type of messages you will share. Research which platform or platforms are best suited for you, your industry and your voice. Use your social messages strategically and integrate with real-life connections to draw in your target audience.
 
Don’t try to be everywhere at once. LinkedIn is a business must-have, although with 1.86 billion users, Facebook is still the platform with the largest user base. It is useful for reaching very specific audiences and gaining customer feedback and is becoming more and more popular for business networking.

Unless you have compelling visual or video content, you may not need to jump into YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat right away.

Alternatively, if you have mostly visual content or tend to be long-winded, Twitter may not be the best outlet for you. Once you find the best platform for you, be consistent in your post frequency, timing and personal voice. Consistency is key!

Find your niche and work on perfecting it. As with building any brand, the substance and perception of your message is vital. Decide early on what your personal brand should say to people; and with whom you want to engage. As you brainstorm content ideas, keep your personal brand mission and your target audience in mind. Once you get started and begin receiving feedback from followers, you can add different types of content and expand your focus, but always keep your audience in mind. Treat your social content like a conversation with a specific person or group to ensure you engage the right audience and grow your personal social brand. 

Be authentic. In personal branding, it is crucial to let the real you shine. Your connections and followers want to hear from you. Honesty and transparency are highly valued online, and other users can tell the difference. The trend toward live, unfiltered content is proof of this. Use your personality to your advantage. If you’re funny or creative, let your voice come through.

People associate you with your company and are connecting with you online because they consider you to be the expert and want to talk to a real human, rather than a brand.

We all crave human-to-human interaction and, as far as your bottom line is concerned, that is still how sales are made. By engaging in social media on a personal level, beyond your company’s profile, you will take your company’s online presence to the next level.
 
Listen first and be timely. Social media is a powerful source for relevant news and insightful articles. It’s an easy way to stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry because you can choose whom to follow or which specific groups to join. It’s also a space where you should share your accomplishments and what you’ve been working on.

It’s okay to plug yourself or your company as long as you’re also engaging with your business contacts and followers online. Be empathetic, like and share their articles, answer their questions, ask for feedback, start conversations with people you’d like to connect with. Respond to things in a timely manner. Social media is all about an instant give-and-take conversation; that’s how you build a following and make your personal social brand stand out.
 
Connect online and in real life. Networking and attending shows and industry events can help grow your personal social brand. Using a hashtag for an event or show can group your content and help you connect with a specific audience. Like, follow and comment on posts from others in your target audience. These interactions, if done thoughtfully, will likely be reciprocated, and help to boost your online personal brand. If you’re showing thought leadership in your online presence, chances are you will be a more likely candidate to speak and present at shows and events or to give quotes for industry publications as an expert in your field.
 
Build a network and become a thought leader. If you are an expert in your industry and have interesting information and insights to share, LinkedIn or Facebook groups are the perfect places. Seek out a handful of professional groups that are relevant to your target audience and join. Don’t join too many, so that you can actually keep up with them and contribute often.

Mid-size groups (a couple hundred to a thousand members) work best so that your posts are not getting lost in the shuffle, but still reach a sizable group of people. Some professional groups have strict rules about what to post, so be sure to pay attention to that and abide by the rules. Again, be empathetic and engaging.

When appropriate, feel free to share your own ideas, links to articles, blog posts, whitepapers, etc., and ask questions.

If you’re an enigmatic presenter or already have a podcast or webcast in the works, share relevant and interesting audio and videos. You may eventually become a leader within the group. Others will look to you and your personal social brand for expert guidance, and you’ll connect with people you may not have otherwise.
 
Building your personal social brand takes time, but it is a low-cost investment that can be extremely rewarding. With the proper planning, commitment and time dedicated to your personal branding effort, you and your company will reap lasting benefits.

Let Foster Marketing help grow your company’s social media reach. Contact us today. Call us at 281-448-3435.

The Benefits of Moving Your Marketing Efforts From Your Desktop to the Doorstep of an Agency

By Megan SchreckenbachVice President of Account Services

Dale is a business owner. He is energized by and enthralled with his work. Dale knows his strengths. To keep things going and ultimately growing, Dale has somehow managed to not only oversee his sales team and strategic plan for growing his business, but also trying to come up with marketing tactics to support his vision … and he’s quickly learning what he’s NOT good at. He finds himself wishing he had marketing minds on his team… who love what they do as much as he does.

