10 PR Tools for Boosting Your Brand

PR — public relations — has long played a powerful role in brand-building. Brands of all industries and sizes recognize that corporate reputation and brand appeal within the public domain is an essential asset for any organization.

Like marketing in general, PR is evolving, becoming increasingly digitalized and sophisticated. Today, a myriad of advanced PR tools exist for businesses to boost their brand both online and offline.

PR Tools for Small Businesses

Take a look at the following 10 PR tools designed to help promote your brand and extend its reach within your target market.

Bloggabase

Bloggabase helps improve marketer and blogger relations by providing marketers and brands with a simple way to find out what bloggers will and won’t write about. The forum connects bloggers with companies looking to promote their brand through product reviews and blog exposure.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO enables brands to seek out journalists looking for stories to report on. Sources are sent out to a large database of journalists daily. HARO is an extremely effective way for brands to secure valuable media coverage.

Business Wire

Business Wire is a long-established PR tool, delivering multimedia news around the world for over 50 years. If your company has some important news it wants to share, simply send your press release to Business Wire, which will circulate your brand’s news through multimedia channels. You are able to track the results and effectiveness of the press release and refine your message if required on Business Wire.

My Blog U

My Blog U is an effective source for promoting quality content. It is comprised of a community of bloggers and writers interested in exchanging stories, case studies and digital expertise to help one another reach their desired targeted audiences. Brands can add their own projects to the My Blog U community and receive assistance with content angles, ideas, resources and exposure.

News Certified

News Certified was founded by journalists with the aim of providing story ideas to a global community of news outlets. The portal connects journalists with both story ideas and ready-to-interview experts. Brands can increase their public exposure by submitting their news to News Certified and allowing it to be picked up by qualified journalists.

Muck Rack

Muck Rack allows brands to discover journalists with ease, as you can search through the database by keywords, locations or topics covered. Firms also receive email alerts when a journalist mentions their brand via social media, meaning brands can respond to the mentions and capitalize on such exposure.

Media Kitty

Media Kitty is another platform designed to connect brands with top journalists in order to find placements for their news and brand exposure. Media Kitty has a large network of journalists on its database who are experts in many different fields, ranging from travel and hospitality to design and technology and just about everything in between!

Blog Dash

Blogger outreach is increasingly becoming an invaluable way for brands to increase online exposure and credibility in their fields by having their news published on external sites and sources. In fact, blogger outreach is widely considered one of the most effective methods of inbound marketing.

Blog Dash is an effective and efficient way for brands, marketers and companies to reach their target audience using blogger outreach. Blog Dash manages blogger outreach campaigns for brands, ensuring they benefit from premier positioning with articles created by the leading trend setters in a brand’s specific field.

PRWeb

Another invaluable tool for brands wanting to share pressing news about their company and enhance public relations is PRWeb. This popular press release distribution platform allows companies to create, distribute and track press releases.

By distributing a press release via PRWeb, organisations and brands can extend their reach and publicity on the internet across the search engines and on different blogs and websites.

PRWeb is a premium service offering a variety of packages for use of its tools. See more information on pricing here.

Radio Guest List

Radio should not be dismissed as an effective medium for promoting brand awareness and creating valuable PR.

Radio Guest List is an innovative platform for brands seeking to broaden their reach and promote their products and services. Similar to the way other platforms seek to connect brands with other media outlets, Radio Guest List links organisations with those working in radio, including producers, hosts of podcasts and broadcast journalists.

From providing contact information for leading journalists to uncovering media opportunities for greater exposure, a variety of tools can help your band spread its message to the world. Review the above list and pick the option best suited to your needs.

Team Meeting Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 PR Tools for Boosting Your Brand" was first published on Small Business Trends

SmartBiz Loans Milestone: $500 Million in SBA Loans for Small Businesses

Small business lending platform SmartBiz Loans has announced surpassing $500 million in funded Small Business Administration loans.

This milestone follows a series of recent successes for SmartBiz, including a fifth bank joining its software platform. The announcement also demonstrates the mainstreaming trend of such online lending marketplaces also including Biz2Credit, Fundera and others in the small business community.

