Gain Clarity By Letting Go: Public Speaking Tips From a Pro

Ted Coine at TEDxNavesink: Accelerations by Jennifer Bennett Photography

cover photo: Ted Coiné at TEDxNavesink: Accelerations by Jennifer Bennett Photography

Whether you’re making a presentation in front of a dozen people or thousands, public speaking can be nerve-wracking. The anticipation of making it through the entire speech without a flaw can put so much pressure on a person that stress levels go sky high. But what happens when you let go of the stress and expectation of perfection and live in the moment? You may just achieve speaking gold.

At the recent TEDxNavesink conference, two dozen speakers gathered to share ideas worth spreading with an audience of over 700 people. Topics ranged from patient advocacy as part of health care innovation to impatience as an accelerator in life, from the most mysterious questions about the universe to how breakups can actually be a good thing. The speakers practiced and rehearsed for months, fine-tuning their talks to create the perfect presentation.

Now everyone knows perfection is an unattainable goal. Stuff happens. And sometimes that stuff is funny. Sometimes that stuff is eye opening. Sometimes that stuff is better than what was written down on paper and rehearsed over and over again.

MK Harby, owner of MK Harby Public Speaking, is dedicated to making speakers great communicators. She believes ideas are shared most efficiently when they are conveyed with creativity, warmth, and humor. As the speaker coach for the TEDxNavesink presenters, she helped get the most effective message out of the talks and assisted the speakers in presenting in an engaging way. But that doesn’t mean things went off without a hitch or that every speaker stuck their original material. And those moments going off script? Some of the most memorable moments of the event.

TEDxNavesink speaker Ted Coiné enjoyed a spontaneous moment during his talk about the positive power of impatience. And for Ted, and arguably the audience, that moment stood out as a great one from the day.

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For all those who strive to stick to the script, MK has some advice.

“How do I rehearse for a speech but try to sound “unrehearsed?” This is not easy advice to give. While you do not prepare for the actual “off the cuff/impromptu talk,” there are some things that will help you deliver an original message,” she said.

1. Have a clear objective.

An objective is a purpose, or what you as the speaker want to accomplish.  Stick to your objective throughout your entire speech.

2. Listen to others. Read the room.

Take in the verbal cues as well as the non-verbal cues from your audience. If you speak to a group and you see that they are relaxed and smiling they probably will be more receptive to your message. If you look out and see hungry and annoyed members of the audience, you may want to try and break the ice with an interesting question or an empathetic statement.

This was exactly the case at TEDxNavesink for speaker Dr. Don Lincoln. As the last speaker before the lunch break, the audience was indeed hungry and most likely ready for a break. Instead of delivering his talk as rehearsed, he opened with a joke about lunch. “Being the last speaker before lunch, it’s hard to compete with that!” he said. The audience responded with what might have been the biggest laugh of the day.

3. Become a better listener in life. 

Observe people. Watch how others react. Keep your mouth closed and listen….and listen more. Intuitive people are good listeners. It’s easier to stay in the moment and read an audience if you are listening.

4. Take a moment. Be in the moment.

Look at what is going on around you. Do you ever wonder why someone can fill  an entire room with joy? These people are observers of life. They spend time watching people, listening to people and observing reactions. Their humor comes from observation. No, not everyone has to be a comedian during their speech;  I don’t recommend it at all. But there is a saying by Victor Borge, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

5. Tell a story.

It is easy to stay in the moment when you are telling a story. You have already lived it. Make sure that it has a clear beginning, middle and end, but allow yourself to improvise the lines in between.  Be your authentic self and connect to the audience by being a good story-teller.

6. Trust yourself.

This is probably the hardest thing to do, but you will be very well received if you trust yourself. If you stick to your objective, smile, connect, listen, tell a good story and trust yourself, what can go wrong?

So the next time you’re speaking in front of an audience, go with the flow and see where letting go takes you. You might just find that you gain clarity, and maybe a laugh or two.

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3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

Managing a social media campaign for a business of any size is no small job. It means hours of hopping on your phone or computer to monitor all those dings and alerts. Your customers and employees may be active on your sites so you may be responding to inquiries and engaging in online conversations daily.

But are you spending more time being reactive than proactive in your efforts?

Basically, are you putting more time into reacting to the comments and insights on Facebook and LinkedIn, instead of actually crafting quality content that attracts your target customer or client.

Maybe a large part of your communication on social isn’t even with the people who you are trying to reach?

Many people spin wheels publishing daily with little or no thought behind the content they’re pushing out. It may even be a social media epidemic at this point. Maximum input with little return.

