Your PR To-Dos for 2017

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

If you didn’t quite meet your 2016 resolution of taking your public relations efforts seriously, you’re not alone. However, there’s no reason to shy away from it – especially throughout the off-season.

Here are a few of my best tips for making 2017 your most press-friendly year yet.

Map out the year ahead

At this point, you should have a good idea of the weddings that lie ahead. With the styles in mind, think about which will be the most competitive for editorial submission. Those with unique details, special stories and great couples are typically those that are great, so take some time to plan out your PR approach for each.

Gather what you can in advance for each wedding – a comprehensive vendor list (with website URLs and social media handles!), a submission agreement with the photographer, and anecdotes from the couple about how they met and what influenced their wedding planning. This will make the submission process much smoother when you’re in the throes of peak season!

Create a media list

Think back to when you were a kid and wrote wish lists of everything you wanted for the holidays. Now is your chance to do the same, but for your dream media portfolio. What publications would you just love to feature your work? Where would you like to see your name in lights? Don’t be shy – include any and all outlets that you like, even if they seem like a reach.

Once you’ve compiled a nice list, begin your research on submission guidelines and media contacts to keep on file. Every publication has different requirements for their real weddings, so you’ll need to be discerning with your submissions. A neat Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc can keep all of your research in one place so it’s easy to grab when you’re ready to submit.

Streamline your PR flow

One of the main reasons wedding professionals don’t invest in public relations is because they think it will take up too much of their valuable time. This notion can be easily combatted with apps and programs to streamline your PR push. Does it seem tedious to interview each and every couple for their story? Save time by crafting a Wufoo questionnaire and sending the link to all of your couples. Do you have trouble staying organized in your submissions? Consider signing up for Two Bright Lights, an online platform that keeps your wedding albums in one place and allows you to submit directly to a large number of online and print publications.

Sign up for programs

Looking beyond real wedding submissions, it’s time to start sharing your knowledge. One great way to do this is to be an expert source for journalists – that way, you’ll be included in articles speaking about your specialty. HARO and SourceBottle are two great tools to help you become a source for reporters to reach out. Once you sign up, you’ll begin receiving emails with story topics from journalists – when you see one that interests you, all you have to do is email your thoughts over for consideration.

Whether you start with signing up for HARO or mapping out your upcoming weddings, be sure you’re setting aside some time in the next few weeks to really plan out your PR strategy – your portfolio will thank you! 

Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, a wedding PR agency that works with wedding professionals here, there and everywhere. She’s a long-time industry writer, sought after speaker and unapologetic cat lady.

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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How to Evaluate the Return of your Wholesale Partnership

By Audrey Isaac, 100Candles.com

The end of the year is a time for reflection and evaluation as we look at our year’s accomplishments and determine what worked and what should evolve.

As you plan for the year ahead, it’s important to review your annual numbers and take a hard look at the return of your investments. From your project management software to your wholesale partnerships, it’s time to evaluate your ROI and make adjustments accordingly.

First and foremost, let’s look at how you can determine whether you are seeing a positive return from your wholesale partnership.

When you are looking to build in additional revenue streams, it comes down to dollars and cents – as well as happy customers. You’ll need to take a look at both sides: Are you seeing an increase in the amount your couples are spending with you? (Note that this should be simple, as you should already be tracking your revenue per account.) Have your reviews continued to be positive? Consider surveying your recent clients at the end of the year to ensure that your business model meets all of their needs – not just for wholesale-related upgrades, but for your general services as well.

So, what is a wedding pro to do if their ROI isn’t quite as successful as expected?

You’ll first need to determine why the numbers aren’t matching up as planned. Connect with your wholesalers to ask about some of their most popular items. They should be able to share what items are selling well in other markets, as well as online.

If the product itself isn’t the issue, then it may be time to look at your sales process. Assess your methods of upselling, as well as when you try to upsell in the course of your work together. It may be time to switch things up and test the waters with different methods – perhaps later in the sales process or through a different presentation entirely.

Ask yourself: How do you present your items for upselling? Do you share them virtually, in person or both? Can you realistically switch it up to see if it results in a higher conversion rate? Are you selling too early in the process, before clients are ready to commit more of their budget? Alternately, are you selling too late in the process, after they’ve already made their own purchases?

