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.

A Modern PR Interview with Amy Rosenberg [Podcast]

A Modern PR Interview with Amy Rosenberg [Podcast]

A Modern PR Interview

 

Author Amy Rosenberg provides insight into her new book.

In this episode of the PR Talk Podcast, I get to be the host and interview Amy about her new book  A Modern Guide to Public Relations. Listen now to hear about:

 

Maximize everything

There are opportunities to “do all the things.” This means going above and beyond what is directly in front of you and to think about the details (e.g. how you label and title your photos to help the press or help with your SEO). Another example is if you are going to write social copy, don’t just write the same thing for every platform you are on, customize them for maximum effect on each channel. And when you get a PR hit, don’t just give yourself a high-five, think about what to do after you get press.

 

Perfection is the enemy

Perfectionism can seem like a great attribute from the outside, but it really isn’t good as we need to have balance. Being able to stop before perfect and knowing when good enough is, well good enough as nothing is ever perfect. Perfectionism is a wonderful crutch for procrastination.

 

The “PR Mindset”

Amy talks about the PR Mindset and how it can set you up in any career. The PR Mindset comes from being an optimist and a maximizer. Key PR ways of doing things including being organized, having tenacity, taking your work with you wherever you go (Amy mentions work/life flow or meld which we may talk about in a future episode) and that you follow the news (meaning you know what is going on in the world) and then you can truly operate from gut instinct.

 

Living the PR Lifestyle

The PR Lifestyle includes ethics, teamwork, cooperation with competitors and maintaining connections. It is also taking our work with us, in a good way, meaning we can solve issues or have great brainstorms in the shower and on the road. It is really understanding your business and industry so you can get to the point of knowing what to do on gut instinct. It is writing and reading. PR has a lot of writing and you can’t write if you don’t read. This means reading every day, and scrolling through Instagram and Twitter don’t count. You have to pick up a book (or other reading device).

Additionally, I share a couple of my favorite quotes from the book, including:

Your phone ringing off the hook with calls from PR people — college-educated telemarketers in disguise — a couple hundred times a day

Amy is expressing empathy for the members of the media that are on the receiving end of the (hopefully) well-intended pitch from a (potentially) overly-aggressive PR. A bit tongue-in-cheek of course.

If doing all the work without any of the glory leaves you feeling like a slighted Cinderella step-sister, welcome to PR.

It’s not all bells and balls, as Amy shared in another recent post that “Public Relations Isn’t Just for Red Carpets.”

 

Don’t Miss an Episode

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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.

Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

The modern idea of public relations (PR) developed in response to the rapid growth of mass media in the early 20th century. Pioneering practitioners like Ivy Lee, Edward L. Bernays and Betsy Plank were among the first to recognize the benefits of using the media to deliver precise and truthful corporate messages. As the media evolved over the years from print to radio to television and beyond, PR professionals have adjusted their tactics to stay effective. Regardless of the medium, however, the goal remains the same: to elevate the client’s public position.

On the other side of the coin, search engine optimization (SEO) as an industry is relatively new. It started around the early 2000s and has evolved rather quickly. My start in the world of search engine marketing was in 2007 and the only “PR” activities SEOs did was maybe using a press release distribution service to get lots of spammy links. However, the SEO’s goal remains the same as well: to elevate the client’s search engine [Google] position.

 

What is Digital PR?

As our activities continue moving online, PR practitioners have responded with new tactics that take their traditional techniques a step further. Called Digital PR or SEO PR, this approach raises a client’s position online by targeting outlets and opportunities beyond conventional media. Some assume that Digital PR is just another term for link building. While this technique is certainly one tactic in the arsenal, that narrow view often ignores the holistic strategy directing a PR professional’s outreach efforts. When done well, Digital PR not only improves a company’s SEO presence but also increases brand mentions and exposure. 

 

Digital PR Tactics

Traditional PR focuses on media relations and outreach efforts to secure coverage for their clients (or organization for in-house efforts). Historically, these outlets included mostly print publications along with television and radio broadcasters. Digital PR still focuses on traditional media, using the tried and true PR techniques developed over generations. But, the work doesn’t stop there. Instead, Digital PR practitioners also look for other opportunities that didn’t exist ten, twenty or thirty years ago, and broaden their focus outside of traditional media to include targets like bloggers, podcasters and other influencers. These outreach tactics all converge under a broader PR strategy, developed to meet the client’s overarching goals.

 

Link Building

Every PR professional builds a media list to prioritize and track their outreach efforts. With a traditional campaign, media opportunities might be ranked by the type of audience or the size of an outlet’s reach. Digital PR campaigns use the same techniques but also include other online metrics — like a link opportunity and the authority of a website — to help judge an outlet’s value. Under this strategy, domain authority, follow vs. no-follow links and even body vs. bio links become critical considerations. Depending on the campaign goals, the right link could be the main priority and will, in turn, shape the outlets you pursue. Often, this leads PR professionals to uncover valuable opportunities that lie beyond traditional media outlets.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is another tactic that PR practitioners use to target media opportunities. By creating articles, videos, infographics and other assets around a strategic topic, PR professionals offer the media pre-packaged content in the hopes of receiving something of value for their clients in return, like a link or a mention. Even if the content isn’t picked up through an earned media opportunity, these assets are also valuable tools for owned media channels like social media, email or a corporate website. If a piece of content is being shared in one way or another, there’s value there.

 

Podcasts

Over the past ten or fifteen years, podcasts have grown from a niche product into a significant media category. More people are starting their own podcasts every day, which means there’s a tremendous ongoing demand for content. Digital PR professionals leverage podcast opportunities in several different ways. Companies can reach large, new audiences by having their people appear as podcast guests. Additionally, there are often link opportunities associated with podcasts that make some shows more valuable than others. Google is also now indexing and featuring podcast content, which makes these shows a critical component of every digital media list.

Podcast SERP

Google search results feature podcasts and specific episodes.

Events

Events have long been the domain of traditional PR practitioners. In this context, media outreach usually takes the form of interviews or profiles in trade publications. As always, Digital PR seeks out additional online opportunities that will add value to these already valuable events. For example, during a tradeshow, there may be openings to collaborate with strategic partners or customers. Other times, it could be an often-overlooked activity like filling out the company’s online event profile with SEO or link-building practices in mind. In any event, a Digital PR strategy takes advantage of every avenue that will extend the life of these limited-duration events.

 

Sponsorships

Many companies actively seek out opportunities to give back to their community by partnering with nonprofit organizations. Digital PR professionals can help their clients evaluate these organizations in several different ways:

  1. Does the organization share the client’s values or goals?
  2. Will the organization be a good partner?
  3. What kind of digital assets is the organization bringing to the table?

Rather than just spending money, Digital PR strategies can help leverage the online elements of a sponsorship agreement to deliver maximum exposure for clients.

 

A Unified Strategy Guides Everything

In the end, Digital PR is not so different from what early practitioners pioneered all those years ago. It’s still about elevating your client’s public position using clear and transparent messaging. But in this case, a client’s public position might also include their search engine results page listing. That’s why every modern PR strategy should prioritize online opportunities and employ the digital tactics necessary to achieve campaign success on every possible front. Otherwise, clients won’t realize all the potential value from their PR efforts.

 

(I just love that image of Marty Weintraub at SearchFest. An internet marketer holding up the results of some very traditional print PR work.)

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Moving Past the Jargon: Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

For a while there, the term “thought leadership” seemed destined for the dustbin of marketing history. Part jargon, part cliche, the term became synonymous with personal brand builders who plied their trade in breathless LinkedIn posts or at TEDx talks held in hotel conference rooms. Fortunately, savvy marketers rescued the thought leader from this ignominious fate by refocusing the concept into a powerful business growth strategy.

Today, thought leadership is a content marketing approach that positions a company, executive or other subject matter expert as the go-to resource in their field. Influential thought leaders produce content that answers their customers’ questions, provides solutions to pressing problems or offers the audience a new point-of-view to consider.

When executed correctly, these campaigns include their own strategies, tactics, goals and measures to judge effectiveness. As those elements come together, thought leadership begins to drive bottom-line results. That’s why marketing leaders — especially in the B2B space — should consider incorporating this approach into their overall strategy.

Four Ways Thought Leadership Drives Bottom-Line Results

While the idea of thought leadership might initially appeal to the ego, it strongly aligns with the marketing philosophy that giving generously to your customers brings tangible returns. Here are four ways that can play out for your business.

 

Thought Leadership Increases Business Visibility

The goal of marketing is to build awareness around your company and its products or services. By producing thought leadership content, you’ll demonstrate your team’s inherent expertise in ways that are helpful to potential new customers. Research conducted by LinkedIn and Edelman revealed how thought leadership drives new business generation. According to their findings, 45% of decision-makers said they “invited a producer of thought leadership content to bid on a project when they had not previously considered the organization.” After all, delivering an exciting new idea at just the right time is a fantastic way to get someone’s attention.

