We are proud of our hometown – genuinely happy to live in the heart of East Tennessee.
When a virtual assistance client from California asked “when do you get really bad weather?” my response was, “never – we live in Pleasantville.”
Compared to wildfires fueled by Santa Ana winds, coastal hurricanes, Midwest tornadoes, lake effect snows and Nor’easters, weather here is just average – and pleasant.
In fact, life in general is pleasant and average. So it’s no surprise to find this blog article naming Knoxville, Tennessee the most perfectly average place in the U.S.
It’s our pleasure to make life more enjoyable through our team of personal assistants and virtual assistants, whether you live inside or outside the Knoxville city limits.
This month, we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We just passed the 6 year milestone of being in business together.
Statistics indicate we have beaten the odds on both the marital and business partnerships. Inc Magazine has an article on their web site that gives good advice on how to run a business with your spouse.
Read the full article on Inc.com
In a recent article, Mashable reported Pew Research Center figures showing drastic cutbacks in American newsrooms over the last decade. Their headline warned, “Cutbacks are Hurting Journalism.”
No doubt staff reductions can be tied to steep declines in revenue.
When resources are limited, local newsgathering suffers, but no news is not necessarily bad news for the savvy small business owner. Newsrooms sometimes have such an appetite for anything local, they’ll print your well-crafted press release with little or no edits.
What small business owner says “no” to free publicity? Not me.
Another point raised in the article is how businesses are circumventing mainstream media outlets (and paid advertising) by taking their message directly to the consumer through blogs and social networks. (Well duh…you’re probably reading my blog off a link from a social media site, aren’t you?)
So, if small business owners can talk directly to our customers through blogs and social networks, we don’t even need the doddering old Fourth Estate, right?!
Hold your horses. There’s a huge hole in that theory.
Have you taken a good look at the number of likes your local TV station’s Facebook page has? Have you compared the number of comments you get on your blog vs. the number of comments after a single story posted on your local paper’s web site? Unless you’ve been blogging quite awhile and have developed a following, you still want to leverage the reach your local media possess. Without their amplification, your message – regardless of how good it may be – will still go unheard.
In part one of this commentary on the decline of local news, I told a story of how one client is using BST Concierge as his virtual assistant to send press releases and media advisories to newsrooms in towns where he will be lecturing. His topic is timely. His appearance is a local event. There is a bona fide newsworthiness about his book release and speaking tour.
Many news outlets ignore the release, but there are some who run the story in print, on-line, or over-the-air. The response from a newspaper article still far outstrips the results from a Facebook update or blog post. As long as local newsrooms are struggling for local content, savvy small business owners will have an outlet to tell their stories – if they know how to leverage the power of a well-crafted press release.
Mashable reports findings by the Pew Research Center that newsrooms across America employ 30% less journalists today than in 2000. The headline declares, “Cutbacks are Hurting Journalism.”
While employment statistics decline and the amount of air time and ink dedicated to local news events shrink, this can be an opportunity for small business owners.
Your local newspaper, radio and television station wants to report events from the community. Local angles differentiate them from the glut of media bombarding you with the same news stories from around the globe. The problem for local newsrooms comes in this shortage of manpower to pursue and report news from your community.
This is where a well-crafted press release goes a long way in getting news coverage for your business. Many times, local media outlets will gladly run your press release with little or no editing. It’s like handing them their story wrapped in a bow. They simply say “thanks” and share your news with their audience.
As virtual assistants, we provide a variety of services for clients outside of our Knoxville headquarters. For one project, we wrote and sent press releases for an author who is promoting his first book. The results have been positive. Our press release was on the front page of one newspaper, and our client was booked for a live TV interview on a morning newscast.
He is now making the bookstore circuit, giving lectures and selling autographed copies of his book.
The Pew research indicates many businesses are shying away from press releases and sharing content through their own blogs instead. We’ll comment on this strategy in our next entry.
Our financials are definitely looking up around here! Here is an infographic with survey results that show attitudes and activities of other small business owners. Thanks to our friends at BizCrate for sharing this TD Bank press release over on Facebook.
Now is the perfect time to dust off your business plan. Review and revise it. You may have a better story to present to your banker, if a loan is what you need to open the door to more earnings potential.
Even if you don’t want to borrow. Dust off your plan and revise it. You will need to coordinate your marketing, sales, operations and accounting to capitalize on this economic upswing.
Curiously, half the business owners surveyed expect more customers, but only a third expect to hire more employees. That usually means more hours for the owner to be working “in the business” and not “on the business.”
