Bring Order to Chaos with a Blog Content Calendar

Bring Order to Chaos with a Blog Content Calendar

There’s no scarier moment for a writer than staring at a blank page, wondering what you’re going to type first. That terror grows even more pronounced when you’re writing on a deadline for a paying client. While some people might thrive on that adrenaline hit, I just get a stomach ache, so I prefer to have a plan in place before opening my laptop.

Creating a content calendar is one of the best ways to bring order to the chaotic world of blogging, particularly with ongoing clients. When used correctly, these documents become a guidepost that will help you develop specific topics that are more strategic, impactful and interesting than anything you could write off the cuff. Here’s how.

Bring Order to Chaos with a Blog Content Calendar

Five Tips for Building a Content Calendar

An effective content calendar offers multiple perspectives at the same time. The macro view should enable you to look months or even years into the future while also providing specific directions for your next post at the micro-level. Your calendar should also be a constantly evolving document open to collaboration between your teammates and the client. But before we get too far down the road, let’s start by deciding where your calendar will live.


1. Pick Your Organization Tools

There are endless content management tools you can use to house your calendar, and I’m not here to tell you that one is inherently better than another. What matters most is finding a tool that every stakeholder will use. I prefer a shareable spreadsheet for long-term planning and collaboration. But I also use project management tools to keep assets, research and important dates for individual posts all in the same place. Your tools lay the foundation for your organization, so choose wisely.


2. Establish a Blogging Cadence

Once you’ve picked your tracking tools, it’s time to establish a blogging cadence. If, for example, you decide to publish twice a month, you know you’ll need to come up with 24 topics to fill out a year. In many cases, your marketing strategy or available budget will dictate your cadence, and at other times, your available resources might limit your production capacity. Either way, once you’ve established your posting frequency, you can begin developing individual topics. 


3. Track Events, Observances & Holidays

Every business has its own rhythms, milestones and cycles that can potentially offer blog topic inspiration. Obvious examples are tax season for accountants or Black Friday for retailers. During onboarding, you should ask about these inflection points, note them in your calendar, and then create content that supports the larger goals related to that event. 

Annual observances can also be an excellent source of content. If you’re blogging for a client in the healthcare industry, then National Nurses Day on May 6th might be interesting. You could create content for plumbers around National Skilled Trades Day on the first Wednesday of May or use National Eat Your Vegetables Day on June 17th to promote a Farmer’s Market.

The same principle applies to national holidays. The key is to marry your content calendar with the actual calendar to develop relevant content pegs and inspiration. 


4. Use Keywords for Inspiration

Many larger marketing teams include a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist who uses Google advertising tools to target particular keywords in online search terms. These keywords are a goldmine for bloggers who can use them to develop content that’s relevant to customers and helps boost a website’s search position. Even if you don’t have a dedicated SEO specialist on your team, there are plenty of online resources that will help you develop your own keyword lists. Any blogger worth their stripes can turn “best blue sneaker” into something interesting.


5. Consult the Client

Your clients will always be the experts on their business and their industry. But too often, clients don’t know what they know. Or, more specifically, they don’t see the value in what they know. That’s why it’s important to bring them into content brainstorming sessions whenever possible. It may take some coaxing and coaching, but they have a wealth of knowledge to make the content you produce more authentic and valuable for the end-user. Including the client also draws them in to the process, making them more invested in the outcome.


Plan Better to Create Better

With a content calendar in hand, writing doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle affair. Instead, whenever you open your laptop and face down the empty page, you’ll be armed with a relevant topic that meets a strategic goal. At the same time, you’ll be able to work ahead by assembling the assets you’ll need for future topics before you start writing. You’ve now created the framework to produce higher-quality content that packs a bigger punch — all with fewer stomach aches.

This Is Why to Use Podcasts for Digital PR

This Is Why to Use Podcasts for Digital PR

Podcasts and Digital PR Go Hand-in-Hand. Here’s How.

With podcasts now cemented as a staple of many people’s media diet, it’s easy to forget how young this medium really is. The word podcast first appeared in print in 2004, and for the next five years, this new form of online radio appealed primarily to a niche audience of early adopters. A 2009 survey revealed that only 43% of Americans were aware of podcasts and audience growth remained slow for years until 2014 when the podcast Serial* became an overnight cultural phenomenon. Suddenly, podcasts were big business, and listenership doubled to 90 million over the next five years. Today, more than two million active podcasts exist, and American listenership stands at more than 100 million. Those eye-opening statistics are enough to make any public relations (PR) pro take notice. 

*Admittedly Serial was the first podcast I ever binged…it is so good!


The Same Principles Apply

While the podcasting medium is relatively new, the techniques PR pros use to leverage them are not. PRs learned how to harness the internet’s insatiable content appetite for their client’s benefit long ago. The same principles apply here. Not only are podcasts always hungry for new content, but many also include valuable link opportunities that support broader SEO efforts. What’s more, Google is now indexing and featuring podcast content, making these shows a critical component of every digital media list. So how do PRs begin accessing the large new audiences this medium can reach? They can start by booking podcast appearances for their clients.


