Making a Thought Leader

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter “Free advertising,” who doesn’t want that? One of the best side effects of the boom in content marketing is the growth of brand-neutral trade magazine articles. Pay-for-play has been relegated to the back burner as more and more publications see the benefit of offering knowledge-based problem solving articles. That’s also an offshoot of the lack of skilled workers, as more and more knowledge retires, there’s an increased need to transfer that knowledge. With less opportunity for direct, apprentice-based, transfer, white papers, problem solving articles and general knowledge pieces gain added importance. So, how can your company benefit? Create thought leaders. A bragging title most people would reject, it can still help you promote your business and create a knowledge warehouse. How to Create Thought Leaders 11927read more >

Sonnhalter’s Rachel Kerstetter Awarded “Rising Star Award” by Greater Cleveland Public Relations Society of America Chapter

CLEVELAND – December 2016 – Rachel Kerstetter, public relations architect at Sonnhalter, was honored with the inaugural “Rising Star Award” at this year’s annual Cleveland Rocks Awards, presented by the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter. This year marked the 14th year in which the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter honored the area’s best in marketing and communications with more than 50 awards across more than 30 categories. The first recipient of the Rising Star Award, Kerstetter was recognized as an outstanding public relations professional with seven or fewer years of experience. At the ceremony, Kerstetter was honored for her high level of professionalism, proven abilities in aligning PR strategy and execution with client goals. “In a short amount of time, Rachel has become an invaluable asset to not only the PR objectives of our clients, but also to the many inner workings necessary to make our agency thrive in our respective niche,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Sonnhalter is proud to see a well-deserving candidate such as Rachel be the first to receive this award. With a long career ahead of her, we look forward to watching her grow as an accomplished young professional and seeing how it will move our public relations efforts forward.” Kerstetter joined Sonnhalter in 2011 and served as public relations engineer prior to her promotion to public relations architect in 2015. Kerstetter is an active member of the PRSA, serving on the board of directors, and is vice president of membership of the Greater Cleveland chapter. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Mount Union, located in Alliance, Ohio. About the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter The PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter is the professional organization that brings together public relations, communications and marketing practitioners throughout Northeast Ohio.…read more >

Take the Interview

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter It’s time when we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Which means we’re making plans to improve ourselves over the coming year, as well as improve our marketing efforts. Here’s a PR resolution for your organization this year: Take Every Interview. Every time you have an interview request from your local media or trade outlets, take it. One of the biggest frustrations for a public relations practitioner is turning down editorial opportunities. An editor of a trade publication that we work with regularly at Sonnhalter told me this week that one of his biggest struggles is getting companies to take advantage of editorial opportunities with the magazine. 11729read more >

Get Your Message Across in an Ad-Blocked World

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter A recent report shared that 32% of global page views are impacted by the use of ad block and mobile sees three times the rate of ad block use than desktop. Did you know that even some people who work in advertising block ads? Let’s face it, website ads are mostly annoying. If you’ve ever opened a webpage and had an ad start talking to you that you couldn’t turn off, you know what I mean. Although digital advertising has a solid place in integrated marketing programs, accompanying it with other tactics can get your message to audiences that wouldn’t be reached otherwise – those who use ad blockers. How do you get your marketing messages past ad blockers? 10247read more >

Are You Ready to Talk to the Media?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter We're officially in trade show season, which means planning booths, putting together promotions, connecting with customers and preparing your staff for the show. One often overlooked aspect of trade show participation is the media. When you exhibit at a trade show, you can trust in the quality and relevancy of the attendees as potential customers. You can also trust that the media that is most important to your ideal customer will be at the show, so make sure you prepare to talk with them as well. I once supported a company at their biggest industry show. I'd set up meetings with media at the show and spent a lot of time in their booth. During a lull when I didn't have anything scheduled, I decided to go eat lunch. When I returned, the sales rep in the booth handed me an editor's card and told me he'd stopped to see you. I asked about the interaction with the editors, what had been shown to him and so on, just to find out that they had given him my card and sent him on his way. Throughout the show, the booth staff was so laser focused on getting leads that every time they encountered the media, they said two words, "See her" and pointed them to me. It's important to treat the media personnel at a show as if they are just as important as a customer ... if not more. Trade media have a huge audience of hundreds or thousands of the people who you want to reach. 10317read more >

