The Do’s of Corporate Blogging

CB imageIf your company has decided to cut corporate blogging out of its content marketing strategy, you might want to reconsider. Allowing companies to reveal a bit more about the brains and personalities behind the brand, blogging offers businesses the advantage to initiate unique conversations with customers, unlike traditional marketing channels.

“A company blog is a venue for clients and lovers of the brand to feel personally connected to the company. It’s an opportunity for consumers to be heard by a company or brand and to be kept in the loop on their own terms – ultimately forming a two-way, insider relationship that benefits both parties,” said Digital Strategy and Marketing Director, Clara Swanson of GillespieHall.

The “2014 Hubspot State of Inbound” report mentions, “companies that blog are 13x more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI.” So what are you waiting for? Follow these corporate blogging do’s and start reaping all of the benefits that blogging has to offer to your business.

The Do’s

Establish your brand’s voice and personality
Before a company moves forward with posting on any social media outlet, they must first establish their brand voice. Choosing your brand’s voice is a very critical step because it goes hand-in-hand with your brand’s personality, and how you will execute the content you plan to share. First, think about the type of business and industry you are in and the most commonly used lingo within this market. Ask yourself, how does your audience interact with one another and how do they like to be approached and spoken to?

Perform keyword research
Just as bees seek quality pollen, your readers seek superior content. Tagging your blog posts with the most effective keywords helps to guide readers to useful and relevant information. “Corporate blogging is an opportunity to connect with your target market on a personal level and establish a place in the market. Blogs are also critical for search – keeping your company fresh in search results, and appearing in a wider range of search results relevant to your product or service,” said Swanson. A definite way to ensure that your content is reaching your desired target audience is to create effective search engine optimized content. Try using Keyword Tool, it helps you generate over 750 keywords from Google autocomplete. Also, embed links into your blog posts that steers readers to previously published content. If you’re looking to maximize your PR efforts through search engine optimized content, check out this previously published post on PPRA’s blog, “How Search Engine Optimization Benefits the Field of Public Relations.”

Update regularly.
It has happened to us all. We surf the web and come across blogs that are completely outdated or are not regularly updated. What kind of impression does this blog leave you with? Think of your content as a store’s inventory. Don’t just offer your readers last season’s trends, fill them in on what’s hip now and keep them in-the-know with consistent blog content. “Not investing in regular blogging is a major lost opportunity in any industry. Blogging, approached strategically, can bring amazing benefits to any company willing to invest in the process. The key, though, is the quality of the blog content and the commitment to producing valuable content on a regular basis,” said Swanson. The first step to corporate blogging strategically is to create an editorial calendar that includes your blogging and posting schedule, as well as brainstormed topics and special events you can incorporate your content around.

Feature guest posts from all staff members
Allowing staff of all levels to regularly contribute to the company’s blog acquaints your customers with the thought leaders that are the force that drives the brand they love. It provides diversity to the reader because they can now receive insights from employees of different departments. Each employee has something valuable to offer to the blog. Make sure to answer consumer questions or leave them with thought-provoking conclusions.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Renee’ currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee as the Blog Chair. She loves all things social media and is currently seeking opportunities in the PR industry. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88. Special thanks to the GillespieHall team for the insightful feedback on corporate blogging.

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Communicating the Value of PR: Stop Dodging, Start Measuring

PR

Recently I was out to dinner with a digital strategist friend and she raised a question that, admittedly, caught me off guard. “What is it that you do?” she asked. From one communications professional to another, the question seemed unapologetically sarcastic. Then, as if to add insult to injury, my friend ever-so nicely followed up with, “Ok, how do you measure what you do?”

Oh no, the “M” word.

In all my years in PR, I’ve essentially been able to dodge the “M” word. How? Easy. By hiding behind media clippings, fancy media reports, shares, “likes,” tweets and elaborate, but successful, events. If this is you, it’s time to come out, come out wherever you are. Not only is it time to stop dodging; it’s time to start measuring.

Translating news releases and news hits into dollars and cents
Given the sheer amount of data that’s available to us nowadays, PR pros have ample opportunity to quantify their efforts and show executives what’s working and what’s not. As hard as it is for me to succumb to, it’s also high time that we get comfortable showing how our efforts affect the bottom line.

Data, where have you been my whole life?
By creating key performance indicators (KPIs) and specific metrics tied to “awareness,” I now have even more ammunition to communicate the value of public relations to organizational leaders. For the first time, our PR team has a dashboard which provides a monthly analysis of not just media hits and news releases, but things like tone and message quality. What’s more, we use tagging links and Google Analytics to track conversions tied to our press releases, proving that PR does indeed help drive company revenue.

Getting started
To say that quantifying PR efforts beyond the typical vanity metrics makes me uneasy would be a huge understatement, but embracing it has enlarged my perspective on the power of analytics and given me a newfound love for data. There are a plethora of dashboard tools and tips out there to get you started. For instance, check out Dashboard Junkie or the PR Measurement solution offered by Meltwater. Warning, once you’ve been bitten by the PR data bug, you’ll likely want to track any and everything. However, it’s best to start small, be strategic and continually iterate.

Already measuring your PR efforts and showing value to your execs? Share your tips and tools with me in the comments below!

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.

(Image via)

Seasoned Strategies

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As the summer winds down and the fall season begins to approach this is a great time for PR practitioners to ponder upon their past strategies and consider what they could do differently in the upcoming months. A recent PR Daily article, “How to craft your PR strategies for fall,” shares some insightful tips on how PR pros can creatively take advantage of the seasons in order to capture the public’s attention.

1. Take advantage of social media. The author strongly suggests seeking inspiration from themed boards on Pinterest. Why not take it a step further and see what’s trending on Instagram? Use the inspiring craft ideas to design campaigns, giveaways and photo contests. Keep the most popular holidays in mind but also consider the most popular events within your community to create strong tailor-made strategies.

2. Consider local PR strategies. When building up your group of brand ambassadors PR practitioners must keep in mind that it’s not all about the monetary gain. Creating brand disciples is a long-lasting effort that could take years to achieve. Tying an impressive story angle to a very specific event within your community is a great way to start forming consumer relationships. Send a clear message to your audience and emphasize that their community interests links up with your brand.

3. Get rid of the old, bring in the new. Spice up your strategies around the holidays. The author suggests keeping the “uncool” factor in mind and leaving cliché storylines at the door. Craft campaigns based around holidays that don’t receive too much attention such as Grandparent’s Day and Sweetest Day.

4. Embrace mobile trends. Web content is in high demand and users love accessing this content through their smartphones. Be sure to design your campaigns in an easily accessible manner that allows users to easily share your content via social media. An app could be just the thing to set you apart from your competitors.

Do you switch up your strategies based on the season? What kind of strategies have worked well and not so well in your experience? Share your ideas and comment below!

 

Designing a Noteworthy Newsletter

Overhauling your organization’s newsletter is no small feat. Content is and always will be king, but design is important, too. Whether you’re starting a new newsletter or sprucing up an old one, give your newsletter a fresh new look with these tips.

 Keep it simple.

Create a nice header to attract attention. If you don’t have a program like Photoshop to create your masterpiece, PowerPoint can be a great tool for creating your main image. Stick to basic shapes like squares and circles to create a clean, cool design. Remember, people like to see pictures of other people. Make sure the photos you select complement and relate to your text; include the head shot of the person you are writing about or who is penning the piece, or include photos of event attendees — not just the pretty centerpiece on the table. Make sure your photo doesn’t overpower the newsletter by limiting the length of your photo to about the size of your first paragraph of text.

Don’t serve the whole pie at once when a slice will do.

Link to longer articles on your website rather than including all the text in your newsletter. Newsletters are especially helpful for driving traffic to your website, so giving people a few sentences of text to summarize the article and a link to the full text can be helpful. This is will keep your readers from scrolling through a long email and tracking how many clicks each link gets can help you get an idea of what people are most interested in reading about. The same goes for your subject line. Try to avoid a standard “this month’s newsletter” subject line or anything longer than 50 characters. Also use a call to action or a catchy phrase from one of your articles to give your readers a reason to open it.

Add some color.

Even your most loyal followers can be turned off by something that is hard to read. Use color to flatter your logo by selecting a complimentary color from the old-fashioned color wheel. If your logo is light blue, maybe a light orange would add some pop. Adobe Kuler is a great tool to help you pick the perfect hue. Then alternate divider colors, or add a light shading to a text box to make it stand out.

Make your newsletter font-tastic. 

Zone in on what is important by making your headlines bigger. If everything in your e-newsletter is the same size, your readers won’t know what to read first, and a quick glance will become a blur. Increase the size of your headlines and make captions smaller. Also choose a font that fits your medium; a good rule of thumb for choosing your main font depends on if your reader will see it online or in print. San-serif fonts are easier to read online, whereas serif fonts are more appropriate for paper. To maintain consistency, avoid using more than two different fonts in your newsletter design.

Track your progress.

You won’t be able to tell if your redesign has had an impact if you won’t measure your readership before and after the change. Email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to track how many people are opening your newsletter and clicking on a link within it.

Need a little inspiration for your e-newsletter? Here are a few noteworthy examples and articles to check out:

Visit Fort Worth

Your Health, John Hopkins Medicine

City Winery Newsletter

The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams

Principles of Design: Check Your Documents for Balance, Alignment, and Other Principles of Design

What tips you have for e-newsletters? Share your suggestions with us in the comments section below.

This post was written by PPRA Newsletter Chair Katie Grivna. Katie is a Development Associate at Covenant House Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization that serves Philadelphia’s homeless, runaway and trafficked youth. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Building a Targeted Social Strategy

Social media for business is no longer a hot new trend, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay attention to it anymore. Whether you’re building a brand new strategy or looking to tweak something old, here are five things to consider when building a successful plan.

Know Your Audience:  Identify your external audience and understand their motivations. Ask yourself questions like: Who do I want to reach and how do I want him/her to act as a result of engaging with my brand on social media? Which social channels are my audiences already on? What conversations are they currently having about my brand?  Use the answers to inform all future steps in the planning process.

Choose Channels Wisely: Just because millions of people are on Pinterest and your boss/client thinks you should be too, that doesn’t mean it’s part of a smart strategy. Be honest with your team members – or even yourself! – about what you could accomplish on each network. If you can’t find a solid reason, leave that platform as something to play with off the clock.

Move from Measurement to Insights: Find opportunities to make your social data more than just numbers on a page, but real insights that will shape your business. Don’t just track total engagement.  Instead, look at what kind of content gets the most engagement and how you can duplicate those results.  These kinds of actionable findings will set you up for future success with every new report.

Anticipate Necessary Tools and Resources: From agency fees and billable hours to management system subscriptions, the social media tab can add up pretty quickly. Make a list of what you would want in a perfect dream world. Now pick the top three non-negotiable items to achieve your objectives. Press hard on these points, then add back in ideas if you have extra funds available.

Leave Room For Flexibility:  It’s key to have an overarching social vision and goals to drive your activities. However, you should also build mini plans per quarter to allow room for modifications.  You never know when you might need to switch out a campaign or amp up monitoring during a crisis. Not to mention, you can better adjust your tactics based on the insights you gather each month.

What are some of your top tips for building a social strategy?  Share them in the comments section below.

This post was written by PPRA member Christine Guerrini. Christine is a marketing specialist for social media with ARAMARK’s Higher Education line of business. In this role, she is responsible for the support of training and analysis of national social media programs. Christine also has previous experience in public relations agency settings, working with a diverse client roster from Verizon Wireless and IBM’s ACM ICPC to the Salvation Army. Connect with Christine on Twitter (@CMGuerrini) or at http://www.linkedin.com/in/christineguerrini.