 

Thought Leadership Builds and Maintains Trust with Your Audience

By some estimates, acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as retaining an old one. With this in mind, businesses must find ways to grow their existing audience and build the trust necessary for them to purchase again and again. Thought leadership accomplishes this by delivering content that helps customers do their jobs better. According to research conducted by The Grist, 66% of executives use thought leadership to stay ahead of trends. In addition, 60% of executives reported that thought leadership helped them make better, more informed decisions.

When business leaders see smart, relevant and helpful content, it drives behavior. The LinkedIn/Edelman study found that 55% of decision-makers increased their business with an organization based on their thought leadership. What’s more, 60% said that “thought leadership convinced them to buy a product or service they were not previously considering.” These statistics show that well-executed thought leadership campaigns effectively engage existing customers and drive ongoing purchasing decisions.

Thought Leadership Shortens the Sales Cycle

For businesses managing long and complex sales cycles, thought leadership can be an effective strategy for answering questions in advance, preemptively addressing objections and moving customers closer to action. LinkedIn and Edelman found that nearly 60% of decision-makers awarded business to an organization based directly on their thought leadership. By demonstrating your knowledge in advance and anticipating customer pain points, you show potential customers how you’ll serve them once they’ve decided to purchase.

 

Thought Leadership Supports Other Marketing Goals

In addition to driving customer behavior and bottom-line results, carefully developed thought leadership content becomes flexible assets that support broader marketing efforts like increasing social media engagement, driving traffic to your website and overall brand development. You may also begin to uncover unmet customer needs as you develop audience profiles and mine your organization’s existing expertise.

 

Potential Thought Leadership Channels

Some companies might hesitate before jumping into thought leadership because they believe they don’t have the expertise to successfully execute their strategy or stand out in a crowded marketplace. However, thought leadership can take on many different forms, including:

  • Corporate blogging
  • Guest posting on established blogs
  • Public relations outreach
  • Podcast appearances
  • Social media content
  • Expert interviews for media
  • Conference speaking engagements
  • Video content

The key is to assess your organization’s capabilities, find the channels where you’re well-positioned to succeed and then share what you know.

 

The Recipe for a Winning Marketing Strategy

With this information in mind, it’s easy to see how thought leadership has evolved from an occupation for a specific set of personal brand builders into a legitimate business growth strategy — especially in B2B marketing.

By consistently demonstrating how your unique expertise solves a customer’s specific problems, you’ve positioned your organization as their essential partner for success. Creating that communication ecosystem drives new business leads, accelerates your sales cycle and strengthens existing customer relationships. All the while, you’re creating flexible content that supports other outreach initiatives. That has all the makings of a winning marketing strategy.

Maximizing PR for SEO: Mike Rosenberg: CommCon2019 [Podcast]

Maximizing PR for SEO: Mike Rosenberg: CommCon2019 [Podcast]

Traditional PR Transformation: Maximizing PR for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I will be presenting at PRSA Oregon’s CommCon event on May 3rd to help PR and communications professionals add SEO to their marketing toolbox. With a short history lesson, the overall basics of SEO and some specific how-tos, I hope attendees will realize that they are already doing many SEO-worthy activities. A little extra work and strategic planning can pay major dividends.

Presentation Abstract:

Many traditional communications professionals may be surprised to learn they’ve been part of the “IT” crowd all along. In fact, we’re leading the way. Due to continued competition and Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithms, it continues to be difficult to achieve high rankings in Google for a website. Instead of completely removing “traditional” PR’s role, now the most technical search marketer must rely on our savvy to take their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the next level.

This presentation will offer attendees a deeper understanding of the SEO game, instilling them with the confidence, language and basic understanding to insert their skillset into any digital or website discussion. We’ll then delve into how to transform typical PR strategies to include SEO results. And finally, we’ll offer hands-on practical tips that should be infused into any digital PR campaign.

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.

Mike Rosenberg, Pseudo Host [Podcast]

Mike Rosenberg, Pseudo Host [Podcast]

A Little Background on Mike Rosenberg,
PR Talk Podcast Occasional Host

 

In this episode, I sit down to talk with our occasional host Mike Rosenberg about his background, role at Veracity and what he does for fun. Soon, Mike will reverse our roles and interview me because you will be hearing a lot more from us in future episodes. We thought maybe a little background would be good.

