5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media

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Growing your presence on social media can be tricky, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some tips on how you can make minimal changes to your social media platform, and quickly receive an increased number of followers. Continue reading “5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media”

Top Five Reasons to Sign Up for Hootsuite

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For businesses and agencies that need to keep track of multiple social media accounts, Hootsuite is the ultimate dashboard for social media management. Rather than remembering multiple passwords and going to each site to make posts, Hootsuite allows users to manage all of their social media accounts from a central location with either a free or Pro account (paid).  Here are our top five benefits of managing social media accounts with Hootsuite. Continue reading “Top Five Reasons to Sign Up for Hootsuite”

Where Should a Small Business Spend its Marketing Money

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Marketing is essential for the growth of any business. Even if you offer a top-notch product or service, without sufficient exposure, potential customers may never be aware of what your business has to offer. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a large budget to spend on comprehensive marketing campaigns. Costly forms of marketing can be very effective in attracting new customers, but if the budget isn’t there, businesses can take advantage of alternative methods. Fortunately, there are many ways to attract new customers without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on where you should be spending your money when dealing with a tight marketing budget. Continue reading “Where Should a Small Business Spend its Marketing Money”

Top Five LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

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LinkedIn is the world’s largest business-oriented service and allows users to network and keep in touch with business contacts and potential clients. When used properly, LinkedIn can help members build stronger personal relationships to facilitate more direct contact and business opportunities. This article will explain several common mistakes that can impact the effectiveness of your LinkedIn marketing strategy. Those who are new to LinkedIn can first read our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”

  1. Having an Incomplete Profile — Having a LinkedIn profile that is 100 percent complete with an accurate description of your professional experience, skills and qualifications will help to optimize your LinkedIn profile and establish your professional identity online. In today’s technological world, a LinkedIn profile is becoming the new resume. To complete your profile, add a photo, list your professional work experience with accurate dates and responsibilities, include skills and expertise keywords in each section and request professional recommendations from your connections.
  1. Not Participating in LinkedIn Groups — There are no benefits to joining dozens of groups on LinkedIn and then not participating in group discussions. LinkedIn Groups are powerful online networking tools for business professionals. We recommend searching for groups that are related to your industry or groups that your potential customers and clients are likely to be active in. Once you’ve requested to join, start participating in discussions and sharing your professional expertise. Users can also participate in the LinkedIn Answers section, when appropriate. By answering other users’ questions in this section, you can boost your authority, online reputation and exposure.
  1. Not Requesting or Giving Recommendations — To build authority on your profile, always request professional recommendations from your contacts and return the favor. These can greatly enhance your profile by giving potential clients and business contacts a clear indication of the quality of your company’s work.
  1. Not Having a Custom URL — One of the most overlooked yet valuable features of LinkedIn is that users can create a customized URL for their profile in place of the default URL. By creating a customized URL with either your full name or your business’ name, prospective clients or customers will have a better chance of finding and recognizing your account. To customize your URL on LinkedIn, click here and then “Customize Your Public Profile URL.”
  1. Requesting to Connect with People You Don’t Know — We don’t recommend sending emails to users who you have never met or spoken to. In some cases, this can get you banned from LinkedIn if enough people report “I don’t know this person.” If you want to connect with someone who you don’t know personally, see if there are any shared connections who may be able to introduce you. You can also develop relationships with users through the LinkedIn Groups’ discussion boards and then send an invitation to connect once you are comfortable enough to do so.

Most of all, it’s important to stay as active as possible on LinkedIn. At a minimum, users should make sure that their profile is 100% complete and use about a half hour per week to browse through LinkedIn Groups and join in the conversation. By consistently updating your LinkedIn profile, maintaining your company page and participating in group discussions, you’ll find that this social networking site is essential when it comes to online marketing, especially for B2B professionals.

For more information about how to avoid LinkedIn mistakes, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

How to Engage Journalists Using Social Media

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A recent survey conducted last month by Text 100 Global Public Relations discovered that a significant number of journalists use social media and blogs on a regular basis when researching a business, brand or organization for an article. A total of 72 full-time journalists working in print, online and broadcast media were surveyed and the results found that, on average, journalists look at 2.6 social media channels for every story they research. Given these statistics, and the rapid rate at which social networking is growing, public relations professionals can use social media channels to engage with journalists and reach out to them in an outlet where they’re known to be active.

This article will explain the best methods public relations professionals can use to engage journalists through social media.

Maintain Social Media Profiles — Since reporters may look at several social media channels when conducting research, it’s important that your organization has a positive presence on all of them. By creating professional, thorough and favorable profiles for your business online, journalists will be able to discover the information that you want to be highlighted. For example, use social media channels to display media coverage, upcoming events, company news and anything else that you would like the public to be aware of.

For information on how to get your business active on social media, please see our article, “Getting Started with Social Media.”

Focus on Twitter — An important finding in this study was that Twitter is the best social media channel for public relations pitches and media relations. The survey found that journalists are far more likely to welcome contact on Twitter rather than LinkedInGoogle+or even Facebook. Public relations professionals can use Twitter to connect with reporters by seeking out their profiles and “following” them. Twitter is a great way to stay in touch with journalists and pitch stories, business news and upcoming events. Of the journalists surveyed in this study, 53% found that a company’s Twitter profile was instrumental in their research when writing an article.

For an overview of how businesses can use Twitter, please see our articles, “Secrets to Twitter Marketing” and “Twitter Unveils Brand-New Design and Special Features for Businesses.”

Create a Blog — Blogs are also an increasingly important venue to attract media attention. According to this survey, 63% of journalists found a company’s blog to be extremely useful in their research. By creating and maintaining an active blog, your business can establish itself as an industry leader and nourish an interactive hub of information about your organization. Businesses should provide useful information and quality content that relates to your organization and industry as a whole. For more information on how important blogging is for brands and businesses, read our article, “Should My Business Have a Blog?

It is also important to keep in mind that while social media is becoming increasingly important, journalists still value press releases and phone conversations. While the media is increasingly turning to social media and online outlets for information, they still rely heavily on these more traditional methods of contact when covering a story. These social media techniques should be used to supplement press releases, media advisories and other traditional communications outlets.

For more information about engaging with journalists using social media, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Social Media Publishing 101

Social Media Publishing

An Overview of HootSuite, Tweetdeck and Social Oomph

Social publishing programs are essential for managing a business’ social media presence, especially for those who maintain multiple accounts. The primary function of these programs is to allow users to organize and schedule posts in advance on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. By using these programs to schedule posts and space out your content, businesses can ensure that they have a consistent presence on social media. This article will provide an overview of the three major social media publishing platforms: HootSuite,TweetDeck and Social Oomph.

While all of these programs are free to join, provide helpful URL shorteners and allow for multiple social networking accounts, each of the three has certain benefits, disadvantages and unique capabilities. Depending on your organization and personal preferences, one of these platforms may be better suited for your needs than the others.

HootSuite

HootSuite, which many consider to be the leading social media dashboard, allows users to manage multiple networks, schedule updates and create custom analytics reports to monitor your success. Using HootSuite’s unique social networking dashboard, users can connect multiple social networks, such as TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and WordPress, in one place.

  • Advantages — HootSuite’s greatest strength is that it provides users with excellent custom analytics reports to share with clients or colleagues. Through these reports, users can track brand sentiment, follower growth and also incorporate Facebook Insights and Google Analytics right in their dashboard. Also, while Google+ is currently unavailable on these publishing tools, HootSuite will be given first access to Google+ business and brand pages. This is so important because, when this update is unveiled, users can update all of their social media pages, including Google+, in one place. Also, like Social Oomph, HootSuite users can schedule messages in bulk to save time by uploading a CSV file. HootSuite also has a mobile app so users can access their dashboard for free on iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys or Android mobile devices.
  • Disadvantages — The most notable disadvantage of HootSuite is that the free version only allows users to manage up to five accounts and there is a limit of 10 columns on your dashboard. This can be a major setback, especially for users who need to maintain multiple accounts on each social networking platform. To avoid this problem, users can upgrade to the premium version for $5 per month.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck also allows users to manage multiple social media accounts, schedule posts and organize social networking feeds. This real-time browser can connect you with contacts and information across TwitterFacebookLinkedInMySpaceFourSquare and more.

  • Advantages — One advantage is that all of the features on TweetDeck are free – there is no premium, paid membership like HootSuite and Social Oomph require for certain features. With a free membership, TweetDeck users can manage and post to an unlimited number of social media accounts, unlike HootSuite, where basic users are limited to only five. Also, many users agree that TweetDeck’s dashboard is the cleanest and most user-friendly of the three, although this depends on personal preference.
  • Disadvantages — On May 25, 2011, TweetDeck was bought by Twitter and since this acquisition, many users have complained about missing features, bugs and certain tools not working properly. Apart from these technical problems, there are two major setbacks with TweetDeck. Unlike HootSuite and Social Oomph, there are no analytics reports or bulk scheduling capabilities available. This is a huge disadvantage, especially for businesses, since they cannot monitor the effectiveness of their social media marketing strategies.

Social Oomph

Social Oomph performs the same functions as the previous two programs but unlike HootSuite or TweetDeck, users have the ability to “Auto-Follow” and “Auto-Direct Message” users. Depending on one’s personal preference, this feature could either be seen as an advantage or disadvantage, as further discussed below.

  • Advantages — The benefit of using Social Oomph is that this service has the most detailed and informative analytics reports, especially for those who are managing several social media accounts. Like HootSuite, you can also schedule posts in bulk but only Social Oomph makes this process simpler by allowing users to upload posts from a Word document. Social Oomph’s “Replies Digest” is another unique and useful feature, especially for businesses. This tool will send you a daily email with any @Mentions of Re-tweets your business has received. This email is extremely helpful for businesses to easily monitor interactions on Twitter and respond accordingly.
  • Disadvantages — Unlike TweetDeck and HootSuite, there is currently no smart phone app available for Social Oomph. As mentioned previously, Social Oomph is the only service that allows users to set up “Auto-Follows,” “Auto-Direct Messages” and “Auto-Responders,” but this tool is only unlocked when users upgrade to premium accounts. There is a biweekly cost of $3.97 for Social Oomph Premium. “Auto-follow” refers to being able to follow someone on Twitter automatically if they have followed you. “Auto-Direct Messages” and “Auto-Responding” refer to sending Twitter users automatic, prewritten responses. While some users may see this as an advantage, since this practice is only available on Social Oomph, it has its flaws and most social media users look down on auto-responses. It’s far more powerful to interact with users on a more personal level rather than just send them computer-generated responses.

For more information about social media publishing, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn

Every business strives to increase profitability and remain relevant and competitive in their industry. In order to stay competitive in today’s business world, you must use some form of social media. Social media marketing and advertising techniques can help increase your revenues, communicate with customers and remain a competitive force in your field. With so many options out there, it is best to focus your attention and time on what is most beneficial to your business. For those interested in making professional connections, networking and reaching out to other businesses, LinkedIn is the site for you.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest business-oriented service, allows members to network and keep in touch with their business contacts. Businesses should think of LinkedIn as a giant networking event. This is especially beneficial for B2B industries. The site allows you to search its database for people at a company to whom you are somehow connected and send a virtual introduction through one or more immediate connections. LinkedIn helps build stronger personal relationships to facilitate more direct contact and business opportunities.

Always make sure that your LinkedIn business profile is as close to 100% complete as possible. Upload a professional photo, add to your network frequently and keep all business information and staff up to date on your business page. This makes it easier for other businesses, potential clients or partners to find your company.

Design your profile with your audience in mind. Don’t write lengthy descriptions of irrelevant jobs that you’ve worked for in the past; your LinkedIn page is not your résumé. (LinkedIn has a separate section for that.) Potential clients and business partners won’t benefit from seeing every minor detail of work experience from years ago. Focus on job titles, major achievements and the names of companies you’ve worked for. You may also add a video from YouTube to your business page.
Here are a few tips to make your LinkedIn page stand out and get your business noticed

Add video — To add a video, go to your company page and click on “Services” at the top. Select “Add a Product or Service,” then scroll down to the bottom of this page to step 10. Here, you may add your video, a title, keywords and the required fields. Another hint is to change your LinkedIn URL. When you create a business profile on LinkedIn, you’re given a random URL. To enhance search engine optimization and boost Google rankings, you can change the URL to something simpler, like your business’ name. You may customize your URL here: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/public-profile-settings.

Make connections — The more connections you have, the greater your opportunities become. One tip is to use the LinkedIn toolbar for Outlook to easily invite all of your Outlook contacts to connect with you. You may also export your LinkedIn contacts to Outlook or your Gmail address book by saving the details of your connections as a CSV file. You can then import this file into any other email program.

Advertise — There is also the potential for advertising on LinkedIn. You can target your audience based on company size, industry, gender and geography. (See our Advertising Spotlight for details.)

Use recommendations — Always give recommendations and testimonials to your contacts and request for them in return. These greatly enhance your profile by giving potential clients and business contacts a clear indication of the quality of your company’s work.

Communication and interaction are essential to your LinkedIn success. Update your status whenever there’s an update in your company. Likewise, keep an eye out for others’ statuses for something to start a conversation with or build a connection. Build and join groups and enhance the conversation with your expertise. You may communicate easily with group members by sending emails. This will portray your business to others as an expert and leader in the field. Send emails to group members, post conversations from the group to Twitter and Facebook, interact in the discussion area and pose and respond to questions. Use of the Answers feature spreads your name and profile around to people who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to it. By answering others’ questions, you show authority in your field and others may then look to you for advice. Answer only questions you can answer well. If you wrote an article, add it to one of the web resources boxes.

LinkedIn Today — A new feature the social media site has launched is “LinkedIn Today,” a program that surfaces the top headlines and stories being shared the most by members. Articles are grouped into different industries and the trending articles for each industry will appear at the top. This feature gives users an organized way to consume the top trending news in a particular industry. Having your company’s article appear on LinkedIn Today is a great way to gain exposure and share your professional insight. Make sure to post exceptional, thought-provoking content in your articles to maximize the chance of showing up at the top of this section.

LinkedIn Application for iPhones and Android Phones — Another LinkedIn breakthrough is that now users have the option of downloading the LinkedIn application for iPhones and Android-powered phones. You don’t have to be sitting in front of a computer screen to use LinkedIn. Professionals can now easily access and share industry news and articles and post headlines more directly from their cellular phone.

Stay active — Maintaining your LinkedIn page and checking for updates may be time-consuming, but it is necessary for success. Instead of logging in every time you want to check your profile, install the Google Chrome LinkedIn toolbar. This toolbar makes it simple to respond to contact invitations, comment on your contacts’ updates and more.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.

Getting Started with Social Media

Social media is a crucial marketing tool to help you make connections, rapidly build your business’ online platform and get your message out. Just about every business should be using social media in some capacity. Social media sites allow you to interact with clients, customers, competitors, critics, employees, prospects and referral sources. Through the user-generated content of social networking sites, businesses are able to learn what people are saying about them and to respond to criticism and praise. These sites also make it possible to spread your message to a larger audience than ever before in a quick, cost-effective manner. The keys are choosing the right social media platform(s) for your organization, while developing and committing to a content plan you will use to feed your network with information they will value.

Here are some tips to help your business get its message across:

Choose Which Sites to Use — With so many social media sites out there, it is important to choose the ones that best suit your business. It is much more effective to actively use a few of these sites than to just be present on all of them. Popular social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Flickr and MySpace. Research these sites and others to decide which ones are right for your business. As a general rule, if you’re in B2B (Business-to-Business), use LinkedIn. If you’re trying to reach the general public with your services, then consider using Facebook and Twitter.

Create a Memorable Logo/Username — Pick a username that is available on all or most of the major social media sites. Develop a logo to complement your business name, not overshadow it. Use the logo in your profiles and websites.

Know and Target Your Audience — First, determine who your target audience is. Using social media sites, post relevant content that your clients and prospective customers will find useful and interesting. Use your social media sites as a valuable tool for your audience rather than merely for your business’ self-promotion.

Advertise to Your Target Audience — Advertisements on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube micro-target based on demographics, age, interests and location. Facebook ad campaigns, in particular, are highly targetable and effective. Facebook captures postings to create analytical data of what members have as listed interests. This data can be used to target market certain keywords.

Build Business Contacts — LinkedIn, for example, is a business-oriented service that allows members to network and gather professional contacts. Users can find potential clients, search for jobs, land deals and get professional introductions. Creating a LinkedIn profile for your business is a great way to put your company on the map in your industry. You may also upload your existing contacts from Outlook or a CSV file to LinkedIn and Facebook.

Interact — Follow up quickly to every comment or direct message on your social media sites. Make friends and treat your connections respectfully. Be authentic and actively participate in the conversation. Remember, you are setting the tone for your business through every conversation and post online. Always encourage people to contact you.

Don’t Forget About Content — Content is far more important than technology or design. Write exceptional articles, recommendations and blog posts and load them with keywords so they are easily found. The text and quality of the content on your sites is what compels people to stay and return. It should be organized, well-written and complete with easy ways to link to information. Excellent content is easily and quickly spread on social media sites and search engines. Think about the type of ongoing content you can generate that relates to your organization and builds upon its credibility and expertise.

Track Your Social Media Success — Be aware of how effective your social media profiles and websites are. Compete.com allows users to compare the estimated traffic to their site against that of their competitors. Twitter.Grader.com will run your business’ Twitter profile through and compare it to each competitor. This allows you to not only measure your own business’ online success, but to keep track of your competition.

Don’t Slack Off — Social media is a long road and a way of doing business, not a campaign. Your social media marketing success requires commitment and long-term support. Actively update your pages with news, conversation and multimedia, such as videos and photos, to stay at the top of search engine results.

This is the first in a series of articles to be followed by closer examinations of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website here for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.

Using Social Media To Drive Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Social media can be a great way to take your message directly to your target audience. Using various social media tools, you can build your online profile and reputation, create more backlinks and drive people back to your Web site.Social Media

Below are the various tools PRMG uses to get clients maximum exposure on the Web:

Blogs: Blogs are Web journals that contain opinions on different subjects. Often described as the “front door” to social media, the authors of blogs can read, comment and exchange links on other blogs. Since blogs can be updated more frequently, search engines looking for fresh content will rank it higher and make it more searchable.

Besides this, blogs can be a great way for you to build your organization’s reputation, showcase its expertise, highlight a product or service, and help improve your Search Engine Optimization by drawing audiences back to your website and including backlinks to internal pages in blog entries. They also provide a more personal way of communicating with your customers or other target audiences, giving you an opportunity to obtain constant feedback from them.

Social Networking: Social networking sites operate on the simple premise of building a profile and connecting, interacting and sharing information with “friends” over the network.

Facebook, which has more than 200 million users worldwide, allows you to build your own business fan page and create your own targeted ads, applications or platforms, which can serve as a great marketing tool. Using Facebook, you can share links, latest company news, start discussions, list events and post videos and pictures.

LinkedIn, another popular site, is particularly known for professional networking, where you can create a profile, and also display recommendations or testimonials from clients or former employers, ask and answer questions on business-related topics and create or join a professional networking group.

Microblogs: Twitter, the most popular microblogging tool, is a free service that allows members to send short messages or updates that are 140 characters or less. The message is sent to people’s “followers” or people who are interested in what the person has to say or share. Twitter can be a useful tool to drive people to your blog, Web site or Facebook profile by posting a URL every time you update them or want to inform people of latest events, promotions, press releases or company news. By posting your Web site URL to your Twitter profile or including your Web site link in a direct message to new followers, you would also be helping to boost traffic to your Web site.

