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How Social PR Can Help Your Small Business
The idea is simple: Get inside the everyday life of potential clients, without making it look like an ad, using a clever trick or two, at times. As the Internet progresses, more companies are finding out that their best target audience could be regular participants in an industry-related social network or a blog.
This makes it incredibly easy for just about any company to deliver their message to their target audience, with laser precision. This new opportunity gave birth to a totally new way of performing public relations.
Aptly named "Social PR" or "Social Public Relations", this marketing field is quite new, but is quickly proving to be one of the most viable ways for promoting a business today. As
Grindvision Team CEO Steve Weiss puts: "It is a waste of time for all businesses to have accounts on social networks like Twitter, or Facebook if there is no consistent message or engaging content that interests the masses."
One of the latest ways to leverage social PR is the Google +1 button. The Google +1 button is an easy way to publicly 'vote' for a piece of content online. When a business "+1's" their press release published on Online PR Media, one of many press release distribution services, for example, those following their recommendations will see the press release higher in the search results and noted as recommended.
"The Google+ network is poised to be the next big social network for sharing and connecting online," says Tara Geissinger, Co-Founder of Online PR Media. "We've always been committed to incorporating the most trending news sharing features at Online PR Media, so it was only natural that we add the Google +1 button to our published press releases to make it easier for readers to connect with their Google network."
If Your Small Businesses Uses Wi-Fi ... Beware!
The National Federation of Independent Businesses has issued an urgent warning to small business owners: take steps to prevent customers from logging on and illegally downloading copyrighted materials.
Why the urgent alert? Because copyright holders—including record labels and movie studios—struck a deal with Internet Service Providers to issue warnings to residential customers whose accounts are allegedly used to pirate content.
Although the agreement doesn’t impact commercial businesses, small businesses could be affected, according to the NFIB. Small businesses that have residential accounts for Internet connections could meet with “mitigation measures” if the provider sniffs out illegal activity five times. Those measures could include reducing Internet speeds or redirecting traffic to a special landing page until the customer contacts the Internet provider to discuss the issue.
“This could potentially be an issue for home-based businesses or small businesses whose owners are using residential accounts for whatever reason,” says Beth Milito, senior executive counsel for NFIB. "Regardless, it’s a good idea for small businesses to take precautions to prevent customers or even employees from using their Internet connection to steal content."
Milito says requiring a password is a simple way to discourage abuse: "For example, they could print a password on the receipt and change it periodically, to prevent non-customers from using the service."
Businesses can also block access to certain websites and types of websites, Milito suggests: "This requires a little bit of know-how on the part of the small-business owner, and it may accidentally block access to legitimate websites, but it also can discourage people from using a business' network to steal content. With more and more people carrying smartphones and even tablets, free Wi-Fi can help a small business attract and keep customers, but unless a business owner uses commonsense and takes precautions, those customers could come at a hefty price.”
Check out this video for more Wi-Fi security tips:
Study: Employees Happier Working From Home
Those are among the findings of a recent Staples Advantage survey. In the survey, telecommuters say they feel and work better when they can do business from home. Specifically, 86 percent of telecommuters say they are more productive in their home office.
Why are they happier? Consider the statistics:
- Stress levels have dropped 25 percent on average since working from home.
- 73% say they eat healthier when working from home.
- 76% of telecommuters are more willing to put in extra time on work and say they are more loyal to their company since telecommuting.
- More than 80% say they now maintain a better work-life balance.
It’s no surprise, then, that telecommuting is on the rise. According to Forrester Research, the number of telecommuters is expected to reach 63 million in the U.S. by 2016. But what could your small business do to make these employee even happier working from home?
The Forrester survey offers some ideas: Most telecommuters said their companies don't provide furniture (87%), office equipment (60%) or supplies (57%). Improving in these areas can help create an environment that simulates corporate office conditions and maximizes productivity.
With the right set-up and support from small businesses, telecommuting programs can be rewarding and productive options for employees. In fact, telecommuters claim they'd even be willing to sacrifice a few of their favorite things to continue working from home:
- 54% would give up their favorite TV show
- 48% would forgo an extra hour of sleep
- 40% would swear off a favorite food
- 40% would take a pay cut
Telecommuting is not an option for all small business employees. But with these statistics in mind, it may be time to consider how you might fit telecommuting into your scheduling paradigm.
Win $50,000 Worth of Marketing for Your Small Business
Dubbed The Promotion Promotion, the contest starts today and runs through Aug. 31. The grand prize winner will get an integrated marketing campaign worth $50,000. Doner, The UPS Store network's advertising agency of record, will work with the grand prize winner to examine the business' needs, develop a marketing plan, produce creative and run it in appropriate media.
It’s worth entering even if you don’t win the grand prize. The UPS Store is giving away up to $3,000 worth of other prizes every week, including an Apple iPad 2 and gift cards from various retailers.
Ready to enter? All you have to do is visit the UPS Store’s corporate Facebook page. Of course, you a have to like the page before you can enter to win. When you do, you’ll be instructed to fill out a form that offers up all your personal particulars, and then answer three questions in 500 words or less.
- Tell us something unique about your business.
- What inspired you to start your business?
- If you could tell someone one thing about your business, what would it be?
A panel of experts will judge the contest for the grand prize. The winner will be chosen based on the contestant's passion for small business. The weekly prizes are chosen the old fashioned way, well sort of. You contest form goes into a virtual fishbowl.
Beyond all of this, The UPS Store network will also offer Facebook-only coupons for discounts on business-related services at participating The UPS Store franchise locations. Starting the second week, fans choose the next week's offer by crowdsourcing via Facebook Questions. The Promotion Promotion tab also will stream relevant articles from the business section of msnbc.com.
Six Stress Reduction Tips for Small Business Owners
Here are the six kinds of stress and some additional prescriptions for reducing each of them.
#1: Emotional Stress
A recent study found that three quarters of Americans experience significant emotional stress weekly. When we're undergoing emotional stress, our hormones get out of balance. Cortisol levels go up and DHEA levels go down; the coping hormones get depressed and the pleasure hormones don't get released.
What to do about it: Respond with calmness. Acknowledge that a seemingly overwhelming task will get done in small acts that add up to a big result, like planting a field of corn one kernel at a time. Another solution is to clear your mind with laughter. Laughing almost instantly clears away emotional stress, like a defroster on a windshield.
#2: Sleep Deprivation–Induced Stress
Sleep is a natural medicine, pure and simple. But without adequate levels of restorative sleep, our bodies release cortisol, which sets up a stress cycle and causes a disruption in the sleep we do get.
What to do about it: To address mild insomnia, reduce your caffeine consumption. Avoid big meals late in the day, which can set up blood sugar swings and wake you up when insulin is overdoing its job. Keep alcohol consumption in the healthy zone--one drink a night. And finally, when your head hits the pillow, go over each of the day's events and as you do, send it into an imaginary circle located outside your body, just in front of your heart. This helps you prepare for deep sleep without replaying your day over and over.
#3: Dietary Stress
An unbalanced diet causes stress in the body. So does eating too little or too much, which can disrupt your digestive system and hinder your body's ability to recover from physical exertion or even a day of overwork at the office.
What to do about it: Let your dietary habits be an antidote to, not a stimulator of, stress. Avoid simple sugars and choose carbohydrates that are from whole grains, fresh vegetables, and small amounts of fruit. Cut back on or cut out caffeine. Add some healthy oils--like cold-pressed olive oil or omega 3 fish oil--to help balance your hormones. Eat a healthy amount of protein, which helps build muscle and counters the effects of too many carbs. And eat a good breakfast within an hour of waking, and then frequent small meals every 3-4 hours.
#4: Physical Stress
This kind of stress typically occurs from exerting yourself too much in a workout, but it also affects those who have the type of job that demands a lot physically, such as a construction worker, landscaper, or waiter.
What to do about it: Be mindful of the symptoms: irritability, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, overall fatigue that lasts 2-3 days, chronic muscle soreness, lack of motivation, injury, and illness. The key to combating physical stress is to get stronger, but to build up strength in a slow, steady, balanced way. See chapter 5 of our book, Fit Soul, Fit Body, to learn how to customize a conditioning program that addresses your particular habits, lifestyle challenges, and symptoms.
#5: Chemical Stress
Chemical stress occurs when your body has to get rid of compounds that are harmful or toxic to it. Most such toxins come from the external environment--everything from the air you breathe, to the water and food you eat, to the home and office you inhabit.
What to do about it: Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and chemical-laden processed foods. Eat foods grown without insecticides. Drink purified water. Clean up your inside air with an air filter and fresh outside air. Use natural cleaners. Avoid personal care products that are synthetic and laden with unknown chemicals. Being a conscientious consumer will help you overcome most chemical sensitivities.
#6: Inflammation-Induced Stress
Inflammation is a side effect of stress, but it's also a promoter of stress on the body. Inflammation comes from a number of things, including working out too hard, eating a poor diet, being overweight, and not getting enough omega 3 in the diet.
What to do about it: Balance your fat intake. Reduce saturated fats and oils while increasing your intake of omega 3 oils (fish oil, beans, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil). Get consistent, moderate-heart-rate exercise to burn excess fat stored in your body, if this is an issue. Limit your intake of carbohydrates. Omit foods from your diet that make you feel tired, weak, or bloated after eating them, or that give you negative reactions, such as itchy skin or a stuffy nose. The most common culprits are shellfish, meat, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, some fruits, and nuts.
Check out this video for more stress busting tips:
Shaman-healer Brant Secunda and legendary world champion Ironman Mark Allen are body-soul fitness experts known for blending ancient shamanic wisdom with the latest scientific findings on nutrition, fitness, mood, and stress, and turning them into fresh tips and advice for improving health and well-being. Their new book is Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to Healthier, Happier You. You can visit them online at www.fitsoul-fitbody.com.
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