SmartBiz Loans is a combination of a bank-enabling technology platform and an online loan marketplace.

SmartBiz Loans Milestone

Evan Singer, CEO and President of SmartBiz Loans shared the company’s enthusiasm about the milestone.

“We are proud to announce this milestone, as it means that we are helping generate increased access to SBA loans for small business owners. As alternative online lenders continue to raise rates and banks struggle to make smaller loans profitably, SmartBiz is connecting banks with small business borrowers in a way that is a win-win for both sides,” said Singer.

SmartBiz Loan’s software platform automates underwriting for banks in order to reduce time and costs associated with processing SBA loans under $350,000 by up to 90 percent, the company claims. As the company automates the underwriting process, SmartBiz Loans’ platform allows banks to provide low-cost capital to small business owners in a matter of weeks rather than months.

Having access to funds quickly can be vital to small business owners who need capital fast.

SmartBiz Loans says it ranked as the leading facilitator of traditional SBA 7(a) loans under $350,000 for the 2016 fiscal year. This means SmartBiz surpassed Wells Fargo and other major banks in relation to SBA lending.

The $500 million in funded SBA loans is representative, not only of SmartBiz Loans’ success and growth, but of the entire small business loan market.

Following the recession  in 2008, banks limited the loans they made to small businesses due to being unable to process them efficiently enough to make profit. By automating the process, SmartBiz is making the procedure more efficient and cost-effective for all parties, the company says.

SBA Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "SmartBiz Loans Hits $500 Million Mark in SBA Loans for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends

Is Your Desk Work Killing You? New Medical Research Says It May

Do you run a small business which requires you to sit at a desk for long periods? Perhaps you’re a freelancer working from a desk at home, day in, day out? If you have a sedentary job, you may be working to the detriment of your health.

This is the finding of a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine. The research examined the association between sedentary lifestyles and mortality. It focused on adults aged 45 and over. Almost 8,000 adults participated in the study.

Sedentary time among the participants was measured using a hip-mounted accelerometer. The research concluded that sitting over prolonged, uninterrupted periods is associated with ‘all-cause’ mortality.

So, Is Your Desk Work Killing You?

The conclusion of the Annals of Internal Medicine study is that physical activity guidelines should be issued, targeted at “reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.”

The research may have focused on the over 45’s but it sends a message to all who have inactive jobs.

It reiterates the importance for small business owners, freelancers, or anyone who works at a desk and is not active during their working day, to regularly get up from their chair and exercise frequently.

Wellness Programs

The research underlines the importance of companies implementing a wellness program into the cultures of their businesses. From starting a running club after work, to encouraging healthy eating habits at lunchtime, wellness programs are a great way to motivate employees into becoming more active and healthier and to help offset the potential damage to health their sedentary job could create.

Deskercize

You might run your own business and work on your own, or work in an office as part of a team. Either way, just about anyone can carry out exercises at their desks to ensure they get their bodies moving throughout the day.

Simply stretching and shuffling about at your desk can be a great way to help prevent ailments and health issues building up as a result of a sedentary job.

Back Pain Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Is Your Desk Work Killing You? New Medical Research Says — Maybe!" was first published on Small Business Trends

Is Your Desk Work Killing You? New Medical Research Says It May

Do you run a small business which requires you to sit at a desk for long periods? Perhaps you’re a freelancer working from a desk at home, day in, day out? If you have a sedentary job, you may be working to the detriment of your health.

This is the finding of a study by the Annals of Internal Medicine. The research examined the association between sedentary lifestyles and mortality. It focused on adults aged 45 and over. Almost 8,000 adults participated in the study.

Sedentary time among the participants was measured using a hip-mounted accelerometer. The research concluded that sitting over prolonged, uninterrupted periods is associated with ‘all-cause’ mortality.

So, Is Your Desk Work Killing You?

The conclusion of the Annals of Internal Medicine study is that physical activity guidelines should be issued, targeted at “reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.”

The research may have focused on the over 45’s but it sends a message to all who have inactive jobs.

It reiterates the importance for small business owners, freelancers, or anyone who works at a desk and is not active during their working day, to regularly get up from their chair and exercise frequently.