But, for the companies that are tracking the ROI of their efforts, they understand that a savvy social media marketing campaign will score valuable relationships that offer value.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before you publish those posts, tweets, and blogs:

1. Are you posting with your target audience in mind?

If you’re not about to spend the big bucks on market research, do yourself the favor of at least getting a better understanding of your business’ target personas. According to Hubspot, personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. Creating personas will allow you to keep them in mind when writing and sharing content on social.

For example, if you’re managing the social media for a pet boarding facility, you’ll want to write for the dog mom – a single woman who may not have a family yet but lives to spoil her furbaby, spending money regularly on grooming, daycare and pet massages. Talk to her as a mom, not a pet owner, and you’ll instantly connect and be able to share content that resonates with her.

If it’s not a customer, maybe you’re trying to connect with an influencer in your industry that will open up the doors to your target audience. It could be a design blogger who you connected with on Twitter and is now sharing your latest blog on trends in tile with his Facebook page of over 40,000 likes.

Each post you write and share can help you to get a step closer to attracting, converting, closing and delighting your personas, so they become customers.

2. Does your content address your audience’s needs, pains or questions?

Now that you have a better understanding of the types of people you are trying to convert, listen on social media to the conversations people in your industry are having and then turn their needs, pain points, and questions into desirable content.

For example, Cynthia Schonmaker of ACD Granite uses the publishing platform on LinkedIn to share her knowledge of building materials and establish herself as a thought leader in the design community. She answers many of the questions she has heard for years and answers them on social media. And this is very valuable! You’ll see on this post about marble maintenance and care that she hits the nail on the head with her connections.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3. Do you have an action that you want your audience to take?

Let’s face it, not every post you share is going to ask people to do something. Nor should it. You are talking to people and need to connect with them in other ways, too. But as a marketer, you need to produce that ROI, and you also need people to take the next step on their buyer’s journey. An action can be anything from read on, sign up for an offer or newsletter, or an event invitation. It should be inviting, easy and maybe even fun. If you address their needs and pains, then they may even be eager to take the next step. The important thing is that you have them willingly give you something, and often an email will suffice so that you can further build the relationships and provide value.

Even a free cupcake, like in this promotion on the bakery Facebook page from Cupcake Magician, can be a sweet deal for a fan. Remember, no matter what you’re offering, don’t be overly salesly. It will sweeten the content if you can connect with people with a compelling reason to click.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

If you’re able to answer the above three questions before posting your content on social media, you’re going to gain a better understanding of your followers’ needs and wants.  If you want to take your social media campaign to the next level, contact inBLOOM Communications and our team will assist you with creating a campaign that gets the results you seek. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients.

Cover photo: picjumbo.com

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April Fools’ Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

No doubt your inbox (and maybe your house) was filled with April Fools’ Day pranks yesterday.

For me some of those jokes fell flat. (I hope none made you wince like the one I got pretending a beautiful historic building had been damaged in a fire. Yeesh. Not funny.)

But a few made me truly laugh out loud and then think, damn that was good marketing.

In case you didn’t get enough of the friendly pranks, I’ve rounded up our three favorite April Fools’ Day jokes that not only made us laugh, but also leveraged the holiday for some serious marketing. The three we chose have vastly different products but all managed to use prank day to do three things:

  • Highlight brand identity
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Turn followers into insiders

So check ‘em out:

  1. Grove Labs: The fake breaking news alert

You probably haven’t heard of Grove Labs, the Boston startup set on bringing an organic farm to your kitchen, but they could be in your house in the not too distant future. Founded in 2009, the company is now beta testing self-contained hydroponic gardens (fed by goldfish) housed in a chic maple (Or is it birch? Who cares, it’s freakin’ gorgeous) cabinet that would be at home in a West Elm catalog.

Imagine my surprise then, when I opened my email this morning to a YouTube video announcing their latest product launch, the burger module. (Note to Grove Labs: It’s not nice to tease me.)

First off, I felt special that I was an insider privy to the sneak peek of a new product launch. Second, by the time I realized it was a joke, Grove Labs had already resold me on their brand mission of putting fresh food in every suburban and urban kitchen. And third, when I was done I stuck around to watch another (real) marketing video about the cabinet maker, who makes those sleek housings. Winner, winner, organic dinner.

  1. Boden: The fake product recall

Really, I can’t believe I fell for it.

A recall on “inappropriate imagery” spotted on one of the printed dresses sold by the British clothier Boden known for their bright, preppy and feminine pieces. Since when have the Brits been shy about “inappropriate imagery”? (That’s our department in the US.) They’re the ones who birthed Benny Hill.

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

But still I clicked the link in the Instagram profile that led straight to their Like to Buy where my early morning (pre-caffeine) naiveté was revealed. So I had a little chuckle, commented “You got me!” and spent five minutes (when I should have been getting my kids off to school) tapping around their latest shoe collection. Dangerous for me, but smart marketing for them.

  1. Redbox: The fake new product announcement

This one was sent to me by a friend because it was too good not to share.

Who doesn’t know someone who has elevated their pets’ lifestyle to that of an adviser to Her Majesty? (Maybe YOU’RE that someone).

In their veiled April Fool’s joke, Redbox announces “Petbox”, a movie service for your pet as they wait for you to choose a film.

You laugh because you’ve been that guy, standing in front of the 7-11 with people queuing behind you, when they just want to return their movie for Pete’s sake!, as you sort through the new releases, alphabetically. You click on the email because you’re like, what the?

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

And then you laugh again because: Furry – The best war film since Spaying Private Ryan. And then you tweet it because, #Petbox is totally something your friend who sends her dog to daycare would buy. It’s a joke that practically dares you not to share the brand. But the best part is, the joke came with a promo code for 50 cents of your next rental. Everyone loves a joke that comes with a coupon.

April Fools' Day Marketing: 3 Brands Fake Out and Make Out

All three of these brands communicated with their customers and prospects without pushing their product because they focused their efforts on their customers’ experience, what would make them laugh, and what would make them click. And they didn’t make any jokes in poor taste, make their followers feel betrayed, or pull off half-baked schemes. These were polished, professional, high level jokes indicative of polished, high level brands.

Instead of it being a “jokes on you” day, it was an opportunity to create an inside joke. And who doesn’t love being an insider?

So now tell us, what were the brands on top (and bottom) of your list of April Fools’ Day jokes?

cover photo: Lotus Carroll

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Know the 6 Types of Email That Deliver Success

Know the 6 Types of Email That Deliver Success

In order for a business or organization to thrive, it needs to stay in touch with its customers and prospects. Email marketing is the most effective tool for staying top of mind and ahead of competitors, and it’s important to know the six types of emails that deliver success to achieve both.

Successful marketing campaigns can empower people to take immediate action from making a purchase, signing a pledge, to taking a survey. The statistics show many of us favor email as a communication tool and welcome the daily or weekly communication we receive from the brands, businesses and organizations we know and love. Spammers need not apply.

Your emails should be visually appealing, relate to your audience, and optimized for mobile. An understanding of your subscribers’ needs is also important. If the content is relevant to them, the return on your time developing an email campaign will result in increased revenue and repeat business.

Email marketing delivers the highest ROI (about $44 per dollar spent, on average) of any digital marketing tactic. (SEO is second, and banner ads have the lowest ROI.) (Mark the Marketer)

Here are six types of emails that help you deliver success:

1. NEWSLETTER

What’s new with your business or organization? Keep everyone updated through a newsletter. Topics to consider include upcoming events, a recap of a past events with photos, current promotions or sales, new hires, new products or services, and any recent media attention brought to your brand.

You may even just want to send out an email with one message such as a holiday greeting, special announcement, press release, or letter from the company executive.

The key to creating a great newsletter, especially if you have a lot of announcements, is to make it easy to read and attractive. Constant Contact’s Toolkit offers a variety of newsletter templates.

2. PROMOTIONAL

If you’re offering a product or service promotion, you could create an email with the information and also offer coupon codes for an in-store discount. Your customers can print the coupon directly from the email. It will encourage new customers to sign up for emails, drive traffic to your website, and give you a bigger and more receptive customer base to send news and information.

You can also offer online coupons that are trackable, redeemable and sharable through email, the web, and social media. Whatever kind of promotion you’re running, email marketing is a great way to spread the word.

3. BLOG POST

In order to build buzz for your blog and increase readership, you should be actively promoting every post, via an email. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest blog posts. We give a brief overview of the post, include the main image hyperlinked to the post and provide a call to action such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates, also taking note of which blog topics attract the most interest.

4. EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT / REGISTRATION

Event announcements commit people early. Before you send out an email with online registration, you can send an event announcement or save-the-date to let people know the who, what, where and when, so they can plan on attending. Constant Contact offers several templates for this purpose. Sending an event announcement to your contacts is the most important way to promote your event, along with social media promotions, print and online event calendars and advertisements.

