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Tom Andrews operates Andrews Media Ventures an independent PR communications consultancy based in Hartford, Wisconsin. Tom’s background includes 35 years of major market broadcast news and public relations experience. Tom and his team have aligned professionals to help corporate and nonprofit clients raise their business and organizational profiles through services such as creative writing, PR console, media relations, spokesperson training, video production, voice talent, and special events support.
Besides using conventional online, print, broadcast, advertising, what other ways might a business or nonprofit organization consider to help raise public awareness about their products or services?
Well, I’m not at all saying that conventional advertising and such are bad avenues to take. But in conjunction with that, I encourage my clients to think about earned media, grassroots type of methods of getting your message out. Earned media means coming up with angles that your company has that could be potentially newsworthy, and then pitching those to television, radio, print, whatever. Also, the advent of the digital world has given us social media. So there are opportunities now, as you never had before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all these different methods that people have to get their word out. Another thing that I encourage them to do is to consider what I call side door advertising. You have an opportunity to be a part of community events, sponsorships, opportunities to get where you’re not necessarily the focus, but by the side door, people have to know who you are, they have to be ident you have to be identified. Same thing if your company is featured in a news story of some sort. Maybe the story is not how great Keystone click is, but maybe the story involves Keystone click and they tell people who you are. So there’s a variety of different ways to get your message out. All in addition to if you have an advertising budget, all the better. But sometimes I’ve worked with companies and entities that really didn’t have much of a budget to do that. Particularly nonprofits maybe don’t have the money to do that. So I look for other avenues to get the word out, get creative.
As someone who came from the news business, how important is the use of video in telling my company story and doesn’t have the impact it once did in the b2b world as well as reaching the general public?
I spent quite a bit of time with video, and I still do I still am involved in video production. So I’m getting my biases out there for you right away. I still think that video when it’s done well, has a tremendous impact as much today if not more than ever, because companies used to produce a video, and it has basically one use, they produce it, it’d be a DVD, they’d get it out, send it to their prospective clients or people that they wanted to work with and that was the end of it. Well today, when we shoot videos, we shoot them for repurposing, we shoot them so you can take some sound clips, video clips, and you can put them on Twitter, you can put them on Facebook. So you’ve got golden opportunities to reuse, if you will, the same material and augmented and refresh it all the time. I think video has a tremendous impact because I think it’s the best mode of conveying human emotions. We talk about doing things in person, or the big thing is why is it so effective? Because you get to see the facial expressions of the person you’re speaking with. There are silent little signals that don’t come over in an email, they don’t come over in a post on Facebook, or some social media, but you sit down with somebody and you get to know them, and you get to understand where they’re coming from and I think that’s a very effective way to get your messages across.
When telling a company’s or organization’s story, can you address the importance of the people aspect in storytelling?
That’s the in-person thing I’ve just mentioned. When you’re storytelling, for example, I’ll pick on the news business for a moment, okay? The stories that I always found got the best response and the longest shelf life, I still hear about them. I’ve been on television for many, many years, but people remember the people whose lives were affected, or changed for the better, or impacted by whatever the story happened to be. So we build our stories, you build stories around people because that’s the factor that everybody that either tugs at the heartstrings, or it or you find yourself saying, “I had that happened to me, I understand what he or she is feeling.”
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you’ve had?
I will say right up front that I’m a very lucky person because of the career I had before thrust me into all kinds of situations where I had to meet new people. I had to learn about their business, I had to learn something about their family or something like that. What are you doing in networking? You’re introducing yourself, you’re trying to find out about somebody else’s business, you’re trying to figure out if you can interface with this person? So when I started out I was on the radio, I covered the Bucks, the Brewers, Marquette Warriors, the Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin Badgers, all those things. And I was networking, all the while gathering my contacts, but the best location was always the press box because I got to reunite. To this day, I still do some scattered features for the brewery for game day magazine and I get to go and reconnect with people that I used to work with or who were coming into the business. But the thing about it is that kind of an atmosphere has given me all kinds of opportunities. For instance, from doing things with the Green Bay Packers I got to edit rather and do some writing and do the marketing for the first biography ever done on Curly Lambeau. It was called Lambeau, The Man Behind The Mystique. Later on, I was approached because of my junky hood from going back to baseball cards when I was five years old, and getting introduced to the Milwaukee Braves. Today I’m also one of the directors of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association and because of that, I got sought out by a guy who has written a chain of sportsbooks. The book was for Milwaukee Braves fans only and because of that, I had to split it up in terms of writing. We had contacts with people who are still Milwaukee Braves fans today, catch up with them, and get them to tell us their stories. Their personal stories of I remember the first time I met Warren Spahn, or I got picked up by Warren Spahn when I was hitchhiking, or I remember bugging players in the parking lot outside county stadium. Those are just precious memories. So I got to kind of relive my childhood with that.
How do you best stay in from of and nurture your network?
Well, I’ve always considered my network like a garden, if you will. You are planting constantly you’re planting and hoping that they’re going to bear fruit. But what do you got to do? When you start planting things, do you just wait? No! You have to water it, you have to weed it, you got to do all these things. Also, here’s a key one. Keeping in contact with people not only when you’re trying to figure out if you can do something together, but it’s also learning about your contacts, learning about their family. Mark that stuff down and the old days, we have what was called a Rolodex. You would write down this on this rotating little miniature file system that you kept at your desk. Nowadays its this is called, your database so you have update and nourish your database every chance you get. If you read about something where maybe somebody even if you’re not working with them anymore, but you knew them before, and they just did something of significance, call them up, congratulate them, or send them an email. You would be amazed at the number of things that come swimming back to you in a very positive light. If you stand at the edge of the garden with your arms crossed and waiting, it does not happen. You have to push it.
Let’s go back to your 20-year-old self. What would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
Wow, that is a loaded question because hindsight is always 20-20, and boy, if I knew then what I knew now, I’m certain that my attitudes on all the number of things would be completely different than they were. I never considered myself to be a know it all, but I would always listen to myself when I was certain that I was correct. I always dug my heels in and that was not very flexible on certain things. Looking back I would be more flexible, I would be more open to seeing other ways of doing things even if I was certain. Listen, I’ve done this before, I’m lock stock and barrel certain that this is going to work. I’ve done it before, but maybe not as well as the idea that somebody else just came up here. So I think that’s probably what I would tell myself, be a little bit more open, be more flexible, and always be a better listener.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Always be thinking about growing and supporting your network. Don’t be afraid to reach out and tell your story to others and also be encouraging to get other people to tell you their story. What’s the story about them as much as they want to share about them personally, or about their company, or how they got to where they are. People like to share that kind of information, but many times they’re not drawn out? to do it. So I would encourage you to do that. Take notes, mental notes, and when you get back to your car, write them down, write something down, make up a little review. If somebody really interested you write down as much as you can remember right there when it’s fresh. Builds your network, grow your garden!
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