Four Tips For Perfect Email Pitches

Your media pitches can go straight over the plate. With a little forethought, and a few tips, you can throw fewer balls and more media relations strikes. 

Brevity is the soul of wit. Shakespeare could have been giving media relations tips when he penned this gem several hundred years ago. If you can't get to the point in your subject line in 5 words or less, you need to work on your message. Keep the subject line short and aim to pique the receiver's attention. Your subject line should make them want to know and read more. Include the time frame if it is important to the pitch. For instance, the subject line, "Entrepreneurs Storming NC General Assembly Tuesday" gives a sense of timeliness to the journalist. 

Be Cool. You're fired up to fire off that media pitch you have just written. Don't. Let it cool off a bit first. Ask for input from others before you send the pitch to the media, particularly if you are trying to use humor or be quirky. You don't want your pitch to fall flat. 

Don't Get Too Attached. Don't ever attach word documents or photos files to an email pitch. Did I mention that you should not send attachments? To get past email filters and to avoid annoying your media contacts, wait until they ask for additional information before sending photos and documents. 

Be Relevant. Can you see your story within the pages of the publication you're pitching? Is it something the readers or viewers would truly be interested in learning about from the media outlet? While news about you or your organization is naturally important to you, when pitching the media understand that for them prioritize stories that are important to their readers. 

3 Questions to Ask to Identify If a Public Relations Consultant is Right for You

Public Relations (PR) plays a key function in a successful business. And for PR to be productive, you will need to trust more than friendship or basic instincts in choosing an ideal PR Consultant. 

The function of public relations cannot be handled just by your consultant or firm; it is a partnership between you and the PR experts. Your insight, input and perspective will provide your PR pro with the best direction and garner the best results. It requires an investment of time on your part -- phone calls, e-mails and meetings. For a great foundation, it's important you provide complete and updated information; spend time ideating with your consultant and staff; and review materials prepared by your PR person in a timely fashion. 

An apt definition of a great PR relationship is from the Counselors Academy of the Public Relations Society of America:

A successful relationship between client and public relations firm or counselor has as a fundamental: a match of capabilities and needs, a 100% agreement on objectives, constant and instant accessibility, full information sharing, interaction at all levels, regular updates as well as progress review, and a clear contractual agreement.

Here are three questions to ask to guide you to your next great PR relationship: 

Have you worked in my industry before? While many PR tactics apply across industries, a consultant with experience in yours will readily have examples of strategies known to work for your specific market. It makes a difference when your consultant understands your business thoroughly and can provide strategic counsel in addition to tactical support. 

What are our metrics of success? Study the proposals and ideas presented by your potential public relations consultant. Are the deliverables and promises clear and transparent? Before you sign the contract, discuss what success looks like. Often, with tactics such as media relations, there are no guarantees of coverage, but a consultant can help you set measurable objectives. 

How will we work together? Will you or someone else from your organization serve as the 'point-of-contact?' In addition to check-in meetings, are you expecting regular reports? As you brainstorm ideas, expect your consultant to contribute honest feedback and evidence-based insight. A dedicated professional will not hesitate to disagree with you on aspects that won't work. 

Asking these three questions are a great start to forming a rewarding relationship with a PR consultant.

Social Media Doesn’t Have to Be So Scary


Throughout my career, I’ve noticed the “dark cloud” that seems to hover over social media. People are always skeptical of its purpose, power and potential. Instead of exploring it, they avoid it all together. However, as a business or organization in today’s technology-driven world, that’s not an option. Okay, it is, but you’ll miss out on a lot!

For me, social media simply reflects other ways we connect with each other. Facebook is the proverbial water cooler at work or people-watching on the stoop/porch, and Twitter is the salon or barbershop full of chatty stylists and customers. We’ve always shared recommendations, news and gossip. Now we just do it faster and with way more people.

Social media presents a special opportunity for businesses to actually participate in the conversation. In the past, if someone badmouthed or praised you, more than likely the only evidence you’d see would be your bottom line. There was seemingly nothing you could do to fix or enhance your word-of-mouth reputation. With social media, you can interject and encourage discussion in a way that protects and promotes your brand. 

Check out these three tips that make social media less spooky:

Have a conversation. I see it every day. “Buy this!” “Support me!” “SALE. SALE. SALE.” I get it. Social media is an awesome sales tool, but after a while, it feels spammy. And when it gets spammy, it gets easier for people to ignore you. By incorporating content that creates conversations alongside your sales pitches, you connect with your customer in a meaningful way. They want to buy from you because they feel like you ‘get’ them and they ‘know’ you.

When you’re developing a post, pay attention to your tone. Is it warm and friendly? Is it robotic? Remember, you’re talking to people—leave out the buzzwords and keep it simple. If you want them to do something, write a clear ‘call to action’ and make it easy for them to do the thing you want them to do.

Invest wisely. There has always been this false narrative that social media is “free advertising.” No. It’s never been free. It may not cost you anything to sign up, but you’re going to have spend lots of time (at the very least) maintaining your presence. I’m not advocating that you automatically put a budget of thousands of dollars toward social media, but you have to dedicate some funding to it. As social media platforms seek more profitability, your profiles/pages get less visibility and engagement, unless you pay up.

Don’t just advertise something “just because.” I always recommend that you set a clear goal/objective for your social media efforts and then determine the best tactic that will help you achieve that. If you want to drive more traffic to your website, the answer may be a boosted post. Thankfully, most social media sites offer affordable advertising options so you can take baby steps and start with a smaller budget to get a better sense of results.

Seek feedback. Your followers are the best focus group to help you deliver more of what your customers want. You can test the potential popularity and viability of a product before you go into production by posting a picture and ASKING a question. When people leave a bad review, don’t take it personal, follow-up and see what happened. You may discover a customer service gap or process problem and once you know about it, you can fix it.

Sign up for The Social Media Blueprint to receive more tips!


The Importance of Video on Social Media and Why You Might Be Missing Out

How important is video in social media today? Some would say that it's absolutely everything, and there are those who have built a successful social media marketing campaign solely around video.

There are three key reasons why video has become increasingly important:

1.   It's simply popular. Video gets more sharing and other interaction on social media than other types of content. People love videos.

2.   Videos appeal to the most hyper-active age group of people on the internet – those in their teens, twenties, and early thirties.

3.   Major social media sites have native features that allow you to share video easily and there is a wealth of tools that make video production easy.

One final reason is that your competitors are probably already using video.

Video is likely to become even more important in the future, so if you're not using it now, it's time to get started. A good place to start is to observe your own social media activity. Have you watched any videos on social media in the last few weeks? What were they and why did you watch them? This will help to give you some ideas on the type of videos you can produce yourself.

For many businesses just getting started with video, it's hard to imagine what you might create. Don't worry about having the latest and greatest professional camera. Most smartphones today provide great quality video for social media platforms. Also, videos that aren't highly polished come across as more authentic.

Here are some ideas for videos that you can produce yourself:

Answer a Question or Solve a Problem.

Take a common question or problem your customers face that your expertise can solve, and solve it for them in front of the camera. This is especially handy for businesses that perform services like cleaning or repair work. You can actually show your audience how to do it.

Get in Front of the Camera and Talk.

"Vlogs" or "video blogs" are simple but extremely popular on the internet. This is where a person simply sits in front of the camera and talks. Take a topic that's of interest to your audience and discuss it in a quick video of not more than a few minutes. Express your opinion and ask for your audience's.

Behind the Scenes.

Take your audience behind the scenes in your business or industry and show them a side they don't usually get to see. Show how your products are made. Introduce your employees. Take a tour of the office.

These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. Remember that videos don't have to be complex. In fact, short simple videos are the most shared on social media.

Event Alert: Business Expo

If you're looking to brush up on some key best practices for your business, join me at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, August 24, 1-4 p.m. 

I will specifically discuss Social Media Fundamentals. During my one-hour session, I will share an overview of the top sites as well as examples of how businesses use these tools. For more information or to register, visit this link: 

Get Social! Marketing Boot Camp


We hosted our first (of hopefully many) Get Social! Marketing Boot Camp at Oconee Fall Line Technical College's Sandersville Campus. The all-day workshop attracted participants from a variety of backgrounds -- with all wanting to learn how to leverage social media to improve their reach. Attendees gained insight through four sessions: Social Media Fundamentals; Digital Marketing Best Practices; Strategy & Measurement; and Content Planning. Because of the small, intimate setting, students were able to chime in with their personal experiences and ask questions they've always wondered about social media. For example, "why does Facebook keep asking me to boost my posts?" An impromptu bonus mini-training on Facebook boosted/promoted posts followed! 

As social media continues to grow as the go-to source of information, business owners, church leaders, organizational managers and every day individuals must learn how to harness its power. Don't get left behind -- get social! 

Are Your Social Media Efforts Working for You?