Online registration for an event saves a lot of time and keeps you organized. It’s convenient for both you and your guests. Through Constant Contact’s online registration, all responses are organized as received. What’s great about the online registration is that it’s available 24/7 so if someone decides they want to register at midnight, they can do so. And it also means that you can log in and manage the event at any time. All the information you need is collected in one central location so you can stay organized, which is key to planning any successful event.

5. SURVEY / FEEDBACK

Turn your communications into conversations: send online surveys through emails or social media to get feedback and segment your audience. In Constant Contact, you can create surveys with a customizable survey template that includes sample questions or you can start with a blank survey. Surveys will give you ideas for new products and services, and provide you with a deeper understanding of what it takes to satisfy and keep your valued customers.

If you’ve just hosted an event, send out a thank you email to those who attended. Create a survey to get feedback on key insights such as the event venue, timing, food, entertainment, interests, and demographics. You can also include a newsletter sign-up, so those not subscribed have the chance to opt in.

Looking to get rates and reviews for your online listings sites? Ask, and you will receive! Constant Contact has both feedback and review email templates to keep things simple for you. If you have you’re on any business listing sites, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or Angie’s List, you can share a direct link to the listing page. You can also ask your customers to share feedback and experiences with you in order to improve your customer service.

6. FUNDRAISING

Through email marketing, you can promote your organization’s fundraising campaign and collect donations instantly. Constant Contact has an email template where you can create a donation page, linked through a third party service provider, to raise money for your cause. There is a fee for this service, but that’s pretty much the norm with any online fundraising tool.

Set a default donation, goal amount, and most importantly, let people know why you’re raising money. You can share your donation campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, inBLOOM is offering a 60-day trial so you’ll be able to get hands-on experience with the email marketing software. You are now able to email up to a 100 contacts during the trial.

Register for the Constant Contact Toolkit here.

Have any questions or comments about email marketing? Feel free to comment on this post or contact us.

If you found this blog helpful, also check out…

4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

5 Tips for Running a Better Business Survey

Tips and Tools for Using Constant Contact to Promote Your Events

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Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet, tweet! Twitter turns nine today, March 21, 2015.

Twitter has connected people during times of war, elections, and tragedy, as well as, entertained us and bridged the divide among businesses, charities and the general public.

By far it’s inBLOOM’s favorite social networking tool and has produced real results for us from securing sponsorships to attracting the media.

It’s a huge platform for creating awareness for personal brands, organizations and businesses. Hashtags like #SocialGood, #CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), Nike’s #makeitcount, and #tweetchat have brought millions together and sold billions in products and services.

Read here for the history of Hashtags.

To celebrate the big occasion, here are some of inBLOOM’s top Twitter posts:

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

10 Tips to Organically Grow on Twitter

Attract Publicity with the Right Strategy on Social Media

How the Media Uses Twitter and Tips for Tweeting Them

Gabriel Stricker, Twitter’s Chief Communications Officer, shares a look back at some of the landmark moments followers have created – moments that have defined our history, and perhaps yours. Read it here.

Listen to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo on StoryCorps as they share memories of their first meeting 9 years ago.

Happy Birthday Twitter! Enjoy your time on the platform and let’s follow one another at @inBLOOMbuzz.

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Charitable Marketing: Which Charities Make Good Partners?

Charitable Marketing: Which Charities Make Good Partners?

Most businesses, both large and small, want to generate the most profit possible. But in order to gain, sometimes you have to give. Partnering with a charity or non-profit organization is a smart marketing strategy to grow your business. Even if your marketing campaign involves donating a portion of sales to the partner charity, your business will surely benefit.

Charitable marketing not only builds goodwill for your business and establishes positive associations for your brand, it’s also a great way to gain exposure for your business. By leveraging the audience and trading on the recognition of the charity, you’ll broaden your reach. You’ll also increase traffic to your website and place of business as your promote the charitable activities on social media, and through email marketing and press releases.

When people know certain businesses share their values and support a cause that means something to them, they will often choose to support those companies. According to the 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study, 89% of U.S. consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.

Some people will even pay more for products and services that support a cause they care about. According to the Nielsen 2013 Consumers Who Care Study, 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services (44% in the U.S. and 38% in Canada).

Lifestyle brand Alex and Ani has established a great charitable campaign, Charity By Design, to sell charm bangles supporting different causes. They work with non-profit organizations on an international, national, and local level to support causes by building brand awareness. Charity By Design supports philanthropy in many ways, from donations and in-store events to the creation of symbolic, creative designs. On their website you can either shop by charity or bracelet. Twenty percent of each charm bangle’s purchase price goes directly to whatever charity it’s associated with.

After four years of giving back through Charity By Design, Alex and Ani has donated 20 million dollars to the thousands of charities. The considerable amount of money they’ve been able to raise proves just how much people care about giving to the charities they care about.

Now that we’ve encouraged you to partner with a charity that supports a meaningful cause, how do you know which one would make good partner? From a business standpoint, here are five qualities good partner charities possess:

1. THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND VICE VERSA

Similar to a marriage or friendship, if your business and your partner charity don’t value each other’s work, then the relationship just isn’t right. It’s important that your business supports the charity’s mission, and also that the charity cares about your product/services and employees.

Our client Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts and the non-profit United States War Dogs Association have an outstanding partnership because they both value each other’s work tremendously. Purr’n Pooch chose to partner with this organization because they support their mission to educate the public on the history of military war dogs, honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives, and assist the military dogs and handlers in need today. The United States War Dogs Association appreciates all the work the business does through the Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals.

Throughout the holiday season, Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts collects donations for U.S. Military Working Dog Teams who have been deployed to the Middle East. They also host a volunteer day to write letters to the military dog handlers overseas and prepare packages for shipment. Former and current U.S. military dog handlers join them for the day to give presentations and assist the volunteers. The event is covered by many media and attracts all ages from around New Jersey, bringing attention to both Purr’n Pooch and the United States War Dogs Association.

2. THEY ARE FINANCIALLY STABLE

Trust is key with any kind of partnership. With a partner charity, you want to be able to trust that it is financially stable, meaning that it is able to stay out of debt and fund its current programs. You also want to make sure the organization isn’t hoarding money. A charity that hoards rather than spends the donations it receives is not operating in line with the goals of most donors.

Rather than just taking their word for it, refer to the charity’s IRS tax Form 990 to see financial statements. If you aren’t comfortable reviewing financial statements, there is an alternative way to find out if a charity is in financial trouble. Check the “Independent Auditor’s Report” (IAR) to see if the charity has a “Going Concern” audit. If so, this means the outside accountants who audited the charity believe the organization may not be able to continue its operations for more than one year due to the charity’s debts and other factors.

3. THEY ARE INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY

When your partner charity is involved with the local community or multiple communities, your business will be able to directly reach those community members, broadening your exposure.

inBLOOM works with the non-profit EarthShare New Jersey (ESNJ), which is greatly involved with communities and environmental causes throughout New Jersey. ESNJ supports the work of both statewide and national non-profit organizations as well, and many businesses partner with the charity because they appreciate the organization’s community involvement.

4. THEY HAVE A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE

A strong online presence will allow you and your partner charity organization to both further broadcast your relationship. Check to see if they maintain a well-designed website, blog and social media accounts.

Just like with a business, having a good website is extremely important for any non-profit or charitable organization. The organization’s website should be informational, updated frequently and include a portal for online giving that is supported on mobile devices. The organization should also be blogging often.

Social networks provide a central place for charitable organizations to connect with donors and the media. Frequently posting, conversing, maintaining relationships and building new ones on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ are all signs that the organization values lasting connections.

5. THEY ARE MEDIA SAVVY

It’s a great sign if you see a lot of news about an organization in newspapers, magazines on the radio and TV because it means they have a good relationship with the media. There are many things a charity might like to inform the media about, including major donations, new projects, and partnerships.

Keeping the media up-to-date with what’s going on is essential to the charity because it can help promote its work, which in turn brings in donations and ultimately allows the charity to continue its mission. Your business will also benefit if the news is about your partnership and goodwill.

If you need advice on whether or not a certain charity would make a good partner for your business, or you need guidance on how to go about searching for a partner charity, feel free to comment on this post or contact us. We’d be glad to help set you on the right track.

Resources:

Don’t Judge a Not-For-Profit by Its Profits, Charity Watch

Statistics Every Cause Marketer Should Know, Cause Marketing Forum

photo by gfpeck

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4 Reasons Why You Should Be Tweeting

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

Have you ever attended a networking event where you felt the excitement in the air? You eagerly moved around the room making small talk and swapping business cards. You made the most of your time introducing yourself and your services. You hopefully also did a lot of listening.

This process is similar to the excitement I experience daily on Twitter, but without the business attire and handshake.

Following thought leaders, starting or jumping in conversations, listening, sharing knowledge, and taking action are key strategies to successfully networking on Twitter. Like any in-person cocktail party or conference, you can use Twitter to get ahead in your career.

Yes, Twitter can be a powerful and exciting space if you understand its benefits and how to harness its potential. Everyone should carve out time to tweet.

Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. Surely, a few of these tweets resonate with you and can help you to succeed in business?

In order to tweet with a target, set goals for your time tweeting and have a purpose for spending the 20 minutes to one-hour a day on the social networking site. At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t watch from afar as people communicated, so don’t waste your precious time on Twitter pushing out content without purpose or watching from the sidelines.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started.

Do you have a story or recent news to share? Then you’ll want to focus your efforts on getting to know the media on Twitter and connecting with them. Read our blog for more on this topic.

Maybe you’re looking to connect with like-minded experts in your industry and learn how to position your business or organization? Twitter is a great resource for research.

Or maybe you want to grow revenue via Twitter. Yes, it can be done. You need to be strategic when tweeting like any marketing campaign. Attract others with professional content in the form of blogs, infographics, pictures, special offers and contests. People relate to a good story, creativity and an approach that resonate on personal and emotional levels, not hard sales tactics. Same goes for your approach in person or on social media.

No matter how you use the tool, connect with people who add value to your life and help you to further your professional or personal goals.

Here are four reasons you should be tweeting.

1. TO KEEP UP WITH LATEST INDUSTRY TRENDS

Twitter is a great place to stay on top of relevant news and trends in your industry. Follow thought leaders, trade publications, groups, reporters, editors and news sites for updates that can help you gain a sense of your relevance in the world. You won’t know what you have to offer others until you know their wants and needs.

2. TO INCREASE SEARCH RANKINGS

Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly integrated strategies for increasing your search rankings. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an appealing identity that naturally attract visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can improve your social media reach.

The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers.

Don’t despair if you have a low number of followers on Twitter though because by participating in the conversation on the site and using it as a networking and sales tool are more important. Concentrate less on numbers and communicate more with your Twitter followers.

3. TO ENGAGE THE MEDIA

According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use Twitter to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.

According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.

 4. SELF-PROMOTION

Although you shouldn’t excessively tweet about yourself, Twitter is a great tool to promote your blog content, news, videos and events every so often. When you tweet about yourself or your business, do it in a way that entertains and educates. If it’s your latest blog post, avoid saying things like “Check out my latest blog post about……” or “My business is hosting this great event next week – you should check it out.” Let them know what you’re tweeting about and how it will benefit them, then link to your post or event.

Overall, your tweets should include a healthy mix of self-promotion, conversation, information sharing, etc. Make all your Twitter updates interesting and useful. Share links to articles and blog posts you enjoy. Retweet interesting updates. Join conversations and answer questions. Twitter success is rooted in conversations and reciprocal relationships.

If you need help managing your Twitter account, advice on what you should be tweeting or tips for building relationships on social networks, feel free to comment on this post. Connect with inBLOOM on Twitter @inBLOOMbuzz.

Resources:

6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO, Forbes

Twitter Usage Statistics, Internet Live Stats

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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4 Ways to Give Your Local News National Mileage

4 Ways to Give Your Local News National Mileage

Can a local story attract the attention of national media? It sure can! Local news has the power to resonate with a larger audience if it offers a greater level of relevance and importance to the media. The tricky thing is it’s hard to tell what’s on an editor, producer or reporter’s mind, unless you’re a full-time publicist.

There are, however, several reasons why the media prefers one story over another, and you can give your story more mileage by doing a few simple things. Let’s review four ways your local story can resonate nationally by attracting the media’s attention from the start:

1. ARRIVE ON TIME

Your story may arrive just in the nick of time for a source working on a related topic. Often, it’s better to send a story you know the media is looking for, rather than just pitching it to the wind and hoping it sticks. You can plan by reviewing editorial calendars, which are yearly coverage schedules used to organize advertising campaigns and editorial pitching efforts. Many magazine editors and bloggers publish annual calendars of the upcoming articles and topics they’ll be covering. Deadlines are typically 90 days prior to publication. You can contact each outlet for this information.

We also recommend signing up for HARO alerts. Help A Reporter Out connects news sources with journalists by sending daily alerts with the content reporters seek. If you spot someone with an interest in your story, respond fast because HARO has grown to gigantic subscriber proportions and many people have their eyeballs on the inquiries.

2. UPLIFT AND INSPIRE

Everybody loves a story that hits them on a personal or emotional level. You’ll find all kinds of inspirational stories featured in the media every day, whether it’s online, on television, in the newspaper or on the radio.

