The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership and Hodges Digital Strategies.
May 21, 2013 | by Tony Scida
Many restaurant owners have a love-hate relationship with sites like Yelp, which allow (encourage?) customers to air their grievances online, rather than asking servers to fix problems in the moment. Restaurant owners and managers are rightly frustrated by customers who don’t tell their server about their overdone steak and then log onto Yelp and post a negative review.
But no matter how good the restaurant, it will have negative reviews—all restaurants have off nights and, let’s face it, some people just cannot be pleased. As an owner or manager, it’s important to concentrate on the things under your control.
If you’re struggling with how do deal with Yelp (or similar sites) for your business, here’s three things you can do to get started down the right path.
Don’t Take it Personally
If someone insults you, of course you’ll be hurt, but it’s important to not react out of anger, spite or any other negative emotion. You’re better off letting a negative comment go unaddressed than responding in an emotional way. If you wait until the next day when you’re calmer, you may even find that some of your fans have come to your defense without your interference or prompting. While you may not like Yelp, advertising with them (being a featured location in their search feature) allows you to message users directly, letting you take communications offline, which can help you avoid a public back and forth with a disgruntled customer. If you handle the feedback properly, you may even turn a negative reviewer into an ambassador or at least diffuse their complaints.
Encourage Reviews from Happy Customers
It’s true that sometimes customers say everything is fine and then leave a negative review, but that doesn’t mean you and your staff can’t tell who the truly happy customers are. Train your staff to encourage those customers to write up their experiences on review sites. Those who have bad experiences already have the motivation they need to leave a review, but others may need more prompting. You only need a few of those customers to leave a review to make sure your business is well-represented on Yelp, and sometimes simply asking for a review is enough.
Keep Your Listings Current
If your address, hours, website, or menu changes, make sure your Yelp profile reflects the latest information. If someone arrives at your restaurant and you’re not open (or you’re not there because you moved across town), that’s business you’ll likely never get back. Restaurants are notorious for not listing their hours, menu and contact information front and center on their websites, and so even people who don’t have any interest in reviews or ratings (there are some of us) rely on services like Yelp to find restaurants. Do yourself a favor and keep your info updated by checking the listing every quarter, which is a good schedule for checking your reviews as well.
There’s obviously much more that can be said about review sites (and social networks) for small businesses, including restaurants. But for the busy restaurateur, remembering just these three things is a good start. No matter how you feel about Yelp and sites like it, they’ve become an important tool for your consumers.0 commentsPosted in: Social Media
May 16, 2013 | by Lindsay Grant
It’s always nice when you can add “award-winning” in front of words like ‘agency’ and ‘campaign.’ And last night at the Virginia Public Relations Awards, put on by PRSA Richmond, we were honored to be able to add some more award-winning work to our portfolio.
Kudos to all of our PRSA friends who took home top awards this week. We may not have taken home Best in Show this year but we’re grateful to our clients who brought us these interesting and fun projects. Below are some details on our award-winning clients and work that took home a few statues last night.
- Award of Excellence
- Move Pro iPhone/iPad app
- Client: Hilldrup Moving & Storage
Hodges Digital Strategies and Hilldrup developed a user-friendly app that adhered to Hilldrup’s brand standards and could be developed within the parameters of the iOS. Based on frequent customer requests, the app was built to include helpful features like storage box inventory, shipment tracking, currency convertor, friends & family new address notifications, how-to moving articles and videos, and links to set up local utilities. With more than 2,000 downloads since launching, the app averages 208 downloads per month.
- Award of Merit
- Creative Capital: Fill in the Blank Corridor
Josh Dare thinks Interstate 95 could use a makeover – especially the part that runs through the heart of Downtown Richmond. Once he had this idea, he got to work. An OpEd in the Richmond Times-Dispatch started the conversation and from there the idea has spread. Multiple articles appeared after his initial OpEd, he received countless emails in support of the idea and a committee has been formed among some of Richmond’s elite influencers to make the corridor represent Richmond’s rich history, bright future and unique personality.
- Award of Merit
- Small Voices, Big Dreams
- Client: ChildFund International
Small Voices, Big Dreams is the ChildFund International’s annual survey that identifies the hopes, dreams and fears of children across the globe. The Hodges Partnership used the new data and was able to secure interviews and stories with Reuters, CBS Radio, USA Today, Richmond Times-Dispatch and several other outlets.
- Award of Merit
- Clear Skies Ahead 2012 Newsletter Campaign
- Client: Chesapeake Bank
Long-time client Chesapeake Bank asked The Hodges Partnership to help improve its readership metrics for its Clear Skies Ahead newsletter. By setting achievable click-through and open rate goals (25% and 11%, respectively) and a incorporating a fresh approach to content that touched on key messages and, more importantly, topics that the readership cared about, the needle began to move. Since the new changes were implemented, the Clear Skies Ahead newsletters surpassed click-through and open rate goals each month.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
May 15, 2013 | by Jon Newman
More and more folks searching for jobs on their mobile devices according to new info out from our friends at Snagajob.0 commentsPosted in: Gongs
May 08, 2013 | by Tony Scida
It’s time to emphasize the CHALLENGE of the Big Idea Challenge. Our two teams at Hodges challenge you to out-wit us at this year’s Big Idea Challenge. We came in second last year and are determined to win it all this year. (Watch out, CarMax!) It’s great fun and great way to support the Community Idea Stations in Richmond! If you think you can take us, sign up at www.BigIdeaChallenge.org.0 commentsPosted in: Richmond
May 02, 2013 | by Megan Semmelman
As college graduations take place across the country, many eager applicants are searching for work. As someone who was in that position two years ago (in a new-to-me city with zero connections – might I add), I thought I’d pass along practices that helped me most when starting out my search.
Get ahead of a company’s needs.
Take the approach of being the person a company needs before they even know they need someone. You never know what’s happening internally at a company or how close they are to signing a new client – but if you put yourself on the radar before that need even occurs, it will be easy for an employer to think of you first and see your value.
Search for relationships, not jobs.
A job search is better when it’s a relationship search. Job seekers often make the job search all about them by stating what they need and what they are looking for. I found the most success when I made my search about the person I was meeting with – not a position.
When you’re sending a message to someone asking for a meeting, discuss why their company interests you, mention their recent accomplishments and tell them a little about yourself. This approach will set you apart, because it shows that you truly care about what the company is doing and their successes, which is one of the key rules of any human interaction. It’s simple, but people like it when you take an interest in them and what they’re doing.
Be prepared that finding a job takes time – a lot of it.
The old adage that “it’s all about who you know” rings particularly true when you’re looking for work – and getting to know everyone you should know can take a lot of time. It seems like many recent graduates don’t want to “waste anyone’s time” so choose not to take this step - but many seasoned professionals are eager to meet with newcomers to the field. Take these meetings seriously by dressing appropriately, taking notes, asking intelligent questions and doing your research.
Bonus tip: Ask every person you meet with for one or two more people that might be good for you to meet, and your network will quickly build.
Follow up – with something meaningful.
After informational meetings, the ending remarks are often to “stay in touch” – and you shouldn’t take that lightly! When you start to build relationships, keep them going in a persistent, albeit respectful, manner. Find a way or reason to reach out at least once a month. Mention a new client of theirs, a big media hit or something else relevant to their specific industry. Just mentioning an interesting news article that you think your potential employer might find interesting will help you stand out from the crowd.
Remember the basics!
When you’re trying to stand out from other candidates, the little things are, in fact, the big things. Be punctual for a meeting or a phone call and always send a thank you note to someone who has given you their time. If you’re really trying to impress the person you met with, then send a quick email thank you note the same day of your meeting and drop a handwritten thank you note in the mail. Think ahead and have thoughtful responses to questions that may come up, such as “Why are you interested in a particular field?” (Bonus tip: In PR, the answer better be something other than the fact that you’re a ‘people person.’)0 commentsPosted in: The Hodges Partnership
April 30, 2013 | by Jon Newman
Great story in the Wall Street Journal's Small Business special section on how Snagajob's Shawn Boyer came up with the idea for Snagajob.0 commentsPosted in: Gongs
April 26, 2013 | by Casey Ferguson
While I know I’m not alone, I do know that I’m among the small percentage of professionals who have only practiced public relations in the digital age. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online news sites have always been a part of my media mix.
But with so much information out there and different vehicles to carry the message it can be tricky to know which outlets and influencers really carry weight and can make an impact on a brand’s goals.
Get this, legend has it that PR people once measured success in newspaper column inches. Then an impression number was slapped on the media report and everyone celebrated. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Well, don’t pop the champagne yet. Not until we also measure engagement, reach, relevancy and influence.
Wednesday, Katie Paine, CMO of News Group, spoke to PRSA Richmond to shed light on how the world of measurement has changed, where it’s going and what you need to know when putting together campaigns and programs for clients and organizations. And while it may seem like common sense, she reminded us to measure what matters.
Katie started off by debunking some common myths of social media, including eyeballs aren’t equal to awareness and “likes” don’t equal engagement.
She then went into her six steps to measurement success, which are:
1. Define your goals. Ask yourself questions like:
- Why am I doing PR for this?
- What problem am I trying to solve?
