» How to Prep Your Press Page for Engagement Season

Scott Aleman Photography

Photo by: Scott Aleman Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Meghan Ely.

As the holidays begin to approach you can almost feel it coming…engagement season is just around the corner. Happy couples excited about launching into their wedding planning will be discovering you daily through your online presence. So you must ask yourself: Is my press page ready?

One of the best tools at your disposal to capture press about your company and promote it long after the publish date is a press page that features links to your recent mentions and serves as testimony to the recognition you have received.

You work hard year-round to keep your PR strategy on track and your name in front of the right audience and you don’t want to let an out of date press page weaken your overall publicity strategy. So, gear up for engagement season and prep your press page now.

Audit Your Online Footprint

Before couples start to search for your services, take a long, hard look at your press page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your page current? It’s easy to let things slip in the busy season, so make sure you’ve collected your press from the last year.
  • Is it easy to navigate? Your press page should be simple, yet impactful. It should showcase your top press with links to the coverage as appropriate. Don’t make couples hunt and peck to find what you want them to see.
  • Does it highlight my top press? It’s a common mistake to put the page in chronological order, but that’s not ideal. You need to include a mix of press, with the majority of features from the past year and with your very best press near the top. Prioritize highly trafficked sites and those that will impress prospects the most.
  • Is it consistent with the couples I want to attract? Another mistake is to believe that you must include every single press mention you’ve ever received. At a minimum, you need three features on your page, but you can certainly include more. When deciding what to use and what to trim, focus on the press that will attract your target prospects and help convert them to booked business.

    Do all of the links work? This is the time to test them out!

Review Your Social Media Press Promotion

You should also evaluate how you promote your press with social media. Different platforms have their own specific press pages, such as:

  • Facebook: Create an album dedicated exclusively to press about your business. Upload screenshots and scans or links to magazine features and credit the sources accordingly. Also, tag the wedding day team that helped the day come together.
  • Pinterest: Create a board dedicated to pins of your press.
  • Instagram: Consider a branded hashtag that relates to your company and press. Use your phone and take a screenshot of online features or take a photo of print pages and share them in a post.

Make sure that prospective clients can easily find an up-to-date and powerful representation of the press you’ve worked so hard to receive. Review your press page now and make any necessary updates and upgrades before engagement season begins.

Haven’t yet focused on press for your business? Here are some tips to get started.
Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Professionals
Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal Brand
What Are the Best Media Outlets for Me?

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» 5 People Every Wedding Business Owner Needs on Speed Dial

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” That sentiment rings true when it comes to owning and operating your own business. You want to surround yourself with smart and capable people that will contribute to your success and growth. Who those people are tend to be a bit different for everyone, but we’ve put together a list from fellow wedding pros on who you may want to add to your speed dial.

Website Consultant
Kylie Carlson of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning relies heavily on her website consultant, “Since we are an e-learning company, I speak to my Website Consultant daily for his advice on different things I need to maintain 6 websites and a Learning Management System.” Most of us can relate to running a business primarily through a website, and when emergencies pop up or you need something added quickly, having your consultant’s number at the ready is a must.

Social Media Groups
In the age of social media, sometimes a phone call isn’t needed when you belong to groups of like-minded individuals that you trust. Jenny DeMarco of Jenny DeMarco Photography shares, “I am a part of a group of about 35 peers from all over that met while attending the same workshops and conferences every year. We are diverse in age, experience, income levels, business models, photography styles and much more. We have an online Facebook group that I turn to all the time when I need advice or encouragement.”

Business Partner
When you need a second opinion, or are struggling with some of the bigger decisions, oftentimes the person you should be speaking with is your business partner. “Running a business is often a fast paced environment that needs quick decisions, creative problem solving, and innovative ideas. So I find myself regularly calling the person that I know is just as invested as I am- my business partner.” explains Audrey Isaac of 100 Candles.

Publicist
Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ doesn’t make any marketing PR decisions without first getting on a call with his publicist, “For us, our speed dial list is really two-fold, because different people are valuable in different areas. Our publicist is the first person we call when it comes to any marketing or insider wedding industry questions, but when I am thinking on a new idea or need advice outside of PR and marketing, I turn to a few trusted veteran peers for help.”

Massage Therapist
You may read this with a confused expression, but relaxation and recharging are an absolute necessity when working in the wedding business. “After a weekend of weddings, you need that massage first thing Monday morning,” says Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events. If not a masseuse, then perhaps call your tennis partner or yoga instructor- whatever you need to do to enjoy a little rest.

Now it’s your turn! Pull out your phone and create a speed dial list that’s right for you.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» Recovering from a Social Media Crisis

education expert

 

 

Social media is as much a blessing as it can be a curse. While it allows us to gain widespread exposure in ways that were never possible before, it also forces our businesses onto a public stage where we may not always want to appear. Before a social media crisis derails your wedding business, make sure you develop an effective strategy for recovery.

desk workBe Prepared

One of the most effective ways to combat bad press or a crisis situation is to plan ahead for every possible scenario. Begin by listing all of the things you and your team can anticipate going wrong: bad customer feedback, unusual poor performance, weather-related cancellations, or even a competitor badmouthing your services to undermine your reputation. I know it’s hard to think of these things. It’s uncomfortable to anticipate the worst, but so necessary if you’re going to survive.

Ask trusted colleagues to give you ideas of additional scenarios you might not have considered and how they would handle them. The more you flesh out what can go wrong, the better prepared you can be if something actually happens.

Next, outline how you would respond to each crisis. Keep the scenarios and possible responses in a file that you can pull if you’re ever faced with a similar situation. You’ll have to tweak your approach, but you’ll have a bank of great ideas to draw from when you need them most.

React Calmly

When you do respond, especially to negative customer feedback or competitor badmouthing, try to do it as professionally as possible. This will require that you divorce yourself from some extremely natural emotions, but it never pays to react in the heat of the moment. Taking the high road will ultimately reflect positively on you with the people who matter.

If you’re not sure you can separate the situation from your feelings, ask a trusted team member or colleague to read anything you put in writing before you send or publish it. This should include emails and replies to online reviews – things that never really go away, so you want to look good.

Many situations are best handled in-person or via a phone call to the concerned party. Consider reaching out before becoming embroiled in a social media battle. You may be able to avoid additional public debate by going directly to the source. Continue reading

» Wedding PR: The Art of Managing Press Expectations

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Between print deadlines and calls for submissions, it can seem tough to navigate the waters of media relationships. It’s exciting to begin a press campaign for your company but with that, it’s imperative to understand press expectations so you can best determine if your efforts are successful.

Below, you’ll find our top things to keep you mind (and keep you going!) when managing press expectations as you represent yourself:

Patience is a virtue

PR takes time – it’s not a one-time overnight fix; it’s a continuous process. While it may be tempting to shoot out emails to every media outlet you think of, the best approach is a carefully calculated one. Take your time to properly research the media outlets that best fit your brand and create a media list based on your findings. From there, you can craft up a pitch to send along that shows how you can be of value to each outlet. With that said, keep in mind that not every pitch will get picked up but if you offer yourself as a resource and successfully engage with the editors, you can still consider that a job well done.

Print vs. Online

With the wealth of online media outlets and blogs that are available to us, it can be easy to overlook the value in a print feature. While it may not be your primary target, magazine placements can speak volumes about your company. When it comes to print, however, the pitching process tends to be quite different than that of online press. When we submit our features to an online source, we expect to hear back within several weeks and, if picked up, we expect to see it within a few weeks. Many magazines, on the other hand, are published quarterly, bi-annually, or even annually and come with strict deadlines, meaning you may need to hold on to that gorgeous wedding or shoot if you don’t pitch by the deadline.

Continue reading

» Wedding PR: How to Shine a Spotlight on Your Business

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. She recently launched the OFD Collective, a wedding PR membership site that offers continuing education, press opportunities and real wedding submissions.

So, you’re doing amazing work and want people to know about it, right? Whole new audiences deserve to know your brand is ready to take over the world, but you need a way to reach them. Perhaps you want to establish yourself as an industry leader, and well, frankly, increasing your sales wouldn’t hurt either. A strategic and well-implemented public relations (PR) campaign is exactly what you need!

 

What Is Wedding PR?

Smart pros turn to wedding PR when they have a message they want to get out to a target audience and media is the main channel for communicating that message. It is distinct from two other popular forms of promotion: advertising and marketing, both of which have their merits, too. 

The big difference between PR and advertising is that the latter takes place in a controlled setting. Typically, you pay to control the content, placement and space used. With PR, you are at the mercy of the editor, so what you promote must be positioned to grab attention in a noisy world.

Marketing focuses on specific details such as product, prices and packaging. PR, in contrast, is all about the newsworthy story.