The answers to these questions will help guide your future decisions in the business of upselling. Consider reaching out to recent and current couples and asking for their thoughts so you can get a better understanding of what types of items they need. While you may have initially based your offerings on what you think they want, it may be time to circle back to the source to see if their needs have evolved.

If you’re unsatisfied with your ROI, don’t fret – chances are you just need to mix things up a little to really meet your clients’ needs. Now is the time to use the off-season to work through the kinks and tweak the process so that you’re ready for your best year yet.

Audrey Isaac is the spokesperson for 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights. Since 2002, thousands of wedding and event professionals have entrusted 100 Candles with their wholesale candle accounts. For more information, please visit http://www.100candles.com/.

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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Using the Off-Season to Build Client Experience

(Editor's Note: Today on the blog, we welcome the return of frequent guest contributor Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events! Read more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)

Your client experience is, essentially, your business. By treating your clients well and going above and beyond with them, you open your company up to positive testimonies and potential referrals.

Oftentimes, the peak season can keep us so busy that above-and-beyond isn’t in the scope – if anything, you just want to make ends meet. Sound familiar? If so, then it may be time to take this upcoming off-season to get organized and streamline your client experience.

As your year’s weddings wind down and you find more time for development, take a step back and analyze your overall client experience. If you have a former client who you trust will be truthful, consider reaching out to pick their brain. Ask yourself:

  • When does your client experience start?
  • When does it end?
  • How are your communication habits with clients?
  • Do you generally receive good feedback?
  • Do you keep in touch with your clients after the wedding?

The answers to these questions should not only give you an idea of where you currently are, but also guide you to further steps you can take to improve the client experience. For example, if you routinely send phone calls straight to voicemails, it may be time to kick the habit and start answering those calls. Communication is key to a positive experience, so don’t assume that great work will balance out your lack of email responses. Be professional and treat your clients the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.

One of our favorite ways to build client experience is to simply stay in touch after our agreement ends. Planning a wedding is one of the most intimate things one can do and, after working with a couple for a length of time, we like to consider them as our friends. This could mean keeping track of their birthdays and sending a sweet card or even sending over a small gift for their one-year anniversary. If you’re more of the digital type, it could even be as simple as a shout out on social media – anything to show that you care!

The perk of developing these client experience procedures during the off-season is that you’ll be primed and ready to use them once the wedding season starts back up. If, for example, birthday cards are your thing, be sure to grab their birthdays from the initial consultation. If you’re more into the anniversary idea, mark your calendar for one year from their wedding date.

Although you’re probably pumped to spend your weekends enjoying the latest Netflix offerings or jumping on a plane to somewhere tropical, be sure you’re taking advantage of your off-season to grow your business as well. You’ll be grateful you did once peak season rolls around!

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor'd Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.

The Latest Trends: Why Educating Yourself on "What's In" is Essential

The Latest Trends: Why Educating Yourself on "What's In" is Essential

(Editor's Note: Today we're welcoming a new guest contributor to WeddingIQ - the talented Rebecca Hochreiter of DestinationWeddings.com! Learn more about Rebecca at the end of the post!)

In the wedding world, trends are often on the minds of engaged couples as they navigate the planning process. In some instances, they may even have a hand in influencing brides’ and grooms’ decisions. Additionally, more and more wedding professionals are making it a priority to keep tabs on the latest and greatest.

So why is it important to stay in the know? In a saturated industry, it’s imperative to stay relevant. The ability to offer industry insight will position you as not only an indispensable resource, but someone who values the client experience.

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This Mid-Year Marketing Checkup Will Save Your Wedding Business

(Editor's Note: Today we're kicking off our July content theme: marketing! Yes, we covered this back in January, but given that we're halfway through 2016, it's time to revisit this important topic to keep our wedding businesses thriving! Keep an eye on our blog throughout the month of July for resources, support and inspiration on wedding business marketing!)

I suppose you could say that the headline for this post is a pretty bold claim. Yet, I believe it's totally accurate. After all, many small businesses, wedding businesses included, go under because their owners lose track of the big picture. It's so easy to get bogged down with all the demands of carrying out our contracted events that we forget to monitor everything that goes into attracting those events and clients. Now that the May and June madness are behind us, it's the perfect opportunity to look back at our 2016 marketing and determine what's working so far.

 

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