Tag Archives: public relations

Understanding Instagram

14 Nov

BoomerLakeStillwater

“Look at this vintage photo I took of the lake near my work!”

This slightly sarcastic exclamation illustrates the assumption many have of Instagram being nothing more than a place to post pictures of one’s breakfast or bicycle. Although it is true that Instagram is a place to do this, many businesses such as Nike, Starbucks and the NBA have recognized the massive power of Instagram as a communication tool.

I took the photo above at Boomer Lake in Stillwater, Okla. Using Instagram, I uploaded the photo, added a filter, wrote a description, and placed the hashtag symbol in front of words in my description related to the picture.

So why should your business care about Instagram and how can you use it to help your business? I’ll answer these questions in my next post, “Instagram your business.” Before we dive into the potential value of Instagram for business, let’s take a minute to establish a basic understanding of what Instagram is and how it works.

Six things to know about instagram:

1. Instagram is a free social media app for iPhone and Android that was launched in 2010 and sold to Facebook in 2012. A username and photo are all that is required to start an account.

2. Instagram allows users to share photos and 15 second videos. These photos and videos can be found by anyone with an account. A follower of an account will automatically see uploads from the followed account in their feed.

3. Users can take photos or videos using the app or choose to upload photos previously taken on their phones. All photos will be cropped into the signature Instagram square. A variety of filters can be applied to a photo or video for a desired effect. Before posting, a user can write a description of the photo or video.

4. Like other social media sites, Instagram lets users put the hashtag symbol, #, in front of words in a photo’s description. These hashtags makes photos more searchable by other users, extending the reach of a photo.

5. Those with an Instagram account can “like” a photo or video by double clicking on it. Users can also comment on their own or another’s photo. Unless a user sets their account to “private,” their photos can be found by anyone with an account.

6. Instagram allows users to select to post their photos or videos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr by providing their login info for the various accounts.

Now that you have a basic overview of what it is, try it out. Then watch for our next blog on how to maximize it for your business. If you’re wondering what photos in general may do for your promotional and customer education efforts, also see Laurie’s previous blog on the power of photography.

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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.

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

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.

Master, Pro, Guru, Expert, Opinion Leader…

7 Jul

“Strive for mastery, big or small. Your audience will be impressed.” That’s the closing line of this quick video, narrated by Beacon PR’s strategist Rebecca Henley (and we think she says niche funny. Don’t you? Ha!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3XmzpBRNbg Well, what do you think about that statement and the idea that being THE pro will matter to your target audience?

Example one for your consideration: Do you think most preachers know Dr. Moeller’s general position on hot topics today? Just take a preview of the topics highlighted on the left pane of his blog http://www.albertmohler.com/. He’s taking a stance and staying in the content marketing arena regularly. If you’re a prospective seminary student or a pastor looking for the next book to read, do you see how it’s easy to respect Dr. Moeller’s level of notoriety and industry-recognized expertise? Do you think professors and other leaders are eager to be part of his administration at Southern Seminary?

Example two: When a colleague expressed interest in adding another monitor to our office for presentations, why do you think I was so quick to mention a client who can advise us from concept to installation? Aspen Custom Electronics knows the latest in digital signage, beyond just a conference room style TV set up. They’ll mount it and I can stay focused on doing what I do – not putting screws in the wrong place or investing in last year’s technology instead of the modern versions. I trust them with that decision and want to rely on their expertise.

I could go on! Look to the global marketing for your industry, the regional habits of your subject area and your local perspectives. Do you see gurus? The go-to person?

While every campaign Beacon touches is completely customized and no one size fits all, my bet is that your audience will care about your level of expertise, at least to some degree.

Strive for mastery, big or small. Your audience will be impressed. In today’s information age, content is king. Your ability to create meaningful material for the web-scouring potential customers out there will be crucial to your success. Harvesting success stories from existing customers and turning them into branding ambassadors and/or additional content creators will be another key aspect of your marketing programming. Gone are the days when marketing plans consist of direct mail, enews, media hits, signage, ads and a few special events. Regular content blitzing into every channel viewers may be peeking is the name of the game. Content marketing is the game changer and your marketing budgets and plans need to be keeping up. Your website is the hub, so ensure that it’s built on the best platform with the greatest security for the future – all centered around a content manager that empowers dynamic updates and customization. Gone are the days when “experts” had to have PhDs and spent each waking moment in research and teaching. Some still do, but you can add a megaphone to your brand through positioning yourself or others on your team as the guru, expert and go-to pro. Find your niche (neesh, as Rebecca would say 🙂 ) and build your level of expertise to such a fluent level, you have information and content pouring – oozing – out of you with confidence and clarity. Package that in a meaningful, relevant, powerful, professional yet real and fast manner. Your audience will stand up and take notice while competitors look on and wonder how you’re churning it out. Building momentum from the expertise you can portray through effective marketing systems will help add fuel to the fire when editors take notice, stories are placed, and visitors pour in. Be THAT GUY. Be the guru. Make it happen. LOVE IT every step of the way!

:: Need help? Beacon can explain content marketing more and help you find your voice and prioritize the right channels. Here’s to your mastery! ::

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! 😉 ::