Smart entrepreneurs are developing a team of partners, freelancers and independent contractors to help shoulder the burden until their company can hire permanent employees. Bookkeepers, virtual assistants, marketing consultants, referral partners…and sometimes, even competitors are lifesaving collaborators to help business owners keep up with their company’s growing demands.
With apologies to my friend Andrew over at Fitness Together, I present evidence that it’s okay to schedule coffee and pie.
Here is an excerpt from a blog that lists 5 Secrets to Using Your Time Wisely. It starts with this quote from a Stanford researcher.
“…people who spend more time on projects that energize them and with people who energize them tend to be happier. However, what is interesting is that there is often a gap between where people say they want to spend their time and how they actually spend their time. For example, if you ask people to list the projects that energize (vs. deplete) them, and what people energize (vs. deplete them), and then monitor how they actually spend their time, you find a large percentage know what projects and people energize them, but do not in fact spend much time on those projects and with those people.”
Hopefully, your resolve to lose weight and to get fit in 2013 is still strong. That will pay dividends for years down the road.
This is not strictly about coffee and pie, of course. The big picture is this: time is a great gift that starts with a fresh supply every morning. Planning is a wonderful way to maximize your time. As you plan, remember to include an hour or two every day for activities that feed your soul.
Exercise. Read. Pray. Go on a date with your spouse. Meet your best friend for coffee and pie. (If you’re really lucky, those last two suggestions are one and the same!)
Stephen Covey would call this “sharpening the saw.”
Investigators found almost $100,000 in stolen property in this Southern California storage unit.
Detectives say one of the burglary suspects obtained lists of subscribers who had submitted “vacation holds” to a vendor that distributes newspapers for The Times.
Read more: http://ktla.com/2013/01/31/homes-of-l-a-times-subscribers-targeted-by-burglary-ring/#ixzz2JYhB4ReS
If stopping the paper and the mail doesn’t work, now what?
- Ask a relative, trusted neighbor, or your pet sitter to bring in the paper and mail.
- Hire someone to keep the yard mowed and neat while you’re gone.
- Enlist more eyeballs to watch your home by telling your neighbor across the street that you’ll be away.
- Hire a personal assistant to drop in at random times to check doors and mail, and to make sure your heating and plumbing systems haven’t failed.
I’m learning the value of testing messages before publishing them to “the great unwashed.”
In my exuberance to try out a new marketing tool, I recently sent an e-mail blast that was spelled correctly, worded cleverly, segmented properly…with links that were dead!
End of the road and nothing to find here. Somebody moved your cheese!
Fortunately, I have peers and mentors who deal with me supportively. They give honest criticism and encouragement on ways to recover from my blunders.
Here is a New Year’s Resolution you may want to adopt: Test every marketing message.
• Send a test message to yourself. Typos magically hide when you’re editing, but then brilliantly appear in a live message. I don’t know why!
• Send a test message to a colleague/coworker. What may sound clear inside your head could be worded more clearly by someone on the outside looking in.
• A/B Test your message. Basically, write two different headlines (RE: Seasons Greetings vs. RE: Don’t open ‘til Christmas) and send each to a small sample of your total list. The headline that gets the most opens is the message that’s sent to the remainder of your list.
What do all of these thoughts have in common? They push you into taking action and expose your shortcomings to daylight. Along every step, there will be something that works and something that fails. In the end, you will be left with a stronger, more persuasive marketing message.
If you’ve been waiting until everything is ‘perfect’ to tell the world about your new idea or business, stop procrastinating!
“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” ~ Goethe
Start small by testing. That means you’ll have to declare your message ‘done’…hit ‘publish’ or ‘send’…and be vulnerable. You will reap great rewards by taking this first small step! I have found that it is only by beginning the testing process…by exposing my flaws to a trusted few… that I can then pursue perfection.
Done is better than perfect…when you start testing.
Did you know there’s a quick and easy way to export your Linked In contacts to a .csv file? Yes, and it’s one of 7 helpful tips published in a recent blog post by Carol Smith at integratedalliances.com
Read the full article here: http://www.integratedalliances.com/linkedin/linkedin-2013-new-years-resolutions-7-advanced-linkedin-tips-monthly-to-do-list
It is no fun to lose anything – especially a smartphone. Lost smartphones have lots of data, and are $500 or so to replace. In the past, you would have spent hours calling people to find a lost phone.
Read how this blogger was able to lose, locate, track, and receive his lost phone in about 15 minutes…thanks to Microsoft, Verizon, and the Lucky Cab Company of Las Vegas.
Read the full article here.