Prepare Without Panic

Prepare Without Panic

Three Tips to Prepare for COVID-19

It’s official: The World Health Organization has declared that the COVID-19 virus, commonly known as the coronavirus, is now a global pandemic. Health officials are urging individuals, institutions and governments to take immediate, significant precautions, if they haven’t already.

Life, and business, must go on. Loudoun Clear Marketing wanted to take a moment to share with you three things you can do right now to maintain a healthy immune system for your company or non-profit so it continues to thrive, in the present and when this virus inevitably passes.

Many companies already have a Business Continuity Plan – especially ones that provide essential services – but if your company doesn’t, you don’t have to worry. It’s just a matter of thinking through what you can do to make sure your employees stay safe and the business keeps running if there’s a disruption, like COVID-19. 

Our advice, which we’re taking ourselves, boils down to three straightforward steps:

1. Make A Plan.

Make a company-wide plan of actions and behaviors for essential and non-essential staff, tailored to the sector you work in. 

Businesses directly serving (and interfacing with) the public, like restaurants, retail stores, transportation, etc., need to maintain vigilance about their employees’ constant cleanliness and hand-washing. Companies who work in the field, like HVAC, house cleaners, roofers, etc., must do the same. Enforce a no-handshake rule; smiles and waves make for great customer service too!

Businesses or organizations operating in office settings should strongly consider telework for as many employees as possible, if not for everyone. In cases where workers must be physically present, like manufacturing or work within a warehouse, companies should require that employees who feel ill stay at home and follow the instructions of a medical doctor or local health officials.

2. Talk With Your Employees and Partners.

When your company or organization has come up with that Plan, communicate it to your employees, vendors, partners, etc., with one unambiguous message. Make sure everyone gets the same message by having them reply to a group email or sign a memo.

So what’s your message? Again, it should be tailored to your company’s unique circumstances as to the best ways to handle the ongoing viral pandemic, but the essence of your message should be calm and communicate that their safety and well-being is the most important thing – but the company or organization will be resilient throughout this ordeal because of 1) their continued hard work, 2) open communication in case of sickness and 3) the aforementioned plan.

3. Talk With Your Clients or Customers. 

This is pretty important to those of us in the service industry, where disruptions in service can have consequences for those we serve. Utilize all of your company’s digital platforms, including social media, website, blogs, mobile app notifications, etc., to let your customers (and the public, where appropriate) know what your company is doing to protect them from this unusual outbreak while still serving them as usual. Make sure every employee who speaks with a customer in person, over the phone or via online chat, delivers the same message as to exactly what your company’s Plan is – even if that means giving your employees a script to follow.

If you have questions or need help finding the right messages, we’re – as always – here to help. We’re confident, however, that if you follow these three tips, they’ll help ensure your company continues to thrive. If you want to learn more about what Loudoun Clear Marketing is doing to protect our employees and keep our business moving, you can click here. We wish you good health as we calmly face this together. And we look forward to seeing you once the threat passes.

Metrics & Measurables: How You Know Your Marketing Is Effective

Metrics & Measurables: How You Know Your Marketing Is Effective

When marketing a business or doing public relations for a non-profit, the one thing that matters most when the rubber meets the road is the answer to the question: Are your key messages actually getting across…and actually compelling people to act?

Granted, maybe that’s two things, but those are the most essential points of effective business communications. You need to know, to the maximum degree possible, that your marketing is effective, and why.

Today, because marketing and public relations 1) are becoming more interconnected, and 2) are becoming increasingly omni-channel, the fifth major trend Loudoun Clear Marketing is seeing this year is the universal usage of metrics and measurables to determine marketing and public/media relations efficacy.

Whether your target market is Leesburg, Virginia, the USA or the Internet, it pays to be able to know people are getting the message and being converted into your customers (or, for non-profits, contributors.)

The result is today there exists an embarrassment of analytical riches, a sea of numbers simply not calculable a decade or so ago. We PR, social media and marketing professionals have fingertip access to rich troves of measurables, analytics, and deep-dive data tools useful for pinpointing your market and then determining what messages to deliver and how.

A few of the more common, popular and useful analytic stacks employed by marketers to improve message reach and increase customer traffic:

Google Analytics – the essential platform for website traffic analysis. Google provides data on unique visitors, visit duration, page popularity, screen views, bounce rate and conversion percentage. Moreover, there’s a bevy of audience data (e.g., age, gender and geographic breakdown), and how they came to your site in the first place (e.g., organic web search, paid AdWords search or direct email outreach).