Alex is the lone wolf running his company’s marketing “department” – if you could actually call it that. And if by “running” you mean being asked to do absolutely everything, including some accounting and HR duties on occasion… then yes, he’s running it. Each day he has to decide which looming deadline gets his attention first, with 10 others close behind. Alex is too busy to be strategic, much less stress brand consistency throughout the company. He needs support… and he knows it.

Alicia has an internal marketing team at her disposal… and she’s grateful for the support they provide. She’s become a pretty good delegator, once a team member is properly trained and proven his/her ability to deliver what she expects. Nevertheless, it seems each of her team members is maxed out or doesn’t have the exact skill set needed. Plus, her ongoing problem has been measuring their efforts. She knows deep down that she’s not able to deliver the exposure the company needs on her own. She could use some fresh eyes in her camp.

Perhaps you can identify with one or more of the folks/people/marketers above… or perhaps you think you have it all under control. In either case, marketing is increasingly responsible for more and more… more productivity, more effectiveness, more leads, more sales. Marketing teams feel strapped with limited resources, smaller budgets and a lack of available training.

So here’s a few reasons why you should look beyond your desktop and four walls and land on the doorstep of an ad agency or marketing communications firm:

  1. Fresh Eyes and a Fresh Perspective: No matter how deep you find yourself in a company or a specific project, you just simply can’t see everything all the time. It’s just not realistic. And, often times, a person inside can be guilty of being “too close” to the situation or find themselves losing sight of the big picture. Working with a team on the “outside” helps to alter your perspective in healthy ways and bring new ideas, vision and impressions…ultimately elevating your performance.
  2. Measurable Results:Agencies have active and ongoing methods for measuring return on investment in all different media. Identifying goals and objectives at the beginning of a given project provides for the most comprehensive and effective measurement of results. The outcomes discovered provide insight into understanding the audience and the tactics most effective for reaching the desired outcomes.
  3. A TEAM of Professionals Who Love What They Do: You might not understand the necessity and strategy behind social media marketing – don’t worry – Kristy manages a multitude of channels every hour. You may not know the first thing about backlit graphics or international trade show freight – not a problem – Lindsay coordinates international exhibits across the globe. Don’t know the rules for writing how the media wants to see it, breathe easy because Anna pores over it. The agency is full of professionals both trained and effective in their areas of expertise… using their passion for the success of clients. Using an agency gives you access to a TEAM of experts … all working for you!
  4. Cost Advantages: An agency doesn’t have to be on-boarded, trained or managed. The hiring and training process for bringing in a new employee is both time consuming and costly … not to mention payroll and benefit costs. With an agency coming on, there is no management, no training and even no office space to deal with. Eliminating this on-boarding process and with limited learning curve, you are free to tackle other duties. The single hire of an agency equates to adding decades of knowledge and expertise to your team in one fell swoop.
  5. Industry Insiders: The agency has an advantage with a network of industry contacts — local, national, international and industry-specific relationships cultivated through years of networking and mutual respect. An agency can often accomplish in one phone call what an individual would take days to get done. With an agency partnership, you put these powerful relationships in your company’s arsenal.

To sum it up, a good working relationship with an agency not only yields outstanding creative results; it adds an entirely new dimension to your marketing game. The agency becomes an extension of your team – albeit with a fresh perspective – bringing years of specialized experience and industry knowledge and relationships.

Let Foster Marketing be part of your team. Contact us today. Call us at 281-448-3435.

marketing partner

Amp Up Your Next Presentation

By Foster Marketing Staff

No matter where you’re presenting – to an oilfield conference, your company’s board of directors or your blog or Twitter group, adding a little something extra could make a significant impact.
 
What is it that causes a group to remember one person’s presentation and quickly forget another’s? The style and content may not even be all that unique. With similar content, something else makes the difference: the way content is presented.  

The First Question

The first question to ask when planning a presentation is to determine what your story will be. Stay out of the presentation software until you’ve done the hard work and you have something really great to present.
 
Once you’ve assembled a great story, now it’s time to decide how to present your ideas. If you’re thinking your next step is developing your standard PowerPoint slide show, it may be time to rethink your presentation options.
 
Slide decks are yesterday’s presentation method. What could be more boring than watching a dull, uninspired slide deck inherited from the last presenter? Sure, it’s possible to teach that way, but it’s no fun – and not very memorable. Unless your audience is taking notes, your presentation will soon be a distant memory.
 
