Examining the Top 3 Mistakes Writers Make
For the first time in quite a while I’ve been dealing with dreaded writer’s block. Getting my jumble of thoughts down on the page, whether for work or pleasure, has never been a problem for me. Many in the marketing industry would consider this a luxury.
With the launch of our newsletter a few months ago, I was supposed to have a blog post ready to go last week. But last week was different in every aspect. The tumultuous (and I must say disappointing) election results, paired with a new puppy and a back injury really had my head spinning. None of these are good excuses because we work off an editorial calendar assigning various content topics to the team. Editorial calendars ensure our topics touch on popular trends, current events and news updates so that all readers can relate.
In trudging through this page, I’ve examined what went wrong last week, contributing to my lack of inspiration:
Mistake #1: Failing to Review Editorial Calendar or Other Inspiring Material.
I’m not even sure if our calendar followed suit by incorporating election coverage because here’s the thing — I didn’t look at it. I knew the blog post needed to align with the election so why even take the time to review the calendar? I am a rule breaker and that’s what keeps me creative, right? Wrong. Its a lame excuse for being lazy.
Opening a list of ideas to write about is never a bad thing. Same with reviewing inspiring material frequently. Great work — whether in the form of literature, blog or podcast — is meant to get your wheels in motion, your head spinning, your ideas flowing. Consume it at all costs!
Mistake #2: Having Unrealistic Expectations.
I guess I did represent a confused flurry of un-channeled thoughts last week (which democrat didn’t?). But I was placing too much importance on my ideas, believing I had to write the most monumental thing in the most monumental way. Who do I think I am, Maya Angelo?
When you start to feel your heart racing and hands sweating, pondering how well your words will be digested, it’s a cue to get over yourself. Fire that highly narcissistic stage manager mother who has been directing the show inside your head. The stakes might be higher for some, but in my case I know that only 3 people are reading my work anyways!
Mistake #3: Requiring Perfect Prose.
Timid writers need to simply get their words out on the page. Editing while writing is a very bad habit that needs to be broken immediately. Realize that nothing is perfect, especially first drafts! The hardest part is simply getting going, but once a solid stream of consciousness emerges its hard to turn it off. Get it all out on the page (this is the magical act of real writing) and worry about how it reads later (this is the fine-tuning, and still brilliant work, of editing). It’s much less intimidating to open up a full page that still needs hours of work than sit down in front of a blank screen.
In summary, we all have hard days, hard months, even hard lives. Pausing long enough to nurture ourselves through pain and then setting our fears aside, not overthinking our role and getting straight to work will bring new opportunities. Art, growth, success — all emerge from an original place of suffering which brings the writer her most successful currency in words.
Featured image by Florian Klauer via Unsplash
Last weekend I went to a barbecue at a friend’s house. No, I didn’t just want to write that down. The week before the barbecue, I got a Facebook notification that I, along with twenty or so others, was invited. Tapping on the notification shot me right to the event page — beautifully done. One week before a barbecue for a handful of 22 year-olds, and there was a Facebook page with a creative title for the event, a long, but well written description including when and where it was to be held and a funny cover photo with the eventual party hosts next to their most prized and necessary party possession: the grill.
The page had all of the information that I would need to get there, but most importantly, it made me want to go. If I had simply gotten a text message invite from the host of the party, sure, the barbecue still would have probably fit my schedule, but I would be missing the multi-media, multi-dimensional approach. The point is, my friend successfully started an event marketing campaign via social media.
Here are some of my tips on how to execute an organized and diligent social media campaign for an event. Note that, depending on the scale of the event, you should be getting ready up to a month in advance — so plan accordingly!
Step 1: Get it all out.
Whenever I’m planning an event, the first thing I do is break out a blank piece of paper and just funnel any and every thing I know about the event, through the pen. This process can take as little as two minutes or it can take as long as half an hour. From concrete information like the date and location of the event, to abstract information like the event’s mission, the important thing is to unload it all.
Step 2: Plan your moves.
With all of the information at the ready, draw up a posting timeline. Writing down a schedule and committing to it will force you to stay active, keeping guests engaged with new content. Marketo provides a great downloadable checklist template for planning social media around an event that I’d highly recommend checking out. The trick is to be deliberate — don’t just blast people with the same posts over and over again. A few gentle reminders spread out over the week before it starts will keep the guests up to date, but won’t bog them down with notifications. You want people to get excited for your event, not resent you for it.
Step 3: Let the people know!
Once you have all of the event’s information at the ready, it’s time to start the outreach. Create a Facebook event page with the event’s information and post to relevant third-party event listing sites, like Eventful, Evvnt or ImpactFlow. Before you take these pages live, put yourself in the shoes of an invitee — would I want to go to this event based on the page I’m looking at? In the days leading up to it, send out a few reminders. Remember, on Facebook, people who have indicated that they’re interested in attending will get a notification whenever you post something, so pace out those posts. Give them a nudge, don’t punch them in the face.
Step 4: The event is here.
Today’s the day! At this point, you’ll get live, tangible results from all of your pre-work. But it’s not time to sit back and relax just yet. Make sure somebody is taking pictures and videos, capturing all of the major event moments. Post a picture or a status update to the event’s Facebook page, letting the stragglers still at home know what they’re missing.
Step 5: Go out and get some coverage.
If your event has landed on any third-party listing sites, then you’ve already done some of this work. Here is where you’ve got to be honest about the event you’re putting on. Of course it would be great if you could get the local news to every event that you put on, but it probably isn’t going to work like that, so if you put an honest value on the event, you’re more likely to reach your reasonable goals. Events surrounding check presentations, ground breakings or grand openings can be perfect for attracting a local outlet.
Step 6: Don’t let them forget about it.
Once everyone has left and the dust has had time to settle, revisit that Facebook page and put up any good photos, videos or valuable quotes you got from the event. Keeping attendees engaged throughout the whole process is paramount, even after the event happened. If the same event is likely to happen again, save all of the copy you wrote, along with photos and videos. Monitoring and tracking your results will only improve your future events.
There is no denying the pervasiveness and accessibility of social media. These days all of us have platforms from which we can promote a message, and those tools can lead to incredibly innovative and unique campaigns. Even still, there are ways to optimize the means to make the message glow. Follow some of these pointers to launch a successful social media campaign that will send people flying over to your event, and most importantly, make them happy they went.
Check out the Facebook live video for more on these 6 tips.
We do a lot of pitching…I mean a lot! But our job and our clients’ job is not done when a story lands. Now we need to promote that story, segment, or article. Not only internally, but let’s leverage our professional and personal networks, coworkers, employees and other partners. Media placement provides 3rd party credibility and it is powerful. Spread the love.
I’ll break it down into four promotional categories: external, internal, partner and paid. The tactics cross over and can be redundant, but use your best judgement and create a documented, repeatable process.
**Before you do all this, check to see if the article has a link. If not, ask your media contact for it. If it does have a link, examine if it has the “nofollow” tag and if so ask for it to be removed, if appropriate.**
Third party endorsements (the media) can be a great sales tool. Use media coverage in your sales promotions and advertising campaigns. Add a section to your email newsletters if you get consistent media exposure or add stories on a one-off basis.
Let other media outlets know about the coverage. For example, Logical Position landed on Inc. Magazine’s list of Fastest Private Companies. Making sure the local media knows can garner additional exposure, like this inclusion in the Portland Business Journal post.
Add to your website with “as featured in” or “as seen on” verbiage. Ritholtz Wealth Management does this well, it doesn’t work for everyone. I can’t picture an “as seen on” section for brands like Lego or the Trail Blazers.
Share with your social networks, link to the article, tweet from the post…you can do this more than once (assuming you are at least relatively active).
Example social sharing schedule from Kissmetrics
When you’re sharing the link, be sure to mention and tag the publication and writer as appropriate. Also, look for other social mentions to share. Did the publisher share on their various social networks? What about the author? Find these mentions and make sure to “like,” “share” and comment as appropriate (if you are the author of the article, be sure to answer any questions asked in the comments). Comment directly on the post, encourage your employees and/or fans to comment and share.
Tag and mention the writer, publisher and contributors when sharing.
Not only will this further the exposure of the article you are sharing, you can use the engagement metrics to give credibility for the next pitch.
Have a plan for each of your internal channels to promote media successes including:
Email (or Slack, Facebook/LinkedIn groups, whatever you use to communicate internally)
Do you have a company-wide email list or specific members of your team that should know? They might be aware of the mention and would love to easily share. Make sharing it super easy for them, whether its a simple forward of the email or providing sample posts/tweets or social share options.
Mention the coverage at department meetings! Heck, frame the coverage and display it in your office! If you put coverage in your public reception area, it gives your visitors a chance to see how amazing you are without you actually having to tell them.
You may even want to write a blog post about the hit. Your marketing team did a lot of work — whether that involved a press release, email pitch, research, visual creation, etc. — to land the story. Use that content to write a blog post that goes more in-depth or features your point of view.
You can also include a mention and link within a post about another topic, like I’ve done with an article on Convince & Convert in this very post.
If you have a media or news section on your website, add the new hit to it (don’t forget the link). Spend a little time making it look really good, as it can be used as a nice sales piece.
Are other businesses mentioned in the story? Make sure they know about it and ask them to share via their marketing channels. Be sure to include a link to the story, along with any images and social profile links you’d like to have included. A simple email will typically do the trick. Even if you don’t already have a contact at the “partner” company, you can reach out. They very well may not even know about their inclusion in the piece and will be more than happy to give it a little boost. For example, here’s a quick email we used that resulted in a Tweet, Facebook post and LinkedIn share:
Hi, just wanted to let you know about the following post that features (and links to) Moxi Works.
Feel free to share as you see fit :), if you do share via social media, please feel free to tag Windermere Stellar on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.
Share with trade, community or other business associations you are involved with. Many industry trade groups have email newsletters and social channels that are continuously looking for content and ways to appease their members.
The recent Convince & Convert hit mentioned above was written on behalf of SEMpdx and included case study examples from Webfor and Webranking. A post like that has at least four organizations and three people interested in seeing additional exposure.
Your extra effort will have a cumulative effect driving more exposure to the coverage.
The media also uses a variation of the formulas above for promoting their content, so sharing — and making sure your partners share too — will get you more exposure. Using the post example above from Convince & Convert, you can start to pile on the exposure by getting in their email newsletters, recap posts and more.
Specific sales goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) should be attached to your PR efforts. That doesn’t stop once the story lands. PR is effective because it isn’t paid advertising (remember that 3rd party accreditation). But we can invest some budget in making sure that an article gets to a broader market.
Dennis Yu recently spoke at an SEMpdx event sharing his “dollar a day” approach to leverage your exposure through limited budget and additional effort. His method is to spend a little bit every day to reach a broad audience and “influence the influencers.”
To review, spending some time, and potentially budget, to get the story you worked so hard to land in front of more people will bring additional success to your marketing campaigns. It will also provide some great talking points in that next media pitch where you can point out all the places that your article was shared, liked and promoted. Create a documented, repeatable process for what to do once you get that hit.
header image via Unsplash
“Location, location, location.” We’ve all heard the phrase, most commonly associated with real estate. There’s no denying — the allure of buying a home has a lot to do with where that home is. But maybe the importance of location doesn’t stop at real estate. Maybe location permeates and shapes, more than anything, our identity. So much of how we act is based around where we’re from or where we live, including the little nuances such as the foods we eat or the kind of music we listen to. Just how real estate brokers use the power of a location to move a listing, we can tap into the consumer’s location-based identity to market a product or service.
Humans are naturally ego-centric. We can hardly go a minute without thinking about our direct needs or desires. Marketers can appeal to this ego-centricity that is inherently found within everyone. Since so much of our identities are tied to location, business owners are given a great opening to connect with their customer base.
I feel incredibly fortunate to own a business in a state that is growing in popularity, seemingly by the day. The expansion of our area has been such a great tool for business that we advise our Portland-based clients to put it into practice every day. Whether it be events in our local parks, new restaurants opening up, or television shows filming near our office, there is always a local angle to shed light on. Here are my tips on how to localize your outreach and satisfy all the ego-centrists out there.
The Importance of the Community Paper
Forget those dreams of a cover story in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Where are your customers? If they are in Portland, we think most of them are reading the small community papers that narrowly report on each specific neighborhood. Why not get in front of a highly targeted audience right in your own backyard?
How, you ask? Do I have to buy an ad? No! Do something that relates to that local community and let the local media know, it doesn’t have to be through a fancy press release. Volunteering in the neighborhood, opening a new office location, or hiring someone that lives in that area are worthy reasons to give the local media a heads up.
Localize Your Pitches
But here’s the thing: reporters have jobs to do. You certainly do not want to come off as irrelevant when sending an email to the press and there are ways to avoid that. Namely, give them something they will actually want to cover. Tying location into your pitch to a local outlet will immediately give you a connection and a much higher chance that your email will get read. By placing a community reference in the subject line and first sentence of your email, the reporter you are pitching will have no choice but to let their location-ego inflate.
Public Relations is Changing, You Should Too
In the past, if your business ever wanted recognition or a shred of popularity, it would have to be granted by the traditional media. The influx of social platforms ensure that old-school newspapers and TV shows aren’t the only ways to get noticed. Consumers are actively seeking out new media with the entire landscape re-shaping before us. So integrate social and other non-traditional media into your outreach — you have to keep up with the times in order to stay top of mind.
Optimize Your Online Search Presence
Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages. Today people map out their every move online and if your brick-and-mortar location isn’t showing up in the search results (especially on a mobile phone), you might as well just not exist. There are some simple (and free!) tools — from companies like Moz or Google — that can demonstrate how your online presence could be updated in order to rank higher in the search results (and simply tell you if Google regards your site as “mobile-friendly“).
Are you pleased with your results when you Google your business? Are your business’ details consistent throughout all of your listings? How specific do you have to get to find your business via location? These questions all aid to answer whether or not you are adequately integrated into your online community.
Make the Effort to Post Regularly
On top of meetings, e-mails and other work, taking the time to post to social media can seem a daunting task. Creating a themed schedule for posts will quickly challenge you to diversify your content and it will give you a push in a clear direction of what to write on what day. For instance, the Facebook post on the right illustrates “Think Ahead Thursday” — letting the community know about local events for the upcoming weekend. Posting to social media regularly, especially including references to your community, will add another dimension to your business.
At the end of the day, location is far bigger than real estate. Location is a composer of our identity and should be used as a means of promotion. Get more involved with your business by getting more involved with your community.
Below you can scroll through my presentation deck I prepared for the Pearl District Business Association on the topic of location marketing.
Slides for the Windermere Premiere Forum presentation given on May 20, 2016.
An attendee of a presentation I gave emailed me the following:
Do you think this [HARO] is an effective means of getting known? Do most of your customers write their own responses or do you help them with this? I guess my question stems from a concern around capacity and the best use of scarce resources (me).
This is my basic response, with some added commentary:
I think it depends on the business and the value of the publication/website.
You have to start asking yourself some questions:
- Is it something your target customer reads?
- Will the story be relevant to your company or industry?
- Does the website have “authority” in your industry or target markets/verticals?
- What is the likelihood of a story running and if it does, will I get a link as well?
If the answer is yes to the above, it can be effective, but you also have to consider your time and resources as you mentioned. Sometimes you can edit content that you have already created to fit with specific results. Sometimes you have to create something new. If you are developing content already for editorial calendars, bylined articles, blog posts, social media, etc. often times a lot of the work is already done.
The other factor is the SEO value that can be gained by being included in stories like these…links for relevant “news” sites are very valuable.
With our clients, we tend to find, vet and create the responses for them, with their input of course as they typically have more expertise in their industry that we do.
Using the example he sent, we’d probably have a short conversation/interview with him and then write a response – assuming it was an outlet we deemed valuable. Of course it depends on the level of engagement.
Regarding this specific opportunity.
Here is what I advised him to do:
- Determine if he can come up with a good answer to the question in a timely fashion (do you have time). If no, drop it. If yes…⇒
- Look at the website (which is usually in the HARO post and if it is not a quick search of the requesting reporter should give you an idea). Is it relevant to your market and/or potential clients. If not drop it. If yes…⇒
- Write a response (make sure to follow any specific direction and include a link to your website) and email it to him.
- Note that attachments do not get passed forward when you respond through HARO.
- If he does use your response, check to make sure you are quoted correctly and that he included a link (if he didn’t ask for one).
In summary, HARO can be an effective marketing tool, but there is also a lot of junk. So make sure you are going to reach a target audience in a quality outlet before putting forth too much effort.