Cision Communications Cloud – sometimes used in conjunction with Google Analytics, the Cision Communications Cloud measures the effectiveness of traditional public relations outreach and earned media coverage, including insights on your marketing campaigns’ returns-on-investment.

Facebook Insights – typically utilized in a social media marketing context (i.e., what to post and when), Facebook remains (with its two billion users and ownership of Instagram) nonetheless, an excellent source of both hyper-local and mega-broad marketing data, in terms of an audience’s ranges of age, population density, and income levels.

Memo – a startup company offering a service measuring the impact of online articles and web-based content that mentions specific brands. (Similar services are offered by Storyful and Dataminr, among others.)

In a piece published in the Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today section, the chief digital officer of a multinational communications firm says that integrating data from multiple sources is necessary to give clients the best marketing guidance, and he’s right.

Analytics algorithms are constantly being refined, novel methodologies are being invented, and new platforms are being introduced to the industry. In 2019 and beyond, the strongest marketing firms with the most effective tailored strategies – like Loudoun Clear Marketing – make use of today’s full array of analytic tools in order to identify your organization’s target market and communicate meaningful, engaging messages directly to them, evoking the response you want.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun County, DC and nationally, bringing customization, community connections and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. More about Loudoun Clear Marketing is at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Your Story. Brought to Life. Loud & Clear.

Top PR & Marketing Trends: Trend One

Top PR & Marketing Trends: Trend One

Loudoun Clear Marketing is pleased to debut a new five-part series of blog posts discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.


Part One: The Fading Line Between Marketing & Public Relations

Public relations in 2019 is much different than it was in 2009, and barely resembles the way we did things back in 1999. Today’s PR strategies involve much, much more than drafting press releases and staffing events. Increasingly, marketing services are now demanded of public relations firms.

In 2019, public relations is multi-channel, highly strategized, and aims to deliver a clear message directly to a targeted audience, with or without a traditional media outlet (newspaper, magazine, etc.). Essentially, the techniques of PR are evolving to become more and more like the techniques of business marketing – and Loudoun Clear Marketing is well positioned to guide clients in the effective use of them all.

In times gone by, the only effective way to communicate a brand’s message – whether that brand was a not-for-profit organization or a for-profit multinational conglomerate – was to either 1) earn media hits by convincing reporters to write stories about the company/organization, or 2) buy advertising. The former is the responsibility of Public Relations; the latter is in the domain of Advertising/Marketing.

Nowadays, we have the Internet, websites, social media, YouTube, etc. There are so many more ways a corporation or a charity can get its message out there, in addition to articles and ads. In today’s PR/marketing environment, custom strategies require an “all-of-the-above” mindset – press releases, newspaper articles, blogs, web content, social media posts, public-facing events, etc., all stemming from a single, coherent, consistent message. It’s a concept known as “integrated marketing communications.” There’s a scholarly essay on the subject at https://www.nku.edu/~turney/prclass/readings/mkting2.html.

So what to do? How does an organization ensure its brand conveys the precise message it needs to, with so many different ways to convey that message?


Consistency of your message is paramount, no matter how it’s coming across. From an online ad to a Facebook cover photo, from the slogan on your business cards to the words you use when being interviewed by a reporter, it is crucial that your brand’s message is the same, regardless of communication channel. If your message is distinctive and sets your organization apart, then opportunities for earned media hits are enhanced even more. In this way, marketing and PR literally work together to spread your message and shape your brand. 

You can expect that marketing and PR will continue to meld together in 2019 and the years to come – and you can also expect that companies employing a modern, integrated communications team will benefit the most in this brave new world.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in 2002 in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun County and Northern Virginia, bringing customization, community connections, and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. Learn more about Loudoun Clear Marketing at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Two

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Two

Part Two: Public Relations Needs To Drive Compelling Content

This is the second blogpost in our five-part series discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.

Nowadays, if you’re in the public relations business, you’re in the content marketing business.

Content marketing is an industry term that barely existed 20 years ago. Now, there are courses on it at institutions of higher learning, and some people choose it as a career. Content marketing entails packaging information in an attractive way that induces a desired call-to-action (find out more, make an appointment, give us a call, buy now, etc.) from your target audience – and that’s where the PR part comes in.