 

 

What You Must Consider in Advanceblog PR wedding

  • When pursuing a PR campaign, there are some important advance considerations. You’ll need to ensure that:
  • Your brand is exactly what you want it to be. When your PR campaign sends people to your site, you want them to find the right messaging and are far more likely to convert to sales.
  • You have evaluated your goals and are campaigning for the right reasons.
  • You know how to assess your analytics. Make sure you’re able to track how prospects find you through web analytics and contact forms that ask how they heard about you and your business.

Great PR takes effort and planning, so don’t neglect these considerations. Give them due consideration, check them off your list then follow up by choosing the right outlet for your message.

 

Pitch Wisely

To determine the right fit, you have to make sure that the media you pursue will actually connect you with your target audience, otherwise your efforts may gain you attention, but not the attention you need to achieve your goals.

 

Where to Begin: Real Weddings

A good place to start is with real wedding submissions, considered the low-hanging fruit of PR as they are heavily and regularly in demand. Real weddings promote your product and services to couples, but are also great for helping develop professional relationships and sources of referrals. Be prepared with permission to publish, complete background stories from the couple and vendor lists, and a list of important deadlines and publisher specifications. And always choose real weddings that promote the kind of work you want to attract. RealWeds.com, WeddingWire’s submission website, is a great place to start.

If you’re a great writer (or have one on staff), you might consider pursuing guest blogging opportunities as well. Editors love an outside perspective and access to great content that their readers will love. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you have something to offer to an audience you want to meet.

 

HARO

When you are ready to expand beyond real weddings, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Help A Reporter Out (better known as HARO, or the PR guru’s Secret Sauce!). Every day, multiple times each day, HARO sends out a completely free digest of requests from legitimate reporters seeking sources for digital, print and television news features. Topics are high interest and enormously varied, and wedding-related pieces come up frequently. Monitor HARO regularly, and when you see an opportunity that you know is a great fit that will further your goals, follow the directions for contacting the reporter and share your expert commentary or advice as requested. Some truly amazing opportunities originate on HARO, and you’re certainly a perfect fit for one (or more) of them.

 

Ready to Begin?

Once you’ve honed your goals and message, chosen your target media, and prepared your pitches, the only to-do left is to put yourself out there! Don’t wait to take your business to the next level. Start today!

» Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Pros

 

 

Being a small business owner comes with a lot of ups, downs and everything in between. It can sometimes feel like you are forever performing a balancing act of appointments, events, and paperwork- the list of responsibilities goes on and on.

Carving out time for things like public relations is important, but can sometimes end up towards the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. The good news is that there are tons of easy tips and tricks to help you grow your company’s PR profile that won’t compete with your busy schedule. Here are some great ways to get your name out there, regardless of how busy you are.

Embrace Real Wedding Submissions

Investing time into real wedding submissions is one of the best first steps you can take as a wedding pro. Getting your work in front of engaged couples on wedding blogs and magazines can have a huge impact on your business. However, in the last several years, it has become an increasingly competitive PR method and the submission pool is overflowing with weddings.

To catch the editor’s attention, follow these guidelines:

  • Do your research: Take some time to create a ‘wish list’ of where you want to be featured and take a look at the kinds of weddings they are showcasing. You want to match your work with the media outlets that feature complementary content so that your entry is competitive.
  • Follow the rules: Surprisingly, a lot of people who submit to wedding blogs don’t look at the guidelines on the website before sending in their submission. To stand out, be sure you are following the rules to the letter.
  • It’s all about the details: Nearly every wedding blog is looking for fresh details to highlight (think unique cakes, centerpieces, flowers, stationery and the like), so be sure to include them with each submission.
  • Tell a story: Images are the focal point of any wedding submission, but if the editor has the couple’s story to go along with those photos, you are more likely to grab their attention. Ask couples what inspired them, their engagement story, favorite wedding day moments, and anything else that makes their big day stand out.  

Use Free/Low Cost Tools

As business owners, the word ‘streamlining’ has a very important place in our vocabulary. Having easy-to-use tools in your back pocket can make a world of difference when it comes to managing your time.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Talkwalker Alerts: If you’ve got a feature coming out but don’t have time to keep checking the site to see if it’s live, Talkwalker Alerts is a must-have. It will notify you via email when your feature has been posted so you can get to promoting.
  • Wufoo: If you like to get insight from clients, Wufoo is the perfect tool for you. It is an easy-to-use questionnaire builder that provides you with a link to send out once finalized. Once the form has been completed by the recipient, you will receive an email with their answers to know it has been submitted.
  • HARO: Short for Help a Reporter Out, HARO has been an integral part of my own business for years. Scouring the internet looking for press opportunities can be a full-time job, and this tool brings writers and editors on the hunt for expert commentary directly to your inbox.   

Offer Yourself as a Resource

Introduce yourself to your local mainstream outlets as a resource. Find out who writes about wedding content in local mainstream magazines and outlets, and make sure to find the best person to reach out to (hint: run a search on the word ‘wedding’ and see what comes up). Send an email to introduce yourself and let them know your area of expertise, as well as the best way to reach you for future articles. 
With these tips in your arsenal, it’s time to take out that to-do list and move your public relations efforts up a few pegs- trust me, you won’t regret it!   

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» 4 Easy Steps to Content Creation as a Wedding Pro

When it comes to marketing and PR for your company, content creation is king – especially if you’re the one creating it. It’s no secret that Google loves fresh, well-written and continually updated new content on a blog, rewarding it with higher rankings and greater chance for attention.

If establishing yourself as an expert is part of your master business plan, one of the expectations is that you will provide new, enriching content regularly via your own blog and through partnerships with other media outlets. So how do you create exciting and valuable new content as a wedding pro?

Outline your goals. Ask yourself, “What do I hope to accomplish by focusing more of my time on content creation?” You want to make sure you have a purpose and it’s clear what sort of Return on Investment (ROI) will qualify your content strategy as a success.

content creation

 

Begin creating a content calendar. Determine where you’re posting – which social media, blogs, and guest writing opportunities – as well as how often, keeping in mind that your goals should be manageable.

Figure out what you’ll write about. How, you ask? Host a brainstorming session with your team. Take notes after wedding days on scenarios you can turn into a list of tips for couples. Carve out a brief amount of time weekly to review mainstream press, like your local daily newspaper or The New York Times. Then ask yourself how it can relate to the event industry. Cover company news and industry news. Provide valuable content to your audience with the intention of getting closer to your goals.

Track your progress and revisit statistics quarterly. Ensure that your content remains aligned with your goals. Review your responsibilities and commitments and ask yourself if it’s still feasible to create as much content as you’re doing. Use your analytics to see what posts (social media, blog, others) end up with the most engagements and click-throughs to your site. The best plan is one that evolves and addresses what your audience wants and needs.

Content creation requires commitment and analysis. Done well, it can yield new business opportunities, increased attention to your work, and advancement in the industry of your recognition as an expert. Make a plan, review your goals and achievements, and don’t be afraid to take the leap – start building your content portfolio today.

 

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» Hiring an Intern: What You Need to Know

If you’re in a place where you are in need of a little extra help, but don’t quite have the resources or budget to hire a publicity firm, it might be the right time to bring in a PR intern. Eager college students and recent graduates can bring new perspective and fresh ideas that can really benefit your business and make your daily life a lot more manageable.

With that, let’s take a look at what tips you need to know:   

First and foremost, before sending anything out, educate yourself and make sure you are up-to-date on the laws and regulations associated with hiring a paid or unpaid intern.

 

How to Find One

When you are ready to promote your search for an intern, there are several ways you can go about it. Make sure you are diversifying your methods, and not relying on just one avenue. Word-of-mouth is an underestimated but very effective way to find new people. In fact, some of my best interns have come from friends in the industry referring people they knew. Post the job details on all of your social media accounts, as well as your blog if you have one – be sure that you’re including a link to the full job description and details.

Getting in touch with the local colleges and universities that have PR, marketing, communications, or hospitality programs is another great way to connect with potential applicants. Ask how they promote internships and see if you can get posted on their job boards, social media, etc. You could even take it one step further by connecting with professors in those programs and getting them to spread the word.

Communicating the Job

The description of the internship should be very clear about what the internship will entail—you want the responsibilities to be well-defined. The last thing you want is to have a disappointed intern who, for example, didn’t realize they would be doing admin work at an event planning company. Every company has different needs, but a basic description could look something like this:

Specific duties of the intern vary each year depending on new issues and marketing objectives, but could include: writing marketing pieces; social media management (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogging); assisting with activities during events; appointment confirmations; involvement in promotions and research and providing staff support.

Make sure the description matches your brand and gets everyone excited. If you want the best, you’ll be competing with all sorts of other job opportunities.

 

The Interview Process

Once you’ve got a solid pool of applicants, you’ll want to bring them in for a formal interview. Personally, I like the meeting to be in person, but if the position is remote or current schedules won’t permit, Skype is a good alternative. Begin by explaining what the company is, how the need for an intern came to be, and a little bit more depth into the responsibilities of the position. During the ‘questions’ portion of the interview, stay away from yes or no questions. This is your chance to get to know them, their experience, how prepared they came for the interview, and really get a feel for how well they would fit. Some questions to consider might be:

  • Tell us about your interest in the position. What drew you to our company?
  • Tell us about what kind of experience you have in relation to the position
  • Where do you see yourself after graduating/or in the next five years?

Once you’ve selected your candidate (hooray!), be sure to do an orientation (i.e. an everything-you-need-to-know meeting). At our company, we break the orientation day into different training sessions that start with the basics and works its way into the more complicated aspects of the position. Be sure you remain open minded while they are learning; for some, this may be their first ‘on-the-job’ experience and you are a resource for them while they learn.
With these tips in your pocket, hiring a stellar intern should be just around the corner!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

» Wedding MBA 2017: Special Savings for WeddingWire Members

Don’t miss three exciting days of education for wedding professionals at Wedding MBA this October 2-4th in Las Vegas!

wedding mba weddingwire

Did you know you can save extra on your ticket just by being a WeddingWire member? Register on the Wedding MBA website with the code WW3624 to save an extra $20 on the current price (your discount will be applied at checkout).

What will you experience at Wedding MBA?

  • Engaging education to promote your business success. Attend the event for more than 150 seminars geared toward business, technology and trends in the wedding industry. This year, there are category-specific seminars on the first day to supplement the industry relevant main presentations to attend.
  • Presentations from industry leaders and experts. Attend inspirational and informative presentations from top industry influencers including WeddingWire CEO Timothy Chi, CMO Sonny Ganguly, Education Experts Alan Berg, Kathryn Hamm, Meghan Ely, and many more. View the full list of WeddingMBA speakers and sessions here.
  • Networking and celebrating with industry peers. Make new friends while attending the daily sessions, the annual much-anticipated WeddingWire Party, the WeddingWire Happy Hour and more. Plus, meet with members of the WeddingWire team to discuss your account and see what fun surprises we have in store at our Lounge!

Check out the highlights from last year’s event for an inside look at the conference, and get your ticket before the next price increase. See you in Vegas this fall!

wedding mba weddingwire 2016 wedding mba weddingwire 2016 wedding mba weddingwire 2016 wedding mba weddingwire 2016

» Having the Best Year Ever? Don’t Stop Now!

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

Perhaps this was your year. The best year ever. The year where everything clicked. When you heard more yes’s than no’s. Maybe you bumped up your salary. Got an office off site. Upgraded your laptop as you simultaneously celebrated meeting your sales goals.

best-year-everIf that sounds like you, then we need to talk.  Because what I’m about to share with you needs to stick with you as you make your plans for 2017.

Don’t stop.

I get it — you didn’t get to this point because of luck. You advertised and stood on your feet for hours at wedding and events. You hit all the local networking events and took out the better part of your region for coffee. You blogged, you shared life behind the scenes on Instagram and even learned a little bit about Snapchat. It’s absolutely normal to feel like it’s time to pull back a little.

But don’t.

One of my best business lessons took place the summer after I graduated from college. I worked for the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. At the time, they were $13 billion (yes, billion) ahead of their next closest competitor. But they never stopped. They never put the brakes on promotion and innovation. And I’ve carried that lesson with me in the wedding industry ever since.

I see it far too often — a company enjoys the fruits of their labor and then decides to pull back. They see an uptick in the number of client referrals or plans to dedicate more time to social media. So they cut back on media buys and submissions or suddenly disappear from the networking circuit. It doesn’t take long before they see a dip in client and vendor referrals, and business in general. So they ramp up their marketing again — and around and around we go.

Because here’s the thing– your competitors want you to take a break. Those eager up-and-coming wedding pros just diving into the market? They’d do anything for you to not be such a permanent fixture at every association meeting and in every real wedding feature. That upgraded listing or fab booth spot you secured three years ago? I promise, that in this competitive market, someone else already has his or her eye on it.

Should the off-season be a time of reflection, where you take a good hard look at your promotional efforts? Absolutely.  But if you want to continue this era of good feeling, I’d encourage you to keep swimming. Check out these helpful past posts on business ideas and tips and get motivated for an even more successful year ahead in 2017!

» Winter Reading List for Wedding Pros

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

As the peak season winds down and you find more time on your hands, it’s important to make sure you’re carving in time for personal and business development. There is no better way to do this than to get your reading on! With that in mind, grab a mug of your favorite warm drink, pull up a blanket and get cozy with this reading list for wedding pros as the weather gets colder.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

winter-reading-listThis is my go-to book and I recommend it to virtually anyone who asks for reading suggestions. In fact, I actually gave it away at this year’s WeddingWire World! During my first few months of starting OFD, I made sure to take the time to meet some of my favorite entrepreneurs. In the process, my dear friend Nina, who owns Classic Party Rentals of Virginia (one of my favorite people ever!), told me to buy it. Seeing as I do everything she tells me, I bought it and devoured it within days.

It’s a great book on the power of relationships with the notion that “your network is your net worth.” The wedding industry may continue to change, but by all means, relationships will always be at the forefront so this is imperative. If you’re going to read only one book on this list, let it be this one!

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Do you have a new idea that you’re dying to explore? Is there something you really want to get off the ground? Well, the off-season is the perfect time to map out your plan, but don’t do anything until you read this first. This book dives into the world of testing an idea and it has proven invaluable to me as I’ve contemplated the next steps of my business. This is a great read for anyone considering a pivot in their company!

Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman

I’ll be honest – I’ve been a longtime fan of Peter Shankman ever since I discovered HARO. He is a customer service expert and this book is perfect for those looking to focus on developing client experience. In the wedding industry, one of the top ways that couples find their vendors is through friend referrals, so this is an incredible read to help you build a loyal fan base among your customers.

Nice Guys Finish First by Doug Sandler

We are so lucky to have Doug Sandler in the wedding industry and this book speaks to the power of kindness in the business. It’s chockful of great anecdotes from Doug’s career and truly showcases how to put systems into place to ensure the emphasis is placed on business relationships.

Get ready for a page-turning off-season! These books are both enjoyable and educational at the same time, so order your first book and get going on your off-season efforts.

» Wedding PR: Developing Your Speaking Platform

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

If you’re looking to expand your public relations efforts, professional speaking can be the perfect solution to increasing brand recognition and solidifying yourself as an industry leader. Oftentimes, people get excited and jump headfirst into pitching themselves; however, this can be a mistake if you haven’t put together a strategy ahead of time.

One major piece of your speaking strategy is your platform – it is essential to creating and fine-tuning your topics ahead of the actual pitching process. Ideally, your speaking platform will consist of three or four topics that you are comfortable speaking for at least 45 minutes, but even up to one and a half hours.

meghan-blog-imageSo, what topics should you cover? Good question.

First and foremost, dig deep and ask yourself what subjects you’re equally passionate about and well versed in. If you were standing in a room full of industry peers, would you be comfortable answering everything and anything about your chosen topic? Sit down and map out every topic you can think of, but don’t be too broad. Nobody wants to hear something just about wedding planning – you have to get specific with it. Expect to have a pretty overwhelming list (you do know a lot!), but don’t worry because you’ll be narrowing it down later.

Then, it’s time for research! Look at the places that you want to pitch, whether it’s a local workshop, national conference, association meeting or retreat. Review the speakers who are already booked and what kinds of topics they are covering. Your goal is to offer subject matters that are complementary to what is already there but still offer a unique perspective.

Once you’ve narrowed your topics down to the three or four best options, it’s time to put together your three main components for pitching – a catchy title, a brief description and three or four strong takeaways. Your title should be interesting without being two cutesy, with the description explaining what your speech is all about. Keep it simple at about 75 words or less. As for the takeaways, they should include actionable items that attendees will learn and walk away from your presentation with. Don’t be too anxious about expanding too much in your pitch – you’ll have much more space in your presentation to dive in deep!

As always, test the waters when pitching. If you’re finding that you’re not getting responses, it may be time to pivot your subjects. Topics are meant to evolve. For example, if you’re focusing on technology or social media, you should expect that your content would evolve quite a bit.

Create a marketing piece, like a one-pager, that really showcases you and your topics. As you’re submitting and waiting to hear back, it never hurts to take those topics and write guest articles or blog posts about them. Making efforts to project one’s self as an industry expert can be the difference in a winning pitch!