LifeBuzz, one of our favorite sites, is dedicated to inspiring, uplifting and fascinating content. Other news sites like Mashable and the Huffington Post also frequently cover social good and inspirational stories. Their stories all do the following:

  • showcase strength
  • trigger emotions
  • motivate action
  • resonate
  • leave an impact
  • empower to take action

Review your story, and if you have the goods listed above, you may just grab the attention of a widely read and circulated media outlet and be on your way to becoming tomorrow’s national news.

3. OFFER CREDIBLE SOURCES

The media are hungry for credible and authentic content from seasoned professionals. If you know your stuff and are well known for it, people are going to want to hear from you. Maybe you’re a professional dog trainer looking to share your expertise on positive reinforcement training and tools. Gather a list of national pet-related media and pitch away! Be sure to include your bio, links to pics and video, and the expertise you bring to the table.

If you have a story involving well-known people or organizations, there’s a good chance national media are going to take an interest as well. Make sure to include this exciting information in the subject line of your email in order to grab the source’s attention.

4. BE ON TREND AND EXCITE

Trends come and go, but when something is a hot topic, the media is eager for sources and content. Emerging trends are new, fresh ideas or products that are becoming increasingly popular. People like hearing about the latest and the greatest so naturally, emerging trends attract the media. Some of the emerging trends we’ve recently seen floating around the news are smart machines, wearable technology, millennial behavior, the wavy bob (adorable new hairstyle), and STEAM in schools.

With a little research online, you too can find out what’s being talked about and maybe you’re on target to be the next trend to sweep across the country.

Getting your local story covered by national media isn’t always easy, and sometimes it seems impossible if you don’t have the resources or time.  But, if you follow the above guidelines, you’ll have a better chance of getting the most media miles out of your local news.

If you have a story and are unsure if it has the goods to be picked up by national media, feel free to comment on this post. I’ll be checking in to answer your questions and look forward to hearing from you.

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TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion 

TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Looking to jump-start your career? Attend or organize a TEDx event in your community.

Started 26 years ago as a conference in California, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives. At a TED conference, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. Three major TED events are held each year: in Los Angeles, California; in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada; and in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Today, TED’s TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual events are self-organized. At these events, live speakers combined with TEDTalks video spark deep discussion and connection.

Since 2013, community members from across Monmouth County, N.J. have come together to organize the TEDxNavesink conference. Each year, a different theme is chosen to build the day of non-fiction theater. In 2015, speakers and attendees will explore how accelerators are shaping our emerging and upcoming future. TEDxNavesink: Accelerators will be held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.

For the past three years, inBLOOM has assisted TEDxNavesink with its public relations and co-marketing efforts. We love everything involved with promoting a TEDx event – the passionate conversations on and offline, meeting new and exciting entrepreneurs, sharing talk topics with media, and co-marketing with local organizations and thought leaders. Most importantly, it’s an energized event that motivates entrepreneurs and innovators of all ages to jump start their careers.

Here are inBLOOM’s three TEDx inspired lessons in self-promotion to inspire you to attend the conference of ideas worth spreading:

1. LEVERAGE A BUILT-IN SOCIAL NETWORK

TEDx presents a wonderful opportunity to leverage the social networks of others in order to bring awareness to your personal brand. Take a look through the speakers list and do some digging to see which people are social influencers and part of large networks. Get on Twitter and follow the speakers. Tweet before and during the event, mention speakers and use hashtags to initiate conversation with a broader audience.

Read our tips for tweeting.

2. GIVE THE TALK OF YOUR LIFE

Something you must know before getting involved with a TEDx event is that it’s not a typical conference. It’s a known fact that every speaker giving a TED Talk gives the talk of their life, which is why the audience always has high expectations. Not everyone can captivate an audience; it’s a skill that takes time to develop. However, there are ways to instantly improve your speaking and presentation skills, which you will learn by watching the TEDx Talks.

TED and TEDx speakers make a good impression through body language –something extremely important during any presentation. The way you stand, move on the stage and interact with the audience are all factors that determine whether or not you will give a successful talk.  Even your level of mental alertness and preparedness are key to keeping the audience’s interest.

Not only are TED speakers in tune with their body language, they also wear their heart on their sleeve. There’s no need to worry about listening to an emotionless monotone voice – the speakers let their emotions show. By doing this, they create a meaningful and lasting connection with the audience.

3. MAINTAIN AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS 

One of the most rewarding things you get out of participating in a TEDx event are the connections you make with everyone involved: organizers, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors. Make time to establish relationships by conversing and connecting both on and offline.