We are constantly exposed to fantastic videos, animations and visual creativity – in movies, video clips, commercials and even Internet posts. So, with an audience inundated with creative stimuli, how do you make your presentation as exciting and memorable as your presentation content?

Amp Up Your Presentation

Build Excitement

Think about the memorable presentations you’ve attended. What was different? Maybe the speaker was more animated and didn’t rely on slides. Maybe he or she engaged the audience in a lively conversation or introduced a game. When your audience takes an active role, the information sticks.
 
Speeches are a lot more fun to watch when the speaker is energized and engaging. People also pay closer attention and retain more. Chances are if you’ve ever fallen asleep during a presentation, the presenter’s style had more to do with it than the content. Following are some ways to spice up your presentation:

  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t overuse gestures and body language or do goofy things to get the audience’s attention like shout or throw excess humor into your presentation. Simply be excited about your presentation and do what feels natural.
  • Excitement and enthusiasm. The pair can make a good speech great, and sometimes even help overcome less exciting subject matter. Be excited about your topic and the fact that you’re able to share it with your audience to keep them engaged. Figure out what excites you about the topic and use it to fuel your presentation.
  • You’ve worked hard. It feels good to present something you’ve worked hard on. If you’ve taken the time to prepare and practice, your confidence and commitment to the effort will show.
  • Explore new content flows. Find a way to tell your story in a way that will resonate with your audience’s business problems and specific industry to make your story real for them.
  • Explore visual storytelling. Visuals are a powerful way to connect with your audience. Finding a visual storytelling angle opens up new ways to tell your story. Show your product in action or a brief video testimonial; the more you engage different senses, the easier it is to be memorable.
  • Stand out in the crowd. The most successful presentations find creative new ways to engage viewers. Look for opportunities to shake things up a little. You have to relate to your audience – to their needs, to their desires and to their open and hidden agendas. Listen to your audience, observe them, question them, confirm what you are told and deal with any objections.   

Create a Presence

When speaking to a group, you are on stage. Presence is the ability to move and influence your audience; to make every member of an audience feel that you are speaking directly to them.
 
Was I “On?”

The keys to being “on” are: be your one-on-one self; be prepared; master the fundamentals and nuances of speaking to a group; then be comfortable and make your audience comfortable with you. Some people have natural stage presence. For those of us who don’t, the first step is to realize that your one-on-one self is your best bet.

  • Prepare fully and carefully. Nervousness is easier to overcome if you know what you’re talking about. Remember, you wouldn’t be giving the presentation unless your audience was interested in what you have to say.
  • Dress appropriately for the presentation, not too casually or too formally. Some initial research should give you an idea of what to wear.
  • Make eye contact with as many different members of the audience as possible and be careful with your body language. Don’t show negative reactions on your face. Don’t look at your watch.
  • Move around if you can. This adds life to your presentation and also helps decrease the psychological distance between presenter and audience.
  • Don’t speak in a monotone voice. Put life in your voice.

Looking for the Extra “Wow” Factor

The “wow” factor is that little extra that helps to make your presentation memorable. Tools are what you make of them. If you use PowerPoint correctly (only to illustrate your key points, not to display boring lists of bullets), PowerPoint can provide presentations that are memorable and effective. But try stepping outside your PowerPoint comfort zone if you really want to stand out from the rest.

  • Paper the walls. Use giant Post-it pages rather than slides. Break your ideas into “bite-size” visuals. You’ll build a progressive presentation that gains strength with each page.
  • Whiteboard it. A picture is worth a thousand slides … think about how you can visually “explain” the idea.
  • Put it on video. High-impact video segments add interest and authority to your presentation. Customer interviews and from-the-field clips can have a memorable impact.
  • iPad it. Make your presentations interactive by using available technology. Plus, this makes it shareable.
  • Share your presentation. Share your presentation “in the cloud” with software like Prezi, an app that allows non-linear presentations with added creative elements, typography, etc. to zoom, pan, import media, add motion buttons to control the presentation sequence, and generally “amp up” your presentation, as well as display your tech know-how.

Just remember whatever you do, know your stuff and act naturally.

 
Foster Marketing has been helping companies amp up their presentations for decades. Need a little extra help to add the impact you are after? Call us at 281-448-3435.