The role of a public relations firm has always been (and still is) to understand a client’s distinguishing message(s), identify that client’s target audience, then reach that audience through available channels of communication. Once upon a time, that meant things like press releases, media advisories, earned mentions, and public events.

But the times they are a-changin’. Effective PR today necessitates the creation and distribution of informative, attractive digital content such as:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Podcasts
  • Video productions
  • Photo galleries
  • Website content

…in addition to releases, advisories, articles and events. All these forms of communications outreach – when well strategized and implemented – work together to drive key messages directly at the target audience, resulting in a positive public perception of your company’s or organization’s brand.

But without compelling content to attract them, any outreach efforts could fall flat.

From a public relations perspective, the goal of content marketing is to define the client’s unique sales proposition – what they do better than anyone else – and to establish the client as a thought leader – a go-to source for expertise in their field. In essence, the goal is to rise above the rest. Viral videos, shareable Instagram posts and topical, relevant blogs are effective ways to be seen, heard, and liked.

Communications technology has changed immensely over the past few decades; the way people communicate hasn’t. As is human nature, we’re still attracted to pretty pictures and new experiences – and when we want something, we want it now.

Today’s PR demands creativity and novelty. It demands targeted outreach through social media as well as earned media. It demands messaging that can be posted quickly, seen quickly, and acted upon quickly. Today’s PR demands content marketing.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun County, DC and nationally bringing customization, community connections and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. More about Loudoun Clear Marketing is at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Three

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Three

Part Three: Multi-Channel, Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel: The Best Ways To Build Relationships With Your Target Market

This is the third blogpost in our five-part series discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.

If your company needs an effective marketing strategy – and in Northern Virginia’s ultra-competitive business environment, you do – then you absolutely must be multi-channel about it.

This year we are talking more and more with our small business and corporate clients about multi-channel marketing (MCM), also known as cross-channel or omni-channel marketing.

Given the challenges modern companies face, the future growth of your business depends upon your ability to expand the reach of your target market by any means (channels) available. Whether your aim is Loudoun County, the Washington, D.C. region, or National targets, multi-channel marketing (MCM) is the best way to build high-touch, top-of-mind relationships with prospective customers and broadcast to them your most effective message.

But the greatest PR outreach and the most creative marketing efforts are utterly worthless if you can’t deliver that message to your customers through the mediums (channels) they’re looking at – and not just one channel, but multiple.

First let’s define what we mean by “channel.” Channels, in a marketing context, refers to a two-way communication conduit between you (the business) and them (the customers). A channel is any way to convey your offer to your targeted market AND THEN allow the customer to do business with you (make a purchase, make an appointment, make a phone call, make a visit, etc.).

For a for-profit company, examples of marketing channels include your:

  • Storefronts and retail locations
  • Outdoor signs (e.g., billboards)
  • Print advertisements
  • Direct mailers
  • Catalogs
  • Websites
  • Blog Posts
  • Email blasts
  • Newsletters
  • SMS text messages
  • Mobile apps
  • Facebook posts
  • Instagram posts
  • Twitter posts
  • LinkedIn posts and articles
  • YouTube videos
  • TV and radio ads
  • Press releases
  • Podcasts
  • Product packaging
  • Promotions and contests
  • Public-facing events
  • Pop-up stores
  • Employee interactions

Notice the mix of off-line and on-line channels. Your company’s website and Instagram feed are channels – and so is a visit or a phone call to your store or office. From the standpoint of multi-channel marketing and public relations, on-line and off-line are all part of the same mix.

To be multi-channel does not require your company to maintain a presence on every single one (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea!). To be multi-channel means, essentially:

  1. Your brand uses a variety of different platforms to deliver a message to your target audience.
  2. Your message – your brand – is communicated consistently across the channels – same tagline, same color scheme, same offerings, and – most importantly – same call-to-action. Customers receive the same services, information, and pricing regardless of how they choose to interact with your company.

And that’s the point. Your company needs to be multi-channel in its marketing approach precisely because today’s consumers make purchasing decisions in a myriad of different ways. To reach them and maximize your sales, you must be able to communicate your message to them through their preferred channel. Give your customers the power to buy from you on their terms…as long as they buy from you.

In 2019, it’s necessary to be multi-channel in your marketing strategy. That requires unflagging diligence about consistency of your brand’s message, and it requires a PR/marketing firm with the technological and public relations knowledge to implement it.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun, DC and nationally, bringing customization, community connections and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. More about Loudoun Clear Marketing is at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!