Anyone Can Write a Press Release

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Given the appropriate details, anyone can write a press release, however, not everyone should write a press release. Too often when companies try to DIY their press releases rather than have a public relations professional write it, their message gets lost. Here are the most common mistakes that we see with DIY press releases: It isn’t actually news. If you’re going to ask for the media’s attention, you need to actually give them something, that something is news. If you inundate an editor with press releases that don’t contain news, you’ll do more to damage the relationship than build it. It isn’t written in a useable format. Press releases need to be written in AP Style; it makes them incredibly simple for the media to use. It’s a sales pitch. Sales pitches are not press releases. It puts the important information last. When was the last time you actually read to the end of an article? It assumes the reader knows anything about you upfront. A press release came across my desk once that was announcing a new tool and relied so heavily on the tool’s brand name, it never actually told me what the tool is used for. Press releases are a valuable public relations program basic that when done well can earn you media coverage and help build relationships. Don’t assume that just anyone can write a release well. Press releases have changed over time, here's a quick look at the Modern Press Release.read more >

Learn My Name!

There’s a woman that I know from a local professional organization. We’ve been “formally” introduced multiple times. After the first time we met, I knew her name, her face, we traded cards and connected on LinkedIn.read more >

Doing the Right Thing, and Not Patting Ourselves on the Back

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter As human beings, and companies made up of human beings, sometimes it’s important to do the right thing and not talk about it. This may be a little strange coming from a PR person, but there’s a point where the “R” in “PR” (remember PR= Performance then Recognition) goes away and we simply need to perform like human beings. A good communicator recognizes that point and smart companies rely on the counsel of good communicators. In the wake of crisis situations such as natural disasters or community safety crisis like what we’re seeing with Flint Michigan, we simply need to do the right thing and not seek praise for being human and helpful. By stepping up but not shouting out, we do the right thing, no one questions our motives and the real heroes get the credit. For example in Flint, the plumbers who spent a weekend installing new faucets and water filters for residences for free deserve the credit. The organizations who donated the supplies and food for their efforts aren’t pounding their own drum and saying, “look at us, we did something good.” No, they’re working together with their competitors to directly help people who need it. If your organization’s values are in the right place and your actions align with them, there’s no need to pat yourself on the back.read more >

Don’t Get Lazy

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Sonnhalter has used several services for a very long time… as in decades. I’m not sure how we started working with these services, but  I had to assume there was a reason. However when I took over the contracts with these services, no one seemed eager to provide the most important service of all… customer service. Coming into my new role, I wanted to understand our various contracts so I reached out to the most recent person assigned to us. No answer. I reached out to the company referencing our account number. No answer. I attended a conference and visited the service provider’s table, and immediately got attention because they thought I was a new customer. The sales person apologized up and down and said our rep would be in contact with me. He was able to look up answers to some of my questions. More than a week after the conference, I had no contact. When it comes to your customers, it’s crucial not to become lazy. Don’t expect your relationship to maintain itself just because you’ve been with them for years. Don’t focus all of your time and attention trying to win new business that you forget your current business. As I learned in Marketing 101 in college, it’s cheaper to maintain an existing customer relationship than to build a new one. When you ignore, forget or don’t serve your current customers the way that you should, you are in danger of losing them. At the conference I met with several competing service providers who would be happy to have me as a customer, what makes our current providers think we’ll stick with them if there’s someone else who isn’t lazy? In your personal life, if you were to call your mechanic…read more >

How to Define “PR” in 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Sometimes I get scared that others in the industry don’t know what PR actually is or stands for. The textbook definition of PR is simply put as Public Relations, the way that you communicate (relate) with your audiences (publics). For 2016, I challenge you to think of PR differently than ever before. Banish words like “spin” or “promote” and instead think about PR as Performance, then Recognition. Meaning, your organization needs to perform, do something, before seeking recognition or media coverage. The articles that practitioners like myself get for your company is called earned media, the “earned” part is very important. PR Pros can help you identify recognition-worthy aspects of your company, but we can’t create it for you out of thin air. As you go about your business this year think about the cool things your company does, such as launching a product, breaking a world record or being the first to provide a service that adds value, and recognize that these are opportunities to communicate with your audiences. PR is more than just getting headlines, it’s telling the stories of your company. Make 2016 a year of action stories for your public relations team to tell. Doing this will help you build your organization’s credibility in 2016.read more >