Tag Archives: communication

3 tips for better blogging

9 Oct

As I sit to type a blog post about adding a blog into one’s social media mix, I am reminded of a skit on my favorite sketch comedy. In the two-minute skit, a man is in stuck in a technology loop. He moves from checking email to news to Netflix to text messages. The cycle continues in a comical fashion.

We live in an online world. We are expected to connect with our audiences through a plethora of mediums. We often start with a website. Then we create a Facebook page. Then we set up a Twitter account. Now throw a blog into the mix. Managing your social media mix might seem overwhelming, but there are ways to keep it simple and still be effective.

It may not appear to be at first, but a blog can be manageable. We often hear from clients the usual and understandable exclamations of “I don’t have time to blog!” and “I wouldn’t know what to write about it!”

Whether it’s for your business, nonprofit or yourself, here are three tips on blogging that will help you write stellar content for your blog.

1. Educate. Show your expertise in your field. Blog with the mindset that you want readers to be able to take away new knowledge and insight from your posts. When you sit down to write a new post, take some time to read the news in your industry. Doing this will help generate great ideas for a post that will be relevant and useful to your readers.

2. Connect. A blog post can be more informal and personal than a news article. Take advantage of the opportunity to be relatable and conversational. Write in such a way that your readers feel like you understand and care about them. Nobody wants to read a blog that is self-serving. Cross out the “I” and replace with the “you” and “us.”

3. Inspire. Not every blog post you write needs to motivate readers to go out and change the world, but readers should be able to read a post and feel like they have read something worthwhile to them. The more useful the information, habit challenge or task tip you can include, the more likely your readers are to read your future blogs and/or to post or share your blog with their network; which is where the magic of multiplication begins to take place. Good content leads to great followers. So, inspire them.

Blogging is a learned skill that, like other skills, can improve with time and practice. For a great example of a blog educating, inspiring and connecting to its readers, check out LeaderHuddle, a blog by Beacon Client Cathy McCullough.

The more you read other blogs and write your own posts, the more you will improve your posts and even enjoy blogging. As we at Beacon continue to dip our toes into the blogosphere, we hope you’ll stay with us. We would love for you to share your own blogs and blogging tips with us!

Does the thought of blogging still leave you feeling uneasy? No matter your level of experience with writing or blogging, Beacon can help light your way. Give us a buzz and we can take a look at your goals.

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Connecting with audiences through Pinterest

16 Sep

Pinterest has come a long way since its beginning in 2010. In 2011, I began hearing statements like, “I just pinned the cutest idea for mason jar candles to my wedding board.” I didn’t initially understand what all the hype was about, but I started my own account and began creating my own cleverly-named craft, recipe and lifestyle boards.

There are about 70 million Pinterest users today. You ask what this statistic means for your organization’s communication goals? It means Pinterest is another medium your organization can use to connect with its audience. Pinterest has become more than a place to post recipes and craft projects. Many organizations from Southwest Airlines to the U.S. Army are leveraging Pinterest to reach an even broader audience.

Here at Beacon, we are in the process of creating our own Pinterest account. Below are three tips we’ve learned along the way that will help your organization as it considers creating an account.

1)  Show your organization’s personality through boards and pins:

Do you own a coffee shop? Consider pinning pictures of latte art, reading lists and pastry recipes. Think about what your brand offers beyond traditional products or services. What are the current trends in your industry? Identify these trends and use them to fuel ideas for your account.

Pinterest encourages businesses to “be authentic” and “show what inspires you.” So pin your organization’s passion. Through doing so, you invite others to share in your passion.

2) Create meaningful content for your followers:

Pins are essentially links to outside websites. Look at the online content your organization already has available and pin this content to your boards. These pins take pinners back to your website or blog.

Explore ways to create new content to share through your account. Don’t rely solely on the pins of others!

3) Interact with other pinners through likes, repins and comments:

Pinterest allows users to pin, like and comment on content.  Pinners can see when other users interact with their pins. Through participating in all these activities, you expand your presence on the site, which will hopefully result in pinners interacting with your pins in return.

Have any tips about using Pinterest for business? We want to hear!

Being Beacon

6 Sep

The transition from summer to the start of the school year has been a time of change here at Beacon. We’ve had one member of our team (Laurie) make an exciting move to Kentucky. She’s still involved and connected to your cause, even though she’s on a new adventure. We also welcomed a talented graphic designer to the team, Kala McDonald. All along the way, we join together to cheer you and our clients toward new goals.

Yes, even with all these changes, we’re still Beacon at our core. What does it mean to “be Beacon?” Well, we are committed to helping light your way to relationships and results. At Beacon, we believe in good thinking and the balance of both efficiency and effectiveness.

Think of this blog as our continued effort to share these qualities through the categories of marketing, life reflections and even some midwest-specific PR. One of our talented researchers, writers & marketing strategists, Sarah Andrews, will help update this blog throughout the fall with news, musings and other bits of information relevant to the world of PR and marketing. May good thinking and the E:E ratio inspire your communication.

Our best to you,

The Beacon Team

Open the Door

3 Sep

Open the door. Seems easy enough. But, hey, we’ve had many a sales guy tell us there are times when they’d rather just drive on by than stop, open the car door, open a potential customer’s door and present options before calling on a decision to be made. Whether you’re in sales or not, your professional paths are sure to come across some moments when the best thing you do is open that door and make the introduction or present the deal. So, could you agree that sometimes opening the door is the toughest part of making a sale?

Opening the door can also carry significant figurative weight. “God never closes one door without opening another” has been featured on countless trinkets, encouraging people to keep their heads up and press ahead through tough times.

You can imagine the panic of someone locked in or locked out who is demanding “OPEN THE DOOR!” I was recently shut out of my own nine-year-old daughter’s room. I said “open the door” quite clearly and I was not thinking of the phrase’s sales or life perspectives. I had an immediate need to reach her and I was emphatic that the door open right away.

Have you ever had stage fright? The door might be a curtain or it might be just a fear to take that first step and open the door of your public criticism (or praise). Yikes – open the door and step out in front of others. Leadership is tough and performing is tough, but we’re sometimes called to take that step, aren’t we?

Many of us church-raised people have been singing songs about Jesus knocking at the door our entire lives. Yes, he’s knocking and all we have to do is…there it is again…open the door. That signifies an opening of our hearts, minds and will to that of the supreme Savior who can and will transform our lives and who will declare our eternities.

So, those three words “Open the Door” could mean something different to all of us.

When the blog schedule (which I’ve clearly not held to well at all) was first drafted, I was supposed to write a blog for each letter of the alphabet. They’re all marketing-related, tip-oriented topics and so, at the time of that calendar commitment, this blog was intended to motivate you as marketing and sales people – as communicators – to open the door and get the job done. See the task ahead and start taking steps to get there. Work through the tough moments and keep opening doors, cutting red tape, communicating your way through objections and getting closer to the solution and/or goal. I still feel a sincere calling to urge you to be tenacious in the task you have and work diligently toward the end goal. That starts with a goal, with a clear desire to reach the cause. GIVE A CARE. Want it. Get to it. Open that door and make it happen. I am great at this in some aspects of my life (like PR plans for clients) and horrible about this in other aspects of my life (like exercise plans). So, I know it’s tough and I hope this catches you at a time when you can claim a new mantra. Just open the door. One more step. Put yourself in the position to get it done and get it done well. Be there. Open. The. Door.

So, that’s the point I wanted to make and that I’m glad to make on Beacon’s behalf. We have had that conversation with numerous clients who just needed to get the foot out there, put it down in a forward motion and take the next step. We’re glad to come alongside them and help them be more confident and prepared and focused as they do so. If you’ll humor me, though, I’d like to take this topic in a completely new direction that’s a little more about my personal life than my Beacon advice. That ok?

Ok.

Open the door. Sigh. Where do I begin? Years ago Natalie Grant came out with a CD (remember the shiny, flat, round things we used to put in hardware audio devices before we all played music on our handhelds?). Her CD had themes of surrender that struck me in a meaningful way. Coupled with prayer and journaling moments – intimate moments with my amazing friend Jesus (I just can’t make that sound cool to some of you, I know. I’m a dork. Read on.) – I discovered areas of my life that I was refusing to surrender. Over a period of months, I began to sing that CD to the skies all times of the day and at all volumes from silent prayers to tearful cries. I was ready for God to awaken me and use me, no matter what. I was prepared for him to hold me, even if it doesn’t work out like I’d hope. The wreckage that unfolded soon after has been devastating. Everything crumbled slowly and painfully, yet I felt God’s unwavering sustenance and guidance. Years later, it all still hurts but I know I there was a nearly miraculous transformation that freed some souls when I opened the door; when I raised my hands and told God to clean our lives and use us best. I’m still not sure what His purpose was in some of that situations. Both the process and end result have not been beautiful and easy. Yet I trust. I have an open hymnal on my piano turned to “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go,” and that is just where I camped my heart. I learned that being RIGHT can feel better than being HAPPY in some strange way. Peace and joy would seep out of our lives and our testimonies, even though we were amidst painful situations and being persecuted with lies. I know God’s growing me and my girls, and even some friendships through this but shew – it bites.

Another chapter of that strange whirlwind-like experience has come more recently as I became convicted about some other issues, like financial responsibility. I felt I needed to rediscover some better ways of managing our budget. More pressing, I was coping with constant reminders that my kids were in chaotic, stressful situations. While I had believed, for several years, that we would always be in that yucky circumstance and we must just endure, it’s clear to me now that He orchestrated a variety of conversations and situations together for my clarity. Could He care so much for little ol’ me; for just our little bunch? It’s overwhelming! It creates a sense of awe and fear at the same time. I again (but still reluctantly) began to OPEN THE DOORs of my life; doors I didn’t realize I had closed. I addressed responsibilities I had already given over to the providence of God, yet somehow taken back over into my corners of worry and fruitless work. I opened the door and surrendered all the way again. That led me to make a decision with full confidence and zero doubt. We moved a few states away. Quickly. Nuts? Maybe a little. Right? Absolutely. Stressed? Umm, yes! At peace? In all the ways that count, yep! So, here we are.

My prayer is that I never get stuck in the daily grind again in such a way that the doors close. I think any fruit my life did bear quickly rotted by the rest of my stinky attitude and ignorance. I was definitely cramping things and flailing around frustrated. So, my goal is to stop that and open the door to new. I pray we stay focused on Him on a daily – no momentary – basis so that a surrender to Him isn’t such a life-shaking event, but rather a lifestyle. It is through Him and only through Him that we’ll be ok. Right? I mean we can’t try any harder, do any better, endure any longer, cope any stronger. It’s not even about us and our state of comfort. That’s the entirely wrong gauge on the entirely wrong instrument for getting through life. Reminds me of Ephesians, among other books. Chapter 2 verses 9 & 10 NLT say “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Love that! It’s about his plan – not us at all. So read the whole thing…it’s all so good. I love when you work on into Ephesians 3:16-19, again NLT, where it says “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Let’s all pray that together and be made complete for his purpose. Let’s open our doors and refocus our lives on what really matters because, whether you’re an Oklahoman or a Kentuckian, you know the point here is that it ain’t about us! Only he can make the way.

Ok, enough personal gushing.

::Open the door! Love ya’ll!::

Never Say Never?

9 Jul

Never say never. Well, sometimes say never. Strong COEs make decisions. They don’t get stuck in an almost decision or suffer from that ongoing task force to address every possible issue pertaining to the decision that should’ve already been made. Sometimes you have to make a firm decision. Draw a line in the sand. Sometimes you have to forget the popular choice, do what’s right and press ahead with clear focus. As a strong communicator, you must listen carefully to make educated decisions and then – scary as it may be – you must make that decision and stick with it. Do what’s ultimately good for the end goal. Making the decision is only part of the success story. Communication (both listening and presenting) will get the ball the rest of the way to the goal. You’ll be a better decision maker when you’re listening well and you’ll be a better communicator when you are passionate about the decision and resulting outcomes. Be confident in your daily marketing and overall operations decisions – even the far-reaching, occasional claims for “never” and “always”. Knowing when to say never is a skill, so study other decision makers, leaders and wildly successful individuals, teams and organizations. Learn from others’ strengths and mistakes. Let that inspiration feed you as you snowball it all up – your own powerful instincts, the leading of your creator, all the input you can gather about the decision before you and the provided circumstances – snowball it all up into one big, giant, good mix of nevers, sometimeses, maybes and alwayses you believe in and communicate well. People will join you.

Drop the “I” and Identify With Your Audience!

2 Nov

I have x years of experience. I provide the following services. I sell the following products. I, I, I = blah! What reader is going to hang on to hear how awesome you are when all that’s going through their mind is a determination to find an answer to their question; a solution for their need; an entertainment for their moment? They can link away from you as fast as they linked into you. If you miss your moment to relate to your reader and engage your viewer because you’re coming from I – I – I land. Well. That’s tragic.

Here’s our Beacon marketing challenge to you for today: Focus on the reader, viewer or person you’re talking to! Make it about them. You only have so much time to make your message fit into what’s relevant to them. Replace I – I – I with you – you – you. Rephrase even the most standard of statements so your audience always gets the point in a way that’s oriented to them and not you. Shut up and listen. Engage. Have enough integrity to identify with others!

My mama always told us “You first and me too” when she was teaching us how to deal with others. Her point was that we should always be mannerly and put others first, whether we’re opening a door for someone and following them in or simply listening to someone present an idea before tossing out our viewpoint.

This “others oriented” way of living is not innate and it isn’t always rewarded, but we think it’s the way to be. Certainly, I’m telling you now today without question, it IS the way to market and effectively communicate a promotional campaign. YOU FIRST!

The “me too” amendment was also important when it came to mom’s lesson. Putting others first without ever asserting one’s own needs can be unhealthy in personal relationships. Doormats who can’t stand up for themselves can be victimized or enablers, among other things. We must be as “self secure” as we are “others oriented”.

In marketing, the “me too” is also important because you will have a chance to tell someone what solution you provide once you understand their problem, need or desire. So, your “me too” opportunity to present your side of things can actually be more on target and better received because you appropriately let the “you first” mentality lead you right into an understanding of the other person’s pains or hopes. As you deal with others, think “you first” and then feel free to communicate your needs in a way that matters to them. You first and me too.

Harsh as it may seem, people just don’t care about many of the details marketers might feel compelled to share with them. So, fight the urge to list the details about you and your brilliant expertise or years of experience. Instead, identify with what’s important to them. Take a note out and write “I, I, I” on it. Now put a big “X” over those letters. Then, write “Identify”. Then, post the note in a prominent place to remind yourself to drop your own story and, instead, seek ways to identify with the other person. What are they into? What benefit do you/your organization offer to them? Listening and identifying with others will create a huge difference in your communication and the success of your internal and external public relations.

Have enough integrity to drop the I and instead, identify! Run your business and live your life with integrity. Relate to others and eliminate the me/I in your mentality, language and ultimately, your strategic communications message. Watch language barriers that suggest a we/them or us/you way of thinking. Be on the same page – and do that by identifying with them first.

:: Here’s to a wonderful weekend for you…and I. For We! For Us Together! 😉 ::

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Beacon ABCs of Marketing – all Mediauras

21 Sep

Beacon ABCs of Marketing - all Mediauras

Download the “Stillwater Mediauras” app and scan these letters to get quickie videos on the ABCs of Marketing! If you’re on your phone now, click this picture to go straight to the download.