Why a Blog Can Change A Business: Three Arguments to Back You Up in the C-suite

Why a blog canIf your client or organization is looking to implement an integrated marketing strategy, a blog may be one vital tool for success. However, proposing the idea of a blog many times comes with resistance from the C-suite. If you’re trying to sway this crowd, make sure you’re prepared with these three arguments to get them on board:

1. Blogs are shareable. There is no limit to the amount of times a blog can be shared online. Start by creating great content on your site, and then use social media to promote links back to that content. You’ve heard that adage, “If you want to catch more fish, cast a wider net.” The same principle applies here. Shareable content helps you reach the maximum amount of potential customers. And an added bonus – blogging can help your SEO rankings if you include clickable links and keywords in your posts.

2. Blogs give you an opportunity to engage your audience. Audiences won’t believe your brand is better just because you say it is. Your potential customers need to trust you and your products or services, and the best way to build trust is through engagement. Blogging gives you the prime opportunity to interact with your audience – if you do it the right way. You have to make an effort to build a rapport with your audience by responding to comments on your blog, answering questions or interacting on social media.

There are several reasons why marketing and public relations are shifting away from the traditional TV and radio approach, and one reason is because they don’t give audiences the opportunity to talk back. Blogging does, but it won’t be effective if the audience doesn’t feel like you’re listening. The interaction in blogging creates the two-way communication that is the basis for trusted relationships. (Tweet this!) 

3. Blogging makes you look like a genius. Customers want to believe that they are getting service from the best of the best. Blogging is a great way to show how much you know about your product or field of service. When you share information about what you know, audiences can put trust in your experience (it always circles back to trust). Blogging about tips or inside information about your product or service lets customers know that you care about helping them.

To make an extra impact on your customers, get your organization’s leadership involved in blogging. They can blog about the industry, or they could blog about their hobbies. It really doesn’t matter what they are writing about as long as they are open, honest, and engage with the audience. When customers trust an organization’s leadership, they are more likely to be loyal to the brand. You need to convert potential customers into customers, but then you need to convert customers into repeat customers. Blogging can help you do that by renewing your audience’s faith in the organization with each post.

What results has your company or organization seen from blogging? 

Jennifer MaterkoskiJennifer Materkoski is a graduate of Kent State University with a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications with a specialization in Public Relations. She has worked as a writer and editor for both newspaper and television and as a member of a non-profit marketing and development team. Materkoski is the owner and principal consultant of a boutique public relations firm, Songbird Public Relations. She is an avid sports fan and a yogi and also owns and operates an online store selling essential oils and natural products. Materkoski resides in Wheeling, West Virginia with her husband and son. Find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @MrsMaterkoski. She can be reached via email at jen@songbirdpublicrelations.com.

The Basics of an Integrated Campaign

DIGITAL ARTSIntegrated marketing campaigns are tricky to perfect, but if properly executed the results can be rewarding for your brand or company. To execute a successful campaign, there’s several aspects that need to properly implemented; budget, content, tools, events, social, emails, advertising, sales, and media… just to name a few.

With so much content and “noise” out there, what is the best way to get your voice heard? When creating an integrated marketing campaign remember these key things to help guide you.

1. Research. So you want to create an integrated marketing campaign – now what? Doing your research is the first step to help guide your entire strategy from gauging what has previously been successful to what content will most effectively relay your messaging.

2. Consistency. This goes further than determining what hashtag you’re going to use and making sure you’re using the proper logo. The proper look and feel needs to be established, followed by key messaging as its support to guide the campaign.

3. Clear & Concise. Speaking of messaging, having a well-defined voice is a must for making sure you are getting your message across. Simplistic, well thought-out messaging that conveys your strategic goals and objectives for the campaign to be executed properly must be in place. With so many ways to share content, you want to also make sure that what you’re creating can be repurposed for additional forms of sharing and integration to drive results.

4. Audience. So, who are you targeting your campaign to? Defining your audience helps to create the messaging and how to best promote the content. Thinking on a global scale is not an easy task, and as much as we would all like for our target audience to be “everyone”, research can help determine what demographics you should be targeting.

5. Content. You know what you want to say and who to say it to, so now you have to decide what kind of content to produce that will be most successful. Is it a commercial? An event? Online? Create the most effective content based on who and how you want to engage audiences – and it may be a combination of a variety of platforms.

6. Measurement. How are you keeping track of how your campaign is doing? Tracking results not only helps you establish what is successful, but also what is not working for you. Did you reach your original goals? Proper analytics are key to ensuring how you are achieving this success.

What other components do you implement for an integrated campaign? 

Marcy McMillanMarcy McMillan is the Marketing Communications & Events Coordinator for York University’s Campus Services and Business Operations department. When she’s not working, you can find Marcy discovering new restaurants in downtown Toronto, attending and writing about events or spending some time at the public library. Find her on Twitter @marcy113 or visit her site.

#ThrowbackThursday with Christopher Penn

Editor’s note: This is the second post in our monthly #ThrowbackThursday series, which features a prominent, successful PR pro taking a look back and sharing tips from his/her days as a new pro. 

Earlier this week, we shared five skills young pros need to excel in the PR world, and as many noticed, digital knowledge was at the top of that list.

Christopher S PennToday’s #ThrowbackThursday guest, Christopher Penn, pretty much wrote the book on digital PR. (And by “wrote the book,” we mean authored three best sellers.)

He’s the vice president of marketing technology at SHIFT Communications, co-founder of PodCamp New Media Community Conference and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast. Christopher has been named one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing by Forbes multiple times, and he was named the PR News 2014 Agency Professional of the Year.

So, yeah. When it comes to integrated marketing communications, Christopher Penn is kind of a big deal. Now, let’s take a walk through his PR memory lane on this #ThrowbackThursday!

Question 1: You didn’t start off in PR right out of school. How did you get started in the industry?

It’s funny you mention that. I’ve been a marketer for years and years. The middle of the funnel – lead generation – was really my area of expertise. I could squeeze leads out of nearly any audience with tried and true marketing tactics.

But I ran into a problem: where does the audience come from?

As a marketer, you usually just buy it, with ads or list buys. That gets expensive. In 2012, I was talking to a good friend and agency owner, Mitch Joel, and he said that I needed to understand the agency world.

After that conversation, I reached out to longtime acquaintance Todd Defren, co-founder of SHIFT Communications, and said hey, let’s trade. You teach me about the top of the funnel and how PR works, and I’ll bring the middle of the funnel expertise to your clients. That started a beautiful relationship!

Question 2: Right out of college, what would you say are the most important skills new PR pros should possess?

The Ability to Write

Writing is at the heart of modern marketing and PR. Everything begins with writing, from sticky notes on your desk to 90,000 word books to screenplays for YouTube videos. Even great speaking leverages your ability to skillfully choose words. The problem is, most people aren’t great writers. Most people are average or slightly below average writers who can’t communicate with clarity.

I recommend that every student – and every PR pro – become familiar with tools like SlickWrite and Hemingway. While these tools cannot fix problems with structure, logical flow, or facts, they can identify basic flaws in writing. See this post on up-cycling content for a bit more on these tools.

The Ability to Do Deep Analysis

Statistics and mathematics are core skills for today’s PR pro. I know, I know, you got into PR to avoid math. Bad news: everything has math now. You must have the ability to take data, visualize it, analyze it, and turn it into insights and strategies.

Many students take courses with tools like SPSS and R; when they leave university life, those skills quickly atrophy. Don’t permit that to happen. Download data sets from public sources like data.gov to keep your data analysis skills strong. Practice, improve, and expand your data analysis toolkit.

If you’re facing data analysis challenges, I also recommend my latest book, Marketing Blue Belt.

The Ability to Be Creative

Creativity is one skill area that gets systematically beaten out of you by school and work. The ability to be creative hinges on your inputs, on how much useful stuff is in your brain that you can draw on at any given time. If all you’ve got in your head is junk, then all you’ll produce is junk. (Click to Tweet!) Feed your brain, especially after leaving an academic environment!

The more useful, usable information your mind has to work with, the more creative you can be. (this is also the basis for my previous book, Marketing Red Belt).

Question 3: Many new pros know they need to learn digital marketing skills, but they don’t know where to start. Can you share some tips on how new pros can learn on their own?

Learn by reading. There are great books out there like the Portable MBA on Marketing that can give you a solid foundation. If you’re in a hurry, I wrote a Cliffs Notes style book on marketing called Marketing White Belt.

Question 4: What were some of the pivotal teachings or experiences from your past that helped you become the PR pro you are today?

The biggest lessons come from the martial arts. One of the tenets of the art I practice is “keep going!”. It’s an admonition to never get comfortable, to never believe that you’ve won, and to keep learning.

One of my teachers, Ken Savage, has a great expression, “Teacher for now, student for life”. As we rise up in the ranks of our organizations, we tend to forget to keep learning. We get entrenched. We don’t budget time for learning – and we fall behind. Our organizations fall behind. Don’t let that happen – keep going!

Question 5: If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself during your first year in PR, what would you say?

I would advise myself to buy Apple stock before the 7-1 split last summer. Investing 100 shares in Apple when I joined SHIFT would have cost $12,400. Today that same investment would be worth $87,493.

More about Christopher:

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing. MediaPost renewed this honor in 2015. Marketo Corporation named him a Marketing Illuminator, and PR News nominated him as both Social Media Person of the Year and Social Media Icon MVP in 2014. PR News also named him Agency Professional of the Year.

Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He’s the author of the best-selling books Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital MarketerMarketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.

PRSA New Pros Teleseminar on May 22 on Integrated Marketing

From Whiteboard to Customer: A Journey Through Integrated Marketing

Thursday, May 22, 12-1 p.m. EDT

Lately, the conversation seems to be predominately held around real time marketing. It’s time to change the conversation and get into logistics. Megan Severs, Associate Vice President at Fahlgren Mortine will host our second PRSA New Professionals Section Brown Bag Discussion of the year on the hidden topic of integrated marketing. Megan hopes to address the following points in her teleseminar:

  • The importance of integrated marketing and what it means to consumers
  • The anatomy of an integrated team – who comes to the table, and the blurring of the traditional PR roles
  • The important role of research to guide an integrated strategy
  • Step by Step Case Study: McDonald’s Nocturnivore

Register today for the May 22nd teleseminar!