Since it only consists of short updates, Twitter can often be easier to keep up with, as compared with blogging, and still help you connect and network with current or prospective customers. Many organizations use Twitter for customer service and as a quick way to monitor what others are saying about their brand.

How PRMG Can Help You Tap Into Social Media

The vast array of social media tools available can often be confusing. To help you cut through the social media clutter, we begin by first identifying your business and communication goals. Based on your target audience, we devise a marketing and communication strategy, and select social media tools that can help you best achieve your goals and reach your target audience most effectively.

Whether you need help with starting a blog, setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile, PRMG will always adopt an integrated approach to social media and ensure that it complements your traditional public relations and marketing efforts.

Are You LinkedIn?

 

PRMG's LinkedIn Profile
PRMG’s LinkedIn profile

Whether you are the CEO of a large organization or the owner of a small business start-up, you are certainly well aware of the benefits of professional networking or “knowing the right people.” Not only can it help you win new business, it can also help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry and build partnerships for exchanging knowledge and resources more effectively.

In today’s uncertain economic times, building and sustaining a professional network becomes even more important. Though nothing can replace the authenticity and effectiveness of face-to-face networking, for small business owners who don’t have the time to attend conferences or other business networking events, LinkedIn can be a great way to connect and build professional contacts virtually.

 What is LinkedIn and How Do You Get Started?

LinkedIn is a professional network with over 50 million members worldwide. LinkedIn allows you to build your resume online and to connect with colleagues, friends and other professionals in your industry. LinkedIn profiles rank high in search results, which allows you to control one of the first impressions that people get when they search for you online.

You can create a profile by entering your name and e-mail address on the LinkedIn registration page. Once you have created a LinkedIn account, you can start creating your professional profile by entering your work experience, education and other accomplishments. LinkedIn now allows you to add your Web site or a link to an online portfolio and even your blog or Twitter profile. You can also update your status and tell others in your network what you are working on. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn status updates are usually work-related rather than personal.

While creating a profile, use appropriate keywords that will help optimize your profile and ensure that you can be found easily by potential customers or contacts when they search for you online. Next, start searching for people you know and would like to add in your professional network by typing their name in the search box. You can also upload your e-mail contacts to invite people to connect or use Web Mail imports to automatically find those whom you know on LinkedIn’s network. For more information on getting started, see LinkedIn’s new user guide.

How Do You Grow Your Network On LinkedIn and Make The Most Of Your Profile?

Introductions: Once you’ve set up your profile and connected with those who you already know, use your existing network to get virtual introductions to those who are in your friends’ networks and whom you would like to connect or interact with for business purposes.

Groups: You can also join groups relevant to your industry or in your geographic location. For instance, if you are a communications professional, you can join The International Association of Business Communicators Group, The Public Relations and Communications Professionals or the NYC Public Relations Group. Joining a group on LinkedIn helps you discover connections in your geographic area and industry, participate in online discussions on various topics and also keep an eye out for latest job postings.

Q&A: LinkedIn’s Q&A feature allows you to post questions to those in your existing network, group or anyone else on LinkedIn, giving you a chance to solicit expert opinions on various topics and also to connect with others and share resources and knowledge.

Recommendations: LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to add strength to your professional resume and have people vouch for your skills or your ability to work as a team player. Invite former or present colleagues and supervisors to write you a short recommendation you can post on your profile.

Business Meetings: Before going for an important business meeting, you can use LinkedIn to quickly learn about your client’s background and even find out if you have any common connections over LinkedIn.

Jobs & Other Applications: Many companies advertise jobs on LinkedIn to take advantage of referrals by their employees or others in their network. Other great applications you can use on LinkedIn include Slideshare, where you can share PowerPoint presentations with the rest of your network. You can also update your reading list, post events to share with your network or stream your blog posts to your LinkedIn profile using the BlogLink or WordPress LinkedIn application.

View PRMG’s company profile on LinkedIn. Click here to connect with PRMG’s President and CEO, John Zaher, on LinkedIn.