First Impressions

June 12th, 2015

They say you only have one chance to make a first impression. This is a subject that keeps coming up lately – in conversations, at meetings, in emails and in blog posts I’ve been reading. Judging by the huge amount of comments and responses to these, this is clearly something that’s floating up to the top of everyone’s consciousness right now.

As a publicist, I am constantly initiating contacts with new journalists, writers, editors and bloggers; for me, that first contact doesn’t hold much fear. Through many years of practice – first as a TV movie executive and then as a publicist – I’ve gotten comfortable and assured about how I will come off in any initial encounter. But for a lot of people, the idea of making a cold call to a magazine, walking into a meeting full of strangers, talking to vendors or buyers in a trade show booth, meeting a bunch of new people at a networking event, or getting up and speaking in or to a group is enough to give them the shakes.

I think that part of this is because people aren’t always sure of what kind of first impression they are going to make, or they aren’t sure of what creates a positive first impression. While the ingredients of a good first impression may seem elementary to some, to others, they really are a mystery. From all the conversations, posts and emails I’ve seen lately, there are a lot of people out in the business world who apparently have no idea of how to present themselves. So here are a few things that seem to be universal:

In person:

1. Smile! Be present (not distracted)

2. Have a good handshake (not a bone-crusher, just nice, firm and DRY)

3. Look the other person in the eye when being introduced

4. Ask what they do or another question that elicits information about them and actually LISTEN to what they say – be interested

5. Wear clothing that is appropriate to the occasion. Be well groomed (yes, this means check your teeth and nails; shoes should be polished and in good repair – people do notice)

6. Have confidence in yourself

7. Have a fabulous business card

8. Before you go to a meeting, make sure you’ve done your research; know who you’re meeting, know about their business and how you can be of service to them or how you can fit in with them


On the phone:

1. Do your research beforehand and make sure you are calling the right person; get the correct pronunciation of their name if it is uncommon or unfamiliar; find out if they’re a man or woman if they have a sexually-ambiguous name (yes this happens)

2. Relax and smile; they can hear it in your voice. Be present (don’t multitask)

3. Introduce yourself – say who you are, what you do and why you are calling

4. Make sure the person has time to chat with you – be brief and respectful of their time

5. Be prepared – don’t try to pitch or sell if you don’t have the required facts; you don’t want to have to go back later with different figures or other information. It’s not good if you don’t know what you’re talking about!

6. When you are done, thank the person and get off the phone – don’t linger


In correspondence

1. Make sure you have their proper name, title and contact information

2. Spell check! Spell check! Spell check! (and grammar check, too)

3. Be brief and to the point, have your pitch and pertinent info right at the top – don’t bury the lead; include all necessary information.

4. In printed/mailed correspondence, make sure all printing is clear, straight and perfect; paper stocks should be of excellent quality; nothing makes a bad first impression like misspelled, mis-printed, crooked or creased materials – yes, this includes address labels and stamps


Keep their good opinion:

1. Follow up appropriately and in a timely manner.

While you (hopefully) already know and do all of these things, it never hurts to get a few reminders. Now get out there and make a fabulous first impression!


If you have any favorite first impression tips, let us know!

Business Cards 101

March 4th, 2015

 LSPR-business cards-Los Angeles PR



Bad business cards are a pet peeve of mine.

When you go to a networking event or other occasion where you will meet people who will be of interest or benefit to your business, you will of course be exchanging business cards (yes – do NOT forget to have business cards with you at all times!).

But – you want to make sure that your business card has the necessary impact – and accomplishes everything you need. Your business card is a mini-presentation of you and your business. Make sure it is easy for people understand who you are, what your business is and how to contact you.

Here are some important tips:

1. Stock: Cards must be printed on quality, substantial matte finish card stock unless you are using a specialty paper. Flimsy card stock feels cheap.

2. Information: Your card needs to have the following information (as a minimum):

Your name

Your business name

Your contact information including office address, telephone number(s), website, Facebook & Twitter info (note – if you work from home, you may not want to include your address information)

Now, of course, any basic business card has that information. But what can you do to make yours stand out?

3. Logo: If it is appropriate for your business, make sure it has a well-designed graphic logo or a great-looking typographic logo made from your business name. Make sure that logo is PROMINENTLY featured on your card. This seems sort of obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people either don’t have a logo, or don’t position or feature it properly on cards and other materials.

A note about logo design and typography:

When you design or have a logo designed for your company that incorporates words (the name of the company or other words) MAKE VERY SURE that the words are legible (have at least 3 people look at it to make sure they know what it says; a good idea is to print your logo in the sizes you would normally see on a card, on a letterhead and on a web page.  Make sure that the font (type style) you use is legible – give it the same test. Again, this may seem obvious, but haven’t you ever been unable to decipher a logo or business name?

4. Your own name – most cards don’t have the name displayed prominently enough or in a large enough point size. That doesn’t make sense. When you connect with people at an event or meeting, they are connecting with YOU as much as your business; make sure that YOU are what they remember.

5. Card color – make sure that the color of the card or the design of the background is not so dark or so busy that the words are illegible.  Many networking events take place in ill-lit rooms, and there is no point to having a card if no one can read it.  Keep it simple!

For me, this is one of the most important things:

6. KEEP THE BACK BLANK and make sure it has a MATTE SURFACE. When I go to an event and collect a bunch of cards, the first thing I do is write any pertinent information on the back – the date I met the person or the name of the event (if relevant); what we talked about or what the next step is, i.e.: Small Business Meet Up 2/23/15 – send client list/set up coffee/call Monday re: meeting, etc.

Many people have business cards that are printed on a glossy card stock. This looks pretty and can have a nice visual impact, but – you can’t write on the back. Or, many people have a solid color printed on the back side; this can be a terrific-looking design element, but if the color is black or navy blue, again, you can’t write on the back.

7. Size: 99% of the time, it is important to have cards that are a standard size, or close. If cards are too big to fit into a card case or are an unusual shape, oftentimes they will be thrown away. If a card is too small, it can get lost.


If you are a designer, the rules are a little different for you, as your card is an introduction to your design skills, taste, creativity, etc. That said, I still think your card size and shape should be somewhere close to the norm for ease of networking. But you have more freedom in terms of card stock or specialty papers, shape and size of card, etc. However, I do think a designer can consider having 2 or more different cards; one that is suitable for networking events and one that is for handing out at business meetings or social gatherings where the design impact of the card is more important than its use as a networking tool.

Now get out there and hand out that gorgeous business card!


What’s your best business card tip or what’s your business card pet peeve? Let us know!

Hello Lizzy

April 24th, 2013


Old blog posts will return

February 16th, 2013

Our blog system is being rebuilt. Older blog posts and new posts will return to this page soon.