Tag Archives: PR

How to be a Better Blogger

By: Lara Michelle Greenberg

Many people think that the hardest part about blogging is getting started, but that part is easy. The hardest part is staying active and gaining interest. With immense amounts of content being circulated each day, how do you break through and create something that’s worth reading? Here are a few tips that can help you become a better blogger.

  1. Find your niche

The blogging sphere is a very busy place and without a niche it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. Running a blog means that you need to create regular content about the topic so you want to make sure that you don’t run out of things to say or lose interest. Find something that you are passionate about. Whether you are writing about travel, business or basket weaving, if you write about something you love, content will flow freely.

  1. Headlines

No matter what the subject is, chances are it’s a great headline that catches your attention and earns your click. A great headline will help your content spread further.

  1. Content

Now, onto the content itself: spend some time researching the topic you are going to write about and gather information from reliable sources. Following these two basic tips is very important because the content you write should be accurate and informative. A great blogger entices their readers by writing awesome and educational pieces.

  1. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Make sure you read through your blog a few times before you post. There is nothing worse than putting up a great article and realizing that there are several mistakes. Read aloud. Since your mouth has to voice each word, your ears will pick up the errors better than your mind distinguishing errors as you read silently. And if someone is around, have them read it over a few times for you. They might spot a few errors that you missed.

  1. Make sharing easy

To increase growth and readership of your blog, share your blog posts on other forms of social media and encourage your readers to share your writing. It will be easy for your readers to share your content if you have social sharing buttons. Make sure you place them wherever you think the reader would want to share the post (top of page/bottom of page/middle). You can also post the link to your blog on your Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin a few times per day so that people will come across it more easily. If you make it easy and simple for your readers to share, you will increase your social media shares in no time.

With so many blogs on the internet today, standing out isn’t so easy. While creating your posts, don’t be scared to let your personality show through. Writing in your own unique voice will really help you connect with your readers. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to making your blog more successful, but these basic tips will help you get started. As always, if you like what you read, please be social and share.

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The Credibility Killer

By: Dallas J. Short

Everyone knows that buying followers on social media is not a good idea, right? You would think by now, with all the facts, all the stories and the programs out there, this would be common knowledge. It still appears though, people will falsely increase their followers without concern of the consequences. So, let’s take a quick refresher course on why it’s a no no, not a win win.

Keep it Real. The followers you are buying are not real people, they do not have real interests, they do not even have real profiles and they will never be real customers.

Mid (social) Life Crisis. Ok, you have been on social media for a while and you are not getting as many numbers as others. You begin doubting yourself. You think having as many followers as your business peers will make you seem young and hip, but just like buying a Corvette or Mustang at age 50, you might go from zero to a hundred real quick but you will be in the same situation. Have confidence in your product and concentrate your efforts on being authentic. Yes, business is competition, but this is not the way to win. These inflated numbers are not liking or sharing your information. From a marketing perspective, you are purchasing a bunch of unqualified leads. If you were cold calling, you just bought a phone book of disconnected numbers. In business terms, the ROI on buying fake followers is $0.

The Man Behind the Curtain. This is not the Wizard of Oz and people will pay attention to the man behind the curtain, which is you and your brand. Your actual fans and followers will see this number boost and no increased interaction, this is not impressive to them and will be a huge turnoff. People do not like to find out someone or something they believe in is cheating, this goes for both online and offline activities. Facebook now only shows your post to a small percentage of your followers, a false increase in your audience dramatically lowers the chances that the people who actually care about what you have to say will be able to see it. So if you are paying for those fake numbers, you are risking having to pay even more money per update to make sure your legit fans see your posts and announcements.

High Diving Off the Wrong Platform. There are many different social media platforms out there on the internet but that does not mean you have to be on everyone. Research which platforms work best for your industry or which ones you can actually devote your efforts and energy too. If your company is not as suited for Twitter (or Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc.), spending money on followers is not only a waste of money, but even being on there as much as you are could be a waste of time.

Numbers That Matter. When you purchase fake followers, you are losing the relevancy of your demographic information. One of the most important things of being on social media is being able to know your audience, so you can figure out more ways to appeal to and engage with them. This will also hurt your sponsorship proposals as well as most of your marketing efforts.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye. You have all these faux followers now and you want to get rid of them? This is going to cost you even more time and money. You will have to go through and block or delete all of those you paid for. You might have to even end up hiring someone to do it for you. There goes more money out the window.

If the urge to buy followers arises or you have someone in the office telling you that you should, you shouldn’t. It is unethical and it is bad business. Social media, still new and growing, does not come with a cheat sheet for success or skip to the front of the line card. It takes work, it takes trial and error and it takes honesty and authenticity. Be creative and courageous, come up with new ways to engage your audience, build your digital community and allow them to grow with you. Those are the type of people that are truly worth having associated with your brand.

Have you seen a company buy fake followers? Has it changed your opinion on them? Did you buy fake followers and regret it? As always, if you like what you read, please be social and share.

15 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

By: Lara Greenberg

What most college students don’t realize is the power of the informational interview. Informational interviews are not necessarily geared toward acquiring a particular position but they can be a beneficial learning experience, help students in picking a major, set career goals or gain experience when talking to executives. While it can be quite frightening to initiate an informational interview, you never know what results it can yield. In order to make these interviews a little less scary, be sure that you are prepared. Dress to impress, bring a hard copy of your resume and a notepad and bring a list of questions to guide the conversation. Pay careful attention to what is said by the person you interview with and ask questions if something isn’t clear. You will find that people are often happy to discuss their positions and willing to provide you with an abundance of information. Here are some prospective questions to ask during your informational interview:

  1. Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?
  1. How did you get your job? What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
  1. What does a typical day look like for you?
  1. How does your company differ from its competitors?
  2. How has your job affected your lifestyle?
  1. What kinds of challenges do you encounter?
  2. What is the one thing you spend the most time on?
  1. How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
  2. What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions? What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  1. Where do you think the field is headed?
  1. How do you think graduation from a private or public university is viewed when it comes to hiring?
  2. How important are grades/GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  3. What are the major rewards aside from extrinsic rewards such as money, fringe benefits, travel, etc.?
  4. Is there anyone else you suggest I talk to knowing my interests and skills?
  1. Is there any last advice you can offer me?

Here are a few additional tips when organizing for an informational interview:

Manage Your Time

Usually, informational interviews are brief, so concentrate on what questions you want to get answered. You could even highlight or place a star next to any important questions so you can find them easily when time starts to dwindle.

Follow Up

After the interview, verbally thank the interviewee. A thank you note should be sent within 24 hours of meeting your new contact. Be sure to keep in touch from time to time.

Remember, be professional, be confident and be yourself. As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Let The Binge Begin

By: Dallas J. Short

The third season of Orange is the New Black was set to be released on Friday, June 12th but it actually came out early on the 11th. So yes, I watched four episodes Thursday night (sorry NBA Finals, I had you on my phone,) and an episode Friday morning. 5 down, 8 to go. While I had already planned on plowing through the Netflix original this weekend, I might now have time to actually do other things and be productive (or finish my binge through Sense8).

Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing, is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show.

Netflix went through Harris Interactive to conduct this survey online, sticking to people in the U.S. surveyed in late November (2013). 3,078 adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,496 stream TV shows at least once a week. Here’s a summary of some of the findings:

  • Binge watching isn’t an emerging trend or behavior: it’s mainstream and the new normal. 61% binge watch regularly. (2-3 episodes of a single TV series in one setting).
  • 73% viewed binge watching as positive.
  • Dispelling conventional wisdom–binge watching is actually moderate behavior (avg of 2.3 episodes/sitting). And it’s consistent across demographics—though 18-34 binge watches slightly more.
  • Viewers see binge watching as engaging and immersive, and TV improving in quality–2/3 say there is simply too much good TV to watch. Quite the evolution from a few decades ago when the then FCC Chairman called TV “A vast wasteland”.
  • 76% of TV streamers said watching several episodes at a time as a welcome refuge from the busy world we live in.
  • In a highly fragmented 140 character 24/7 world, viewers are seeking out longer form, complex storytelling.
  • The experience is better: 79% say binge watching makes the actual show better.

Since Netflix users have increased in the past two years and the amount of binge-worthy shows is currently at an all-time high (and only increasing), those previous stats could be a lot higher now.

There are some who advise against binge-watching and say it does not allow you to fully appreciate, interpret and process the show. I would disagree, but then again, I grew up rapidly flipping through Choose Your Own Adventure books trying to figure out the best ending.

Netflix is testing with the one episode per week original “Between,” and while it is a decent show – I don’t think it grips you the way most of their other original shows do, where you need to know what’s next or what’s going on with the characters.

I do not believe House Of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, etc. need to be binge-watched because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I think you binge because you develop a connection to the people involved through very well written scripts, settings and interactions.

Another reason to binge is because these shows do mean something to people and they are part of a cultural phenomenon. If you try to space them out, you also risk spoiler alerts from social media, work place, news and people in general.

I binged through all of Breaking Bad in two weeks, right before the final season air. I do consider one of my favorite shows, but not sure I could have loved that show as much on a week by week basis for the first couple of seasons. There are other series where people tell you “you just have to give it time.” Binge-watching allows you to digest the average appetizer episodes quicker, so you can get to the real meat and potatoes of it all.

In no order, (kind of one of those “I love all my children the same” lines). Here are 15 shows I have really enjoyed binging on Netflix. I could probably rattle off another 10-20 more after this too.

  • House of Cards
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Daredevil
  • Breaking Bad
  • New Girl
  • Brothers & Sisters
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Luther
  • Arrow
  • The Following
  • Archer
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Black Donnellys
  • Mad Men
  • Freaks & Geeks

How about you? Are you a binge-watcher? Do you have a favorite? Are you going to be like me and beast through Orange is the New Black this weekend?

As always, if you like what you read, please be social, share and no no no spoiler alerts.

Grammar Game

By: Gina Mason

Word traps…there are a lot of them out there and you would be surprised how often people fall victim to common grammar mistakes. (We are all guilty of it!) Whether it’s something as simple as the misuse of a homophone such as “their, they’re or there” or mixing up the definition of a word such as irreverent or irrelevant, it is important to make sure your grammar game is strong (especially, when writing a big email or working on a presentation). For some grammar snobs, the misuse of a pronoun or verb can send them through the grammatical glass roof and may cost you that big deal.

I recently read a great article in Forbes that had a useful breakdown of some of the most common grammar missteps in business. Here are some common words and some easy-to-remember tricks to ensure (see example 1) we stay on the right grammar track:

“Ensure vs. Insure

You insure a car or a house. Think: insurance.

You ensure the company will be a fit for you by doing your research.

Capitol vs. Capital

The Capitol is a building in Washington, DC. Do note its proper noun status.

Capital is money, as in a venture capital firm. It’s also what you’re referring to when you ask someone to stop emailing in ALL CAPS—and the spelling you’d want to use if asked to list all of the state capitals.

Perspective vs. Prospective

You have a unique perspective, or take, on events.

Prospective means potential, as in, the prospective candidates are impressive.

Gauge vs. Gouge

You’ll gauge your client’s reaction to the new slogan (i.e. take his or her temperature).

You’ll gouge out your eyes if you have to stare at your presentation slides much longer.

Moot vs. Mute vs. Moo

The point is moot—or, in other words, it doesn’t matter.

The TV is on mute.

And if you think the point is moo, you’ve watched too much Friends.

Prosperity vs. Posterity

Prosperity means wealth, so if you’re toasting to prosperity, you’re celebrating your fortune.

Posterity means future generations. You could toast to posterity as well, so long as you know you’re raising a glass to your descendants.

Principal vs. Principle

You went to the principal’s office when you misbehaved in school.

Principal can also mean main, as in principal investor.

And a principle is a tenet you believe in.

Tenet vs. Tenant

While we’re on the subject, a tenet is a rule.

A tenant is a renter.

Rein vs. Reign vs. Rain

You rein in your tendency to overreact, much like you use the reins to control a horse.

Meanwhile a monarch reigns over his or her empire, while rain falls from the sky.

Solidarity vs. Solitary

You show solidarity by joining or supporting a cause or social movement.

If you’re the solitary member on a project, you’re the only person working on it. (Note: Solitary often includes a connotation that means lonely or isolated.)

Weary vs. Wary vs. Leery vs. Leer

Weary means tired. It can also mean jaded, which is why some people confuse it with…

Wary, which means suspicious. You’d be wary of a candidate with terrible references.

Leery also means suspicious. You would be rightfully leery of a hiring manager who never showed up for your interview.

Finally, to leer is to stare in an inappropriate way.

Accept vs. Except

You accept an offer from your dream company.

You would go to the upcoming event, except you already have plans.

Broach vs. Brooch vs. Breach

You’ll broach the subject tomorrow, while wearing your grandmother’s lucky brooch.

Neither of which has anything to do with a breach of contract.

Fleshing vs. Flushing

You flesh out the findings by going into more detail.

You flush something down in the restroom.

Banal vs. Blasé

The topic is banal, a.k.a., boring.

He’s known for his blasé attitude—meaning he’s never flustered and seems generally unconcerned.

Skim vs. Scan

When you skim a document, you’re glancing at pretty quickly.

Scan can be used as a synonym for skim, but it also can mean reading something in detail (much like the oft-misused peruse). Scan can also be used in a medical context, e.g., a full-body scan.

Underserved vs. Undeserved

Underserved communities suffer from a lack of resources.

Undeserved means something was not merited, like an unwarranted dismissal.

Proceed vs. Precede

If someone says, “let’s proceed,” he means “let’s get started” or “let’s continue.”

Something that precedes something else, comes first (e.g., winter precedes spring, spring precedes summer).

Intents vs. Intense

Your intents are noble.

But your intense gaze is creeping the interviewer out.

Squash vs. Quash

You might eat squash after a game of squash in which you squashed your opponent like a bug. (What an eventful lunch break!)

On the other hand, you’d quash a merger that you’ve reconsidered and decided is a bad move.

Irreverent vs. Irrelevant

You might think irreverent just means colorful, but it often connotes something that is disrespectful, rude, even blasphemous.

While something that’s irrelevant doesn’t relate to the matter at hand.

Amused vs. Bemused

If you’re amused, you’re enjoying yourself, whereas…

If you’re bemused, you’re confused.

Farther vs. Further

Farther and further both measure distance. But farther is more often used for a distance you can actually measure. So, my favorite lunch spot is farther from the office than the sandwich spot up the block.

If you don’t want to go there, we don’t need to take this conversation any further.

Elicit vs. Illicit

If you’ve read this far, you deserve to know that elicit means provoke, as in elicit a response.

Illicit means illegal or forbidden—illicit activities have no place in the office (or, really, anywhere).”

I’m sure most of us have all fallen into these grammar traps and the best advice that I have for those who are unsure of the proper use of the word is USE GOOGLE! Google can pretty much tell us everything these days and if not, use two of my favorite grammar websites are Grammar Girl and Grammarly for quick and dirty grammar tips. I hope you found this post to be helpful and this will help us all step up our grammar game.

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Tips & Tricks for Your Next Instagram Post

By: Gina Mason

Instagram may be one of the hottest social media platforms out there right now. As of January 2015, there are more than 300 million active users, over 30 billion photos that have been shared and the average users spends at least 21 minutes a day browsing and liking photos.

As the app continues to grow and expand so does its capabilities and features. With its constant updates, it’s hard to keep track of all of the new useful features. I recently read an article on SocialMediaWeek.org and wanted to share some great tips for the photo-sharing app.

Here are a few of my favorite tips from the article:

Send Selective People Photos

Want to share a photo with friends without it going into the Newsfeed? Use the Instagram Direct feature. “This feature lets you share the photo with up to 15 people, and they can comment on the photo like normal. Items shared this way will not turn up in a search and can be deleted. To use Instagram Direct, choose Direct when you’re at the “Share To’” page. Then select your recipients by tapping the circle next to their names or by typing their names in the ‘To’ space. Finish off by hitting Send.”

Hide Annoying Accounts

Finally! There is a secret “hide” button for those friends who still don’t understand the concept of Instagram. You know, those friends who overshare or upload 10 photos of their cats/children within five minutes and blow up your Newsfeed, but you can’t officially unfollow them. “To ignore Direct posts from a person, go to the tray icon at the top right of your home page. Tap the horizontal three-dots button (iPhone) or vertical three-dots button (Android). Select “Ignore all posts from this user.”

Hide Photos

Ever have a friend tag you in an embarrassing or unflattering photo? You can hide it now! “To hide a tagged photo, tap the offending photo and your Instagram handle will appear. Tap your handle. When a menu pops up, select “Hide from My Profile.” If you don’t want to be tagged at all in the photo, go to the More Options button and choose “Remove Me from Photo.” If you don’t want to remove your tagged photos one by one, you can adjust your settings to review them first. Just go to “Photos of You”, tap on your settings at the top right corner and select the “Add Manually” option.”

Hashtag After

Ever post a photo and forgot to use hashtags? “You can still do so by adding them in the comments. People will still be able to find your photo when searching the hashtag you used. This method also has the added bonus of eliminating the dreaded hashtag paragraph when you share the same photo onto your other social media accounts.”

Forget to share to your other sites?

If you have posted a photo on Instagram and forgot to share it on your other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can now. “Tap the button with three dots at the bottom of the photo. Select Share from the menu and choose which site you want to share it to. If you choose Twitter, your photo URL will appear as you compose your tweet, so you’ll know if you’ve hit the 140 character limit.”

I hope you found these tips to be helpful. To read the rest of the tips, here is the link to the full article:

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/05/10-useful-instagram-tips-tricks-you-should-know/

Happy Instagram-ing!

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

I Wrote This Blog and You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next…

By: Dallas J. Short

Working in public relations, I’m a bit of word nerd and am constantly writing. There is a new version of Merriam-Webster’s unabridged dictionary and 1,700 words have been included, along with 3,200 new examples to add context. After this, all I can do is SMH at WTF and NSFW being added. The one that bothers me the most though is clickbait, not because I disagree with it being a word, but I disagree with even having clickbait (as what it is) exist.

Clickbait (noun): something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.

There are two mains reasons.

The first, it’s lazy journalism, which is very unprofessional and should not even be labelled as journalism. If you can’t judge a book by its cover, you should definitely still be able to know what a story is about by its headline. Integrity is extremely important to me and has seemed to fall by the way side, as people are more focused on getting clicks so they can pad their traffic stats and get more money for advertisements. It’s lying and disrespectful. It might sound crazy, but when you actually create quality content for your audience, they will not only trust and respect you more, but your positive engagement will increase. While some people will always be bored and out to troll, the majority of comments on a “news” story should not be outrage because of the author’s misrepresentation of facts and details.

The second, the internet and the world in general are fast-moving and unfortunately there are some people who just read headlines and form their own stories, without taking the time out to read the whole thing, put it in context or do research. Ah yes, ignorance is bliss and we should be a more educated society, but putting nonsense out into the world is part of the problem, not the solution. These misleading titles can also cause people to be upset and spread hate, as well as misinformation. Writers understand that words are weapons and a quick Spiderman refresher “with great power comes great responsibility.” Readers deserve better.

Clickbait has become a bad game of follow the leader, it works/worked to increase the number of page clicks and so more and more people keep doing it. Online publications do rely on advertising money, so they do want more clicks and that is understandable. There are other ways to go about it and it comes down to knowing your audience and writing in ways that appeal to them. It could be through intelligence, wit, sarcasm, actual satire or other styles.

In PR, your reputation is everything. I like my news delivered to me clever and honest, how about you? As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, please be social and share.