Janine Marin - communications expert
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How to manage negative comments on your social media page with less risk and less stress

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There’s a lot of contention surrounding councils after it was announced 19 councils across Sydney and NSW are merging. Is this a good idea? Who knows, but what I do know is that rebranding one brand is a delicate operation, let alone merging two or more distinct brands into one.

So, how do merging councils survive this ultra delicate operation without causing a significant scar?

First, you have to decide if you’re going to combine your brands or work your brands in tandem with each other. The way to assess the best option for you is to audit your existing brand by looking at:

How big your community following is across all digital channels (social media followers, website traffic and app downloads/usage). Look at the numbers over the past three years and see if your online community has grown or gradually declined.

If you find your website traffic and social following has increased significantly and has remained steady or continues to increase, then you have a strong brand presence that should be maintained.

Do you have brand advocates? These are supporters of your council and you can tell them apart because they sing your praises on social media and post positive comments in retaliation to negative comments and engage with you constantly. Brand advocates exist because of a strong brand and they are major assets for you during this transition.

Have you got a distinct brand voice? Can someone tell your council apart from another purely based on the tone and type of content you promote? A brand voice is what differentiates you from everyone else.“Brands that communicate successfully are successful brands. And in order to communicate successfully, you have to distinguish and define your voice” (Contently). Developing a definitive brand voice isn’t easy, though if you have achieved this over the years it is worth maintaining your brand and keeping your voice heard.

If there are two or more strong brands at play, a strategy is to combine them all into one ‘main’ brand and create sub-brands of each council before dropping the weakest-performing brand over time.

Whether you opt for sub-brands or not, merging your brand and adopting a new identity provides a clean slate to engage your existing community and create new audiences. “By adopting a completely new identity, these companies can signal to customers that they have acquired fresh capabilities because of their merger. ” (HBR)

If you are merging brands, here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do you share the same goal?
  2. What are your strengths and what your weaknesses?
  3. Is your audience online similar or vastly different?
  4. What value does brand each provide?
  5. How will your new brand be promoted?
  6. How will you measure the success of your rebrand?

I know it’s not going to be easy during this transition but I hope this helps you decide the next steps for your council’s brand.

For merging councils only, we are offering special consulting packages for marketing, communications and social media to help you get a get head start and avoid losing community engagement.


Gaining quality press coverage on a budget sounds like a myth, right? Wrong! I’m delighted to have entrepreneur and PR guru Alison Podworski share her myth-busting tips on how you can score quality press coverage without spending a cent!

Before we start, though, let me tell you more about this amazing woman: Alison Podworski is the President and CEO of Alison May Public Relations and as a former news reporter she is an expert at educating her clients in media training and crisis communications. Part of her success includes garnering PR for her clients in media outlets such as NBC News, MNSBC, Huffington Post, Aol.Com and The Washington Post. Alison encourages her clients to think outside the box, be bold, and do what everyone else is not doing.

Guest expert shares: five ways to gain press coverage on a budget

There is no doubt that positive media exposure will take your business to a new level. But, hiring a public relations firm can costs thousands of dollars and many new businesses do not have a budget for that. Fortunately, there are ways to achieve PR success without going into debt. Here are five ways to help you secure press coverage without spending a dime.

Know the Media

Take the time to connect and communicate with journalists who cover your industry. Social media has allowed us to form online relationships with editors, writers, and reporters from around the world. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Blab, YouTube…you name it. Begin reading or watching their stories. Comment, share them on social media and engage with the journalist. When you are pitching to the reporter or editor be sure to start off the email mentioning something about their recent story. This shows them that you actually read their articles. Think about why they should do a story on your business or product. Why should their viewers or readers care? What value can you add?

Think Non-traditional

Public relations is much more than sending out a press release to the television news and newspapers. There are hundreds of blogs out there that focus on your industry. From beauty to technology…there’s something out there that fits your pitch. Many blogs have dedicated pages for you to submit your product or tip. Mashable is a great place to start.


HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is my favorite resource and it’s FREE! This online service is where reporters, bloggers and producers put out the stories that they are working on and request sources to provide content. From small blogs to Forbes to Dr.Oz, the media outlets on here are amazing. The stories come out Monday-Friday at 5:30am, 12:30pm and 5:30pm. The key is to act quickly. If you see a story that would be a good fit for you or your business, respond immediately, even if their deadline is tomorrow. We have garnered dozens of press mentions by using the service and I highly recommend that you join. Did I mention that it is free?


Blogging is essential to helping you build your brand. But you should also consider becoming a contributing writer for blogs in your industry. Many blogs look for contributing writers. For example, Hello Giggles and Womens Prospects have a dedicated page for people to pitch their articles.

Remember, we all have so much knowledge to share, but you just need the opportunity. The more blogs that you write for, the more your name will get out there in the public.

You are the Expert

Many times the media is looking for an expert to talk about a new study, trend or national news story. That’s where you come in. Pay attention to your industry trends and the national news. If you are a travel agent and flights are expected to drop significantly because of oil costs, reach out to the local media and tell them that you can talk about it. Remember, you are the expert. If everything goes well, the next time that same media outlet is doing a story on travel, there is a good chance that they will call you. The more that you’re in the media, the more you are perceived as an expert.

With this being said, I am not dismissing what a public relations agency does. As a publicist myself, I can tell you that hiring a PR firm is essential to your growth. Once you start gaining media exposure on your own you will generate more business and then able to afford a firm.

But for now, dedicate one hour a day for your public relations efforts. It is a lot of work, but it will result in big dividends!


About Alison:

Alison Podworski-pr-budget

Alison Podworski is the President and CEO of Alison May Public Relations, a firm located in Massachusetts. She is a former news reporter, who has worked throughout the Northeast at television stations in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Alison uses her expertise in journalism to educate her clients in media training and crisis communications. She has garnered coverage for her clients in media outlets such as NBC News, MNSBC, Huffington Post, Aol.Com and The Washington Post. The entrepreneur is also a keynote speaker on topics including public relations, reputation management and social media.

Alison has been seen on Dr. Oz and been quoted in multiple news outlets. Alison is a contributing writer for Women’s Prospects Magazine and Thread M.B. She encourages her clients to think outside the box, be bold, and do what everyone else is not doing. Alison resides in Massachusetts with her husband and three young daughters.

Follow Alison on her website, Facebook, linkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter