What To Do After You Get Press

What To Do After You Get Press

POST UPDATE

I wrote this post originally back in 2016 and (not) surprisingly it hasn’t had many views since 2017 so I thought I would update it for 2021. But you know what? I really don’t need to do too much to bring it up to date. A lot of the points made still hold, but here we go!

Four Things to Do After You Get Press

We (still) do a lot of pitching…I mean a lot! But our job and our clients’ job is not done when a story lands or we get a guest post/article placed. Now we need to promote that story, segment, or article. Not only internally, but let’s leverage our professional and personal networks, coworkers, employees, influencers and other partners. Media placements and thought leadership pieces provide 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 judgment and create a documented, repeatable process.

 

External Promotion

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 “as featured in” or “as seen on” verbiage. P3 Cost Analysts 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.

P3 Cost Analysts

Social Media

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 timeline from Kissmetrics

Example social sharing schedule from Kissmetrics

When you’re sharing the link, be sure to mention and tag the publication and journalist 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.

Veracity on Convince & Convert

Tag and mention the writer, publisher and contributors when sharing.

Not only will this further the exposure of the article you are sharing, but you can also use the engagement metrics to give credibility for the next pitch.

Internal Promotion

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 it’s a simple forward of the email or providing sample posts/tweets or social share options.

Meetings

Mention the coverage at department meetings! Heck, frame the coverage and display it in your office (or Zoom background)! 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.

Blog Post

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.

News/Media Section

If you have a media or news section on your website (you should!), 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.

Partner Promotion

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.

http://realtormag.realtor.org/for-brokers/network/article/2015/12/start-planning-for-improved-new-year

 

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 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.

SEMpdx Convince & Convert Post

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.

Paid Promotion

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 spoke at an SEMpdx event sharing his “dollar a day” approach to leverage your exposure with a 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
How to Win the Conversation Through Content Marketing and Public Relations Partnerships

How to Win the Conversation Through Content Marketing and Public Relations Partnerships

Humans have become content generating machines as access to the internet has grown. By one estimate, humans created 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day in 2018. On YouTube alone, creators upload more than 500 hours of new content every minute. Whether through beautiful photographs, insightful podcasts or a witty Twitter thread, nearly everyone turns to the internet when they want to have their say.

The corporate world is no different. Most organizations must have a competent and authentic online presence to reach their target audience and convert them into customers. This inherent need is why content marketing has become the leading outreach strategy for businesses of all different stripes. By participating in the ongoing online conversation, organizations can meet potential customers in the one place everyone visits all the time.

But the internet’s ubiquity also makes it difficult for some messages to breakthrough. So how do you compete with all that online noise to make your voice stand out?

 

Collaborate to Succeed

In many organizations, public relations (PR) professionals push messages out to the broader public. Before the internet became entwined in every facet of our lives, PR pros did this job by using their industry relationships to obtain coverage for their clients in print and broadcast media. At the time, PR professionals focused so heavily on TV and print outlets because it was the most effective way to reach the public. However, as the legacy media’s importance has declined in recent years, PR professionals now do their work using many of the same tools as content marketers.

At the same time, content marketers are busy communicating for the organization in similar ways. These creators don’t always understand how the blog posts, white papers, social media content, and videos they produce can seamlessly integrate with PR outreach objectives. Instead, both groups work independently toward their own goals and lose out on opportunities to foster collaboration and improve efficiency.

There are no more gatekeepers to information in this new world, and platform access is more egalitarian than ever. That’s why content marketing and PR teams must work hand-in-hand to maximize their effectiveness. Under the proper circumstances, content marketing initiatives can serve as the infrastructure supporting both consumer marketing and PR outreach efforts. Your PR team can also use its built-in messaging and audience expertise to drive an overall marketing strategy. But how does this work in practice?

 

Start by Rethinking Content Planning and Creation

Most content marketing teams use editorial calendars to plan their output. These documents typically include the content topic, assets the team needs to create, the channel where those assets will live and a timeline for when those assets will go live. PR teams employ a similar approach to structure their outreach efforts. PR calendars use hard news pegs (like new product releases) or more casual cues (like remembrance days) to plan how, when and where they’ll make their pitches. When these two teams work separately, they miss out on opportunities where the PR calendar can inform the content calendar and vice versa.

Organizations can streamline their efforts by creating an overarching marketing calendar that coordinates every outgoing message. In this environment, the content and PR teams create flexible assets that can fill multiple uses. With just a few tweaks, press releases can become blog posts, white papers can become bylined articles and media pitches become social posts. 

With content and PR teams working under a shared calendar and creating content with flexibility in mind, organizational messaging becomes more unified, and everyone’s efforts become more productive.

 

Next, Own Your Owned Media

In the old days, reporters, producers and editors made decisions about what information was newsworthy. PR professionals could make their best pitch, but publication decisions were often out of their control. While TV, magazines, radio and newspapers still play an essential PR role, they’re no longer the only game in town. As PR professionals have evolved to meet the digital age, they’re taking more control over their owned media as a primary channel for message delivery. Leveraging these owned business assets is a great way to build fruitful partnerships between the content and PR teams.

The first place to start is your organization’s blog. Too often, this space is an afterthought because building an effective blogging strategy takes tremendous effort. However, by positioning your organization’s blog as a media center, where you regularly publish lightly modified press releases, your channel becomes the hub of your outreach activities. Using a shared marketing calendar, your PR and content teams can schedule releases to post on the blog at the same time they hit the wire. Your PR team can also use these blog posts as the hub of future pitch work (more on this later). Either way, your blog is working for you.

The same is true for your organization’s social media channels. While some might argue whether this is genuinely owned media in the age of algorithmic reach restrictions, organizations still have control over the type of content featured here. With PR and content teams working together, social messaging can better align with outreach messaging. That will help your organization become less reliant on earned media outlets and more in control of your online corporate messaging.  

 

Rethink Outreach to Further Your Impact

With your owned media channels entirely in hand, regularly publishing under a shared marketing calendar, the content and PR teams can begin collaborating to rethink your publicity activities. This reimagined process starts on the blog.

 

The Blog Drives Your Pitches

PR professionals naturally seek out newsworthy stories inside companies that might garner broader interest. Under the old publicity model, PR teams would package this information in a release and hope that a larger media organization would share it with their wider audience. But when your content and PR teams use your company blog as a media hub, blog posts can serve as de facto press releases. PR teams can use snippets from blog posts or interesting data points as a hook for their media pitches while including a URL that journalists can follow for more information. 

Not only does this approach center a company’s owned media channels in its outreach activity, but it also supports link building as a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. By marrying the efforts of your content and PR teams, you’re streamlining content creation and deployment. You’re also making your owned assets do double and triple the work they did before. Talk about an efficiency boost. The job’s not done, however. Organizations can further magnify their existing outreach efforts through the smart use of social media. 

 

Social Content with a Purpose

As it turns out, PR messaging makes for natural social media content. Not only are the talking points newsy and interesting, but they’re also packaged in bite-sized pieces, so they’re easily digestible for journalists. As the content team publishes your press releases on the blog, they can also use the PR team’s pitch messaging to share that content on social media.

Plus, your content team can share coverage from successful pitches, but with a twist. Rather than simply linking to the shared content on someone else’s platform, have the content team write a quick post about the coverage to share on your blog. This approach fills a social content hole, expands the reach of your earned media while at the same time keeping the focus on your owned media.

 

Email, Podcasts, and More

No doubt your content team is working on other initiatives to distribute organization messages. As with the blog and social media, the PR team can contribute their ideas and expand the reach of all your produced content. Email, podcasts, videos and more can serve multiple objectives once the content and PR teams work under a shared mission. 

 

Who Takes the Lead

Who leads these new initiatives depends on your organizational preferences. What matters most is breaking down the silos that have previously separated content marketing teams and PR professionals. Companies that hire outside PR firms to augment their in-house marketing team will also benefit by bringing those contracted workers more fully into the fold. 

Every time you put something out into the digital world, you’re competing with millions upon millions of other people seeking out the same share of scattered eyeballs. With something as critical as your organization’s message, you’ll need a unified team of communicators working together to reach your audience effectively.

Exceptional Content Marketing with Anna Hrach [Podcast]

Exceptional Content Marketing with Anna Hrach [Podcast]

In the latest episode of the PR Talk podcast, Amy talks with Anna Hrach about what makes great content marketing, how to measure results, what role PR has in content marketing and vice versa, how to repurpose content and more.

Anna Hrach is a Content Strategist at Convince & Convert, an occasional host of the Social Pros Podcast, a highly-rated speaker, and recognized as one of the 50 Influential Women in Content Marketing.

Here are some highlights from the conversation, be sure to listen for more details and insight:

 

2:22 – How Anna became a content marketer

 

3:20 – What makes great content?

Anna talks about the criteria they use at Convince & Convert, that the content must be utility-based (see Jay Baer’s book Youtility). It must be something people actually want or need and is helpful to them. But it also needs to help you reach your business goals and your audience reach their goals.

 

6:36 – A lot of content marketing is providing free advice. How do you reach your business goals by providing free advice?

Providing valuable advice builds trust and building trust is becoming the #1 barometer of a successful brand. Trust is why people choose a specific brand over another, but trust has to be built over time.

 

8:03 – How do you measure content marketing results?

There are many tools to measure the hundreds of metrics that can be associated with content marketing, but you need to measure what matters. Start by figuring out what matters to you (or your business) most and measure that. Look at the intent of the piece of content (what are you trying to accomplish by producing it), what metrics align to that intent (shares, downloads, sales inquiries) and then you can get an idea of how it is performing.

 

9:15 – What role does PR have in Content Marketing and vice versa?

Anna talks about the concept of “surround marketing” and how more content is being created than ever before, which causes lots of noise. Surround marketing is the concept that content should be coming from everywhere which includes media and public relations. PR can work with the content marketing team to place content and the content marketing team can support PR.

 

11:37 – How do we repurpose content (w/o duplicate content concerns)?

In regards to duplicate content concerns, Anna says that content can be quite similar if used in different places, that Google is smart enough to understand when we are varying content to a specific channel or audience. You should be modifying your content for your diverse audiences anyways and if you do that, you should be fine. See this video for more:

 

15:22 – What do you think about syndicated sites (like Business2Communty)?

Syndicating can be helpful if it helps you reach your audience effectively. Will it reach a different (or bigger potentially) audience? In PR terms, you can think of it like it getting picked up on the wire (AP type wire, not a PR distribution wire).

 

16:43 – How do you get started in Content Marketing?

Start with strategy (who you are targeting and why), then key messages you want to communicate. But you must set content creation parameters as constraints breed creativity. Then you set your strategy in motion instead of producing “random acts of content.”

 

18:26 – What do you mean by “constraints breed creativity?”

It is really hard to brainstorm good ideas or be creative when you have no direction. When you give people the world you get crickets, that giving directions (layers and constraints) will really help people get going.

 

19:45 – What do we do after we have created something we are proud of (the marketing part of content marketing)?

You have to distribute the content after you have created it. You can’t just count on SEO or simply putting out on your blog. You need to use your various marketing changes like social media, emails and newsletters and use content atomization (the act of taking one big piece of content and spinning it into smaller bite-size pieces of content). Share those smaller pieces across your diverse marketing channels. Anna strives to use the 1:8 rule which means you should be able to get eight smaller bits of content out of one big piece).

Sounds a lot like maximizing in PR doesn’t it?

 

Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Anna Hrach

Anna is a content strategist at Convince & Convert, a host of the Social Pros Podcast and ranked one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing. She is also a frequent speaker (including Portland’s Engage Conference).

Connect and follow Anna on social media:

Anna Hrach on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Why You Need to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Why You Need to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Way back in 1996, when the internet was still in its infancy, Bill Gates wrote what has now become a famous essay entitled, “Content is King.” In this essay, the Microsoft founder described the future of the internet as a place to distribute and monetize content. “.. [T]he broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment,” he wrote. “No company is too small to participate.”

Gates’ essay is so well known because his predictions proved to be remarkably accurate. Twenty-five years later, the internet is awash in podcasts, videos, blog posts, songs, photographs and anything else that can be digitized. Much of this content is free. However, many creators and corporations have figured out how to leverage their talent and available tools to sell content online. What’s more, internet users have shown a near-endless appetite for this material. From searching how-to videos on YouTube, streaming the latest release on Spotify, or reading someone’s take on the day’s political news, billions of hungry eyes are eager to consume relevant content.

 

What is Content Marketing?

It didn’t take long for digital marketers to use these online tools to produce content for their clients. Unlike digital marketing, which is a more overt attempt to sell products or services, content marketing distributes information using digital platforms to build community and brand affinity or help people make decisions. 

Let’s consider skis, for example. Where digital marketing uses tools like search engine marketing and social media advertising to sell someone a pair of skis, content marketing attempts to create an experience around skiing or mountain adventures, while still pursuing traditional marketing goals. This could be through explainer videos that teach consumers how to maintain tune their skis or an infographic that helps someone choose the type of skis that are right for them. Content marketing aims to create material users find valuable so they’ll associate those positive feelings with a particular brand when they eventually make a purchase decision.

Content marketing is a popular technique in business-to-business marketing campaigns, where traditional digital marketing tools are less useful. Companies can accelerate prospects through their sales funnel by creating content that explains crucial products or anticipates potential customer’s questions or objections. 

 

Examples of Content Marketing

This technique is as old as marketing itself. However, content marketing has become increasingly popular as more and more of our daily activities move online. Over the years, some companies have found very clever ways to send their brand messages using the approach. 

In 2015, the Unilever-owned brand Dollar Shave Club launched Mel, an online magazine that focuses on lifestyle and culture topics from a man’s perspective. While Mel targets the same audience as Dollar Shave Club, it doesn’t sell razors. Instead, it’s become a respected outlet for thoughtfully written content with a distinct voice. While Mel is now its own company with a dedicated website, some of its content is cross-published on the Dollar Shave Club site, which shows how versatile this kind of content can be. 

Content marketing isn’t only about writing. Search the free stock photo site Unsplash for home office images, and you’ll find a series of photographs provided by Dell’s XPS brand of laptops. These images feature sleek and modern workspaces that any home office warrior would covet, with the sleek and modern XPS laptops front-and-center. Every blogger or web developer understands the value of free stock photography. In this instance, XPS has found a way to harness that built-in demand and provide helpful solutions that also happen to send a strong brand message.

Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Photo by XPS on Unsplash

The goal of these two examples is not to make a conversion. Instead, they associate a brand with an attractive aesthetic, relatable point of view or aspirational identity. When a purchase decision comes further down the line, it will hopefully be informed, in part, by the content the buyer consumed up until that point.

 

How Can Content Marketing Drive Public Relations?

Public relations professionals can use content marketing techniques to drive public opinion or sentiment in the same way marketers use content to drive customer behavior. In early 2019, Slack, the popular workplace messaging app, revealed an extensive logo redesign that was met with… mixed reviews. As part of the launch, Slack published a piece of content on its website explaining the very practical reasons why the change was so necessary. Even though not everyone appreciated the new logo design, Slack’s rationale for the change was widely cited by the media. As a result, their content marketing had driven extensive media coverage (see Google News results) including links from 392 domains.

Media Coverage for Slack via Google News

Media Coverage for Slack via Google News

 

Fifty years ago, a leading business automation company likely would have issued a press release explaining a significant brand change. Today, companies can steer the conversation through carefully created talking points while achieving better results using tools like a company-owned blog and social media channels.

It doesn’t take controversy for content marketing to be a successful PR strategy. PR experts can take day-to-day content like blog posts, videos, white papers, podcasts and more, and break them into smaller, more digestible pieces they can use in many different ways. When done correctly, content marketing creates flexible assets that sales, marketing and PR professionals can use to bring more attention to your brand. It only requires an overarching strategy that guides those efforts

 

Utilizing Your Team to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

Fortunately, you don’t have to be Unilever or Dell to develop an effective content marketing strategy. Instead, you need a focused approach that defines your audience, goals, and deliverables. Here are a few things to consider as you begin developing your own content strategy:

Define Who You’re Talking To:
Every piece of content you create should begin with its audience in mind. Start by defining your audience and the solutions you’re trying to provide.

Set Your Goals:
Next, define what you want to accomplish with your content. This step will inform how you distribute what you produce and the tools you’ll use to measure success.

Inventory the Deliverables:
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you don’t have the time or resources to produce videos, don’t try and force it. Instead, assess your company’s strengths and create content that aligns with what you’re best at.

Measure and Repeat:
Track your content marketing efforts and draw on those results to improve whenever possible.

Content Strategy Checklist

Of course, not every company has the in-house resources necessary to undertake a fully realized content marketing strategy. In these instances, organizations may look to outside marketing or PR agencies to fill in the gaps or lead content marketing efforts. Under these circumstances, companies will get the best results by treating third-party agencies as full-fledged team members who are just as invested in the company’s success as its employees are.

 

“No Company is Too Small to Participate”

Just as Bill Gates predicted all those years ago, any company can benefit from a thoughtful content marketing strategy. In the age of content, your corporate voice is a vital component in relaying your brand message and value proposition to potential customers. Because without it, consumers will certainly get the information they’re seeking somewhere else.

Michelle Brence: Oregonian Editor Turns into Content Strategist for OHSU [Podcast]

Michelle Brence: Oregonian Editor Turns into Content Strategist for OHSU [Podcast]

Breaching the divide: A journalist-turned-marketer shares her PR insights

Michelle Brence has always had a knack for sniffing out a good story. It served her well in her 23-year career as a journalist, which she began as a part-time copyeditor at The Register-Guard in Eugene and later advanced to senior editorial roles at The Oregonian. In her life as an editor, Michelle loved telling meaningful, important stories, and her work was lauded when a piece she edited on drug cartels in Oregon was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Today, she’s no longer working as a journalist, but she’s still telling important stories as the digital content strategist for OHSU. Michelle recently sat down with us to talk about navigating the transition from journalism to marketing, the surprising similarities she’s discovered between the fields, and what she’s learned along the way.

In the Newsroom

Until Brence made the jump to marketing, journalism was the only career she had known. Early on, she worked on the copy desk at The Oregonian, and she recalls that time with fondness. “The copy desk at The Oregonian was a really great group of snarky, profane, incredibly smart people.” There, Brence and her colleagues were the last people to sign off on each day’s paper before it was printed. In addition to writing headlines and subheads, she was often the last line of defense against errors and omissions. “I saw some horrific mistakes almost get in the paper many times, and a few slipped in,” she noted. Brence recounted a story about a time when she was working on New Year’s Eve and jotted a question for the print shop on a page she was copyediting. She was horrified the next day when she saw that the print shop staff had misinterpreted her question, adding a question mark to the “Happy New Year” banner at the top of the page that lent a quizzical note to the standard holiday exclamation.

A Career Shift

With mixed feelings, Brence left The Oregonian in January 2016, largely in response to the precarious state of the print journalism industry, where staff reductions have become commonplace as newspapers increasingly rely on syndicated content in an effort to cut costs and stay afloat. With two kids to put through college and retirement to fund, she realized that she needed to prioritize her family’s financial stability. “I woke up one day and just realized, it’s now. It’s time to go.”

Surprising Similarities

Once Brence decided to leave, her new position was the first one that caught her eye. It helped that the hiring manager wanted to hire a journalist for the digital content strategist role. While that may not seem intuitive, today’s journalists have more in common with marketers than one might expect.

“There used to a be a 20-foot wall between any kind of thought about marketing and journalism. We prided ourselves on not even caring about how our work helped or hurt sales. But as journalism moved into a digital space and we could see what our audience wanted or didn’t want, and as our financial fortunes started to fall, we had to get a lot more savvy and break down those walls. So, it was a lot more familiar than I expected it to be. Understanding what audiences want was something I was very comfortable with. I had a lot more skills than I realized beyond wordsmithing and information gathering,” explained Brence.

At OHSU, Brence is moving into a role where she’ll be overseeing all digital copy geared toward patients, including blog posts and web pages about conditions and treatments. She’s also working to streamline the existing body of reference content to make it easier for patients to find the information they need to be informed partners in their own healthcare. Her journalism skills continue to serve her well as she researches and writes about medical conditions and treatments. “I start immersing myself in the condition, then interview doctors, and then I ask them for papers and presentations that they give to other doctors,” she said.

Brence sees other parallels between her two careers. In marketing as in journalism, she stresses the importance of not telling people what to think. “Just lay out the facts and let people decide for themselves,” she said. “I’m not pitching a product; my job is just to uncover what we have and present it in a way that people can find it. I try hard not to use marketing language,” she said.

“You go into journalism with a sense of mission and purpose. You work ridiculous hours and the pay isn’t really that great, so you have to love it. I feel incredibly fortunate to have landed at another mission-driven organization that makes the world a better place.” Click here to read Brence’s recent article about the groundbreaking brain surgery performed on a child at OHSU.

Cultural Differences

Brence experienced a bit of culture shock when she transitioned to marketing, and admits to still feeling like a fish out of water sometimes. Coming from a newsroom peopled by snarky potty-mouths and quirky characters, the culture of politeness in marketing took some getting used to. In marketing there’s more emphasis on networking and social niceties, whereas in a newsroom the prevailing sense of urgency leads to more terse communications. “It was very common for me to get an email from my boss that said ‘look into this.’ When I got to OHSU I realized that you need to say hello first.”

Another difference Brence cited pertains to competitiveness. “We had news meetings a couple of times a day and you would find yourself competing with other editors to get your story on the front page. You got used to getting asked very pointed questions about why your story should be there.” While editors are conditioned to answer the questions “who cares?” and “why is this important,” Brence stresses that marketers could benefit from adopting a newsroom mindset.

PR Pro Tips

Having worked as both a journalist and a marketer, Brence has a good sense for how to catch an editor’s eye with a press release. Here, she shares her dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t put your needs first. “I was shocked at how many pitches I got that included, ‘hey, I really need to get this out there.’ That’s your problem, not mine.”
  • Don’t host a charity event for the sole purpose of drumming up publicity.
  • Don’t ask for free publicity. Always keep the publication’s audience and focus in mind, and tailor your approach accordingly.
  • Don’t write overly long press releases. Essential information should be in the first two sentences. Assume that the editor will spend 15 seconds reading your press release, so get to the point.
  • Do include contact information for both the PR representative and an interview source.
  • Do get to the point quickly, and explain why the product/service/event is relevant to the publication’s audience.
  • Do be familiar with publishing schedules, and understand that deadlines are ongoing.
  • Do give sufficient lead time, but not too much.
  • Do be helpful, but hide the fact that coverage will help you.

A quick word on talking to investigative reporters

Finally, Brence offers this advice to marketers who pick up the phone to find an investigative reporter on the line: Don’t lie. “Usually when people get tripped up, they lie about things that are publicly findable. If you have something out there that’s bad, just get it all out there at once. Face it, and tell the truth.”

About the guest: Michelle Brence

Michelle is the digital content strategist at OHSU. Prior to her current role, she was an editor at The Oregonian, where she led an award-winning team of reporters.

Connect and follow Michelle on social media:

PR Talk is sponsored by dapulse

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PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Creating Blog Post Ideas [Podcast]

Creating Blog Post Ideas [Podcast]

Coming up with ideas on what to write about can be hard. However, with a method, some practice and help from your team, you’ll have blog post topics galore. Before getting into the meat of the topic, Connor and I talked about how I got into blogging (include reference to this post from Amy back in our Rosenberg Marketing days), a few points on organizing post submissions and general blogging tips like:

  • Be sure you have crucial elements included like a title, image, links, author bio and call-to-action. See Key Elements of a Blog Post.
  • Practice makes perfect – or in my case, practice makes you better and writing easier.
  • Quality over quantity – fewer good posts are better than lots of crap.
  • Don’t write about yourself, but make it personal.

How To Come Up with Blog Post Ideas

 

On your own

Start with the products or services that you want to sell or expand the reach of. Are there specific products/service you need to promote? Make a list of them. It is the same process you go through when doing keyword research. I like to start manually, get general ideas and then spin from there.

Your Assets

Email – your inbox and outbox are great places to find ideas. You share info with customers, prospects and partners every day. Are there questions you are consistently answering? That’s a blog post idea (or 10). For example, I wrote an email about when to reply to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) requests after mentioning the tool in a presentation. Here’s a link to that email turned into a blog post.

Other Marketing Materials – your website (specifically your FAQ section and product/services pages), sales materials/brochures, even product manuals and internal training materials, are all great places to get inspiration for blog topics.

Customer Service Representative – talk to your frontline people, they know what your customers care about and what questions they have. They are also a great resource for social content.

Competitors & Collaborators – what are they talking about? You can take another angle on what competitors are writing about. Write about what/how you do it differently/better. Look at what your competitors are doing for inspiration and ideas (disclaimer: do not copy). We talk about looking at what the giants in your industry are doing (with a bad example of McDonald’s and the local burger joint participating in #BurgerWeek) or similar companies in another geographic area you don’t operate in. Be sure to always give credit.

Industry Newsletters – sign up for email newsletters that your industry releases. Set up a unique email or email folder rule for the newsletters so they don’t flood your inbox and you can go look at them when you are planning posts.

Pro Tip: don’t create the rule right away when you sign up for a new email newsletter, wait to see if the content is good for a few sends. If it is not, unsubscribe.

Site Search – what site visitors search for on your site gives you a great idea of what they want from you.

The World pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Tie in with current events or news (carefully), look for national days or this day in history for inspiration.

Bonus thought not included in the podcast – see what is being discussed in industry forums (yes some still exist, but most have moved too…) and in LinkedIn and Facebook groups. What are people in and around your industry talking about? What problems are they having that you can solve?

 

+ With a group

Start with a brainstorm (with guidance), make sure your record the ideas (ideally audio or video as you won’t be able to keep up or get them all). Get a diverse group together. All kinds of stakeholders should be involved, not just marketing and sales folks. Even if they’d never write a post, they will have great ideas you may have never thought of. Make it fun.

  • Ply them with pizza and beer.
  • Get other input outside of you and your team.

 

Tools for Topics

There are all types of tools out there to help you through the process. Like with most things, Google is a good place to start:

Google

Start with a regular old Google search. Once you start inputting your query, Google will begin to autofill, giving you ideas. In the podcast, we use my recent search for a new wrought iron railing as an example:

Google Search Wrought

 

Related search – at the bottom of the SERP, Google provides additional suggestions:

Google Suggest Wrought

 

Google keyword planner tool +Moz Explorer

Moz’ Explorer tool is great as it gives you monthly search volume, difficulty, opportunity and suggested priority on a scale of 100.

Moz Keyword Explorer Wrought

 

Google Trends + What’s Trending

We used the recent Shark Week “feat” of Michael Phelps racing a shark. Google Trends and What’s Trending will give you an idea of what’s popular now and historically. Finding an angle to tie-in your business to what is all the buzz can lead to good post ideas. A few years back, David Roth, who was at Realtor.com at the time, shared a post they did about NBA star Gilbert Arenas’ home that happened to have a shark tank in it to leverage the popularity of Shark Week.

Google Trends Shark Week

Search what to write about in your industry…

 

BuzzSumo

Provides social shares of posts on specific topics or keywords. Continuing with the Shark Week example we can see what the most popular posts are and where they are shared.

BuzzSumo Phelps

 

Quora

 

Portent Content Idea Generator

There are also quite a few tools that you can input a few keywords and the tool will spit out blog topic ideas (or at least suggested topic titles) for you. To use Portent’s Content Idea Generator simply put in your topic and just keep refreshing. For this podcast we explored “business ethics” to see what the tool would come up with. There are plenty of good ideas:

  • An Expert Interview About Business Ethics
  • How business ethics are making the world a better place

And, of course, others that don’t quite hit:

  • How Business Ethics Changed How We Think About Death
  • 9 Ways Knowing About Business Ethics Will Land You in Jail (maybe this is a good one?!)

Portent Content Idea Genrator - Business Ethics

 

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator asks for three nouns and gives you blog topic ideas. We used real estate, buyers, and sellers:

  • Hubspot Blog Topic Generator - Real EstateThe Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Real Estate
    • Lots of potential for a collaborative piece with many real estate agents on this one.
  • The History Of Buyers
    • We could work with this…
  • What Will Sellers Be Like In 100 Years?
  • 15 Best Blogs To Follow About Real Estate
  • The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Buyers

 

A few others

  • FAQ Fox (scrapes sites for their FAQs)
  • Blog About – gives you a theme (e.g. “productivity”) and then lots of samples to help you along

 

Tools for Being Efficient

Pocket save links for later, you can categorize/create folders, a great tool for social media planning too.

Alltop provides top headlines from places like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, NYT and TechCrunch.

Dapulse new project management tool we are excited to use, easily save and plan topics.

 

Summary

  • Get organized – who will contribute and what’s your process?
  • Quality over quantity (I mentioned Larry Kim’s SEMpdx presentation about killing donkeys and feeding unicorns)
  • Lots of ways to get content ideas and you have access to most of them for free
  • Ask for help
  • Use tools to make it more efficient or at least get you going
  • Remember the more you do something, the better you typically get at it. Including writing and coming up with ideas on what to write about

 

Featured image courtesy of Blake Wheeler

Expand to read the transcript?
Connor: How long you been blogging?

Mike: Oh, good question. You know it’s kinda funny is, I remember when Amy started the blog and wrote the first post, and her first blog post was something like, “And the problem is Mike’s not a blogger.” And I was like, “Hey, wait a minute.” You know, I got this digital marketing background, I’ve been in digital for a long time, and then I thought about it and I’m think, “Yeah, you’re kinda right.” You know, of the, founders and principals of this company, Amy’s definitely more of the writer of the group. It’s like, “You write it, I’ll make it do well.” So it’s been awhile, I don’t even know what my first blog post was, but I’ve been blogging consistently now for a couple years.

Connor: Yeah. And how have you seen, at least with your style, how have you seen that evolve, just from the writing piece, to choosing a topic to, actually structuring it versus getting it online and everything?

Mike: Well, I think that, when I started I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. It’s just sort of thought, oh, what topic do I think I want to write about today and started writing about it with not really a lot of thought behind it. It would take forever. And, like, I kinda mentioned, I’m not naturally a great writer. And so, it would take a long time, there’d be a lot of edits, spending all kinds of time, maybe not even thinking about images and links and sources and stuff like that til you’re ready to actually publish it. So really just spending a lot more time than needed, and kinda going one at a time, and not being on a schedule, and kind of, “Oh, we’ll get to it when we can” kind of stuff.

Connor: And so that brings me to my question that sort of over-arches probably through this whole episode, but do you need to be a good writer to do well in blog posts? We’ve seen a lot of different stuff go viral, get picked up in a bunch of other syndicated websites that aren’t necessarily written very well but they seem to click for some reason.

Mike: Well, I think it’s kind of a loaded answer in that no, obviously, you don’t, right? There’s things that are written poorly that are not good content, but, and when I say, when you asked, “Do you have to be a good writer,” I don’t think anybody has to, I think that the stuff that I, not me personally not being a great writer, I think that by the time it gets published, it’s good, well it’s good enough. You know, maybe having somebody who is a good writer, or having somebody who is a good editor, always at least look at stuff is a good idea.

One of the points that I was thinking about this podcast is, I think having good content is better than having lots of crappy content. So, you don’t have to be an inherently good writer, I think that the more that you write, especially in blog format, the better you are.

Connor: Yeah, because there is a voice for it, right?

Mike: Yeah, and I also think it’s a different style to writing depending on who you are, right. I mean if you’re super formal, if you’re company is super formal, you know, for us, when we do media releases and things like that, we’re writing AP style, right? I think Amy kinda started on the blog writing AP style, and it’s, like, “Well, wait a minute, what voice are you trying to use?”

Connor: Let’s tone it back, let’s make it more approachable for everybody.

Mike: Totally, we won’t really talk about this much, because we are talking about how to come up with ideas, but it’s also the format that you write in, too. It’s gonna be totally different on a blog than it’s gonna be for a white paper, or an article that you’re writing for, a paper, or even online, for sure a book, or papers, you know, that sort of thing. So there’s certainly a shorter of attention span for blogs and places you kinda gotta chop it up a little bit.

Connor: Yeah. So I guess let’s dig into our, mechanics and processes for picking up new content to write. Walk me through some of that.

Mike: The first thing I wanted to talk about was even get further out to figuring out who’s gonna contribute and what that process looks like. We’re not gonna get too, too, into that, but I think you have to invest…you know, you asked me when I started blogging, why it took so long, what was that process like. I think because, if you’re not blogging, or if you’re already doing it the way you used to do it, I think you oughta take a step back and figure out what your process is a little bit better.

Connor: Okay, so, like what kind of processes?

Mike: First who’s going to write, write? Is it just you? Are you a one person small business owner or do you have a team? Are you going to have other people on your team writing for you? Do you have other employees who are gonna write for you? Do you have other partners who are gonna write for you? Do you work with an agency, are they gonna do something for you? Are you gonna use freelancers? If you start a blog and have any success people are going to start contacting you about writing for you, right. Some of those are great, some of those not so much.

Connor: Some of those you might pass on.

Mike: Yeah, exactly, so, you know, I think it’s better to get all those things in line before you really, I mean, you need to have those in line if you’re gonna put a plan together. So I think, figuring out, “Yes, what we’ll take guest posts, or no, we won’t, and if we will, how do we vet this to make sure that it’s not just somebody spamming, looking for, like, that sort of stuff.” And then if you’re using partners, how are you going to take those posts? You know, what I mean by that is, if you’re not the only one doing it, are you the who’s one posting it? Who’s posting it to the blog, and how are they getting those posts, and what are you requiring of people, right? So is it just, “Hey, email me your content.” Or is it, we want to put it in this Dropbox, or Google Drive folder or are we using like a base camp, or a dapulse, or, you know, what is it? Or are you just writing it in the blog, and then saving it as a draft, and whoever’s the publisher is gonna go read it and make sure it goes? So thinking about that sort of stuff ahead of time, making it easy, at least being consistent. And then, as you know, internally, we have a sheet that says, “Here’s all the different things that we want in a blog post.” Right, you gotta have a headline. We want that headline to be an H1, and we need to have an image, and that image needs to be either this size, ideally, or if it’s maybe too small, at least needs to be this aspect ratio, so that when they’re all on the blog page, they look right, and…

Interview: And look similar to one another?

Mike: Exactly. You know, are you requiring title tags and meta descriptions? Are you asking for excerpts, different things like that? I mean, as you know, we even go as far as making sure that they’re resizing images for social media. When you’re using a plugin like we do, that when you share a grab specifically for Facebook or LinkedIn, or whatever. So I think going into all those makes sense. And, when I write up the blog post on this podcast, we’ll put links in there that they…because we’ve, you know, we’ve…

Connor: We’ve outlined this…

Mike: We’ve outlined it before so it’s a nice little reference, but…

Connor: Yeah, just outlining in a different medium though.

Mike: Yeah. But, and then, I think the other thing is that we wanna talk about is we’re assuming that, at least we’re not talking today about things like, who your target market is and, you know, what the personas are that you’re going after. So, you know, coming up with blog post ideas, there’s work that goes in before, sort of, the brainstorm, or all these different tips that we’re gonna talk about. But you need to know that sort of stuff, and then…

Connor: And you wanna have that stuff patented down, ready to go, before you start coming up with ideas, right? Because if you’re just shooting blindly without any processes to back any of that content up, then what are you doing, right?

Mike: Exactly. Yeah, I mean, you’re sort of hoping that it hits. You know, maybe it’ll go viral.

Connor: Yeah, maybe, I mean, that’s the unpredictability of virality, it’s incredible.

Mike: So I think, the last thing, before we jump into it, something to think about, too, is what types of content. We’re specifically talking about blog posts idea, but you post, people post lots of things besides words and pictures on their blog. So, are you gonna do things like podcasts, you know? Tomorrow’s podcast has a blog post that goes along with it. You know, what other elements you want. Are you gonna do…are infographics interesting to your target market? What about video, you know? What type, if it’s written content, is it gonna be short posts, long posts, series of posts, you know, and I think that your own marketing materials we’ll talk about can also help feed into what you decide to have. But I think having a variety is good as well. And then, one last thing to kinda touch on is in general, unless you are in business, don’t write about yourself but make it personal.

Connor: What do you mean by that?

Mike: So what I mean is, like, use personal stories or anecdotes to get into what you’re talking about, have a voice. So when we were talking about more, like, figuring out who you are, and what you do, don’t make it…it’s not robotic, right. So, but to an extent, and again, if you are the brand, talking about you, and caring about you, people wanna know about who they’re reading, but maybe not what you had for breakfast.

Connor: Not their whole life story.

Mike: Yeah, you know, it’s sort of, like, social media started with pictures of hamburgers and everybody’s like, “What, okay, whatever.” Unless it’s a really, really, good burger.

Connor: It’s almost burger week come out in Portland, so maybe we’ll post some pictures.

Mike: That has not been on my radar.

Connor: Well, we’re gonna have to put that on our contact calendar, I guess.

Mike: Absolutely.

Connor: Yeah, so let’s dive in then. Give me some of the ways that you choose blog topics, internally at least. Let’s start there.

Mike: Yeah, when I think about it, there’s, I mean to kinda go through… What it’s like for you, if you’re doing it on your own, if you’re the person who’s in charge of it. And then, hopefully, there’s some team aspect to it, and you kinda add a couple tips for, you know, if you’re bringing in a team, but… So, I think the first thing to do is you start with, what it is you’re trying to accomplish. So are you selling something? You know, what are your products or services that, you know, we’re talking to businesses here, so, what is it, first of all, what do you have? Secondly, are there specific products or services that you want to sell more of or have further exposure for, and start by making a list of those, so pull your top products out, your general services. So come up with…it’s kinda like keyword research, right. So, you know, you’re saying okay, if you think, so if you, assuming you have a keyword list, start with your keyword list. Right, so I mean a lot of the point of blog is to help you with your SEO, to help get the word out there more about what you’re doing, and assuming that you’re going through picking keywords the right way, those are the type of terms that you expect people to be interested in around your business. So, you can start with those, and there’s some tools that we’ll talk about later, but you start with those and that’s a good base of, “Okay, so what are we gonna write about.” Right.

Connor: And have that purpose in mind, right, like, have an actual goal in your head, right. What is this blog post going to accomplish? Who am I going to get it in front of, and what are the means by which I’m gonna get it in front of those people, right?

Mike: And I think, you could, exactly, and you’re always coming back to, what is it that we’re talking about. And so that’s, to me, that’s the first step, and there’s, like I said, there’s some tools that we’ll talk about. That’s when you start plugging those keywords in to generate, or general ideas, and, you know, the thing about it is you just want general ideas, and then you, sort of, spin from there. Another way, so look at your keyword lists, if you don’t have them, do some keyword research. There’s all kinds of information out there about how to do keyword research.

One of my favorite places is email, so look in your email. Especially if you’re doing, like, if you have clients or customers and you’re interacting with them, what are they looking for? What are you providing to them? I remember, you asked about, you know, when we started doing this a few years ago, we were giving a presentation to a group about, you know, blending online and offline marketing, that sort of stuff, and one of the things that came up is there is a serve called HARO. Help a report out, right. And he was, like, “Yeah, I know about that, but I don’t really know, like, when I should answer.” And it’s kind of a long answer, right, so during the presentation, it wasn’t, like, “Okay, I’m gonna go into this.” And I gave him a brief answer then, but was like, “You know what, I’ll follow up with you and I’ll give you a really good answer.” And so I typed out this, you know, it’s on email, so it was probably a page-long answer to this, like, when you should answer and when you should answer hard questions. And I was like, “Wait a minute, this is a blog post.” So, I made it into a write-up.

So you’re doing this stuff every day all the time anyways, so just being able to identify, I mean, it’s probably, you have lots in your sent folder. You know, go back in there and make sure that you’re looking through there. Email’s a great place, other marketing materials, brochures. The things that sales brochures, looking at what, you’re conveying a message to somebody for a reason, right. So you can then look at all of those and come up with lots of blog post ideas based on those. And, of course, your website is another place where I like content, which is your brochure. And specifically in your content if you have a FAQ section, that’s a huge place. Like, every single FAQ could be at least one blog post probably.

Connor: Each question could be a title of a blog.

Mike: Exactly, right. And it’s interesting, and if you don’t have FAQs and you’re looking for them, there’s a site called, I think it’s faqfox or foxfaq, that actually goes out and scrapes, what industry you’re in, and it goes out and scrapes sites for their FAQs. So, you know, if you’re in real estate, you put in a few different real estate sites, it’ll go out there and give you ideas on what, not only what to write your FAQs for, but those are all blogs.

Connor: FAQ mining, what an industry.

Mike: Right. And then, yeah, if you, back to whether it’s via email, or social, or however you’re doing customer service, again, those questions that people are asking you, not only is that things that maybe go into your FAQ if they get asked a few times, but those are great pieces to go into blog content. And then another good place to look is, well, we talked about scraping your competitors’ FAQs, like, what are they posting about? Depending on how much you respect them, or maybe it’s not only competitors, but other folks who are in your industry or collaborators. You know, what are they talking about, especially what’s doing well, and we’ll talk about, how to see that a little bit when we talk about tools. What are they writing about? Channel partners, or other people that you’re partnered with makes a lot of sense, too. You know, so that you can talk about how you had success doing something with them. Or, the other thing about collaborators and partners is, not only do you write about what they’re saying, but you’re giving them credit. You’re talking about what they’re sharing, maybe you’re taking another angle on what they’ve written about that specifically applies to your audience.

Connor: That’s a good idea.

Mike: And, but give them credit, and link back to their post, you know, and let them know that you did it.

Connor: Maybe they’ll do it for you in the future too.

Mike: Exactly, exactly, and that’s one of the things about blogging and social networking is it’s social, right? Make sure they know.

Connor: It’s networking.

Mike: …and sharing, yeah, exactly, and you’re getting right in front of that partner again and, you know, lining to them and show them what’s good.

Connor: But then that competitor mirroring blog post type method that you were talking about, you wanna use that kinda sparingly, right? Because you don’t wanna make it look like you’re copying everything that they…

Mike: Absolutely, no, yeah, what I would say is more of, like, maybe you’re reading it and you do what they say differently, so then you’re writing about maybe the same topic, but you’re doing it on how you do it. Or, I mean, depending on what sort of environment you’re in, especially if it’s, like, the big competitor that maybe you don’t really even compete with, you know, off the top of my head, like, it’s McDonald’s, they’re…I don’t know if McDonald’s blogs, but, they’re writing about how great their hamburger is, right. In fact, our hamburger week winners, are they gonna be like, “Well, McDonald’s says their so great, but really, we are…”

Connor: We are the best.

Mike: So you can, I mean, you know, that’s, like, classic advertisement. When you’re comparing yourself especially, our local McDonald’s is up from the local burger joint, in fact, I’m sure it’s not, but, you know, you’re comparing yourself with the big player to put yourself on, on level ground, which is why you’re different. Maybe better, maybe just different.

Connor: Just different.

Mike: Yeah, make sure that it’s your own for sure. But it’s a good place to look, and see what they’re doing, you know. I think having a pulse on your competitors and other folks that, and they be more, like, frenemy-type competitors, right. I mean, there’s lots of folks that you’re in the same industry as that you’re not really super competitive at all, especially if you’re a local business, like, you look at what plumbers are doing in Alabama, and if you’re a plumber here, you can do, I mean it’s gonna be different, but you don’t, for sure, don’t be copying anything that anyone’s doing, but getting inspiration for ideas, it’s a great place to look.

Another great place is industry newsletters. I know I sign up for, we sign up for a ton of, whether it’s PR marketing industries or even the industries our clients are in, but those newsletters, I mean, they’re putting out content, whether it’s every day, or every week, or every month, I mean, it’s a great place to get ideas. I personally would say either set up an email specifically for it, or set up a folder in your email that you automatically have those go in because unless you wanna be sifting through these newsletters every day. But the other, sort of, pro tip that I would say is don’t do that right away. Like, when you subscribe to a new one, like, let it come in your inbox a little bit, so you can actually look at it. And then you’ll know, like, this is, this isn’t very good, I’m not gonna pay attention to it and then unsubscribe. And if it is good, then you can, you know, put the rule to put it in that folder, so that then when you’re ready to start planning, you can go back and see what people are doing. And, although, if it’s really, really, good, or if it’s really timely, like, for example, here in Portland, the “Portland Business Journal” news thing, I wouldn’t have those go into my newsletter folder, because there’s timely stuff in there, hopefully there’s client stuff in there. You wanna know about it right way, so if it’s more timely, you might not wanna have it filtered so you don’t look at it. Unless, like, if this is your job, job, then the only thing that you do, you’re probably in that folder all the time, so it’s okay, but that way, they can stack up pretty quickly. Several hundred.

Connor: Yeah, we know, we know that, yeah. So, blog posts and especially gathering from industry trends, competitors, anybody like that, you’re syndicate partners, blah, blah, blah, a lot of that stuff is coming in as timely news. So if you’re trying to schedule out blog posts, how do you work through that, like, when do you put it in your content calendar, how do you put it in your content calendar?

Mike: Well, that’s, I mean, with that sort of stuff, that’s a little bit harder. You know, some of the tools I’m gonna talk about is, like, Google Trends, and what’s trending, and so that’s gonna be current, right. So one thing is, depending on what your timeline is, you could be looking at future, right. So, you know, one of the things that I, Steve would actually look at the printed physical paper a couple times a week, is this day in history. And it’s, like, so that’s great social content, I mean, you can talk about that day, social media is easy to do on, sort of, a timely basis, do it that day. But writing a blog post about it is probably, at least for me, like, I’m not writing a blog post right now about a topic that I just read about. Some people can and maybe if you’re blogging every day, you’re gonna do that, but it’s still gonna be this day in history next year, and so, if it’s a good enough topic, you know, you can put it out there.

Connor: Schedule that out.

Mike: Yeah, and then you’re ahead of it and you’re, you know, it’s hitting at that time. So I think that that’s part of it. The other thing is a lot of things are cyclical, I mean, there’s also, like, national days, right. Those happen every year. You know those are in the future, we know when those are gonna happen. If you have a lot of free time or a researcher, you could do that, what happened on this date looking forward. Because, again, it already happened, so just because it’s not happening today, if it’s happening in a month, then you could…

Connor: Get something ready for that.

Mike: Yeah, so a lot of that is what’s going on. And then of coursemilestones in your company, and, you know, you’ll start pushing when you start coming up with ideas, they’ll get plugged into the calendar, and then as, you know, maybe things that actually do have a specific time, you gotta move that, and push things that way. So, I think that’s part of it is knowing that lots of things happen either on an annual basis or a frequency basis, it’s just a matter of doing research and getting in front of it as part of it.

Connor: Definitely. So you wanna run down some of those tools that you were talking about using?

Mike: Yeah, for sure. Well, actually, the one thing I want to make sure to say is, so this is, all of this stuff can be done by one person or multiple people, but we kinda talked about already. I really think that, especially if you’re either starting or reinvigorating this process, and ideally you get together your group, right. So whether it’s your employees, your stakeholders, or…we actually just, I’m on a board and we just did this for, of a non-profit where, actually, for the marketing committee, one of our meetings was, okay, let’s go through this process of saying here’s the seven core topics, within each of those core topic, there’s these sort of angles. You know, what other angles could we have, and let’s also get to the point where we just start throwing out ideas.

Connor: Yeah, just typical content ideas.

Mike: Totally, and, you know, make sure somebody is recording that, whether it’s write board, or white board, or on the computer, or even just videoing it, or audio, so you can go back to it, because, you know, when you get into the sessions, a lot of great ideas come up. And it’s not, don’t just have people who are blogging in there, too, right, so even if you are part of the big team.

Connor: anybody who is actually involved with the product you’re moving, or whatever, whatever you’re trying to convert.

Mike: And, this was actually for camp and not during this session, but during another time where we were talking to all of the staff, I mean, great ideas were coming out of, like, the chef, and the grounds crew, and, you know, the people who are in charge of programming, and all this stuff, and I mean, it’s amazing what people can come up with.

Connor: That sounds like a really good way to diversify the content, too, and not make it the same exact thing that you’re pushing down people’s throats every single blog post, right.

Mike: Yeah, exactly, and, you know, you never know. Then maybe you get those people to say “I’ll write about it, or I’ll at least do the draft on it,” so you say, “Let me call you and let’s just have a conversation, and I will record that, or take notes, and turn that into a blog post.” You know, so, it certainly helps get things going that way.

And then things like food, and drinks, and, you know, ply them with beer and pizza, maybe not right away, but, you know, the promise of it at the end.

Some of the tools, most things tool-wise, I tend to start with Google. Right, so the simplest way to start is do a search. Right, so you just, a simple search, just do it like auto fill. So, as you know, we start to search for something, Google is gonna start to suggest what they think you’re searching for.

Connor: Very presumptive of them.

Mike: Yes, it is. We were, I was actually recently, or, actually, still am, had to replace the, like, porch fencing in my house, right. Now, I want a wrought iron porch fence, and so I started searching for “wrought iron” and it’s, Google’s suggesting, “Are you asking for a fence? A railing? Gates? A bed?” So if I’m a, you know, a wrought iron manufacturer or custom, okay, so I’m gonna start, those are the things I’m going to start writing about, right. And then once you do that search, at the bottom of your search page, you’ve got related search, right. So it’s like, “Well, you searched for wrought iron, do you want custom? Do you want ornamental hand rails? Do you want gates?” You know, so, again that’s, this kinda goes back to maybe that keyword research, and maybe you’ve already done this, but the longer term, the longer tail you get, the longer that search term is, you’re gonna keep getting suggestions and you’ll just keep getting related search terms. So I think that’s a great place to start.

Google also has a keyword planner tool that you’ll probably get a lot of those too, and again, you can put your initial keywords in and it’ll give you tons of different ideas of, you know, different types of things to write about, especially around a keyword. And then Moz actually has a great explorer keyword tool as well. Where you can, it gives you even some more information, right. So as I put that, continue on that wrought iron example, you know, it’s giving me keywords like “wrought iron step railing,” “wrought iron porch railing,” and then it’s getting into, like, “What about cost, and design, you know, twisted wrought iron.” So, you know, why twisted wrought iron is better than flat, whatever they call the competitor, you know. But I would definitely recommend getting into the Moz explorer tool because it also gives you things like volume, and it’s on a scale of 1 to 100 it’s gonna rate that search term on, you know, are a lot of people searching that way? So if nobody’s searching that way, do you wanna write about it?

Mike: Maybe, maybe not. You know, it’s definitely not gonna be as high a priority probably.

Connor: But could be novel.

Mike: Exactly, and then it’s also gonna tell you difficulty, so how hard is it gonna be to rank well for that. So if there’s lots of people writing about it, it’s probably gonna be harder, you know, the types of folks to write about it, and then the opportunity that’s there, and then it’ll give you priority, so, I mean, you could really get into it or you could just kinda use it for suggestions. We already mentioned Google Trend and what’s trending. I actually went into that recently and it was all about Shark Week, like, she wanted to talk to Shark Week. So, you’re saying, like, well, Shark Week already happened, like, Phelps already raced the shark.

Connor: That was a great, great, race.

Mike: Yeah, but next year Shark Week’s gonna happen again, right, so, and if you’re, you know, really paying attention to it and if you’re in the shark industry, or whatever, you know, but you don’t have to be in the shark industry. In fact, this reminded me of several years ago, at a conference they were talking about content and ideas, and that’s where one of the, it was a realtor company, I think it was realtor.com was talking about how Gilbert Arenas, they were doing like…another thing is if you have celebrity tie-ins, that’s always good for content, but he was selling his home and it had a shark tank in it. And so they used that Gilbert Arenas has a shark tank in his home during Shark Week to write a piece of content that did well. You know, so there’s, you can get in there and look, and search your industry, too, to see what’s going on. Another really popular one is BuzzSumo. Are you familiar with Buzzsumo?

Connor: I’m not.

Mike: So it’s basically gonna tell you, like, what’s doing really well. Okay, what blog posts, what content, is doing really well on social right now. So you can go in there and look and see, okay, well what’s doing well around my topic, my industry that I’m looking for and get an idea what type of topics that…again, you can look in there and see topics that maybe you want to emulate, or take a different twist on them, but it’s gonna tell you things, like how many shares I’ve had on Facebook and LinkedIn. So, again I just checked, where there’s specific ones where fans were legitimately upset that Michael Phelps didn’t race a real shark.

Connor: Legitimately upset, they didn’t say that one coming.

Mike: They thought he was actually gonna…

Connor: The CGI shark fooled everybody.

Mike: Right, but interestingly, so looking at that, that was a “USA Today” article, and it got 20,000 Facebook shares, but it didn’t get any shares on LinkedIn. So…

Connor: Not deemed business worthy.

Mike: Exactly, however, there was one, there was a “Wall Street Journal” article about the shark and, like, I think it was the voice of the shark. I don’t know if you saw that one, but somebody wrote a letter about the voice of the shark, by the voice of the shark, or something in the “Wall Street Journal” and that one did really well, it had almost 1,000 LinkedIn shares. So, you know, thinking about who your target market is and what your social channel is that you wanna be in, doing this, going into BuzzSumo will give you a good idea there, and tons of different ideas.

Connor: That sounds like a great tool.

Mike: Another, sort of, looking for ideas tool that’s good is Quora. They have question and answer, you know, is a great place to get in there, especially on business topics to ask questions on. It seems like it’s maybe getting a little overused in the space.

Connor: A little saturated, yeah.

Mike: I mean, there’s lots of ideas in there. When I…

Connor: You just have to do a little extra hunting?

Mike: Yeah, exactly, you know, you’re gonna get things like, “What’s your lifestyle typically like in Manhattan, New York, if you’re single and make over $150,000 a year.”

Connor: Does not apply. Does not apply.

Mike: So it’s, like, Oh, but that was the most popular on their homepage today.

Connor: But good for that one person.

Mike: So those are general ideas, once you have those, there’s a couple of good tools out there to actually give you, maybe not your specific blog topic, but ones that are getting a lot closer. Portent has a content idea generator, which is cool. Like, you’ll put your search term in there and it’s gonna give you, when you hit it, and it’s gonna give you blog post ideas. So, when I was messing around with it in preparing for this, I put in “business ethics.” So let’s say your company is big on business ethics, or you just decide you wanna write a blog post on business ethics, but you don’t know what to write about, right. So putting that in there, one suggestion is, ” An expert interview about business ethics.” Hit refresh. “How business ethics are making the world a better place.” Hit refresh. “How business ethics changed how we think about death.”

Connor: Interesting.

Mike: There’s gonna be a lot of irrelevant ones that don’t make sense, but, you know, again, it’s an idea generation thing. Hubspot’s got another tool like that, too. You know, going in there, you know, you put in, actually there’s is cool, you put in three nouns, and it’ll give you five ideas. And then, again, you can refresh, or change your nouns, or that sort of stuff.

Connor: I used to make band names with a tool similar to that.

Mike: There you go.

Connor: It worked really well.

Mike: Exactly, you know.

Connor: Pineapple Briefcase.

Mike: Who knew. How could we make that into a blog post?

Connor: Yeah, we can do it.

Mike: I like it.

Connor: I think we can do it.

Mike: So what, you know, and, I mean, just to kinda give an example, and I think, again, go to the blog post on it, but, you know, if I’m thinking of the real estate world in that Hubspot line, it’s real estate, buyers and sellers, right. You’ve got their ideas, “the worst advice ever heard about real estate.” Okay, that could be interesting maybe. Yeah, that could be a series, right?

Connor: That’s pretty general.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, and those are where you’re talking about what type of blogs you’re gonna write. You know, that could be, you’ve got a bunch of brokers, like, “Hey, give me your, like, give me your two sentences on this.” And you’re putting together all the layering, realtors, yeah.

Mike: If you put all the links in there, and all of you share it and it’ll be amazing.

Connor: Yep, so that’s a unicorn, right?

Mike: Yeah, right. And then, finally, sort of the, you know, so you’ve got the coming up with what to write about, in general, maybe some specific topic ideas. And, again, you can kinda do this ahead of time, and then if you’re gonna do a group setting, that would set people…I mean, if you’re gonna go to a bunch of realtors and that worst advice I’ve ever heard. I mean, I’m sure you could have a great brainstorm for hours on that, it would go along all kinds of different lines, a great content ideas. But then the other thing is like, okay, you have all these ideas, how can you be efficient? You know, when you’re just, one of the other things is just when you’re out there, you know, I use the wrought iron example. You know, that was just me, happened to be searching, and maybe while I’m doing that I see some things that are applicable to my business, well save those. You know, a tool that we like to use is called Pocket, it just, you use it to save links and you can put them in folders and label them. So, one of your links is maybe blog content ideas, just save it in there, so when you’re ready to spend time thinking about and planning your blog, you can go back to it without having to go do more search stuff. So that’s a pretty good one.

Alltop is, basically, just gets headlines from lots of different leading industry, leading publications like “Entrepreneur,” and “Fast Company,” and “The New York Times,” it just kinda puts it, so you don’t have to go to each one individually, you can see, sort of, the top topics are for the day, and, you know, maybe again that’s one that’s super relevant for social when you’re being really timely, but it can also give you a good idea of what’s going on.

Dapulse, which is a project management tool that, actually, we’re really excited because they’ve come on to sponsor this podcast. We haven’t gotten in to actually using it yet, but it’s a project management tool, you know, it’s similar to Trello, where you can put things in a list and save them for later, so, we’ll have more on that in the future about how great it is.

Connor: Yes, stay tuned.

Mike: I’m sure, but we’re excited about getting in there and using that.

Connor: Great, well, so any last thoughts to wrap it up, or any key points to restate?

Mike: Yeah, no, I think that, you know, just kinda to summarize it saying, “Get organized.” Quality over quantity for sure. You know, quantity is good, if you can create lots of good content, that’s even better. Although that reminds me of the presentation you and I went to that Larry Kim did with killing donkeys and feeding unicorns. You know, that of course, that’s a whole other topic, but, you know, the things that are doing well. If they’re doing well, emulate them and do spin-offs and, you know, if you have content that you do that nobody likes, that’s okay, just let it go. Let it go.

Connor: You need to take the blue pill before you see that presentation.

Mike: Right, that’s true. There’s a lot, you know, quality over quantity, there’s a lot of ways to get content ideas. You have access to them, most of them for free. And a lot of the tools, all the tools I talked about have at least a free version that will get you going, for sure. Ask for help from people, different points of views are always really good. And then, kinda what we started with, like, the more you do something, the better you get at it. So, just practice and do it and, you know, as you come up with ideas, ideas lead to ideas. And you’ll be blogging like a pro like me, in no time.

Connor: Yes, exactly. All right, well, sounds good. I’m gonna go write a blog, but thanks for sharing all of your advice about this.

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