» Top Tips to Reduce Stress – From the Experts!

Top Tips to Reduce Stress – From the Experts!Our #WeDoSomethingBlue campaign aims to help couples reduce wedding planning stress during the busy season, but what about our pros? Don’t you need a break? After all, you’re not just planning one wedding – you’re planning them all for your clients!

Whether you’re putting together personalized song lists, carefully-selected bouquets, or managing all the day-of details for your clients, the busy season is a stressful time for wedding and event pros. We asked some of our WeddingWire Education Experts to weigh in with their tried-and-true tips to reduce stress during this crazy time.

Plan ahead and take a break

“We all look forward to busy season and then, when it’s upon us, we can’t seem to catch our breath. The key to reducing your stress is to get organized before the craziness starts, and then stay ahead. When you get behind in your day to day tasks, you’re like a hamster on the wheel, and you can’t seem to get off. Proper advance planning, and leaving room in your timelines for the unexpected things that pop up helps break the cycle.

Remember to take a break every so often. Working non-stop is a sure path to burnout. Give your creative mind a break, take a walk, walk the dog, or whatever works for you, but get away from it. You’ll recharge your creativity by removing yourself from what you’re doing. Thomas Edison is famous for taking power naps on his desk. His wife brought a bed into his office, but he still napped on his desk. My secret… I have a recliner in my office, and if there’s a gap in my schedule, I enjoy a power nap. Whether it’s a 15-minute power nap, or as long as an hour (time-permitting), afterwards, I feel recharged and ready to keep going.”

Alan Berg, Certified Speaking Professional®

Write it all out and get away

“When you’re going crazy during wedding season, commit to yourself that you’ll do two things: complete a nightly and a weekly brain dump, and schedule some occasional breaks. For the brain dump, just spend a few minutes each evening writing out every random to-do item you can think of – you can then sort them and add the important stuff to your calendar. Repeating this exercise in more detail once a week, and taking time to map out your goals and priorities for the days ahead, will keep you from stressing about forgotten tasks and missed opportunities. Be sure, also, to schedule yourself at least a couple of days every month to do absolutely nothing but to rest and recharge. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, just having that time blocked off as sacred can make all the difference in the world in your mood and energy levels. Combining a little organization and a little relaxation can keep you going all season long.” Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal Brand

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

While you may be familiar with big brand names (think Apple and Nike), ask yourself what you’re doing to build your own brand. That’s right – a personal brand captures your personality and tells people you are an expert in a certain area.

Wedding PR: Crafting Your Personal BrandThe stronger your personal brand is, the more you’ll be respected as an industry leader, which certainly has a direct impact on a business if you’re an entrepreneur. That being said, you don’t need to own your own business to build a personal brand – all you need is a good idea of who you are and where your values lie.

First Things First

Before anything, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions to really get an idea of how you want to portray your brand. What kind of adjectives would you use to describe yourself? How do you want to project yourself to other people? What are some of the things that you view as most important in your life?

Keep in mind that the answers to these questions will define the parameters for your branding, so it’s best to give them a lot of thought rather than to skim over it.

Know Your People

Ask yourself: Whom are you trying to reach? What are you trying to share with them? Understanding your target audience is the key to crafting a brand that will draw in the right kind of people.

Plan It Out

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The only way to ensure that your personal brand not only fits your personality but is also targeted to your ideal audience is to plan, plan, plan. After you’ve determined whom you’re trying to reach, figure out what channels you’re going to use to get in front of them. For example, if you’re trying to reach female millennials, Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start.

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» Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about Networking

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

My life in the wedding industry began with three martinis at an industry networking group when I was fresh out of college. It gave me just enough confidence (liquid courage?) to run as a write-in candidate for the inaugural PR chair of the local wedding association. Much to my surprise, I won that evening and it was the catalyst that led to everything else – increased sales for my employer, wonderful friendships, new job opportunities, and even the chance to manage that same association when I first opened the doors to OFD.

Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about NetworkingSo as you can imagine, I’m a big proponent of networking. In fact, if there were some sort of wedding industry networking fan club, I would be the president of it. Or, at the very least, the PR chair.