Booking Clients on Podcasts

The most common way of leveraging the power of podcasts is by positioning a person from a company to share their opinions or insights into a relevant product, service or industry. PRs create these opportunities in the same way they do with other mediums: by building a media or target list.


Building a Podcast List

The audience should be your first consideration as you begin to build a list. To start to segment, I’ll put podcasts into a few broad categories: 

  • Entertainment: These podcasts cover a variety of topics and appeal to a broad group of listeners. Sports, celebrity entertainment, news, history, how-to, food & drink, etc., etc. 
  • Industry or Trade-Specific: This podcast category generally features smaller audiences. However, they’re typically more targeted and highly engaged. From a PR perspective or media relations perspecitve, think of the trade outlets or industry publications.
  • Media-Hosted: These are newsy podcasts produced by media organizations. 
  • Traditional-First Podcasts: Some organizations syndicate their radio and television programs in podcast feeds.

Once you’ve selected the categories you want to target, it’s time to find specific opportunities. We start this process with a media database search (we use Muck Rack), use podcast specific tools like Podchaser, and/or search Google. We also discover new opportunities by asking our clients what podcasts they listen to or are interested in pursuing. 

After you’ve identified several possibilities, refine your media list by asking a few critical questions:

  • Does the podcast follow an interview format? If not, there’s probably no role for your client to play.
  • How does the podcast publish? Do the episodes live on a website, or are they only hosted through one of the popular podcast syndicators? If the podcast is not hosted on a website, there is less opportunity for a valuable link or mention.
  • Do they offer an episode write-up that includes links for the guest? If so, are they follow or no-follow links? What is the podcast website’s domain authority? 
  • Is the podcast well established with a high and/or engaged audience? Are they still publishing? There are many podcasts that you will find that are no longer creating new episodes, you don’t want to pitch these.
  • Does the podcast host have a strong and engaged social following? If so, do they share podcast episodes on their social channels? 

With the answer to these questions in hand, you’ll be in a more favorable position to select the opportunities that best match your objectives. Now it’s on to the pitch.


Creating a Podcast Pitch

Pitching guests to podcasts can be different from pitching story ideas to the media. Sometimes you need to send an email to the host, and some podcasts have online forms you need to fill out. Other times you might pitch a producer. Each podcast approaches its booking process differently, and you’ll need to do some legwork to figure this out. 

Before sending out pitches, we often create podcast bio pages for our clients with their social media links, a short bio and topics they’re interested in discussing. You could also include links to other podcast appearances or keynote addresses they’ve given. Make sure you include the company URL in your client’s biography so when the interviewer copy-pastes that information into the show notes, you’ll get some added SEO value.

As you begin drafting your pitches, come up with a few general topics your client can talk about. Then turn those topics into specific ideas that will resonate with each podcast’s audience. Current event content is always highly desirable. Make sure to include the URL for your client’s website bio page. This cannot be a set-it-and-forget-it process. You must put thought into every pitch you send out if you want to get your clients booked.


Other Considerations

After you’ve booked a client and they’ve completed their interview, don’t forget to send the host or producer an after-interview thank you email. Within this note, be sure to include links to your client’s social handles, key company links and the desired headshot. Not only will these messages convey your genuine appreciation, but they’ll also serve as subtle reminders that you’d appreciate a link opportunity in return for providing valuable content.

You’ll also find many pay-to-play opportunities in the podcast world. You can evaluate these opportunities the same way you’d consider a sponsored content post. How much does it cost? What’s the reach? Will you receive a link? If so, what kind of link?

Now you have a framework for pursuing all the opportunities other people’s podcasts can bring you. However, there’s a whole other side of this media modality that can serve PRs and their clients in big, big ways. 


Creating Your Own Podcast

While creating your own podcast takes a lot of time and money, it also brings plenty of advantages from a content marketing perspective, particularly for link building. For starters, all the leading players like Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon and Google provide descriptions that can point back to your website when you send them your podcast (only Google actually has a link, which is no-follow). However, getting the most out of your podcast from a digital PR perspective requires a few essential things.

  • You must have a place on your website to house podcast content. Otherwise, you won’t get the value of any links or mentions your podcast earns.
  • You also need to include a write-up of each podcast episode. That way, when you promote your podcast, it generates traffic and links back to your website. However, this adds another layer of time and cost to podcast content creation.


Booking Guests for Your Podcast

If you’re creating a podcast for digital PR purposes, you’ll also want to book guests so there will always be someone else to share the content. But booking guests brings another set of questions. Do you target big names? Or do you stick with up-and-comers?

Both approaches have their pluses and minuses. Well-known guests add credibility to your podcast and may bring their own audiences to your show. However, they’re also harder to book and may be less likely to share your content. On the other hand, up-and-comers may be more excited to appear on your show and more excited to share, but they don’t always have an existing audience you can co-opt. 

One way to solve the sharing problem is to follow up with your guests after the interview or when the podcast launches, asking them to share it on their social feeds. You can also include suggested post copy to make the sharing process as easy as possible. Sometimes that soft extra nudge is all it takes.


A Tool You Should Learn to Use

Podcasts are an incredibly effective tool to share your client’s message with targeted and engaged audiences. They can also play a critical role in link-building strategies for PRs who want to help their clients leverage every possible benefit from these hard-won opportunities. As the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, PRs everywhere should become podcast experts. If not, they risk missing out on valuable opportunities and exposure for their clients and themselves.

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 for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Engage Preview with Wil Reynolds, Seer Interactive [Podcast]

Engage Preview with Wil Reynolds, Seer Interactive [Podcast]

Engage Preview: Wil Reynolds and the Power of Data

If you’ve ever attended Portland’s Engage Conference (formerly Searchfest), you’ve probably seen Wil Reynolds speak. He’s a long-term Engage presenter, as well as the founder and director of strategy for Seer Interactive in Philadelphia.

With Engage right around the corner, PR Talk host Amy Rosenberg talked with Wil for a preview of his upcoming presentation and for a discussion about how data will change marketing forever. If you haven’t purchased your Engage tickets yet, there’s time. During the conference, you’ll join the area’s search and marketing all-stars for two full days of learning at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel, March 12th & 13th!

An Unexpected Career

Wil began his interview by referring to himself as a heads-down worker who’s not much into personal branding. However, this humbleness disguises his tremendous success. Seer Interactive, which Wil founded in 2002, is a search, social and analytics agency employing more than 200 people in Philadelphia and San Diego.

Wil never wanted to work in marketing or build a business. Instead, he went to school to be a teacher. When he started his professional career in 1999, times were tough. Wil spent 18 months knocking on doors before finally landing a job. A few years later, Wil’s manager at another firm declined his request to work through lunch so he could leave early for a volunteer opportunity. He quit soon after and started his own company. For Wil, entrepreneurship was a necessity rather than a goal.

These days, Wil’s immersed in data — specifically paid search data — which in Wil’s mind holds the key to so many business answers.

“When you understand that somebody’s looking for an answer, I think it’s a really cool job to figure out how to answer their question,” he said.

Taking Data Away From Search People

In what has become something of a controversial opinion, Wil believes the biggest problem with search data is that it got in the hands of search people. He thinks of Google as an “intent engine,” which contains customer insight that can help businesses build new products, better understand customer experience and so much more. As a result, this data belongs in the hands of key decision-makers at the center of a business. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to extract meaningful data from all the digital noise. This is where Wil comes in.

By focusing on bringing meaningful data into one place, Wil’s team can answer client questions with speed and accuracy. “I thought I knew things before I got good at data,” Wil says. Most marketers fall back on their limited experience or best practices when making recommendations to their clients. While these recommendations may be correct most of the time, they will always lead a certain number of clients down the wrong path. Wil’s approach is different. By using good data that’s easily accessible, his team makes fewer wrong guesses and delivers better results for his clients in the process.


Data is the Future of Marketing

As Wil sees it, data mastery represents the future of marketing. “We like to build the engine that creates tentacles that other types of marketing can take advantage of if they’re willing to invite us in,” he says. Wil plans to expand on this theme during his presentation at Engage, where he’ll talk about how to use massive amounts of data at scale to better optimize all parts of your business.

This topic is especially critical for CMOs, who, as a group, are under attack right now. CMOs, in general, are not good at data and not good at answering questions the way CFOs are. This disconnect creates the impression that CMOs don’t bring the same value that other c-suite members do. This is also why CMOs are paid less than other c-suiters and are usually the first to go during restructuring.

When asked how Engage SEO and SEM attendees will react to his view that they shouldn’t own search data, Wil acknowledges the tension. He understands that his message is sometimes controversial because it invalidates the thing that makes search marketing pros feel valuable. But, in his view, this approach is all about improvement.

“I hope I put things to people in a way that makes them think a little bit differently, and that thinking leads to eventual change in terms of the work we do every day for our clients.”

Purchase Your Engage Tickets Today 

Listen to the entire episode to hear more from Wil Reynolds — including why he can’t wait for the next recession. Wil will also be giving the morning keynote presentation during the second day of the Engage Marketing Conference at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel. So purchase your tickets today. 

As always, if you’d like to stay up-to-date with all the latest in PR, subscribe to the PR Talk Podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify.

About the guest: Wil Reynolds

Wil started Seer Interactive in 2002 as a one-man operation out of his living room. Today, Seer is home to over 200 employees across Philadelphia and San Diego. In his free time, Wil hangs out with his wife Nora, sons Rio and Niko and pup Coltrane. He also serves Philadelphia’s homeless and runaway youth at Covenant House, where he participates in a yearly sleep out.

Connect and follow Wil 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 for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

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 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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