How do you know if what you're doing on social media is getting the results you want? The way to know for sure is to monitor your results using an analytics program. You can use the native metrics the social media platform offers, or choose an analytical tool.

Clarifying Your Goals

The first step is to clarify your goals in using social media. A few examples of social media goals include:

  • To gain exposure to your brand.
  • To drive traffic to your website.
  • To sell directly or to nurture leads and sell through other channels.
  • To build relationships with your audience.

Once you know what you hope to achieve, you can choose the right metrics to help you measure it. Metrics programs offer a great deal of data and you don't need all of it. Clarifying your specific goals and choosing metrics based on those goals helps you to trim down the data to what you need.

If your goal is to gain exposure to your brand, for example, traffic statistics are not so important. If your social media presence is sending traffic to your other sites, this is a good thing, but it's not central to your strategy.

Native Metrics vs. Tools

Most social media platforms offer their own analytics tools. Some platforms offer a wide array of metrics while others are very simple. Another option is to use an app or software program to provide data for you.

The advantage of native metrics is that they're designed especially for the platform and they're usually quite simple and easy to use. They don't have to be installed; as soon as you set up your page, the platform starts tracking your results.

On the other hand, outside tools may be more robust. Another advantage of outside tools is that some can be used for multiple social media platforms. If you're using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example, you can use one program to provide data on all of your activity on these platforms.

Checking Your Analytics

Checking your metrics should be a regular part of your social media routine. Set aside some time each day or week to take a look at your analytics. Use this data to show you which efforts are leading to results and which aren't. 

Soooo...How Personal Is TOO Personal for Social Media?

You've probably heard advice that you should show your personal side, even if you're using social media for your business. Personalizing your content and interactions puts a human face on your business. This is how you build real, authentic relationships with current and future customers. But there are cases where you can be too personal, and you need to steer clear of these or the results could be disastrous. 

No "Big Talk"

The type of personal content we share on social media falls under the category of small talk, not "big talk." You might mention a place you ate today and how it was. You may show a picture of your dog and share a milestone in his or her life. But you should avoid topics like romantic encounters, sensitive political issues, or characteristics that annoy you about certain people, unless those topics are a central part of your branding.

Your Problems

Don't be a Debbie Downer! Venting and complaining about your problems is likely to aggravate than engage. However, there is a right way to discuss problems that can actually boost engagement with your fans and followers. The way to do it is to share a problem you faced that is ALSO a common problem of your audience. Get them to discuss the problem with you. Even better, offer a practical solution or ask your audience to share theirs.

Oops, Shouldn't Have Said That

Before posting ANYTHING personal, remember that this goes on your permanent digital record. Review it to make sure it isn't something that may come back to haunt you later. Once you unleash it upon the world, it could be there forever. 

Your Details = Data

Keep in mind that any personal information you put out there could be accessed by data collectors for nefarious or otherwise sketchy reasons. Publishing your personal contact information (address, phone number, etc) or sharing pictures of your children could compromise your identity or safety. 

That's Not What I Meant

Before posting, always read your content to make sure that it won't get taken the wrong way. Stories abound on the internet of people making a harmless joke that blew up in their faces and caused major damage to their brand image. Everyone may not be "in on it," so do your best to make sure that your content won't be misunderstood.

Think About Others

Finally, tread very carefully with the privacy of others. Don't share personal details about other people unless these are things you know they are open about, themselves. You can always ask them to make sure before posting.

Shape Up Your Social Media with Our Marketing Bootcamp

Feeling a little overwhelmed about how to jump into the digital marketing world? Are you on Facebook because you’re “supposed” to be, but unsure of how to make it work for your business? How do you find the time to create content and promote consistently?

Our Social Media Marketing Bootcamp is a full-day workshop that provides best practices, LOCAL and national real-world examples alongside interactive exercises to jumpstart your social media marketing. Upon completion, you will have a well-rounded understanding of how social media marketing can help your organization, business or lead to career advancement. To ensure participants get the one-on-one attention and help they need, we have limited seats available. To signup visit, www.OFTC.EDU/REGISTRATION/ and scroll down to select Social Media Bootcamp

This Bootcamp is for:

·      Busy business owners and entrepreneurs looking for ways to increase brand awareness and attract more customers

·      Non-profit, business, church leaders and managers seeking to better understand how to integrate social media marketing into their programs

·      Professionals wanting to expand their marketing skillset and use platforms to better promote their personal brand

Similar to physical fitness boot camps, our social media marketing boot camp aims to generate results quickly by giving you access to the tools and techniques that WORK. Please bring your laptop or tablet as we “work out” and apply the lessons learned throughout the day.

Bootcamp Syllabus:

Social Media Fundamentals: We will take a look at the complete social media landscape and review how the top social networks work. Additionally, we’ll walk through a framework to determine which sites would work best for you.

Social Media and Digital Marketing Best Practices: We will examine real-world examples of how businesses and organizations use online platforms to drive brand awareness and results. Also, we will address employee social media policy development, how to tackle negative reviews or leverage social media during a crisis to communicate with your audience.

Social Media Strategy and Measurement: Having a strategic plan in place is the foundation to getting the results you want. We will discuss how to develop a social media strategy that connects you to your target audience and builds brand loyalty as well as how to track results. 

Social Media Content Planning and Engagement: We will explore FREE resources and affordable tools that help you save time and money as you maintain your online presence through engaging content. Whether you’re looking at creating clever posts or advertisements that drive traffic to your store/website, we cover the basics and give you the chance to create your own.


·      The Social Media Blueprint: Tools & Resources Guide – a directory of tools to help you plan, create and publish social media content.

·      The Social Media Blueprint: Plan, Create, & Promote Workbook – develop your social media marketing plan and plot out up to 6 months of content with this step-by-step workbook.


Lakeshia M. Poole, a native of Sandersville, Ga., is the owner of Jack of All Trades Media. From promoting America’s peanut farmers, the fastest growing fast-casual Mexican food chain to the world’s largest retailer, she has accumulated nearly 15 years of marketing and communications experience. Poole has developed social media programs for a variety of companies and organizations including Wells Fargo, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Walmart, Habitat for Humanity, National Peanut Board, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Oconee Fall Line Technical College. She’s provided social media training for an array of clients including busy franchise owners, pre-school educators, youth development professionals and as part of Social Media Week-Chicago. The Public Relations Society of America and International Association of Business Communicators recognized her and her teams for successful social media programs. Poole graduated from The University of Georgia with degrees in Public Relations and Sociology. To signup visit, www.OFTC.EDU/REGISTRATION/ and scroll down to select Social Media Bootcamp. 

What Story Do Your Employees Tell?

As I’m leaving a drive-thru line, a guy walks in front of my car and is visibly miffed that the lane was not made for walking.

I muttered to myself at his rudeness.

It wasn’t a big deal, but I watched him in my rearview as he walked slowly and arrogantly in front of the vehicle behind me. I also noticed his branded shirt displaying his company and the logo-ed van he’d emerged from. It was a company I’d considered hiring, but in that moment I thought, “Geez, clearly he doesn’t care–why would I let him touch my car?” Again, what he did wasn’t major, but it left an immediate impression. I decided then I’d write THIS post.

Branded t-shirts or uniforms are often a go-to part of marketing, but I don’t think organizations and companies really consider the stories their employees tell when they’re not “on the job.” 

If they do something crazy/weird/illegal/odd/careless while brandishing your logo, unfortunately it links you directly to that activity. I’ve often had to tell teams and colleagues in the past to be aware of this when out (they called me the brand police…yup)–particularly at the bar. Yes, you’re of a legal age, but who knows what you’ll do after too many tequila shots or a couple Olivia-Pope-Big-Gulp-glasses of red wine? 

Much later in the day, reading through a local news site, I browsed over an opinion piece filled with vitriol and ignorance. I noticed a commenter called out that the writer had listed his affiliation with a group and felt that it reflected poorly on all of them. Honestly, for me as a reader, it did.

Initially that was the end of my post, but then I came across a Huffington Post story about 93-year-old Betty Reid Soskin, who is described as the nation’s oldest active park ranger by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It talks about her amazing experiences, but this quote about her uniform touched me:

I still love this uniform…Partly because there’s a silent message to every little girl of color that I pass on the street or in an elevator or on an escalator…that there’s a career choice she may have never thought of.”

Oh wow.

Employees’ uniforms can tell both negative and positive “silent” stories about a brand that most people probably don’t even think about. 

I’ve sometimes bemoaned the pressure of being a constant “representative” for my profession/job well beyond 5 p.m. as an African-American public relations professional (an industry that has had notorious diversity issues) to my mentors. I know people are watching every move or I feel the need to overcompensate and actively promote my industry to minorities. It’s a struggle sometimes — a logo on my back that I didn’t know I was signing up to wear. In the end, I count it a blessing. If someone sees the possibility in a path because I wore it well, that is truly a blessing.