Here’s the thing about networking: it wears on you after awhile. And I get it – you start to really get tired of the elevator pitches and the constant card exchanging.  So today I’m here to ask you to rethink networking and instead, consider a new approach. At this year’s WeddingWire World, I shared the top networking notions you need to throw out the window and today, I’m asking you to consider the same.

So how do we change the conversation about networking?

Stop telling yourself that networking is supposed to be fun.
You have goals for your wedding business (and if you don’t, stop reading this immediately and get to work on those!) and there are things you should be doing to help you achieve those goals. Statistically speaking, vendor referrals is one of the leading ways that couples find out about you so more than likely, networking is a necessary component to your promotional strategies.

But for some reason, we assume that we network because it’s fun. I don’t blame you – event people throw great events. But if the only reason you’re going is to kick back with your friends and joke about the endless trend of mason jars, you’re not going to see a solid ROI for your time. Instead, select your networking events because they’re the key to getting you closer to your business goals.

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» Wedding PR: Communicating Change

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

If January is the time to shake things up with your PR and marketing, then February is the time to focus on execution.

	Wedding PR: Communicating ChangeLast month, my friend and fellow WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm challenged the bridal bias in the wedding industry and it made me really think about change and how overwhelming it can be for the wedding pro juggling a million tasks at once.

Fresh off of my own re-brand, I can’t help but feel pangs of empathy when discussing the challenge with clients and colleagues eager to make a change in their own business – whether it be their name, brand or a combination of the two.

The good news? If you take it step-by-step and bring in the right team, the return on your efforts can be considerable. Sow how does one get started?

First, do your due diligence. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the to do’s that come with making a change, especially if you’ve decided on a new company name. The US Small Business Administration does a great job outlining the steps here.

Next, assemble your team. If making a name change, then you’ll want to connect with legal and financial counsel quickly. The right branding company can help guide you on your overall look – from your logo and marketing materials to your online presence.

In the midst of the above, you’ll also want to really start thinking about the message you’d like to craft and disseminate about your company’s changes. Ask yourself – why are you making this move and what would you like others to know about you as a result?

When communicating the change, you’ll want to think carefully about your target audience and the best channels for reaching them.  In addition to your prospective clients, you’ll need to consider your current and past clients (remember – the latter are still in a position to refer you!), colleagues you work with regularly and the media.

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» Wedding PR: Time to Shake Things Up!

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

January tends to be a natural time in the year for wedding pros to plan for the year ahead. We set goals, refresh our brand, and finally cross off all of the lingering to do’s on our never-ending list.

Wedding PR: Time to Shake Things Up!In years past, I use my first post of the year as a not-so-gentle reminder to get organized before wedding season sneaks up on us yet again. But what if you are already there, armed with your standard operating procedures, and you’re still seeking that “something different” that will fulfill that missing spot? Luckily, there are a number of ways to mix things up and start off your next venture.

Go Offline

That’s right – log off and smell the roses! It’s understandable if the majority of your marketing efforts are online, as millennials are constantly connected. However, it may be time to diversify and devote some of your time to going offline – from magazines to television, it never hurts to branch out and build your brand through different mediums. Start off with one new approach that reaches your target audience and fits in with both your company’s goals and your skill set.

Consider Podcasts

Beyond hits like Serial and This American Life, podcasts are a great tool for marketing your wedding business. There are podcasts for nearly every niche out there and they can be considered a media on-the-rise. Not only are they very popular with Gen Y, but they come with the added bonus of being great practice for those interested in speaking (see next point!). Unlike online and print features, podcasts allow for your target audience to get a glimpse of who you really are and how excited you are to talk about weddings.

Speaking Engagements

While public speaking may not be everyone’s specialty, it’s hard to argue against the fact that it’s great for getting your brand out there. If you’re ready to take the plunge, start small and work on developing a platform based on your expertise. Start out in your region and look into local networking groups or industry events. Consider reaching out to nearby universities’ hospitality departments and inquire about guest lecturing. Find a way to include guest participation and be sure to ask for feedback afterwards. It’ll only take a few practices before you start feeling like a seasoned pro!

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» Wedding PR: How to Prepare for a Crisis

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Crisis: Not necessarily the first word that comes to mind when you think of the wedding industry. Sure, the buttercream could melt off of a cake on a hot summer day, and on occasion, the event itself may cancel. But for the majority, the wedding industry is a relatively low-key place to hang your hat.

Creating a plan for dealing with a potential crisisThat said, things can and will pop up. Unhappy clients or vendors could blast you on social media. You are preparing to announce a major shift in the company but word gets out before you share it.  A former employee decides to go out on their own without telling you. Photos from your portfolio are taken and used on someone else’s site. Sound familiar? I have no doubt that either you or a friend has experienced at least one of the above.

It’s all the more reason you should put a crisis plan in place – with the hopes that you never have to use it. So how do you go about preparing for the worst?

Outline the scenarios

Now is the time to ask yourself – what could actually go wrong? Carve time out of your schedule to start listing potential scenarios and revisit it every six months. Find yourself coming up short? Ask employees and trusted colleagues to chime in. Some common situations include:

  • Poor review from unhappy clients
  • Negative public backlash from a fellow vendor
  • Employees (former or current) who receive negative press as a result of something that’s not even connected to your company
  • Accusations regarding business practices from a competitor

The list goes on and on and varies depending on your offerings. This step is absolutely essential to the process because it gives focus to what you should be preparing for.

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» Wedding PR: Let’s Go Offline

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

It’s a fact – couples spend a great deal of their time planning their weddings online which is all the more reason you will focus quite a bit of your PR strategies there. With that being said, there are still a number of offline PR opportunities that may still be a great fit for your company, including:
Tips for handling your offline wedding PR

  • Radio and podcasts
  • TV features and interviews
  • Print magazines
  • Speaking engagements

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – PR takes time, as well as quite a bit of effort, but the rewards can be well worth it. That’s not to say, however, that you should jump on every strategy that comes to mind. Now is the time to qualify each to ensure your time is spent wisely. Ask yourself:

Does this fit into the overall goals for my company?

You should be revisiting your company goals at least one to two times a year. Goals help create a road map for success and assist you with selecting marketing and promotional strategies.

If you would like to continue to increase brand awareness for your company locally, for example, then it would make sense to pursue area radio and TV interviews opportunities. It may not make sense, however, to seek out industry conference speaking engagements unless you can find ways to create alternative revenue streams from it.

In short, don’t suddenly jump on new offline PR opportunities if it doesn’t fall in line with the direction of your company.

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» Infographic: How to Reach Industry Expert Status

Are you looking for ways to take your business to new heights and reach industry expert status? Building your reputation as an industry expert will help you stand out from the competition and increase the value of your personal brand.

This infographic shares top tips from our September webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely, and reveals the key factors for leveraging your talents to become an industry expert and gain brand awareness for your wedding business. To learn more, watch the full webinar here!

Sept_Webinar_Infographic_TakeYourBusinesstoNewHeights

Want more great education? Sign up for upcoming webinars here!

» Take Your Business to New Heights: Reach Expert Status

September-Webinar_Take-Your-Business-to-New-Heights-Reach-Expert-Status_TileWebinar Recap!

Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? In our September webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely shared her tips for packaging your skills, experience and knowledge to become a recognized expert in your industry. After all, building your reputation helps you stand out from your competition, increase your value, and boost your brand!

Find out some top highlights from the webinar below.

  • First ask yourself: What am I an expert in? Some considerations include: regional knowledge, destination weddings, LGBTQ, Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, Persian weddings, Elopements, second marriage and more!
  • Before submitting a real wedding, you must first: do your research, focus on your target audience, study the submission guidelines and be mindful of editorial calendars. You can submit real weddings to WeddingWire at RealWeds.com!
  • If you are interested in guest writing, be sure to: research the top and best fit outlets for your expertise, select your top outlets to approach, outline the submission guidelines and follow them, craft a list of topics and only then make the pitch!
  • To help your business get press, here are some great tips: learn to think like the media – what content and help do they need? Make it easy on them, make your outreach about them and their success and not too self-serving, treat them like a client and act professionally, and be prompt with deadlines and organized in your follow up.

For more details, be sure to watch the full webinar!

Interested in learning more from Meghan and her team at OFD Consulting? Until this Friday, 9/25/15 at midnight, all WeddingWire webinar registrants can save 40% on products such as a Real Weddings Submission kit with promo code: weddingwire at checkout!

Did you know that all of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for premium Pros to view at any time? Check it out for some great education and inspiration on important topics for your business from sales to client communication, marketing and more.

» Wedding PR: Pitching Styled Shoots to Vendors

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Styled shoots. Wedding Pros either love them or well, they despise them with every fiber of their being. There really is no in-between. In my ten plus years in the industry, I’ve never seen one topic divide the industry as much as the topic of styled shoots.

Coordinating a wedding styled shootAs I’ve mentioned before, styled shoots can be a wonderful way to showcase your talents, work with new vendors and potentially enjoy a bit of press. But with the steady increase in shoots, comes the challenge of getting your vendor friends and colleagues on board.

What was once a novel marketing idea has now become as common as mason jars paired with burlap. Wedding professionals are constantly being inundated with requests so the question that begs to be asked – how can you convince your colleagues to come on board for your styled shoot? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you start pitching styled shoots to other vendors:

Have a vision

While a styled shoot often stems from a particular moment of inspiration, there are a quite a few steps that need to be taken before reaching out to your colleagues. Take the time to map out the vision- scout locations and collect images to help tell your story. Your chances of getting that “yes” are far more likely if you can share a concrete vision for the shoot.

Connect with heavy hitters

If you have a great idea, then there is no reason you can’t connect with well-respected national companies to pitch your idea. There are a number of products that could elevate your shoot – whether it is candles and lighting, silk ribbon or even those cake stands you’ve been eyeing.  Aligning yourself with well recognized brands would give you that added credibility before approaching your targeted list of area wedding professionals.

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» Wedding PR: Hiring Outside Help

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

Over the years, we’ve shared tips and tricks on WeddingWire about how to be your own wedding publicist, but for some, there may come a point when it’s time to consider hiring an outside firm.

Hiring a wedding PR firmSo how do you know when it’s time to take the leap? First, consider what strategies are resulting in the biggest ROI. If you’re finding that real wedding features have served you well in the past, and that you may benefit from bringing someone in who can take things up a notch.

Additionally, take a good hard look at how you’re spending your time. If you value the role PR plays in your business but know your time is better spent elsewhere (making sales, focusing on the client experience or even simply doing what you love), then a PR consultant may be your solution.

Hiring a wedding PR agency can seem intimidating – especially if it’s one of your first experiences with bringing in a consultant. The very best way to get you started is to ask trusted friends and colleagues for referrals. They’ll be upfront with you about the benefits as well as the challenges. Don’t have anyone within your inner circle with this experience? If you belong to any industry groups (off or online), consider putting out feelers with them.

And what sort of things should you look for when qualifying candidates?

Their Portfolio

A PR company’s press portfolio (both their clients and their own) is one of the most important components to review. This will lend insight into their current media relationships as well as the type of press they specialize in, whether it be online, print or on the air. Make sure to ask for their most current press to see what’s kept them busy in the last 6-12 months.

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» Wedding PR: Pitching to Podcasts

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. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

I am, admittedly, a podcast junkie. My love for podcasts stems from the need to fill the hours I spend in my car driving between appointments, networking events and speaking engagements. Quickly I became hooked, and more importantly, became excited about the possibilities of this modern media format.

Listening to podcastsIt’s always great to see a client quoted, or a guest blog submission go live. But there’s something about that unmatched glimpse of personality that pops up when you can hear that person speaking on a favorite topic, or interacting with the host.  It’s a proven fact that couples select their wedding professionals in part due to their personality, and podcasts are the perfect vehicle for sharing that side of your brand.

The good news? The formula for pitching to podcasts does not deviate very far from best practices shared in the past.

Research still serves as the foundation for a great pitch. Study the various podcasts within your scope of expertise – look at past topics and commit to listening to a number of episodes to get a general feel and tone.

If you think it may be a fit, begin developing topic ideas. Make sure they are subject areas that you can speak on for a length of time and that you aren’t pitching something they’ve already covered. I like to have 2-3 topics on hand.

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