» 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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» Top 4 Email Dos and Don’ts

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

In many situations, communication between businesses and clients occurs almost exclusively over email. While emailing is a huge time saver, it’s important to realize that they are often the first and only impression that a client or business has of you!

Take your emails seriously and follow these dos and don’ts to ensure that your emails are representing you well.

Top 4 Email Dos and Don’tsReply…and reply quickly! Do not take too long to reply to an email. An overdue email response can not only be a lost opportunity, but it can also send a negative message about you and your business. Take the time to reply to everyone who has taken the time to reach out to you, no matter how insignificant.

Think about how you sound. Although emails often seem like a very informal form of communication, you should always use correct punctuation, spelling, and format. Take the time to proofread your emails so you come off as intelligent and professional. That being said, you can (and should!) still attempt to convey your personality and excitement in your emails. This can often be hard in writing, but don’t be afraid to use exclamations to change the tone of what you are saying and make the recipient feel more comfortable.

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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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» 4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Clients

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

When you have respectful and kind clients, working with them is not only easy, but fun! When you have a good, positive relationship with the people you work with, it makes you want to work hard for them. However, this isn’t true for every client relationship. Sometimes you receive unfriendly emails, rude calls, and impatient people who make it difficult or downright unpleasant to do your job.

4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult ClientsIf (or when) that happens, here are my four tips for dealing with difficult clients:

  1. Be kind. Working with difficult or high maintenance clients can be exhausting and can cause you to mirror their language and actions. With these clients, it’s especially important to fight fire with water. In times of disagreement or high tension, take the high road – make your clients feel valued and heard. Often times, that’s ultimately what they’re really looking for.
  1. Communicate often. I find when my clients don’t hear from me for a period of time (even though I’m still working hard for them!), it causes them anxiety and sometimes causes them to think, “Well what is she even doing for me?” Take a few extra minutes to send them an email with a quick update or put a more formal update process in place to send over recaps. Open communication ultimately builds trust.
  1. Be present. When you’re on a phone call or in a meeting with a client, be all there. Turn your phone on silent, only use your computer to take notes, and give them your undivided attention. Multitasking can come across as frazzled or un-invested, which only creates more tension.

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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!

» 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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» Wedding PR: Developing and Nurturing Editorial Relationships

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 there is one basic fact about public relations, it’s this: it simply cannot exist without the media.

We’re in a new age of editorial relationships – now more than ever, the number of people pitching (whether as a PR firm or on behalf of themselves) far outnumbers editors. So while relationships have always been at the heart of public relations, it’s now absolutely an essential.

Wedding PRSo what are the key points to keep in mind when nurturing your media relationships?

  1. Be a walking Rolodex and encyclopedia rolled into one.
    You are, no doubt, an expert in your field and the quicker the media realizes this, the better. The fact is- not every pitch will be accepted and your contributions to an article may hit the cutting room floor. But you can be resourceful in other ways. Did your quote not make the cut? Review the reporter’s recent work and consider pitching other topics of interest. Did your expertise not fit within the scope of their article? Share some friends and colleagues from your circle to help them wrap up the piece. Yes, reporters like to know that you’re an expert at something. But more importantly, they want to know that they can count on you.
  1. Be professional, always.
    If you’re pitching regularly, you may find yourself on friendlier terms with the media, which can be a wonderful thing. At the same time, you run the risk of letting your guard down a bit, allowing professional pitches to start taking on a more casual tone. While there is nothing wrong with adding a dash of informality to your correspondence, continue to remain mindful of submission guidelines and deadlines. I recently assisted a blogger friend with filling in content on a fast-approaching date and mentioned that I’d get it over to her as soon as I resized the photos to match her guidelines. I could practically hear her eye roll over email as she told me that that wasn’t necessary. We had a good chuckle over it but I have no doubt that she appreciated the courtesy all the same.

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» Wedding PR: Tips for Public Speakers

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.

As I shared last fall, there are a number of steps you’ll need to consider taking if you’d like to begin diving into the world of public speaking. But what about those who have a few speaking engagements under their belt already? Or for those who have been speaking at the local level and would now like to be considered for national conferences?

Wedding PR: Tips for Public SpeakersWhile a clear understanding of your goals and prioritizing time to practice (and practice and practice!) will continue to be essential to the process, consider these tips and tricks to take your public speaking to the next level:

  1. Allow your topics to evolve – When you begin speaking more regularly, a funny thing happens: the topics that you thought would be most popular may actually be your least requested, and suddenly people are clamoring to book you for subjects you may not have considered. Because of this, it’s important to keep track of the needs of your prospects and evolve along with them. I also typically add 4-6 new topics to my portfolio every year to ensure I can offer fresh and inspiring content to event professionals.
  2. Organize your calendar – Make note of any major conferences where you’d like to pitch and familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines, as well as their deadlines. With the latter, note the deadline on your calendar as well as set a date several weeks prior so you can begin preparing.
  3. Ask for testimonials – Reviews are essential to your wedding business and the same can be said for your speaking career. Testimonials equal credibility, plain and simple, so after a speaking engagement, reach out as appropriate and request a review so that you can share it with future prospects.
  4. Request feedback – Never hesitate to ask for constructive feedback from both attendees and those that book you. Additionally, if you aren’t selected for a particular seminar or conference, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and inquire as to why you weren’t selected. The feedback could be invaluable.
  5. Be a thought leader – Speakers leverage their expertise even when they are not on the stage so take advantage of chances to share your knowledge with a wider audience. Many choose to utilize their blog as a channel while others set aside time to research guest writing opportunities as their schedule allows. Your visibility, as well as your reputation in the field, is crucial when being considered a thought leader in your industry.

Public speaking is a proven strategy for wedding professionals who would like to build an additional revenue stream while also increasing brand awareness for their company. With the above tips in mind and a commitment to better their craft, those just starting out in the field will continue to expect healthy return for their efforts.