40% of Americans Use Cash Less Frequently in 2020

40% of Americans

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 40% of Americans say they use cashless frequently this year. This according to research data analysis by Comprar Acciones for the third quarter of 2020. When it comes to GenX the decrease in cash usage is down by 53% and it goes up to 64% for those with incomes higher than 150K.

Hardly surprising since more people are trying to limit their point of contact. For small businesses, this means implementing contactless payment solutions along with curbside and delivery services as part of their operations.

Finding the right balance of safety and convenience is key to keep customers happy and coming back. But the one constant is, the adoption rate of contactless payments is increasing.

Adoption Rate of Contactless Payments

In the report, more than one in six of the respondents said they made their first contactless payment after the pandemic started.

The highest adoption rate comes courtesy of Gen Z at 25% with millennials following at 23%. On the other hand, baby boomers came in at 10% with the lowest adoption rate. As far as existing users, 29% said they increased their usage during the pandemic. In this case, the highest users come from millennials at 40% and Gen X at 39%.

Globally, the segment is going to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% from 2020 to 2027. This is from the $1.06 trillion transaction value of contactless payments in 2019.

Countries around the world are also passing legislation to support the technology. According to the report, 48 countries increased spending limits on touchless transactions. This comes out to an average of 131% increase in transaction limits after the pandemic.

Another data point from the report is the growth of PayPal. The company experienced its strongest growth ever in payment volume during the past quarter. With a 36% YoY volume increase, PayPal reached $247 billion this quarter, up from $179 billion in Q3 2019. The 15 million new accounts also did not hurt, which now brings the total to 361 million.

Americans Use Cash Less

Payment Flexibility

The large growth of PayPal in the third quarter, as well as the number of people using contactless payment solutions, shows consumers want more ways to pay. As a small business, payment flexibility is key to staying competitive as we move from the pandemic.

Image: compraracciones.com

This article, "40% of Americans Use Cash Less Frequently in 2020" was first published on Small Business Trends



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40% of Americans Use Cash Less Frequently in 2020

40% of Americans

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 40% of Americans say they use cashless frequently this year. This according to research data analysis by Comprar Acciones for the third quarter of 2020. When it comes to GenX the decrease in cash usage is down by 53% and it goes up to 64% for those with incomes higher than 150K.

Hardly surprising since more people are trying to limit their point of contact. For small businesses, this means implementing contactless payment solutions along with curbside and delivery services as part of their operations.

Finding the right balance of safety and convenience is key to keep customers happy and coming back. But the one constant is, the adoption rate of contactless payments is increasing.

Adoption Rate of Contactless Payments

In the report, more than one in six of the respondents said they made their first contactless payment after the pandemic started.

The highest adoption rate comes courtesy of Gen Z at 25% with millennials following at 23%. On the other hand, baby boomers came in at 10% with the lowest adoption rate. As far as existing users, 29% said they increased their usage during the pandemic. In this case, the highest users come from millennials at 40% and Gen X at 39%.

Globally, the segment is going to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% from 2020 to 2027. This is from the $1.06 trillion transaction value of contactless payments in 2019.

Countries around the world are also passing legislation to support the technology. According to the report, 48 countries increased spending limits on touchless transactions. This comes out to an average of 131% increase in transaction limits after the pandemic.

Another data point from the report is the growth of PayPal. The company experienced its strongest growth ever in payment volume during the past quarter. With a 36% YoY volume increase, PayPal reached $247 billion this quarter, up from $179 billion in Q3 2019. The 15 million new accounts also did not hurt, which now brings the total to 361 million.

Americans Use Cash Less

Payment Flexibility

The large growth of PayPal in the third quarter, as well as the number of people using contactless payment solutions, shows consumers want more ways to pay. As a small business, payment flexibility is key to staying competitive as we move from the pandemic.

Image: compraracciones.com

This article, "40% of Americans Use Cash Less Frequently in 2020" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Income Tax Brackets for 2020 and 2021

return - income tax brackets

Knowing the federal income tax brackets for the 2020 and 2021 tax year can help you maximize tax savings and retain more of your hard-earned money. The U.S. has a progressive tax system, meaning the higher your taxable income, the higher your tax rate. The income tax rates go up in steps called tax brackets. There are seven brackets that apply to taxpayers’ ordinary income: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.

Each year the IRS makes inflation adjustments to increase the tax brackets. With each new year you can earn a bit more before being taxed at a higher tax rate.

Finding the tax bracket that applies to you depends on two pieces of information. First you must determine your filing status: individual, married filing jointly, married filing separately, and head of household. Second, it depends on your taxable income.

This article covers rates for tax returns for 2020 income (for returns due in 2021). Tax brackets and rates for 2021 (for returns due in 2022) are also included.

2020 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Rates

The following seven federal tax rates apply to tax returns due in April 2021.

Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 to $9,875 $0 to $19,750 $0 to $9,875 $0 to $14,100
12% $9,876 to $40,125 $19,751 to $80,250 $9,876 to $40,125 $14,101 to $53,700
22% $40,126 to $85,525 $80,251 to $171,050 $40,126 to $85,525 $53,701 to $85,500
24% $85,526 to $163,300 $171,051 to $326,600 $85,526 to $163,300 $85,501 to $163,300
32% $163,301 to $207,350
$326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350 $163,301 to $207,350
35% $207,351 to $518,400 $414,701 to $622,050 $207,351 to $311,025 $207,351 to $518,400
37% $518,401 or more $622,051 or more $311,026 or more $518,401 or more

Source: Internal Revenue Service

2021 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Rates

The following tax rates apply to tax returns due in April 2022.