- What was I hired to do?
2. Understand your audience and its motivations. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, find their sweet spots, know what keeps them up at night, identify their pain points and tailor your message to fit their needs.
3. Create benchmarks. Refer to historic data and past performances and incorporate what is valued within your organization.
4. Establish metrics. Create a key performance indicator (KPIs - or Kick Butt Index, as Katie likes to say) that is actionable, helps improve your process and is specific to your priorities. Three is the magic number when it comes to KPIs – that’s proven to be the perfect number to track.
5. Pick a [data collection] tool. Content analysis, surveys and web analytics can help measure messaging, awareness and engagement (respectively), but sometimes, a thought-out combination of the above are needed. Katie recommends two out of three.
6. Gain insight & take action: Katie said, “research without insight is just trivia,” so next time you pull quantitative data, ask yourself “so what,” and look for a way to qualitative put that data in context and relate it back to your goals and benchmarks. You can collect numbers and data all day, but if you don’t have an answer for the “so what” from your results, do they really mean anything?
7. Optional: Pop Champagne. That one’s mine. I feel like we all deserve a drink after all this analysis.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations
April 25, 2013 | by Jon Newman
We had the pleasure of working with the great folks at Chuy’s to publicize the opening of their first Virginia location at West Broad Village. Here’s some of the local coverage:
- Richmond.com, “Chuy's, a Tex-Mex Chain, is Now Open at West Broad Village”
- Downtown Shortpump, “Chuy’s Tex-Mex opens today in Short Pump”
- Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Chuy’s comes to Va.”
- Richmond Biz-Sense, “Tex-Mex fans get a new menu to chew on”
- Style Weekly, “Bite Ahead”
- Ben from Chuy’s shows viewers how to make Chuy’s Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas on CBS-6’s Virginia This Morning.
April 18, 2013 | by Lindsay Grant
I’ll admit it, I’m one of those women who saw the new Dove video and was moved. Moved enough to share it on Facebook, add a caption “Dove does it again” and then check to see if my mascara ran. And I meant it. I was just getting started in my career when Dove first launched its Campaign for Real Beauty. I remember thinking that’s how a brand can make a difference.
When the Dove video ended a few thoughts ran through my head. First, I need to be nicer to myself. Second, I need to tell my friends and my family that they’re beautiful more often. And last, it’s not just our looks we beat ourselves up over. We do the same thing about our work performance – and we need to go easier on ourselves.
Imagine the difference in how you would describe your professional strengths compared to how a colleague would describe you. We’ve all been in a situation before where we heard someone gave us a glowing review. How great did that feel? Remind yourself of those impressive abilities the next time you get down on yourself about work.
For many it’s a mix between humility and insecurity. But what’s making us insecure at work? We were cherry picked among a pool of talent to do our job because we showed the most promise. If that doesn’t give us confidence then what will?
Chances are we’re given assignments and projects because someone sees the potential in us or we’ve proven ourselves on several occasions. It’s time to hold your head high and know that you have it within you to knock a project out of the park. So, swing for the fences.
If you feel like you’re at a dead end or not bringing enough to the table, ask for more. Show your smarts. Highlight others’ strengths. Take risks. And more than anything else, believe in yourself.
You’re strong, you’re capable and your company believes in you. Believe in yourself and you’ll change the world.
Don’t believe me? Ask Christopher Robin. Chances are, he told you first. “You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”0 commentsPosted in: Social Media
April 17, 2013 | by Cameron McPherson
Last week, Gawker Media owner Nick Denton told employees to keep headlines under 70 characters. Why? Google search.
Denton explained, “Why this drastic measure? Google and others truncate headlines at 70 characters. On the Manti Teo story, Deadspin’s scoop fell down the Google search results, overtaken by copycat stories with simpler headlines.”
This announcement has implications for communications professionals writing and distributing releases over the wire. The lesson? Keep those headlines short and to the point.
Historically, headlines have been way too long. According to Schwartz MSL Research Group, 76 percent of news releases in 2011 were longer than 70 characters. In fact, the average headline length was 123 characters.
At The Hodges Partnership, we’re not huge fans of the press release to generate publicity. We much prefer to study up on journalists and write tailored, well-crafted pitches. But, if you’re going to distribute a release, why not optimize it to boost your company’s search results?
For the most impact, follow the advice of Gawker and write headlines that are short and succinct. Of course, a headline is just one part of optimizing a release. For more tips, check out this BusinessWire article.
A good rule to keep in mind: Whether you’re writing for search engines, journalists or readers, everyone prefers conciseness.
If Shakespeare were alive today, maybe he would’ve had a career in communications; as it turns out, brevity really is the soul of wit.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations