Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam [Podcast]

Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam [Podcast]

Staying Ahead of the Puck that is Google with Michael Cottam

“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” — Wayne Gretzky.

Somewhere in the middle of the PR Talk conversation I had with Michael Cottam he cited this quote in reference to how he approaches search marketing. This means that Michael doesn’t just focus on what Google is doing, he broadens his view to what Google will be doing. There couldn’t be a more fascinating way to think about the ever-evolving topic of search, and especially how it relates to PR.

Michael Cottam is a renowned search engine optimization (SEO) expert who many in the search industry already know. Beyond providing highly-coveted search consultation for clients, Michael is the founder of Visual Itineraries, which he calls his SEO “sandbox” because it is where he tests search theories for clients.

Always full of great information, I am normally talking with Michael either at a busy conference or while collaborating on a mutual client. So I took this dedicated time to really dig in and get my questions answered. Even if my questions are in the weeds or are very technical, I don’t care because it will help us help Veracity’s SEO PR clients!

Battle of the SEOs: Does Michael Agree with Rand About Links?

First, I had to know if Michael agreed or disagreed with Rand Fiskin’s notion that links are not nearly as important as they once were for SEO (check out the last PR Talk interview with Rand titled “The Wall Street Journal Problem” for more context). 

Michael wholeheartedly agreed with Rand. 

The backstory is that Google used to rank web pages higher in search engines by relying on quantifying their external links. But now, Google has improved its ability to recognize quality content within web pages. While links are still important, websites that thoroughly cover specific topics will in turn rank for those specific topics.

 

Google’s E-A-T Attempts to Take the Consumer’s Place

Michael explains that in addition to links, Google is now considering “E-A-T,” which stands for “Expertise, Authority and Trust,” to rank web pages. For example, Google can determine the authority of a web page by attempting to discover who wrote the page and then follow a trail back to previous content by that author. If the author has written authoritative posts and been included (mentioned) as a source in other websites, Google will consider them an expert, thus trusting the page. Therefore, thought leader names are becoming just as important, or possibly even more important, than company names in terms of establishing credibility and resulting SEO.  

Since Veracity handles a lot of guest article placement for thought leaders, I wanted to dig into this concept further. I would think that name credibility could be built by landing many guest article placements. However, Michael said that interviews (or getting names included in articles) by credible third-party sources (such as reporters) are just as important. You want a mix of both to build your thought leader’s name, as well as the company name. 

The E-A-T concept allows Google to mechanically re-create what consumers would see along the decision-making process and ultimately what websites they would click on. In this way, Google essentially acts like a consumer to serve its customers (web searchers).

 

Schema Markup Can Help Us Tier Press Lists

Back to my favorite topics of links, if all else is equal, of course you’d place more intrinsic value on the website article that also provides a followed link to your website. However, we could also review the “schema markup” (a type of structured data) of web pages. This hidden code enables search engines to understand what the page actually is about so it can more readily appear in searches. For example, appropriate schema markup will tell Google that a webpage is really a press article, as well as who published and wrote it. 

PR people should not inquire or advise press/web contacts about schema markup. This is a much bigger deal than simply asking the press to add a link into a previously written article.  Additionally, there are ways we can discover who is using ideal schema markup in order to tier websites/press by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool or Rich Results Test to see if the site is using structured data (see more about these tools in this Search Engine Land article).

 

Are No-Follow Links the Devil?

For a long time we have been talking about no-follow links not being very great for SEO. However, Mike Rosenberg has been unsure about this for a while, so we posed the question to Michael Cottam.

He said that Google cares very much about “user-generated links” (links generated by others), which are found on social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and on forums and places like Reddit and Quora. You want a mix of outside press (links and/or mentions from other websites) and buzz from user-generated links, which are no-follow, because they show what is hot right now.

However, there should be a natural bell curve pattern in the links. You don’t want to do a bunch of Facebook ads to generate comments and links for users at only one time. Ideally, you’d get some outside press coverage first and then share that article on social media (with some budget behind it) to show Google that people are also talking about you, which will increase the search impact of the original article.

 

We talked about so much more in the interview. More detailed questions such as how to approach keywords when writing press materials were answered. And larger topics, such as: 1) how search and PR teams can effectively work together, and 2) if search and PR could ever be combined into one role. That was an easy no!

 

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: Michael Cottam

Michael Cottam is the founder of Visual Itineraries, a sales closing and lead-generation tool for travel agents, and is an independent SEO consultant, focusing on technical organic search engine optimization, Panda optimization, and Google penalty recovery. The former SEMpdx board member is currently involved in the Rotary Club of Greater Bend, where he recently moved to be closer to the outdoors. 

Connect and follow Michael on social media:

Michael Cottam technical seo consultant

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.

How to Choose the Right Communication Channels for Your Communications Campaign

How to Choose the Right Communication Channels for Your Communications Campaign

With so many communications channels to choose from, it’s easy to see how some businesses might get overwhelmed.

According to a recent survey by The Manifest, 64% of small businesses use two or more channels when relaying messages to consumers.

By choosing a combination of channels, businesses can ensure their messages are being received by the widest possible audience.

Although it might be tempting to use as many communications channels as are available, businesses would benefit from a more deliberate and mindful approach.

 

Know Your Audience

One of the first steps of planning a successful communications campaign is knowing exactly who the campaign is for.

Ask yourself:

  • How old is the target audience?
  • What are their communication habits?
  • What types of messages do they respond best to?

For example, if your target audience is younger, social media might be the best way to reach them.

Businesses should also consider whether the target audience is current customers or people they’re trying to convert into customers.

“Current customers are going to listen to that message quite differently than folks who don’t know who you are or haven’t had any sort of relationship with you,” said Mike Rosenberg, CEO of Veracity, one of the top PR agencies in Portland, Ore.

 

Consider Your Message

 The next step to planning an effective communications campaign is to consider the message you want to share.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you sharing information about a new product or service?
  • Do you want to share company news?
  • Is the purpose of your message to inform or incite a specific action?

Businesses should always consider the nature of their message before determining which communication channel would be the best fit.

 

Think About What Kind of Return You Want to Gain

After you’ve considered your audience and the type of message you’ll be sharing, you also need to consider the type of return you want to gain from your communication efforts.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the goal with communication to customers?
  • What action do we want them to take?
  • Do we want them to buy something?
  • Do we want them to start a conversation around our brand?
  • Is this more a matter of customer service?
  • How will we track our returns?

For example, if you want to jumpstart buzz around your brand or a new product, social media might be the best channel. If you want to offer customers exclusive news or discounts, email or direct mail might be best.

Whatever your intended return is, make sure it is trackable so that you can measure the success of your campaign to prepare for future campaigns.

 

Business-Consumer Communications Requires a Well-Thought Out Plan

While businesses should use multiple platforms to emphasize their messages, they should do so in a deliberate way. By considering their audience, message, and the return they want to gain, businesses can create a communications campaign that strengthens their public relations, marketing, and reputation management strategies.

Featured image from Ethan Hoover
Greg Retsinas: KGW Media Group [Podcast]

Greg Retsinas: KGW Media Group [Podcast]

6 Ways to Get Coverage on KGW

The Swallowing of Traditional Journalism
Passionately Outlined by KGW’s Greg Retsinas.

Greg Retsinas must have a crystal ball. While spending years in traditional newsroom settings, he was acutely aware of the merger between traditional and digital media before any of us were. Not only was he one of the earliest to jump on the digital bandwagon, it is my estimation that he’s one of the few that is actually changing the game as the head of KGW’s digital operations and newly promoted to Regional Director for parent company TEGNA.

To say that digital media is merging with traditional journalism would be foolish. Not only has it already merged, digital media is swallowing up the traditional aspects of newsrooms across the world. So much so that my understanding of the traditional aspects of some newsrooms are outdated. I have been on this kick to learn about the digital side of newsrooms and it’s funny to see that my knowledge was up to par in that aspect, however the traditional side of news was lacking. Of course Veracity gains coverage on a daily basis from “traditional” realms, but that’s not the point. Fully understanding how newsrooms operate helps us do our jobs even better enabling us to be better media partners.

In this episode, Greg helps me reshape how I am thinking about news. The “traditional” and “digital” sides aren’t split. They’ve morphed into one. However, this may only be true for KGW, which may be more cutting edge, but it is my job to find out by interviewing other TV newsrooms on this podcast.

Leaving his nest at the New York Times, Greg set out to explore the digital sphere of journalism, serving as Interactive Editor for the Press Democrat, eventually launching a digital agency inside the newspaper to help its clients with their digital needs. Fast-forward to today where Greg’s digital influence over traditional newsrooms is quickly reshaping everything.

 

Six Ways to Get Coverage on KGW:

Greg rattled off many ways PR pros can garner coverage on KGW’s broadcast, website and social media platforms. Here are a few highlights:

  • Digital Self-Service: There are many options available on KGW.com that PR pros can utilize from a self-service aspect. By submitting to the calendar or adding to the directory, you can ensure you’ve done your part and bypass the stress of getting different forms of coverage if you have to.
  • Sharing is Caring: Submit content such as videos and photos of community happenings. If the media couldn’t attend the “happening,” you can help fill in where they couldn’t be. You can do this through KGW’s YourPic section, or by sharing content through your mobile device on social media platforms and mentioning KGW in a post and direct messaging them.
  • #Hashtag: By using the #KGWnews or #KGWweather hashtag on social media platforms, the KGW team will see it and decide if they want to reshare on their social, website, or maybe even on a show. By far the number one way people let KGW know what is happening is by tagging them in social media content.
  • TV Broadcast: Space for TV is very limited. If you get something on TV, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make it online (and you want SEO!!). It depends on the subject, but if a reporter shows up to cover your story you have a greater chance of online coverage. Whereas if a camera shows up without a reporter, you get limited content and there’s a chance breaking news may rid your coverage from airing.
  • Content Discovery Area: KGW’s Content Discovery Area, handling both digital and traditional news, is staffed by a team covering subjects and events that are highly visual, engaging, and speak to the general, yet local, audience. You can send pitches to [email protected] or [email protected].
  • The Audience is First: Lastly, KGW news is meant for a wider, yet local, audience demanding compelling and quick stories. If your pitch is centered around a niche subject and audience, they won’t be intrigued.  

As a final note, Greg’s advice is “if you want to connect with us, consume us.” If you’re not doing this, it will be difficult to get into KGW’s ecosystem.

About the guest: Greg Retsinas

Greg Retsinas is Director of Digital Media and Director of Digital Strategy for KGW Media Group. Additionally, he is Regional Director for TEGNA where he is the digital content and strategy lead for the West region, serving digital content operations in Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Boise, Denver, Sacramento, Phoenix and San Diego.

Connect and follow Greg on social media:

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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

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

Lizzy Acker: OregonLive Trending Team on Digital First Writing [Podcast]

Lizzy Acker: OregonLive Trending Team on Digital First Writing [Podcast]

Lizzy Acker is responsible for driving page views to Oregon’s largest daily newspaper’s website, OregonLive. For just over a year, she’s been combining her creative, personal voice with journalistic integrity in her role as a reporter on the Oregonian’s trending news team, “the most fun team to be on,” according to Lizzy.

The trending team must hold strong value among the ranks of a publication that branded itself as “digital first” after shocking long-term subscribers by slashing its daily home delivery options in 2013. This new approach for the Oregonian requires a different kind of writing that can be quickly measured by clicks, shares and comments — pointing to a reporter’s effective or ineffective writing.

Website news writing versus traditional news writing

Reporters traditionally plunge into their reporting, coming up for air sometimes months or years later with meaningful stories impacting many people. However, these long-lead stories might not attract a ton of page-views which seem to come from quick writing that is often related to what’s going on right this instant. What’s different about Lizzy’s role is that she’s directly tasked with writing for her audience as well as telling the news. This approach has many traditional reporters aghast. But Lizzy doesn’t believe that considering her audience before setting forth is “selling out.” She attempts to continually build her audience, a good thing for the Oregonian who is in the business of attracting eyeballs to content.

While all of her posts end up on OregonLive, a select few make it into the paper. She loves this, saying “its cool to see your name in the paper.” Sometimes the only way she knows her words graced the dinosaur pages is how her audience connects, getting more phone calls and emails from readers as opposed to the usual online comments.

Dead seriousness mixed with slapstick fun

Admitting that she’s been accused of writing “click bate,” Lizzy loves that she gets to write about important and serious topics, along with that of the goofier variety. Writing with a different tone than most journalists, who are tasked with telling the facts and only the facts, Lizzy attempts to infuse a more casual voice into her writing, leaving room for more personality and freedom. For example, embarking on something new for seven days in a row — dancing, water activities and more.

But it’s not always fun and games. Lizzy also confronts race and racism head-on for OregonLive. She was first to tell us about the confederate flag found hanging across from the black cultural center near Oregon State University. She continuously lists the reports of bias incidents that have occurred since the election, adding to it each month to capture what is actually happening. “It seems different [since the election],” she states before rhetorically asking “Is it different?”

Combining journalism with creative writing

Truth be told, Lizzy didn’t want to be a journalist because she couldn’t stand being assigned boring stories. Typical millennial? Maybe not. Lizzy pursued her MFA in fiction writing at San Francisco State University, coming out of that experience with an actual published book!

“Monster Party,” mostly set in Oregon, is a fictitious collection of short stories about “being a girl, relationships, sex in a non-sexy way and trying to be a human being,” she describes. After grad school she also pumped out a zine, which is a funny word for what “could be anything,” called “Half Life,” which is “even less thinly veiled fiction,” confiding that it’s “basically true stories.”

You can reach out to Lizzy to get copies of either book here.

Creating her own opportunities

After grad school, Lizzy found herself answering phones in the membership department of KQED, which is “like OBP but for northern California.” Lizzy offers a bit of advice for newbies: “If you can work at a place that’s doing something you like even if it’s not doing the job you wanted, it’s a good place to start.”

She was eventually handed the management of KQED’s entire Facebook account. “They thought you’re a young person, you can manage the Facebook,” she jokes. But I’m sure that having written a book didn’t hurt. For an entire year she was operating two full-time jobs until the membership duties were taken off her plate.

Lizzy thought KQED’s constant conversation about tapping into a millennial audience was funny because they had a millennial right in front of them. She proposed they create a first-ever pop culture blog. The station agreed to let her lead the charge alongside her KQED work-husband.

SEO hacks take notice: while at KQED Lizzy wrote two posts that continue to rank among the top page views in the history of the website — We Had So Much Fun while You Were at Burning Man and 11 Steps to Getting a Tattoo You Won’t Regret for the Rest of Your Life.

The problem was that she found herself with two fulltime jobs again—writing for KQED’s pop culture blog and managing the Facebook account. Deciding to turn back to her Oregon roots, she moved back home and freelanced but didn’t like it. “I didn’t have the desire to look for the work and I found myself on the couch watching Law & Order frequently.”

So she jumped at the chance to run social media for Powell’s where she loved working but didn’t love the work of social media because “it is boring and constrained.” Therefore, when the web editor position at Willamette Week opened up she made her move. While in charge of the weekly entertainment publication’s web presence, Lizzy decided where each story would live online and what would be incorporated into social media.

The Maze of Titles at The Oregonian

When Lizzy mentioned her boss in conversation I probably over-enthusiastically blurted out my confusion on the leadership structure at the Oregonian. These new “fancy” titles, as I like to call them, have this dinosaur dazed and confused. Who is the editor of what section? Lizzy broke down the hierarchy like this:

  • Karly Imus, Managing Producer, is Lizzy’s “boss”
  • Ben Sherman, Director of Sports & Trending News, is Karly’s “boss”
  • Therese Bottomly, Director of News, is Ben’s “boss”
  • And finally Mark Katches, Editor/Vice President of Content reigns as supreme “boss”

“Really they are all good bosses,” Lizzy confides while expressing how much she truly loves working with the team at the Oregonian.

So, in examining the titles above, apparently the Managing Producer is the Editor of that particular section assigning stories. The Producer word can throw us off but it communicates the digital aspect of the role, with videos and “posts” of any kind being incorporated into traditional editing. However, how we as PR people relate to Managing Producers largely remains the same.

It should be noted that the trending team works so quickly that Karly isn’t necessarily assigning stories. The other sections such as arts and business do work more traditionally where the Managing Producer could assign stories, with the reporters also aligning with specific beats and selecting their own stories.

Keep PR persistency in check

Lizzy describes the feeling of dread she has in her stomach when thinking about her inbox. PR people often send an email, then a follow up email, and then they call her to see if she got their follow up email. Lizzy hints that if she were to write about something you’d probably already know. She doesn’t know when the last time a follow up email led her to write a story.

That’s not to say that some of her posts aren’t inspired by the first PR pitch that comes through. Here’s how to fall into that category:

  • Make her care: She wants to know why she — and consequentially her readers — should care. “Read what I write and see if something connects with you.”
  • Make it shareable: Think about what people want to read and if they’d share it on social media. If you personally wouldn’t share it, find the angle that would make you want to.
  • Make it local: The pitch doesn’t have to be from a local company as long as it’s related to something happening within Oregon.
  • Make it in early: Send events months in advance, especially to reporters like Eder Campuzano (trending geek culture) who compiles the best events, along with other things like technology.
  • Make it clear: “Do not be cute. Make the subject line very clear. I don’t have time to think about it.”
  • Make it writerly: Don’t ask her to post something in its entirety on her website. She is never going to do that because she’s a writer.
  • Make it picture-friendly: Attach your images or let her know how she can get them if they are available.
  • Do not call her, and probably the other Oregonian reporters.

What does Lizzy want to hear from us about?

  • What’s happening in town.
  • How people are reacting to this political climate.
  • How your story relates to the identity Lizzy is portraying on OregonLive.

And finally I gleaned clarification on the infamous [email protected] email address. This is a different email box with a designated person whose entire job is to go through that email box, determining whom to forward your emails to, probably with a closer eye than how she approaches her own inbox, Lizzy admits.

About the guest: Lizzy Acker

Lizzy Acker is a reporter for The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon. Previously she was Web Editor at Willamette Week.

Her work has been published in The RumpusNano FictionWe Who Are About To DiesPARKLE & bLINKPolicyMic and elsewhere. She was a blogger for KQED Arts and the co-creator and former co-editor and writer for KQED Pop and is currently a co-editor and writer for The Tusk.

She was the co-creator/curator, with Amira Pierce, of the popular San Francisco reading series Funny/Sexy/Sad and she has read with Bang OutRADARQuiet Lightening and others.  Her first book, Monster Party, was released in December of 2010 by Small Desk Press. Her zine, Half-Life, was published by The Gorilla Press in 2014.

She was born in Oregon, lived in San Francisco for almost 8 years and then moved back to Oregon, just like everyone always knew she would.

Connect and follow Lizzy on social media:

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.

PR Talk is sponsored by dapulse

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. dapulse is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at dapulse.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing dapulse for their project management needs.

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

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.

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.

Women & Digital Marketing [Podcast]

Women & Digital Marketing [Podcast]

Impostor syndrome, blissful ignorance and creating your own destiny. In this episode of #ChalkTalk, Anna & Amy get into it all! Right in time for Engage, Portland’s premier digital marketing conference which will feature about 40% women speakers on March 9th! Anna Huston started her digital marketing company, Avenue, last year and serves on the SEMpdx Board as the Engage Director.

#ChalkTalk Podcast