2021 Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 to $9,950 $0 to $19,900 $0 to $9,950 $0 to $14,200
12% $9,951 to $40,525 $19,901 to $81,050 $9,951 to $40,525 $14,201 to $54,200
22% $40,526 to $86,375 $81,051 to $172,750 $40,526 to $86,375 $54,201 to $86,350
24% $86,376 to $164,925 $172,751 to $329,850 $86,376 to $164,925 $86,351 to $164,900
32% $164,926 to $209,425 $326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350 $164,901 to $209,400
35% $209,426 to $523,600 $418,851 to $628,300 $209,426 to $314,150 $209,401 to $523,600
37% $523,601 or more $628,301 or more $314,151 or more $523,601 or more

Source: IRS

Understanding How Tax Brackets Work

Our progressive tax system means we have different tax rates. It’s important to understand that tax brackets apply “up to” a certain level.

Every time you jump up an income bracket, you pay a higher rate on the portion of your earnings that is above that level — but only on that portion. For most people, parts of your earnings will be subject to several different brackets. Therefore, different chunks or portions of your taxable income will be taxed at different percentage rates.

Income Brackets Example

For example, if you are a single filer with a taxable income of $95,000, you would fall in the 24% bracket. However, if you merely multiplied .24 by all your taxable income you’d be paying too much.

Instead you are taxed at different rates in different brackets:

  • Part of your income will be subject to the lowest rate of 10%.
  • Some of it will be subject to 12%.
  • Another portion will be subject to 22%.
  • The remainder will be subject to 24% tax.

The higher your income, the higher your highest tax bracket and the higher your taxes. The following illustration shows how tax brackets work:

income tax brackets example

In our example, the taxpayer would owe $16,821 in federal income tax on a taxable income of $95,000 for the 2021 tax year. That works out to an effective rate of 17.7%.

Our example does not include any state income tax — that would be a separate calculation. Each state’s tax system is different and the state tax brackets will differ from the federal tax brackets. Moreover, some states have a flat rate, meaning all taxable income is taxed on the same percentage amount — there are no brackets. See state tax websites.

In addition, keep in mind that the above example does not include Social Security tax, Medicare tax or other taxes or withholding amounts.

Marginal Rate vs Effective Tax Rate

The marginal tax rate means the rate that some portion — even one dollar — of income is taxed.

When someone asks ‘what is your marginal rate?’ they usually mean what is the top federal income tax bracket you are in. Let’s say your highest bracket is 24%, as in our example above. Your marginal tax rate would be 24%.

In practice, most people pay an average tax rate that’s lower than the top tax bracket because it takes into account all the rates below it and blends them. This average rate you pay is also known as the “effective tax rate.” It means you don’t actually owe 24%; in effect you might pay 17.7%, as in our example.

The average income tax rate that middle-class Americans pay is 9.9%, and at least 40% of Americans effectively don’t pay any income taxes at all. With the Earned Income Credit some people can actually get back more than they paid to the IRS. Those people have a negative tax rate.

Strategies to Get into a Lower Tax Bracket

Some people are shocked to discover they are in a high tax bracket and want to know how to lower it.

To lower tax brackets, one way is to reduce your taxable income. You could make bigger contributions to retirement accounts to reduce taxable earnings and therefore your tax. With many types of accounts such as IRAs you can contribute all the way up to tax day (e.g., April 15th) and have it count.

Another strategy to lower tax brackets is to rack up more deduction amounts. Tax brackets apply to taxable income, not gross income. Deductions reduce your taxable income, and that can reduce the tax you owe and even put you into a lower bracket altogether.

Example 1: Let’s assume you fall into the 24% bracket. You claim deductions totaling $2,000. That could reduce your tax liability by up to $480. (2,000 x .24 = 480) This is a simplified example that assumes the entire $2,000 falls in the 24% bracket.

However, if you are close to a tax bracket cut off, the savings on taxes might be slightly less, as this demonstrates:

Example 2: If only $800 of your taxable income is in the 24% bracket, that would mean the other $1,200 is in the next lower bracket of 22%. In this case, your savings on taxes will be $456. You arrive at this number as follows:

  • Calculate the deduction on the amount in the 24% bracket: 800 x .24 = 192
  • Calculate the amount applicable to the 22% bracket: 1200 x .22 = 264
  • Add the results to get to the amount: 192 + 264 = 456

Be sure to differentiate deductions from tax credits. Credits reduce your final tax bill. However, credits do not impact your federal tax brackets. That said, credits may be more valuable when it comes to saving money on taxes. A credit reduces your final tax bill, dollar for dollar at the end.

Other 2021 Changes

If you take the standard deduction, the Internal Revenue Service has increased it for 2021 over 2020 levels by an additional $150 for individuals, head of household filers, and married couples filing separately. It goes up $300 for couples filing jointly. This deduction amount reduces taxable income for taxpayers, and can effectively put taxpayers in a lower income bracket. See more on the standard deduction.

Finally, remember that for 2020 and 2021 the personal exemption is $0 and no longer applies following passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The TCJA tax reform was designed to reduce federal taxes for consumers and businesses. The TCJA is temporary and 23 provisions of the tax code applicable to individuals are currently set to expire on December 31, 2025, unless extended. If they expire it will result in higher income taxes for individuals according to the Tax Foundation.

Small Business Owner Strategies

Small business owners often have a better opportunity to find and utilize deductions on their Schedule C or Subchapter-S business earnings than non-business owners. That’s because there are many more business deductions available than for personal returns.

Small business tax deductions reduce taxable income “passed through” to the personal tax return if the owner is a sole proprietor, or has an LLC or Subchapter-S election.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, small business tax software will help you calculate brackets and any amount you owe with a minimum of hassle.

Don’t Forget the Alternative Minimum Tax

If you are a higher earner or have a lot of capital gains, remember the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) may kick in and override the regular taxes calculation. Think of AMT as a “floor” that must be paid, regardless of how many deductions the taxpayer has.

The AMT has two rates (26% and 28%) versus the seven ordinary income tax brackets. However, you can claim an exemption against AMT, depending on filing status.

For the 2020 tax year (returns due in 2021) the AMT exemption amount is:

  • For single filers it is $72,900, and starts phasing out at $518,400.
  • For married couples filing jointly it is $113,400 and begins to phase out at $1,036,800.

For tax year 2021 (returns due in 2022), the AMT exemption amount is:

  • For single filers it is $73,600. But once AMT taxable income exceeds $523,600 the exemption begins to phase out.
  • For married couples filing jointly the exemption is $114,600 — and begins to phase out at $1,047,200.

Note how our system affects married couples. The joint filers tax rate is more advantageous than couples filing separately. However, in other ways couples can fare worse than an individual – a condition called the marriage penalty. Finally, be sure not to confuse head of household status, which is for people such as brothers or children who provide more than half the support for others in the house.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, "Income Tax Brackets for 2020 and 2021" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Income Tax Brackets for 2020 and 2021

return - income tax brackets

Knowing the federal income tax brackets for the 2020 and 2021 tax year can help you maximize tax savings and retain more of your hard-earned money. The U.S. has a progressive tax system, meaning the higher your taxable income, the higher your tax rate. The income tax rates go up in steps called tax brackets. There are seven brackets that apply to taxpayers’ ordinary income: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.

Each year the IRS makes inflation adjustments to increase the tax brackets. With each new year you can earn a bit more before being taxed at a higher tax rate.

Finding the tax bracket that applies to you depends on two pieces of information. First you must determine your filing status: individual, married filing jointly, married filing separately, and head of household. Second, it depends on your taxable income.

This article covers rates for tax returns for 2020 income (for returns due in 2021). Tax brackets and rates for 2021 (for returns due in 2022) are also included.

2020 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Rates

The following seven federal tax rates apply to tax returns due in April 2021.

Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 to $9,875 $0 to $19,750 $0 to $9,875 $0 to $14,100
12% $9,876 to $40,125 $19,751 to $80,250 $9,876 to $40,125 $14,101 to $53,700
22% $40,126 to $85,525 $80,251 to $171,050 $40,126 to $85,525 $53,701 to $85,500
24% $85,526 to $163,300 $171,051 to $326,600 $85,526 to $163,300 $85,501 to $163,300
32% $163,301 to $207,350
$326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350 $163,301 to $207,350
35% $207,351 to $518,400 $414,701 to $622,050 $207,351 to $311,025 $207,351 to $518,400
37% $518,401 or more $622,051 or more $311,026 or more $518,401 or more

Source: Internal Revenue Service

2021 Federal Income Tax Brackets and Rates

The following tax rates apply to tax returns due in April 2022.

2021 Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 to $9,950 $0 to $19,900 $0 to $9,950 $0 to $14,200
12% $9,951 to $40,525 $19,901 to $81,050 $9,951 to $40,525 $14,201 to $54,200
22% $40,526 to $86,375 $81,051 to $172,750 $40,526 to $86,375 $54,201 to $86,350
24% $86,376 to $164,925 $172,751 to $329,850 $86,376 to $164,925 $86,351 to $164,900
32% $164,926 to $209,425 $326,601 to $414,700 $163,301 to $207,350 $164,901 to $209,400
35% $209,426 to $523,600 $418,851 to $628,300 $209,426 to $314,150 $209,401 to $523,600
37% $523,601 or more $628,301 or more $314,151 or more $523,601 or more

Source: IRS

Understanding How Tax Brackets Work

Our progressive tax system means we have different tax rates. It’s important to understand that tax brackets apply “up to” a certain level.

Every time you jump up an income bracket, you pay a higher rate on the portion of your earnings that is above that level — but only on that portion. For most people, parts of your earnings will be subject to several different brackets. Therefore, different chunks or portions of your taxable income will be taxed at different percentage rates.

Income Brackets Example

For example, if you are a single filer with a taxable income of $95,000, you would fall in the 24% bracket. However, if you merely multiplied .24 by all your taxable income you’d be paying too much.

Instead you are taxed at different rates in different brackets:

  • Part of your income will be subject to the lowest rate of 10%.
  • Some of it will be subject to 12%.
  • Another portion will be subject to 22%.
  • The remainder will be subject to 24% tax.

The higher your income, the higher your highest tax bracket and the higher your taxes. The following illustration shows how tax brackets work:

income tax brackets example

In our example, the taxpayer would owe $16,821 in federal income tax on a taxable income of $95,000 for the 2021 tax year. That works out to an effective rate of 17.7%.

Our example does not include any state income tax — that would be a separate calculation. Each state’s tax system is different and the state tax brackets will differ from the federal tax brackets. Moreover, some states have a flat rate, meaning all taxable income is taxed on the same percentage amount — there are no brackets. See state tax websites.

In addition, keep in mind that the above example does not include Social Security tax, Medicare tax or other taxes or withholding amounts.

Marginal Rate vs Effective Tax Rate

The marginal tax rate means the rate that some portion — even one dollar — of income is taxed.

When someone asks ‘what is your marginal rate?’ they usually mean what is the top federal income tax bracket you are in. Let’s say your highest bracket is 24%, as in our example above. Your marginal tax rate would be 24%.

In practice, most people pay an average tax rate that’s lower than the top tax bracket because it takes into account all the rates below it and blends them. This average rate you pay is also known as the “effective tax rate.” It means you don’t actually owe 24%; in effect you might pay 17.7%, as in our example.

The average income tax rate that middle-class Americans pay is 9.9%, and at least 40% of Americans effectively don’t pay any income taxes at all. With the Earned Income Credit some people can actually get back more than they paid to the IRS. Those people have a negative tax rate.

Strategies to Get into a Lower Tax Bracket

Some people are shocked to discover they are in a high tax bracket and want to know how to lower it.

To lower tax brackets, one way is to reduce your taxable income. You could make bigger contributions to retirement accounts to reduce taxable earnings and therefore your tax. With many types of accounts such as IRAs you can contribute all the way up to tax day (e.g., April 15th) and have it count.

Another strategy to lower tax brackets is to rack up more deduction amounts. Tax brackets apply to taxable income, not gross income. Deductions reduce your taxable income, and that can reduce the tax you owe and even put you into a lower bracket altogether.

Example 1: Let’s assume you fall into the 24% bracket. You claim deductions totaling $2,000. That could reduce your tax liability by up to $480. (2,000 x .24 = 480) This is a simplified example that assumes the entire $2,000 falls in the 24% bracket.

However, if you are close to a tax bracket cut off, the savings on taxes might be slightly less, as this demonstrates:

Example 2: If only $800 of your taxable income is in the 24% bracket, that would mean the other $1,200 is in the next lower bracket of 22%. In this case, your savings on taxes will be $456. You arrive at this number as follows:

  • Calculate the deduction on the amount in the 24% bracket: 800 x .24 = 192
  • Calculate the amount applicable to the 22% bracket: 1200 x .22 = 264
  • Add the results to get to the amount: 192 + 264 = 456

Be sure to differentiate deductions from tax credits. Credits reduce your final tax bill. However, credits do not impact your federal tax brackets. That said, credits may be more valuable when it comes to saving money on taxes. A credit reduces your final tax bill, dollar for dollar at the end.

Other 2021 Changes

If you take the standard deduction, the Internal Revenue Service has increased it for 2021 over 2020 levels by an additional $150 for individuals, head of household filers, and married couples filing separately. It goes up $300 for couples filing jointly. This deduction amount reduces taxable income for taxpayers, and can effectively put taxpayers in a lower income bracket. See more on the standard deduction.

Finally, remember that for 2020 and 2021 the personal exemption is $0 and no longer applies following passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The TCJA tax reform was designed to reduce federal taxes for consumers and businesses. The TCJA is temporary and 23 provisions of the tax code applicable to individuals are currently set to expire on December 31, 2025, unless extended. If they expire it will result in higher income taxes for individuals according to the Tax Foundation.

Small Business Owner Strategies

Small business owners often have a better opportunity to find and utilize deductions on their Schedule C or Subchapter-S business earnings than non-business owners. That’s because there are many more business deductions available than for personal returns.

Small business tax deductions reduce taxable income “passed through” to the personal tax return if the owner is a sole proprietor, or has an LLC or Subchapter-S election.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, small business tax software will help you calculate brackets and any amount you owe with a minimum of hassle.

Don’t Forget the Alternative Minimum Tax

If you are a higher earner or have a lot of capital gains, remember the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) may kick in and override the regular taxes calculation. Think of AMT as a “floor” that must be paid, regardless of how many deductions the taxpayer has.

The AMT has two rates (26% and 28%) versus the seven ordinary income tax brackets. However, you can claim an exemption against AMT, depending on filing status.

For the 2020 tax year (returns due in 2021) the AMT exemption amount is:

  • For single filers it is $72,900, and starts phasing out at $518,400.
  • For married couples filing jointly it is $113,400 and begins to phase out at $1,036,800.

For tax year 2021 (returns due in 2022), the AMT exemption amount is:

  • For single filers it is $73,600. But once AMT taxable income exceeds $523,600 the exemption begins to phase out.
  • For married couples filing jointly the exemption is $114,600 — and begins to phase out at $1,047,200.

Note how our system affects married couples. The joint filers tax rate is more advantageous than couples filing separately. However, in other ways couples can fare worse than an individual – a condition called the marriage penalty. Finally, be sure not to confuse head of household status, which is for people such as brothers or children who provide more than half the support for others in the house.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, "Income Tax Brackets for 2020 and 2021" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

How to Create a Media List that Gets Publicity

Media List to Get Publicity

A good media list helps you bring your company news to the attention of journalists and get publicity. After all, if you are sending out a press release or PR pitch, you want to target the right audience. Below, we show you how to create a media list — one targeting the right people — in 5 easy steps.

What is a Media List?

A media list consists of media contacts from news outlets, magazines and online publications — and specifically ones that attract your potential customers. It contains names, email addresses and other information. Some call it a press list or media contact list.

Why do you need a list? Suppose you are issuing an announcement of a new product, grand opening or other news. With a list you know where to send your news. Most people do individual outreach using their list, and also send releases out over the wire using press release distribution sites.

Buy or Create Your Own Media List?

PR pros may need lengthy lists having hundreds or thousands of names and email addresses. It’s possible to purchase media lists — something those in large enterprises might want to consider — using one of the PR tools below.

However, for local small businesses, media lists are often short, sometimes just a dozen contacts. For a small list it is better to create your own so you can target it better. Quality is more important than quantity.

5 Steps to Create a Media List

Here are five simple steps to create a media list. Start by identifying the market you hope to reach with your news. Then identify the media contacts. Next, set up a spreadsheet. Then gather all contact details and other information. Add notes and update your list from time to time. Let’s dig into the details:

1. Define Your Target Audience

The first step to creating a media contacts list is to define the type of people you want to reach with your company news. These will include potential buyers of your products or services, or those who influence purchasing decisions.

For example, suppose you operate a local family restaurant and you have an amazing new menu to publicize. Your target audience might be local residents within a 25-mile radius who like to dine out and have disposable income.

For example number two, let’s say your business sells financial software. Your ideal customer is a finance manager or someone in an accounting firm. Your target market will be national in scope, consisting of business people with a need for finance software.

Do you see how different each target is? They consume different types of media so your outreach plan must be tailored.

Pro tip: if you’ve previously set up buyer personas describing location, demographic profile, interests and the types of media they consume — those personas will be helpful here.

2. Identify Journalists and Media Outlets

Step 2 is where you identify the media outlets likely to reach your targets. You also need to identify the members of the media (journalists, editors) to add.

    • Identify the media outlet. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and find media publications and news outlets that your target buyer typically frequents. Do the outlets cover content similar to your news? Have they given coverage to competitors? How big is their readership? Pick relevant choices so you don’t waste your time.
    • Find the right person in the media outlet. Search for a journalist who covers your beat. What kind of content do they cover? Do they write stories that would get your target’s attention?

Let’s look at our two examples again to illustrate what to look for.

Example 1 – a local restaurant: Wouldn’t it be great to get a story in the food or lifestyle sections of local newspapers? Local news sites such as Patch or Coal Region Canary are another type of outlet to target. Finally, don’t forget local food blogs, e.g. Philly Food Adventures. For a local business, location is super important.

Example 2 – a finance software firm: Look for business magazine sites that accountants read. Search for trade publications serving the accounting industry or websites that review software tools. Industry sector or niche is more important than the location of the media outlet in this example.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to add outlets to your media contacts list. Local media and trade pubs are always in need of a story and willing to review PR pitches and press releases.

3. Decide on a List Format

For this step, the simplest way to set up a contact list is to create a spreadsheet or Word doc with columns. Include the name of each contact and how to reach them.

Make sure to include more than names and contact information. How much detail you need depends on your role. PR professionals who represent many clients will want more detail, covering information such as industry and location. But the marketing manager in a small company might not, for example, need to specify location because all its media contacts would be local.

Add notes about the types of press releases or media pitches that might be most successful with each reporter.

Save time by starting with a template (see our free version below).

4. Begin Adding Contact Information

The next step is to find and enter information for the media contacts. Search for bylines to identify writers as you read publications in your industry. When you see a writer’s name on articles you like, add it. You may find some on Twitter, which attracts a lot of media people. Some media representatives may contact you to get on your list.

Keep it targeted. Remember, a high-quality list of a handful of the right people is better for public relations than thousands of media contacts who can’t get you in front of your target audience.

You will be emailing your contacts individually, so all should be worth your time, not just filling up rows on a spreadsheet. After a few days take a second pass and remove any media contacts if you don’t think they can help you reach your goals.

5. Update Your Media List Regularly

The final step is to update your list regularly so it will be ready the next time you need it. Think of your media list as a work in progress.

Add new media contacts, of course. Periodically cleanse your list. Remove outdated media contacts such as when reporters or editors move on.

Note when you had a great experience from a story. This helps you focus on media list contacts who are more receptive to your pitches.

What Information Goes on a Media List?

The information on a media list should include contact details necessary to reach out to reporters, editors and bloggers with fields for:

  • Name of news outlet, media publication or blog site
  • Website  URL
  • Journalist name
  • Job title
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Subjects covered or “beats”
  • Notes

Keep your list lean. The temptation is to collect too much information, needlessly inflating your workload. For example, are the social profiles of your media contacts really necessary to send a story idea or press release? Also, you will likely pitch a story via email so a phone number is optional, at best.

Tools, Templates And Examples

Templates and software tools make the public relations process easier and more efficient. You could search the web for media list examples but it would be easier to start with our free template.

Free Media List Template

Use this free list template to enter your own contact details and manage your public relations operations more effectively.

media list template

It is a Google Doc (and can be downloaded to Excel). You can add columns or customize them to suit your needs when creating a contact list.

Free Downloadable List Template

Media List Building Tools

These software tools help you identify media contact information and build your media list.

Prowly offers PR and media relations software to help you compile media contacts. Prowly helps build your media list and create media pitches. Prowly is best if you do a lot of PR and need to develop extensive media lists. A basic plan starts at $179 per month.

Muck Rack makes public relations software providing a database of journalists. There are also tools to track news about your brand. You can also use Muck Rack to create reports about your success. Muck Rack is a paid service with pricing available upon request.

PressRush provides a journalist database you can mine for contact information and a tool to create media lists. Plans start at $49 per month. It is cheaper than Prowly but also a bit different.

Anewstip is a simple but pricy tool to locate press representatives and media outlets based on what they write or Tweet. The tool draws from more than 200 million articles, 1 billion Tweets and 1 million media contacts. A free option offers no real contact information or ability to pitch. A standard plan starts at $200 a month.

Hunter.io is a simple tool giving access to email addresses — helpful for locating contact information to put in your media lists. It has free and paid options beginning at $49 per month.

Anymail Finder offers a similar email search function to Hunter.io at a similar price — $49 per month to start. However, the tool boasts that you only pay for “verified” emails.

Voila Norbert is an email address search tool that offers the first 50 searches for free so you can try before you buy. After this, fees begin at $49 per month.

LinkedIn, the social networking platform, offers an easy way to find media contacts and outlets.

Twitter is another social media channel that has long been a favorite of media people. Why not use Twitter as a method of collecting a contact list of journalists as well?

Google is a no-brainer. Use Google search tools to locate media contacts. Media sites feature staff pages with contact information. Find the person’s name. Then search for the name along with the word “email” to find their address.

SimilarWeb is a competitive intelligence platform that analyzes website traffic. SimilarWeb helps you locate websites ranking for the right keyword and their traffic levels, so you know where to send your media pitch.

How Do You Develop Media Contacts?

Great PR involves more than a spreadsheet, wide distribution of a press release, or a clever story pitch. Good media relations are essential.

Make an investment in a relationship with key media contacts. Here are tips for making the most of media contacts:

  • Know your people. Know the main story interests of every contact on your media list. Nothing sours a media relationship faster than receiving an irrelevant media pitch where the PR person hasn’t even read your content.
  • Include a personal touch. Personalize communications with names. Pick a conversation starter with every contact. Ask about family or vacations if they’ve come up in conversation before. Nobody in the media wants to feel like they are only one of a hundred people on a mailing list.
  • Use CRM. Customer relationship management software does more than save time. It can help you nurture relationships. The right tools help you manage media relations by keeping track of personal details, your last conversation with people, etc. for key contacts on your media lists.

Should I Include Social Influencers on a Media List?

Include bloggers, influencers and podcasters in your PR strategy. One influencer with an Instagram following can spark wide discussions in your market. Some people keep a separate social network influencer list, but it’s perfectly fine to add them as media contacts in order to track them.

You don’t necessarily need to send a press release to these individuals. Engaging contacts in conversation can be more effective. Bloggers may be more receptive than reporters to story ideas, but research the blogger first to determine how they respond to story pitches for their blogs.

Do I Really Need a List of Media Contacts (can I Use HARO Instead)?

Platforms like HARO do not take the place of having your own contact list for PR. A reporter writing a story uses HARO, or an alternative we like better called Qwoted, to seek out expert sources on topics. When you subscribe as a potential source you get notified of media requests, but you have to watch your inbox and respond fast.

As useful as such PR tools are, they are limited. They put media people in control of the topics the articles are about. The beauty of your own press list is that instead of waiting for media people to contact you, you are in control. You are the one to contact press people and shape the PR about your brand.

###

In conclusion, a contact list is worth its weight in gold. A list accelerates the story pitching process. When you have all contact details at hand, you are always ready for PR outreach.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Create a Media List that Gets Publicity" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How to Create a Media List that Gets Publicity

Media List to Get Publicity

A good media list helps you bring your company news to the attention of journalists and get publicity. After all, if you are sending out a press release or PR pitch, you want to target the right audience. Below, we show you how to create a media list — one targeting the right people — in 5 easy steps.

What is a Media List?

A media list consists of media contacts from news outlets, magazines and online publications — and specifically ones that attract your potential customers. It contains names, email addresses and other information. Some call it a press list or media contact list.

Why do you need a list? Suppose you are issuing an announcement of a new product, grand opening or other news. With a list you know where to send your news. Most people do individual outreach using their list, and also send releases out over the wire using press release distribution sites.

Buy or Create Your Own Media List?

PR pros may need lengthy lists having hundreds or thousands of names and email addresses. It’s possible to purchase media lists — something those in large enterprises might want to consider — using one of the PR tools below.

However, for local small businesses, media lists are often short, sometimes just a dozen contacts. For a small list it is better to create your own so you can target it better. Quality is more important than quantity.

5 Steps to Create a Media List

Here are five simple steps to create a media list. Start by identifying the market you hope to reach with your news. Then identify the media contacts. Next, set up a spreadsheet. Then gather all contact details and other information. Add notes and update your list from time to time. Let’s dig into the details:

1. Define Your Target Audience

The first step to creating a media contacts list is to define the type of people you want to reach with your company news. These will include potential buyers of your products or services, or those who influence purchasing decisions.

For example, suppose you operate a local family restaurant and you have an amazing new menu to publicize. Your target audience might be local residents within a 25-mile radius who like to dine out and have disposable income.

For example number two, let’s say your business sells financial software. Your ideal customer is a finance manager or someone in an accounting firm. Your target market will be national in scope, consisting of business people with a need for finance software.

Do you see how different each target is? They consume different types of media so your outreach plan must be tailored.

Pro tip: if you’ve previously set up buyer personas describing location, demographic profile, interests and the types of media they consume — those personas will be helpful here.

2. Identify Journalists and Media Outlets

Step 2 is where you identify the media outlets likely to reach your targets. You also need to identify the members of the media (journalists, editors) to add.

    • Identify the media outlet. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and find media publications and news outlets that your target buyer typically frequents. Do the outlets cover content similar to your news? Have they given coverage to competitors? How big is their readership? Pick relevant choices so you don’t waste your time.
    • Find the right person in the media outlet. Search for a journalist who covers your beat. What kind of content do they cover? Do they write stories that would get your target’s attention?

Let’s look at our two examples again to illustrate what to look for.

Example 1 – a local restaurant: Wouldn’t it be great to get a story in the food or lifestyle sections of local newspapers? Local news sites such as Patch or Coal Region Canary are another type of outlet to target. Finally, don’t forget local food blogs, e.g. Philly Food Adventures. For a local business, location is super important.

Example 2 – a finance software firm: Look for business magazine sites that accountants read. Search for trade publications serving the accounting industry or websites that review software tools. Industry sector or niche is more important than the location of the media outlet in this example.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to add outlets to your media contacts list. Local media and trade pubs are always in need of a story and willing to review PR pitches and press releases.

3. Decide on a List Format

For this step, the simplest way to set up a contact list is to create a spreadsheet or Word doc with columns. Include the name of each contact and how to reach them.

Make sure to include more than names and contact information. How much detail you need depends on your role. PR professionals who represent many clients will want more detail, covering information such as industry and location. But the marketing manager in a small company might not, for example, need to specify location because all its media contacts would be local.

Add notes about the types of press releases or media pitches that might be most successful with each reporter.

Save time by starting with a template (see our free version below).

4. Begin Adding Contact Information

The next step is to find and enter information for the media contacts. Search for bylines to identify writers as you read publications in your industry. When you see a writer’s name on articles you like, add it. You may find some on Twitter, which attracts a lot of media people. Some media representatives may contact you to get on your list.

Keep it targeted. Remember, a high-quality list of a handful of the right people is better for public relations than thousands of media contacts who can’t get you in front of your target audience.

You will be emailing your contacts individually, so all should be worth your time, not just filling up rows on a spreadsheet. After a few days take a second pass and remove any media contacts if you don’t think they can help you reach your goals.

