By Melissa A Vitale
Opening a business doesn’t come with a definitive how-to guide, and community centers don’t teach courses on “Being the best entrepreneur you can be.” Much of what business owners learn comes from experience, expertise, or reading. Longtime and prospective clients ask me all the time for advice on increasing their visibility on social media, improving their professional presence, and other publicity-related topics. They want to know “What is best for this campaign?” or “How can I present myself better in front of investors?” You could schedule a pricey session with a media consultant to answer these and other questions, or consider buying the five books that I think every business owner needs to read to ensure success.
“Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time”
By Bill McGowan; Buy it on Amazon.
If you can say something memorable in five words, don’t waste your audience’s time expressing that same thought in 15 or 20 words, thereby risking losing people’s attention. Similarly, sometimes you need to distill a complex thought. If you can’t do that already, I recommend learning this essential skill. In today’s connected world, it’s not enough to have a great business. You need to be able to communicate that effectively every day, and “Pitch Perfect” will help you do it.
“Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media”
By Brittany Hennessy ; Buy it on Amazon.
Before I even finished reading this book, I had already recommended it to more than 10 people, because Brittany knows social media, and she shares her knowledge here. This book is the answer when clients ask me what they can do to attract more attention on social media. This book is targeted to influencers, so some sections may not apply to everyone. But in this day and age, succeeding in business requires having a functional social media presence. You don’t always have to hire an expensive agency; sometimes all you need is a copy of “Influencer.” Brittany’s observations, tips, and expertise will help any business owner.
“The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 5th Edition: The Official Style Guide Used by the Writers and Editors of the World's Most Authoritative News Organization”
By Allan M. Siegal & William Connolly; Buy it on Amazon.
Unless you are a professionally trained editor, I suggest keeping a copy of this on the bookshelf by your desk. After purchasing this indispensable manual, first skim it and note your personal problem areas. Go ahead: Mark it up for later, and keep it handy whenever you’re writing an important brief or email. It’s more consistent and reliable than an online search, and it’s what the professionals use.
“How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships”
By Leil Lowndes; Buy it on Amazon.
Sometimes, I read books to help clients more than myself, so when I picked up this book originally, I thought only its later chapters would be useful because the beginning sections looked more like the classic media training I give my clients. Surprise! I was taking notes from Page 1. Every business owner is constantly on a stage: either performing for customers, employees, the media, or auditioning for investors. Even the biggest wallflower will benefit from the book, cultivating the confidence necessary to take on any social or professional event.
“PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence”
By Melvin Silberman & Freda Hansburg; Buy it on Amazon.
No matter how much every business owner tries to avoid them, situations involving socialization and networking arise, times when not only must you put your best foot forward, you need to be able to accurately read every person with whom you are interacting. Entailing science and research, this book also includes a workbook format to reinforce everything you just read, preventing the knowledge from going in one ear and out the other. PeopleSmart is essential for business owners looking to step up their networking game.
These books will present you with essential tools to face many the challenges that come your way as a business owner or entrepreneur. Enjoy your reading my fellow hustlers. If you've read any of these books, let us know in the comments if you agree with our suggestions!
If you are a small-business owner looking to explore public relations services, please get in touch with us
Contrary to a conservative-leaning federal government, public opinion continues to tilt in a liberal direction, especially on the subjects of sexual wellness and legal cannabis.
Most police officers in large cities won’t waste their time anymore detaining or even questioning pedestrians smoking cannabis. Every day, women are reclaiming their sexuality from the patriarchy that has sought to exploit and control them. Even on the most generic of ad spaces, the walls of subway cars, riders can find promotions for pills aimed at men with erectile dysfunction, panties for women who don’t want to wear tampons, and funny-but-serious messages reminding passengers to get tested for STDs.
Attitudes about sex, spirituality, and drug culture are changing every day, whether you’re a college student walking into a dispensary to grab edibles to relax before an exam or a young woman scanning the growing list of powerful, predatory men accused of sexual misconduct. Most importantly, research is igniting the revolution. In the past year, educational content on the clitoris has tripled. Pharmaceutical companies are exploring THC- and CBD-powered drugs. The days of sweeping alternative notions under the rug and hoping the younger generation doesn’t notice are gone.
Also gone are the days of hypocritical, hysterical anti-drug films about the “horrors” of marijuana, the reputed “gateway drug.” The medical community now acknowledges that cannabis can safely and effectively alleviate many conditions in women and men. Gone, too, are the repressive days when adults had to slink to the back of a pharmacy and lurk at the counter until everyone else had gone before purchasing intimate products meant to stimulate pleasure sensors. It’s all out in the open — available over the counter, on TV, or online. Step right up: no waiting, no embarrassment necessary.
Intimate brands for women — with targeted, high-grade products that women and men want to use — are exploding in the marketplace, and finally answering the question: What do women want? In that same regard, cannabis companies with pure-extraction processes, quality-sourced material, and modern customer-service practices are the norm now. The same goes for legal cannabis itself.
Consumer brands for sexual wellness and legal cannabis have been condensed into one catchall group: VICE CATEGORY. Since 2013, the proliferation of vice category consumer products has exploded and will continue to inspire entrepreneurs looking to cater to people interested in investing money in their sex lives and smoking pleasure.
From disruptive female-led sexual-wellness companies like DAME and THINX to science-backed cannabis manufacturers like Aboslute Xtracts and TopStone, today’s vice category brands are far from the primitive toys you bought at seedy sex shops or the lumpy joints you purchased furtively from a dealer outside a concert venue.
As such, it’s crucial that these brands not only sell and run their business differently, but also interact with their customers and potential customers modernly, often through targeted media campaigns and in-depth press coverage. It’s not enough to have a publicist or a vague strategy when it comes to sex and cannabis public relations; standing out in this emerging industry requires a compelling brand story beyond the sensationalism of sex or cannabis and can curate memorable: profitable storylines that resonate with media and customers alike. Given these sensitive topics, one bad media experience can lead to a full-on scandal, so reliable media relations is essential for emerging vice-category brands.
While there are many wonderful lifestyle firms that cater to sexual wellness and cannabis brands, targeted and specialized boutique firms catering to startups and emerging brands can carry the expertise of a large firm with the hustle of a freelancer.
Here’s what to look for when picking a publicist or PR firm for your vice category brand:
Education over sensation
Many brands with low media exposure can feel “all press is good press.” Publicists who sell that notion tend to curate the type of sensational brands that trigger negative backlash in the comments section, and sometimes even in broader published reports. Rather than investing in a publicist who curates headlines around the price, a celebrity following, or the sensational reaction, hire the PR professional who takes time to educate the media beyond just introducing the brand. Adding education to your media strategy creates loyalty among audiences who seek brands out for their expertise beyond their product.
Example: “The 22K Vibrator Beyoncé Owns” vs. “Why investing in self-pleasure can lead to career empowerment”
Storytelling over headlines
There can be only so many articles “Introducing the latest women-led sex-tech company.” Rather than pitching another feature with that tiresome headline, an adept publicist generates unique and original storylines, piquing the interest of journalists.
Example: “This rolling paper is made with 24K gold” vs. “How to host the ultimate Gatsby-themed party, complete with elegant smoking accessories”
Media relationships over news blasts
Many consumer-focused PR firms have databases containing thousands of press contacts, most of whom don’t cover specific topics regularly but will gladly accept product that may sit in their office unopened for months.
A specialized publicist understands the likely budgeting constraints of vice-category brands. Often, such brands are startups lacking the ability to gift 50 samples for just a couple of placements in return. A publicist who keeps a brand’s budget in mind and relies on her media relationships to create a powerful campaign always produces more ROI for the client than a PR firm that merely blasts information into cyberspace and hopes it intrigues an influential reporter or blogger.
Example: Gifting 100 samples to random media outlets and receiving fewer than 10 secured placements vs. sending 15 samples to targeted journalists with 10 secured placements
Executive expertise over product placements
Googling “best sex/cannabis products of 2018” reveals to anyone with an eye for public relations the top journalists and writers featuring vice-category consumer products. Merely placing a product in a roundup of “Ways to get high at a summer festival” doesn’t spotlight the brand as much as coming up with topics and commentary points for executives that fit into news cycles.
Publicists and marketing aficionados alike learn how to place products as interns: It’s PR 101. Curating a thoughtful storyline or showcasing relevant expertise that writers, bloggers, and vloggers can use in their coverage, however, requires patience, timing, skill, creativity, and commitment to every client.
Melissa A. Vitale PR is known as a “sniper-PR firm” because of its penchant for high-target, quality press placements with leaner models than typical NYC-based PR agencies.
If you are an emerging brand in the vice-category space wondering whether PR is a fit for you, please set up a consultation with us today! https://www.melissaavitale.com/consulting.html
To learn more about MAVPR’s expertise in Vice Category PR, please visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/vice.html
Relying on a proprietary strategy, storytelling, and strong relationships across the media industry, Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations delivers full-feature results for clients. For service inquiries, please visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/services.html
By Melissa A. Vitale
When scrolling online these days, you cannot escape another meme, headline, or tweet about blockchain, cryptocurrency, bitcoin, or a new service switching over to blockchain technology through an ICO, or initial coin offering. From the finance sector to the health-care industry, businesses are eager to adopt blockchain technology for its encryption and potential for customization based on business needs. If it seems like there's a new ICO daily, it’s because there practically has been since the start of the year. Brands looking to adopt blockchain technology haven’t just crowded the space; they’ve oversaturated it. Not that long ago, bitcoin and blockchain were buzzwords that only your tech-savvy cousin used; now, it seems like everyone has a “token.”
So many brands are drinking the crypto Kool-Aid because it’s an exciting technology. It currently lacks stringent regulation from most major governments (and judging from how slowly the U.S. government is grappling with Facebook’s data breach, it will be months, maybe years, before Congress gets around to looking into any possibly adverse effects of blockchain). Companies are quickly jumping on the crypto bandwagon for the security and convenience it offers their customers and client base, not to mention the potential of automatizing and personalizing the platform.
Well-backed ICOs are seeking the help of digital marketers and public relations agencies to catapult their ICO to bitcoin heights. A PR campaign for an ICO can help establish the credentials of the names behind the currency, garner industry recognition for disruption, and reach interested investors and potential customers. Because of the crowded space and the range of marketing, advertising, and communications strategies available in this rapidly growing industry, not all ICOs are a fit for a public relations campaign.
Below, Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations rounds up the questions to ask before considering a public relations plan.
Digital currencies can operate on different blockchains, with Ethereum and Hashgraph being two of the most talked about beyond bitcoin. Depending on the blockchain that hosts your token, there may be more journalists tracking trends, growth and predictions, specifically at top-tier news outlets.
Is there an executive voice that needs to be heard?
Some ICOs are integrated into an established brand that’s already thriving, and some are meant to modernize outdated business models. Whatever the reason, usually there’s an insightful, newsworthy executive spearheading the strategy whose expertise would intrigue the media. ICOs that launch with no concrete purpose or direction, or without a team of executives passionate about the technology, typically do not excite news outlets.
Do you have big names or industry leaders behind the brand?
Unfortunately, blockchain and cryptocurrency are two fields of “fin tech” that are flooded with novices, overeager entrepreneurs, or amateurs hoping they have discovered the next big thing. If the partners and voices behind an ICO have a degree of industry recognition (either within finance, technology, or the industry they are adopting their coin for), they will stand out among the recreational investors.
Are you one of the first in your industry? Do you have an interesting story to tell?
While you certainly will not be the first company to adopt blockchain technology, you may be one of the trailblazers in your industry or sector launching a coin for a specific role or purpose. Even if there are a few competitors in your exact space, you can still attract media attention to your ICO, so long as you have an exciting or trendsetting brand story. A consultation with a professional publicist can asses brand appeal and target storylines.
Are there investors onboard?
Although typically not a make-or-break aspect of an ICO, well-funded tokens can typically focus on aesthetics, social presence, branding, and internal thought leadership, rather than just purpose, through a blog or press page, in addition to a full-scale media campaign.
Can you compete against well-groomed competitors?
Whenever you scan visuals depicting the explosion of ICOs hitting the interwebs, you will notice how few competitors you would have had if you had launched your ICO two, three, or up to five years ago. Now, many of the biggest industry names and brands are into the crypto craze, and if a protégé of Warren Buffett’s offers a coin even remotely similar to yours, he or she will interest the important journalists, unless, of course, your coin outshines theirs. The one thing that the media love more than big names is an underdog story. So how do you compete? Success stories and impressive or unexpected data-driven results are the foundation on which a publicist can build a compelling narrative.
If your ICO is ready for public relations, get in touch with us today.
In a rapidly moving industry, only a consultation with a professional publicist working with cryptocurrencies can assess whether your ICO is a fit for a public relations campaign. To learn more about rates and to schedule an introductory consultation with Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations, visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/consulting.html
Relying on a proprietary strategy, storytelling, and strong relationships across the media industry, Melissa A. Vitale Public Relations delivers full-feature results for clients. For examples of work please visit: https://www.melissaavitale.com/in-the-news.html
Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.