Many of the people involved in TEDx events consistently blog, host podcasts, and communicate on social media. Stay in touch on social channels and comment and share their content regularly. This is an excellent way to stay top-of-mind and can open doors for potential work and collaborations. Most importantly, meet up every few months for coffee and conversation. These in-person meetings hold much value in a hurried, digital world.

 TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Make sure to reserve your spot at 2015 TEDxNavesink: Accelerators. Learn more about TEDxNavesink and purchase tickets here.

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8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

Like an old boyfriend’s name, the term SEO pops up in conversation here and there. But unlike the old boyfriend, deep down you know you need to work on your relationship with SEO in order to improve your online ranking and reputation.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of indexing content on Internet search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! SEO continues to play the starring role in any website development and content marketing plan.

When I meet with business owners, they often ask, “How can I improve my website ranking?” or “How can my business show up when people search the Web?” The answers to these questions have changed over the years as SEO experts have responded to the ways search engines value content and rank website authority.

Today, marketers and writers can access much of the same data used by SEO experts to create content that is loved by search engines and the people using them. Businesses can take control of their SEO with organic and paid marketing campaigns that include content marketing (blogs, podcasting, videos), Google analytics, and social media.

For years, web development companies have promised their clients better Google ranking with SEO tricks and schemes, but now the search engines have made it clear quality counts, not technology workarounds. Instead, marketers, writers, and publicists are drawing visitors to sites with consistent, optimized content, daily social media engagement, and inbound links from cross-marketing relationships, social influencers, and media coverage.

But please don’t disregard many of the helpful tools and resources available online, many for free, from SEO experts and software companies. We aren’t against a little help from the tech gurus. Together, the SEO community, marketers and publicists are helping their clients to share the most valuable and relevant content to attract site visitors and better rank results.

Here are a few of inBLOOM’s favorite SEO resources and tools:

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is the most complete SEO plugin available for WordPress. It offers everything you need to optimize your site. You can easily optimize your site’s titles and descriptions for Google and learn how to write better content with the built-in content analysis function.

Google Analytics

The SEO reports in Analytics provide Google Web Search performance data about the website that you have set up using Webmaster Tools. You can use this data to identify opportunities and prioritize efforts to increase the amount of traffic to your site. The Search Engine Optimization reports in Analytics use four metrics specific to Google Web Search data: impressions, clicks, average position and CTR (clickthrough rate).

KeywordSpy

Through this keyword tool and keyword software, you can perform advanced keyword research and keyword tracking to study what your competitors have been advertising in their adwords campaigns and other PPC campaigns. You can now get complete in-depth analysis, stats, budget, affiliates and ad copies of your competitors.

If you’re still finding it hard to fall in love with SEO, here are eight reasons why you need to work on the relationship:

  1. Businesses that focus on SEO without having a strong content plan in place will fail and will need to shift their focus to the creation and distribution of high-quality content in order to achieve significant search engine visibility.
  2. Search rankings will increasingly become more about building relationships and less about technical strategies. Businesses realize that focusing on merely creating content and optimizing its technical components for SEO just aren’t enough to achieve their goals. Businesses that humanize their brand are the ones who are standing out.
  3. High search rankings linked to blogger outreach campaigns, building relationships with brand advocates, reaching out to influencers and engaging on social media.
  4. Negative SEO will be a bigger threat than ever. Negative SEO is when dubious people build thousands of spammy links pointed at a competitors’ website with the intent of causing their search rankings to plummet.
  5. Inbound links are the most influential signal of trust and authority. This isn’t going to change — not in 2015 or anytime soon. The days of building links on irrelevant blogs and chasing large quantities of links to game the search results are over. Earning a single link on a high-quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic, leads, sales and branding exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work closer together in 2015.
  6. Studies suggest that the top organic and paid spots in the Google search results get about twice as many clicks as the second spots.
  7. Google Analytics is used by somewhere between 10 million and 25 million websites worldwide, and various surveys suggest over 50 percent of business websites (both large and small) use Google Analytics.
  8. Social media practices that boost SEO include growing your number of followers, encouraging external inbound links, optimizing your posts for searches, influencing social sharing, locally-optimized posts, and increasing brand awareness.

If you would like assistance running marketing and pr campaigns, contact us.

Resources:

The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2015 by Jayson DeMers, Forbe

20 Google Facts & Stats that Every Marketer Should Know by Andrew Garberson, LunaMetrics

6 Changes Your 2015 SEO Strategy Must Focus On by Jonathan Long, Entrepreneur

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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