Episode Transcript

We are trying something new for this write-up by posting the episode transcript. 

Amy:                                     Hello, Mike Rosenberg.

Mike:                                    Hi, Amy.

Amy:                                     Hi, podcast listeners. We kind of figured that since we are going to be podcasting every week, you might kind of want to know who we are. Maybe you don’t want to know. Maybe if you knew who-

Mike:                                    Just keep it a secret?

Amy:                                     Well, maybe if you knew who we really were, you wouldn’t want to listen.

Mike:                                    Don’t Google Amy Rosenberg. Actually, don’t Google Amy Winehouse.

Amy:                                     Ooh, yeah, don’t Google Amy Winehouse and wonder why not to Google Amy Weinhouse. I’ll just say Amy Winehouse spells her name incorrectly.

Mike:                                    There you go. We’ll discover that one maybe on your episode.

Amy:                                     I’m the real Amy Weinhouse.

Mike:                                    There you go.

Amy:                                     Okay, yeah, so again, it’s not the Amy show. You might think it is.

Mike:                                    It is sometimes.

Amy:                                    Well, most of the time. But today, we’re going to learn about Mike.

Mike:                                    Why?

Amy:                                     Well, I don’t know why, but we just want … Maybe once we hear from Mike, we will understand why we want to know who he is.

Mike:                                    Well, I’ve done a couple of episodes. It’s been a while, though, for sure.

Amy:                                     Well, and you’re going to be doing episodes with me-

Mike:                                    Moving forward, right? So we’re going to go every week now, instead of every other week, and we’re doing this because we’re adding a new kind of content. Or doing our content more that’s just kind of us educational, right? In addition to interviewing others in the media world or in the marketing world.

Amy:                                     Yeah, so we just thought this would be a fun chance for you to get to know Mike. So what did you do … I don’t know, do we want to talk about what you do now first, and then talk about where you came from?

Mike:                                    Let’s do it the other way around. We’ll evolve into what I am now.

Amy:                                     Okay, so where did you go to college?

Mike:                                    Went to the University of Oregon. Go Ducks. After graduating … I actually was the in the first class … It actually wasn’t a major yet, but my claim to fame is one of the first folks to go through sports marketing. It was long enough ago that sports marketing, which U of O is well known for their sports marketing program and their sports marketing degree.

Mike:                                    I have a business management degree with an emphasis in sports marketing because when I was a junior, there was this new program called sports marketing, and they said you learn business administration with kind of a sports twist to it. So in your law class, it has to do with sponsorship contracts and law for sports and that sort of thing. And I thought, well, that sounds pretty cool. I like sports. I’m going to follow that. So I got that emphasis, which … And then after college, I actually did what my degree says and went into sports marketing.

Amy:                                     Wow, that’s amazing.

Mike:                                    Right? One of the few.

Amy:                                     Right. And I remember we always … Because I have known you for quite a while. We actually met at U of O.

Mike:                                    Right.

Amy:                                     And I’m not going to tell you how, but we did meet. Maybe we could create a poll to see how do you think Amy and Mike met at U of O. Pretty typical, I’ll just say that. But I remember when you got your first job out of college, it was pretty hilarious because you used to use the excuse that you were watching sports for work.

Mike:                                    Oh, it wasn’t an excuse. It was reality. I had to watch the game.

Amy:                                     That’s too bad, right?

Mike:                                    And I had to read the sports section. Now, did I have to only read the sports section? Probably not, but it was a good excuse.

Amy:                                     Yeah, so what was your job?

Mike:                                    I was with the Oregon Sports Authority. It was actually the Portland Oregon Sports Authority at the time, and we were … It is a sports commission, which means our overall job and mission was to bring events and franchises to Oregon for quality of life, economic impact, that sort of stuff. It was a private nonprofit, but oftentimes it’s a public entity that’s supported by state, federal, or county government.

Amy:                                     Okay, and so how long were you there?

Mike:                                    I would have to look at my LinkedIn to know for sure, but I know I was … Well, it was probably about four years, with a quick thought.

Amy:                                     Oh, that’s a while.

Mike:                                    Maybe three or four years, yeah. So I was there for a while. I ended up being the marketing director, and as I mentioned, one of the things that we did was we tried to bring in events. We brought in events for economic impact and quality of life. One of the big events, the biggest event at the time and maybe still is, that we brought in was the US Figure Skating Championships. So part of my job was to go out and pitch and create bids for these major events that move across from city to city, and the Figure Skating Championships was one of those that we got during my tenure at the Oregon Sports Authority.

Amy:                                     Right, and then you went on to manage that event.

Mike:                                    Exactly. That’s why I bring it up. I then transitioned … They were looking for someone to run it locally. I raised my hand, they selected me, and then so I did that for … I think the total job was about three or four years, so a couple of years to get ready for it, and then the event, which was in 2005, and then a couple of months afterward to wrap everything up.

Amy:                                     Yeah, that was kind of a big deal for Oregon because that’s what people competed in before they went to the Olympics, right?

Mike:                                    Exactly, yeah. In Olympic years, it was the Olympic qualifier. Like I said, it was and maybe still is the biggest one-time sports event that Portland has hosted. We had the Moda Center, which then was the Rose Garden, and the Coliseum, and a couple of other ice rinks around town full for basically a week. It was live on TV. In fact, my biggest memory from that is … which is interesting we’re talking about this today, because there’s a snowstorm, “snowstorm” in Portland today.

Amy:                                     As I roll my eyes.

Mike:                                    Yeah, it’s not much of a storm, but school is closed and all that stuff. Well, there was a real snowstorm during the US Figure Skating Championships, and I remember contemplating whether we were going to postpone or call the event, because there was ice, and would people be able to get there?

Mike:                                    And I remember talking with the folks on … with the TV station, which I believe was ABC, and basically they said, “If the skaters can get here, we have to go live, because yes, there’s thousands of people who are coming to watch it live in Portland, but there’s millions of people who are watching it on TV, and this is scheduled out. We’ve sold millions of dollars’ worth of commercials,” and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, it was a big deal. It was a fun event, and I learned a ton doing it.

Amy:                                     Well, it’s kind of nice to have the news tell you how to make a decision for once.

Mike:                                    Well, yeah, it wasn’t really the news. It was the production folks. It was the sports production side of it, but yeah, it’s the media.

Amy:                                     And then from there, you worked on your own for a couple of years, kind of trying to sell sponsorships for events like that, right? Is that what you would say that was?

Mike:                                    Exactly. Yeah, I was consulting for anything in sports that was revenue generation, so a lot of that’s sponsorship, also consulting on ticket sales and those sort of things, merchandise, that kind of stuff. But it was in the sports world, basically things that drove revenue, were my clients, so mostly events.

Amy:                                     Okay, and then you moved on to EngineWorks, which was a digital marketing agency, and why did you do that?

Mike:                                    Well, really, the gist of it was that I got frustrated in sports. So for someone who took sports marketing and worked in the sports world to have an excuse to watch sports and be involved in it, and I’ve always played sports and been a big fan, I got frustrated on the marketing side, and it was mostly because it seemed like I was banging my head against a wall every time we tried to do something new.

Mike:                                    For example, on the sponsorship side, we’d try to come up with maybe a different thing to sell or a different way of measuring it. One of the things that got me was in car-racing stuff, and how we measured the value of a sponsorship, even locally, had to do oftentimes with how many milliseconds … This is car-racing, so things are moving fast. Someone’s banner, if it got a tiny, little millisecond on TV, how many of those was a big thing that went into determining the value of a sponsorship. And I just kept running into asking, “Why are we doing it like this?” And the answer was always, “We’ve always done it this way.” It was like, “Well, why don’t we do something different? Why don’t we try something different?” “No, no, no, we’ve always done it this way.”

Mike:                                    So I actually was having lunch with a friend of mine, Kent Schnepp. He was talking about EngineWorks, this startup, basically a digital marketing agency that he was starting or had actually just started, and wondering if it was something that I would get involved with. And for me, it made a lot of sense because we couldn’t really ask how to do something, because we were basically in a new industry at the time, right? So it was like, “Well, how do we do this? I don’t know, we’re going to have to figure it out.” So that was really cool.

Amy:                                     Oh, cool, so it totally flipped that old idea on its head.

Mike:                                    Exactly, exactly. And I think that, in regards to sports … I don’t want to bash the sports marketing world, because I think they’ve caught up a lot, and there are lots of organizations … In fact, in our hometown, Portland Trail Blazers are one of the leaders in digital marketing and social media and have really taken a step to embrace it, but it did take a while.

Amy:                                     Okay, so tell me what it was like working at EngineWorks/Ethology, because it then turned into Ethology, so we’ll just call that the same job.

Mike:                                    Right, so that was where I learned digital marketing. We were, first and foremost, a search marketing agency, so what that means is SEO and paid search, so AdWords. We were specialists in those two areas in the beginning. We added social media as kind of part of our search offering a couple years in as that grew as an industry. But for me, it was great because I learned that industry, right?

Mike:                                    I joined SEMpdx, I then got on the board, became president, and would go to all of their educational events. I was in charge of client acquisition, so my job was to help the company grow its client base, so the actual doing of SEO, of paid search, I didn’t actually ever do, right? Although, as I was selling things … and this is I think 100% true, especially back then … I knew SEO better than 90% of the people that we competed against, the people who were actually doing it, because there was a lot of-

Amy:                                     You mean the other salespeople?

Mike:                                    No, the other actual doers, because that industry-

Amy:                                     How do you know that?

Mike:                                    Just from talking with other folks in the industry and reading things at the time. There was a lot of folks that were just kind of selling absolutely nothing. But anyway, that was in the past. I’m sure there’s still a bunch of folks who are out there doing that now, but I don’t think they last very long.

Amy:                                     But not necessarily. So this is going to be more about your resume and your background, but just in general, digital marketing does have a bad reputation.

Mike:                                    It does, and it earned it in the beginning, and I’m sure there’s still a ton of folks … I mean, I get calls from “Google” still, and it’s obviously not Google calling me. Well, it’s obvious to me, but the reason … but it’s not obvious to a lot of the people answering the phone, which is why they’re doing it.

Amy:                                     So it’s deceitful.

Mike:                                    So it’s deceitful, yeah.

Amy:                                     And then you’re saying a lot of these people don’t know what they’re doing.

Mike:                                    Correct, they definitely didn’t in the past. I think that’s … I mean, it’s caught up a little bit.

Amy:                                     Why do you think you kind of knew what you were doing? Was it your involvement with SEMpdx, or was it the group you were working with?

Mike:                                    It was both. We were selling a real service, and I always think to be able to sell something, you have to understand it. You’re not just selling … I was going to say “air,” but in real estate, air is an actual thing that you do sell.

Amy:                                     I have sold air, but we’ll talk about that next week.

Mike:                                    Exactly, exactly. So that’s where I learned the industry. I learned the industry at EngineWorks. Our goal that was stated to … that everybody knew, from owners to management to new employees that our goal with that was for some sort of event, whether that’s to be acquired or go public or something like that, so that was a stated goal, and we did that. We were acquired, so that’s why EngineWorks became Ethology.

Amy:                                     Oh, okay. So then now, kind of switching gears into what you’re doing today, which is kind of more about our company, I want to ask in the sense of, like … Well, I don’t … Because I don’t want to get too into the background of why … of our company, I guess. I’m curious, though, why you did switch to work for our company, to work … Or not for our company, but with me. But I don’t know if we want to get into the whole story of that. And if not, we could just talk about, what do you see as the similarities and differences from working at Ethology versus Veracity?

Mike:                                    Sure. Well, at Ethology … Well, at EngineWorks, before we were acquired, I was a part of the leadership team, and now I continue to be part of the leadership team at Veracity, so those things are the same. We go after different types of clients. I would say that, similarity-wise, we would be more similar to, again, Ethology because it was kind of more full-service than EngineWorks was, being specifically a search firm, that Veracity is, although we certainly have very specific things that we do, right? So that’s similar, as well.

Mike:                                    Differences? Size. That organization was a lot bigger, employee-wise. We had some very specific industries that we went after. We were big in the hotel and hospitality space, which we continue to do some work in that space at Veracity, as well, but we’re not quite as direct on who we work with. So those are kind of some of the similarities and differences.

Amy:                                     Okay. I’m giving you a fun-

Mike:                                    I didn’t work with my wife.

Amy:                                     Who, your wife would say, “Please, no hotels.” No, just kidding.

Mike:                                    Yeah, right?

Amy:                                     Do we want a hotel? Sure. I don’t know if we’re running after them. But okay, so what do you do today at Veracity?

Mike:                                    Sort of the transition story into Veracity was you, Amy, was doing PR, kind of started Veracity or … It’s actually kind of … I don’t know if this interests anybody else, but I find it interesting that, as we talked about, my consulting company, it was called Rosenberg Marketing, right? And then when you kind of … Rosenberg went to bed, took a nap when I joined EngineWorks, and then you kind of woke it up and changed it into PR consulting.

Amy:                                     Yeah. Well, I mean, you already had the LLC and all that paperwork figured out, so I just-

Mike:                                    Yeah, exactly. The technicality stuff was done.

Amy:                                     So you did all the work I didn’t want to do.

Mike:                                    Right, exactly.

Amy:                                     Thank you.

Mike:                                    Yeah, no problem. So you were kind of running what eventually became Veracity, which turned into Veracity as a PR firm, right? So what I did was I brought in the digital side of that, so from my experience at EngineWorks and Ethology, I brought that to the table for us so that we were more well-rounded and bringing us into modern-day marketing a little bit more.

Amy:                                     Well, yeah, but you did … You’re not really giving yourself much credit, because … I don’t want to get too into the company history, but when I was doing PR, I really was just a freelancer.

Mike:                                    Right.

Amy:                                     So then you were able to come and help bring it up to the next level of not being a freelancer, being an actual company. And then we changed the name.

Mike:                                    Changed the name. We got an office, changed the name, hired people, all that sort of stuff.

Amy:                                     So then what do you do now? Did you already say that? Since we are married, you might notice a theme: I don’t listen to him. It is what it is. Just get used to it.

Mike:                                    So now I continue to be basically in charge of the digital side of our business, as well as I do operations. Just as you mentioned that I created the-

Amy:                                     All the boring things.

Mike:                                    Yes, all the boring things.

Amy:                                     Thank you.

Mike:                                    Payroll, taxes, setting up systems, a little bit of sales when we actually ever do any.

Amy:                                     Meaning we don’t reach out, but people reach us.

Mike:                                    Yeah.

Amy:                                     Sorry if that was you that we hung up on the other day. So if you want us to work on your account, we might hang up on you, not knowing that it was a new business call.

Mike:                                    Not on purpose. Yeah.

Amy:                                     Anyway, somebody called when we were in the office on a conference call with a client, but of course we’re basically millennials, even though we’re not. Pretend that we’re millennials. We’re on our cellphones all the time, so if someone calls our landline-

Mike:                                    Right, or on speaker.

Amy:                                     … I’m just going to hang up on them. I’m going to pick it up and hang it up. I’m a millennial, but I’m 41. Anyway, so what … You have a lot of extracurricular activities. Are you trying to get credit-

Mike:                                    I’m trying to get into college.

Amy:                                     No, yeah, exactly. Are you trying to get into some grad school? What the heck?

Mike:                                    I’m not doing that much anymore. I just have filled out my LinkedIn profile, which you’re looking at.

Amy:                                     Okay, but are you supposed to have all this on here as a LinkedIn expert?

Mike:                                    What do you mean?

Amy:                                     Well, I don’t know, I mean, this gala marketing committee co-chair for OMSI.

Mike:                                    What, back in 2011? Yeah, sure. Why not? I don’t know, LinkedIn keeps telling me that my profile is good.

Amy:                                     Okay, so you’re still involved with SEMpdx.

Mike:                                    I am. Right, yeah, so I was … I think I was on the board for either eight to ten years, because we had two-year stints, and mine ended being past president, so two years of that, two years of president, and some years before that. And as I mentioned before, that was one of the big education pieces for me.

Amy:                                     And then what do you do … It says you’re a board member for B’nai B’rith Camp. What is B’nai B’rith Camp?

Mike:                                    So BB Camp is a Jewish summer overnight camp at the coast, and I’m on the board.

Amy:                                     And why are you on the board?

Mike:                                    Well, long story short, my kids love it, my father was involved and has been involved for a long time, there’s … I end up at that camp once a week for a weekend at the end of the summer-

Amy:                                     Thank God.

Mike:                                    … as kind of a go do sports and eat too much and hang out.

Amy:                                     You mean you go as a camper?

Mike:                                    Yeah.

Amy:                                     Like, with other kids or …?

Mike:                                    No, with other adults.

Amy:                                     I’m just kidding. And is it called Men’s Camp?

Mike:                                    It is, yeah.

Amy:                                     Is it just for Jewish guys?

Mike:                                    It’s mostly, but not exclusively, no. And the whole purpose of it, and the whole purpose of me being on the board, is to raise money for kids who can’t afford to go to camp, right? I’ve heard so many stories from people whose lives have been positively impacted because they were able to go. Some of them, they could go because their families could afford to send them, and some of them wouldn’t have been able to go.

Amy:                                     And they would have been sitting at home, all alone by themselves for the summer.

Mike:                                    Exactly.

Amy:                                     Because their parents were working.

Mike:                                    Yeah, exactly.

Amy:                                     So this got them out into nature and with a community and-

Mike:                                    Yeah, a lot of them, it gave them a place where they could be themselves more so than anywhere else that they felt comfortable. And like I said, I’ve heard quite a few different stories of people like that.

Amy:                                     Yeah. So then you’re still involved with that today.

Mike:                                    I’m still involved with that. I’m on the board there. I’m also a member of the Rotary Club of Portland, and my-

Amy:                                     And that keeps you really busy.

Mike:                                    Well, we have a meeting or a lunch once a week.

Amy:                                     Which I love.

Mike:                                    Right, you love that. And I guess … and I think I’ve said this, whether it’s on LinkedIn or maybe it was another … oh, it was another podcast that I was a guest on. If anyone in the Portland area, or if you happen to be in Portland on Tuesday and want to come to lunch with me, I kind of put out there an open invitation, I’ll take you to lunch on Tuesday at the Sentinel downtown, as a guest of mine for Rotary.

Amy:                                     Well, actually, if anyone wants to go, next week it’s the Oregonian talking-

Mike:                                    Right, yeah, the history of the Oregonian.

Amy:                                     … about the past, present, and the future. And it’s Therese Bottomly, who is the-

Mike:                                    Editor?

Amy:                                     Editor or something like that.

Mike:                                    Yeah.

Amy:                                     And I cannot go, unfortunately. I have a client meeting that came up last minute, but I was definitely planning on going, so if one of you guys want to go, let Mike know.

Mike:                                    Right. Yeah, and if you follow anything that we do, if you follow it closely, you’ll also see that I’m the chair of the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards, which is an event hosted by … which means we do all of the work … the Rotary Club of Portland, and presented by KGW, where we honor businesses and nonprofits every year for ethical business practices. So we have a nomination process, which we’re in the middle of. Or the nomination process is over, but a selection process, and then we’ll have a big gala dinner to announce the recipients and celebrate what they’re doing in their organizations and businesses.

Amy:                                     So then, now that we’re done-

Mike:                                    And that’s the part that keeps me kind of busy.

Amy:                                     Yeah. Well, right now, but once that’s over, it won’t be as bad.

Mike:                                    Right, right.

Amy:                                     But now that we’re done with your LinkedIn profile, is there anything you can tell us in a couple of minutes about what you like to do in your free time?

Mike:                                    Ooh. Well, my favorite thing right now is skiing, so I was a-

Amy:                                     I knew you were going to say that.

Mike:                                    Yeah, I was a big skier when I was a kid and through high school and that sort of stuff. And pre-kids, went a fair amount, but once kids came into the equation, for the most part, it ended. And then this year, both of my kids got into snowboarding, and so once I had that commitment from them, I scheduled them up for lessons and to go up to the mountain, and that’s what I really like.

Amy:                                     Yeah, but you exercise like every day, which actually makes me annoyed because I don’t.

Mike:                                    Well …

Amy:                                     But it’s a good … you’re a good role model.

Mike:                                    Yeah.

Amy:                                     So what all do you do for your other exercise, besides skiing?

Mike:                                    I play basketball a couple times a week. I also love coaching … Assistant coach … I don’t want the responsibility of a head coach, but assistant coach for both my kids’ teams, which is fun.

Amy:                                     Well, you’re doing both kids’, so you can’t do head coach.

Mike:                                    Right, and I don’t have time. Even if it was one kid, I don’t think I’d have time for that, because evening meetings during practice, when you’re an assistant coach, you can say, “Hey, sorry, Coach. I can’t make it.” When you’re the head coach, you can’t really do that. And then I just started running because I joined a neighborhood team for Hood to Coast, so if any of you listeners know what Hood to Coast is, you probably think I’m crazy.

Amy:                                     Well, we already knew that. So yeah, a lot of exercise and family stuff, it sounds like.

Mike:                                    The free time that I have, that’s where it goes, for sure.

Amy:                                     And then podcasting on the side.

Mike:                                    Podcasting on the side. I like that. With a dish of podcast on the side

 

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