Wellness Programs

The research underlines the importance of companies implementing a wellness program into the cultures of their businesses. From starting a running club after work, to encouraging healthy eating habits at lunchtime, wellness programs are a great way to motivate employees into becoming more active and healthier and to help offset the potential damage to health their sedentary job could create.

Deskercize

You might run your own business and work on your own, or work in an office as part of a team. Either way, just about anyone can carry out exercises at their desks to ensure they get their bodies moving throughout the day.

Simply stretching and shuffling about at your desk can be a great way to help prevent ailments and health issues building up as a result of a sedentary job.

Back Pain Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Is Your Desk Work Killing You? New Medical Research Says — Maybe!" was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Winter might be synonymous with cold weather and sky-high energy bills, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

If you run a business and are determined to lower your bills this winter, take a look at the following 10 ways to winterize your business to help manage energy costs.

Seal Any Leaks, Drafts and Gaps Around the Workplace

As the Department of Energy notes, Americans spend on average $2,000 on energy each year, $200 to $400 of which could be going to waste through drafts and air leaks.

Before winter arrives, take the time to assess your premises for leaks and drafts. Gaps can tend to be present around doors and windows, so pay particularly close attention to these areas. Plugging these gaps in a building could help reduce consumption between 5 and 30 percent.

Make Sure Insulation is Adequate

Insulation is vital in helping to reduce the exchange of heat through a surface, such as a building’s walls and ceiling. If your building is well-insulated, less warm air will escape during the winter.

In order to winterize your business to control energy costs, have a professional insulation installer or builder evaluate the existing insulation in your building. If it’s not sufficient, now is the time to improve the insulation.

Have Your Heating System Checked and Maintained

Looking after your business’s boiler and heating system will ensure it works efficiently and effectively all year round. Before the cold weather arrives and the heating system is forced to go into overdrive, have it checked.

Problems, such as airlocks, thermostat issues, leakage, and dripping, may mean your business’s heating system is not running efficiently. An inefficient heating system could mean increased energy bills.

Having the system checked and regularly maintained will ensure it runs as efficiently as it should, all year round.

Get Smart About Lighting

As the Department of Energy highlights, lighting is responsible for almost 25 percent of commercial energy costs. In order to crack down on business energy costs, the winterization of your business should include replacing conventional, energy-zapping light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.

LED bulbs use around 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. These energy-saving bulbs also typically last 10-25 times longer than conventional bulbs.

Automate your Thermostat

Having a programmable thermostat installed in a building can reduce heating costs by as much as 30 percent. During low-occupancy hours, set the thermostat several degrees lower compared to peak times to make significant energy savings.

Prepare the Pipes

Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on piping since, when water freezes, the pressure builds up in the pipes and can cause them to burst.

When winterizing your business to control energy costs, don’t neglect the pipes. Ensure all exterior pipes and interior ones in unheated areas are sufficiently insulated. Flexible elastomeric insulation works well on exterior pipes to give them the insulation they will require in the winter to prevent the water inside from freezing, causing the pipes to burst.

Check Heating Ducts

If your business has heating ducts, check them to see if the insulation needs to be replaced. Inadequately insulated heating ducts will mean the heating system has to work harder to keep the building warm, resulting in higher energy bills.

Install Energy-Efficient Glazing on Windows and Doors

With a staggering 10-20 percent heat lost through windows and doors, it makes sense to have energy-efficient glazing in place.

Replacing existing glass with low-emissivity glass, designed to prevent heat escaping through windows and doors, could mean significant business energy savings this winter.

Alter the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Use of ceiling fans in your business might be more common in the summer months. But did you know by simply changing the direction of the fan so it rotates in a clockwise direction can circulate warm air instead of cool. According to the ENERGY STAR webpage, altering the direction of ceiling fans can reduce heating costs by forcing warm air near the ceiling down into occupied spaces.

Change Furnace Filters

Prior to the winter months setting in, it’s recommended that you clean or replace furnace filters. Clogged up, dirty filters can restrict airflow, resulting in increased energy demand.

Check with Constellation to learn more about reducing your small business’s energy consumption today.

Caulking Window Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs" was first published on Small Business Trends