5. Update Your Media List Regularly

The final step is to update your list regularly so it will be ready the next time you need it. Think of your media list as a work in progress.

Add new media contacts, of course. Periodically cleanse your list. Remove outdated media contacts such as when reporters or editors move on.

Note when you had a great experience from a story. This helps you focus on media list contacts who are more receptive to your pitches.

What Information Goes on a Media List?

The information on a media list should include contact details necessary to reach out to reporters, editors and bloggers with fields for:

  • Name of news outlet, media publication or blog site
  • Website  URL
  • Journalist name
  • Job title
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Subjects covered or “beats”
  • Notes

Keep your list lean. The temptation is to collect too much information, needlessly inflating your workload. For example, are the social profiles of your media contacts really necessary to send a story idea or press release? Also, you will likely pitch a story via email so a phone number is optional, at best.

Tools, Templates And Examples

Templates and software tools make the public relations process easier and more efficient. You could search the web for media list examples but it would be easier to start with our free template.

Free Media List Template

Use this free list template to enter your own contact details and manage your public relations operations more effectively.

media list template

It is a Google Doc (and can be downloaded to Excel). You can add columns or customize them to suit your needs when creating a contact list.

Free Downloadable List Template

Media List Building Tools

These software tools help you identify media contact information and build your media list.

Prowly offers PR and media relations software to help you compile media contacts. Prowly helps build your media list and create media pitches. Prowly is best if you do a lot of PR and need to develop extensive media lists. A basic plan starts at $179 per month.

Muck Rack makes public relations software providing a database of journalists. There are also tools to track news about your brand. You can also use Muck Rack to create reports about your success. Muck Rack is a paid service with pricing available upon request.

PressRush provides a journalist database you can mine for contact information and a tool to create media lists. Plans start at $49 per month. It is cheaper than Prowly but also a bit different.

Anewstip is a simple but pricy tool to locate press representatives and media outlets based on what they write or Tweet. The tool draws from more than 200 million articles, 1 billion Tweets and 1 million media contacts. A free option offers no real contact information or ability to pitch. A standard plan starts at $200 a month.

Hunter.io is a simple tool giving access to email addresses — helpful for locating contact information to put in your media lists. It has free and paid options beginning at $49 per month.

Anymail Finder offers a similar email search function to Hunter.io at a similar price — $49 per month to start. However, the tool boasts that you only pay for “verified” emails.

Voila Norbert is an email address search tool that offers the first 50 searches for free so you can try before you buy. After this, fees begin at $49 per month.

LinkedIn, the social networking platform, offers an easy way to find media contacts and outlets.

Twitter is another social media channel that has long been a favorite of media people. Why not use Twitter as a method of collecting a contact list of journalists as well?

Google is a no-brainer. Use Google search tools to locate media contacts. Media sites feature staff pages with contact information. Find the person’s name. Then search for the name along with the word “email” to find their address.

SimilarWeb is a competitive intelligence platform that analyzes website traffic. SimilarWeb helps you locate websites ranking for the right keyword and their traffic levels, so you know where to send your media pitch.

How Do You Develop Media Contacts?

Great PR involves more than a spreadsheet, wide distribution of a press release, or a clever story pitch. Good media relations are essential.

Make an investment in a relationship with key media contacts. Here are tips for making the most of media contacts:

  • Know your people. Know the main story interests of every contact on your media list. Nothing sours a media relationship faster than receiving an irrelevant media pitch where the PR person hasn’t even read your content.
  • Include a personal touch. Personalize communications with names. Pick a conversation starter with every contact. Ask about family or vacations if they’ve come up in conversation before. Nobody in the media wants to feel like they are only one of a hundred people on a mailing list.
  • Use CRM. Customer relationship management software does more than save time. It can help you nurture relationships. The right tools help you manage media relations by keeping track of personal details, your last conversation with people, etc. for key contacts on your media lists.

Should I Include Social Influencers on a Media List?

Include bloggers, influencers and podcasters in your PR strategy. One influencer with an Instagram following can spark wide discussions in your market. Some people keep a separate social network influencer list, but it’s perfectly fine to add them as media contacts in order to track them.

You don’t necessarily need to send a press release to these individuals. Engaging contacts in conversation can be more effective. Bloggers may be more receptive than reporters to story ideas, but research the blogger first to determine how they respond to story pitches for their blogs.

Do I Really Need a List of Media Contacts (can I Use HARO Instead)?

Platforms like HARO do not take the place of having your own contact list for PR. A reporter writing a story uses HARO, or an alternative we like better called Qwoted, to seek out expert sources on topics. When you subscribe as a potential source you get notified of media requests, but you have to watch your inbox and respond fast.

As useful as such PR tools are, they are limited. They put media people in control of the topics the articles are about. The beauty of your own press list is that instead of waiting for media people to contact you, you are in control. You are the one to contact press people and shape the PR about your brand.

###

In conclusion, a contact list is worth its weight in gold. A list accelerates the story pitching process. When you have all contact details at hand, you are always ready for PR outreach.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Create a Media List that Gets Publicity" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Small Businesses Need No-Strings-Attached Access to Funds — Here’s a Smart Option

Sponsored Post

Square Business Debit Card

The pandemic has had a profound effect on small businesses across the country. Seven months after the onset, resilient businesses have slowly begun accepting customers back into their shops, but things are by no means back to normal. Fewer customers and tighter local restrictions means less sales, with three-quarters of small businesses reporting that COVID-19 has caused revenues to dip. The lack of normal sales activity is exacerbating the delicate cash flow balance small businesses must regularly strike — a balance that was already out of sync from regional lockdowns in spring.

Now more than ever, small businesses need easy access to money in a way that doesn’t incur debt. Business debit cards are a great option for small businesses to easily access funds while avoiding borrowing cash.

The Pros of a Business Debit Card

Business debit cards come with a host of advantages, particularly for small business owners who are trying to better manage their finances.

The first benefit business debit cards hold over credit cards is the ease in actually obtaining one. These types of cards are easy to qualify for, and the process for receiving approval is often more expedited than applying for a credit card, given that business debit cards do not require a personal credit history check.

Aside from the convenience factor, business debit cards can be a great tool to help you manage your budget more easily. That’s because, when making a purchase with a business debit card, the money is drawn directly from your account — meaning you can only spend funds that you have available and don’t have to worry about paying off a balance or accruing debt. This also means that you never have to worry about interest accruing on past purchases.

How Square Card Offers Even More Benefits

For businesses that use Square to process payments, Square Card takes the business debit card to the next level and represents a smart option for business owners seeking an easy, straightforward way to manage cash flow.

A business’s Square Card links directly to their Square Balance, where sales they process via Square are stored. This enables instant access to sales funds, rather than waiting a day or more for earnings to transfer to an external business checking account, at no extra cost. This is especially beneficial right now, as 91% of Main Street small businesses are interested in real-time settlement of their merchant funds to combat cash flow shortages brought about by current economic conditions.

Like a regular business debit card, Square Card only allows you to spend money you have. However, unlike typical business accounts, Square Card holders are able to easily and instantly add funds to their Square Balance using an outside debit card, making cash management more efficient while ensuring business owners can cover expenses regardless of their sales that day. For example, if you’re looking to make a bulk order of supplies or products but don’t have enough funds in your balance, simply use a separate debit card to add the difference to your Square Balance immediately. What’s more, Square Card holders can see all of their transactions–including sales, transfers, and business expenses purchased via their card–in one place, giving small business owners an easier, more holistic view of their finances.

Business owners can sign-up easily online for Square Card once they’ve signed up for Square Payments. As soon as a card is ordered,  it can be used digitally right away via Apple Pay or Google Wallet while the card is shipped in the mail. Another added perk: Square Card has no annual fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, or any other recurring fees.

A Smart Choice Moving Forward

A Square Card can help business owners get an immediate grip on their cash flow and provide peace of mind when unexpected expenses arise — relief that many small businesses need right now. It’s also a smart option for the future, providing small businesses with an easy path toward keeping their personal and business finances separate. Ensuring that personal and business finances don’t intermingle will benefit business owners in the long run and make necessary tasks like tax filings and bookkeeping more seamless.

Image: Square

This article, "Small Businesses Need No-Strings-Attached Access to Funds — Here’s a Smart Option" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Small Businesses Need No-Strings-Attached Access to Funds — Here’s a Smart Option

Sponsored Post

Square Business Debit Card

The pandemic has had a profound effect on small businesses across the country. Seven months after the onset, resilient businesses have slowly begun accepting customers back into their shops, but things are by no means back to normal. Fewer customers and tighter local restrictions means less sales, with three-quarters of small businesses reporting that COVID-19 has caused revenues to dip. The lack of normal sales activity is exacerbating the delicate cash flow balance small businesses must regularly strike — a balance that was already out of sync from regional lockdowns in spring.

Now more than ever, small businesses need easy access to money in a way that doesn’t incur debt. Business debit cards are a great option for small businesses to easily access funds while avoiding borrowing cash.

The Pros of a Business Debit Card

Business debit cards come with a host of advantages, particularly for small business owners who are trying to better manage their finances.

The first benefit business debit cards hold over credit cards is the ease in actually obtaining one. These types of cards are easy to qualify for, and the process for receiving approval is often more expedited than applying for a credit card, given that business debit cards do not require a personal credit history check.

Aside from the convenience factor, business debit cards can be a great tool to help you manage your budget more easily. That’s because, when making a purchase with a business debit card, the money is drawn directly from your account — meaning you can only spend funds that you have available and don’t have to worry about paying off a balance or accruing debt. This also means that you never have to worry about interest accruing on past purchases.

How Square Card Offers Even More Benefits

For businesses that use Square to process payments, Square Card takes the business debit card to the next level and represents a smart option for business owners seeking an easy, straightforward way to manage cash flow.

A business’s Square Card links directly to their Square Balance, where sales they process via Square are stored. This enables instant access to sales funds, rather than waiting a day or more for earnings to transfer to an external business checking account, at no extra cost. This is especially beneficial right now, as 91% of Main Street small businesses are interested in real-time settlement of their merchant funds to combat cash flow shortages brought about by current economic conditions.

Like a regular business debit card, Square Card only allows you to spend money you have. However, unlike typical business accounts, Square Card holders are able to easily and instantly add funds to their Square Balance using an outside debit card, making cash management more efficient while ensuring business owners can cover expenses regardless of their sales that day. For example, if you’re looking to make a bulk order of supplies or products but don’t have enough funds in your balance, simply use a separate debit card to add the difference to your Square Balance immediately. What’s more, Square Card holders can see all of their transactions–including sales, transfers, and business expenses purchased via their card–in one place, giving small business owners an easier, more holistic view of their finances.

Business owners can sign-up easily online for Square Card once they’ve signed up for Square Payments. As soon as a card is ordered,  it can be used digitally right away via Apple Pay or Google Wallet while the card is shipped in the mail. Another added perk: Square Card has no annual fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, or any other recurring fees.

A Smart Choice Moving Forward

A Square Card can help business owners get an immediate grip on their cash flow and provide peace of mind when unexpected expenses arise — relief that many small businesses need right now. It’s also a smart option for the future, providing small businesses with an easy path toward keeping their personal and business finances separate. Ensuring that personal and business finances don’t intermingle will benefit business owners in the long run and make necessary tasks like tax filings and bookkeeping more seamless.

Image: Square

This article, "Small Businesses Need No-Strings-Attached Access to Funds — Here’s a Smart Option" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds