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How to Write Objectively on a Personal Topic

write objectively

We all have at least one area of expertise in our life. When it comes to sharing this knowledge with other people, whether it be on our website, blog, social media or newsletter, it can be challenging to stay objective and make it relatable to an audience who doesn’t share this same expertise. A similar challenge is writing about ourselves. Of course we know everything on this topic, so how do we concisely convey this information to everyone else?

My clients have various areas of expertise and often challenge me with the task of transforming their knowledge into captivating content. While there is no magic formula per se, I have found several strategies for writing objectively on a personal topic. Let’s take a look…

Do your research.

Doing research on a topic you already know intimately well may seem a bit odd. .What more could you stand to learn? A lot, actually. A simple Google search or browsing the Wikipedia page on the topic will highlight what the rest of the world deems as the most important and essential information.

Additionally, your research may uncover recent news coverage or articles that could impact how others feel about your topic. Preparing yourself with knowledge and being aware of public sentiment is an important first step to objectively writing about a personal topic.

Begin with an outline.

Now that your research has provided you with even more information on your topic of choice, create an outline to help organize your thoughts and highlight the most important points you wish to cover. One of the biggest challenges of writing objectively on a personal topic is boiling the information down to a clear and concise message. Your outline will let you see how your points flow together and if there are any gaps or holes you need to fill.

Hone in on your purpose.

When writing on a familiar and passionate topic, it’s easy to lose touch with the purpose of the content. All of a sudden you have pages upon pages written with no clear “take away” for your readers. When looking at your outline, are you able to quickly identify the main purpose of your writing?

For example, your personal topic might be creating your own bio. Of course you know yourself better than anyone else, but rather than spilling your whole life story in no particular order, you want to strategically pick what it is you want your readers to gain from reading your bio. Do you want to highlight your entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills or love of education? Hone in on the purpose of your content and carry it throughout your writing – beginning to end.

Edit and simplify.

By this point you likely have way more content than you need. A 5-page bio is a bit excessive even for the President of the United States. Uncap your red pen or turn on the “review” feature on your Word doc and get to chopping. Read your writing out loud and look for redundancies, insignificant details and long winded descriptions that can be eliminated. This will be one of the hardest, but most important steps for creating content that will captivate your readers.

Ask for outside input.

Finally, ask a friend or family member who doesn’t have near the amount of expertise on your particular topic to read over your writing. Their outside perspective is valuable for identifying areas that need more explanation or industry-specific words that need to be defined or replaced with something more common. This input is a great litmus test for how your target audience will also respond to your writing.

What personal topics have challenged you when it comes to objective writing? Share how you overcame this struggle – or ask your questions on how to do so, by commenting below!

 

 
 

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A Changing Industry: Why Public Relations is Now Personal Relations

personal relations

Public Relations. When broken down it quite literally means relating (i.e. communicating) with the public. Yet, the term “public” is no longer as fitting as we move into an ever-increasingly personal society where we share intimate information with one another every day. Within our social circles, technology has granted us the ability to know what our neighbor had for dinner on Saturday, what our second cousin purchased at a sale on Sunday and the new job a fellow high school graduate accepted on Monday.

No matter how you slice it, we are personally connected and we have grown to appreciate and expect this personal communication. It’s only fitting that Public Relations has caught up with the trend and has moved into the realm of personal relations in order to be more effective and well received.

Let’s take a look at four main reasons why the Public Relations industry is shifting toward personal relations – and how you can utilize resources and opportunities to keep your business ahead of the curve.

There are more ways than ever to communicate with the masses on a personal level

I’ve written about how important it is to highlight the human element within your business and to build your personal brand. Thanks to technology, there are more ways than ever to achieve both of these PR goals easily and fairly inexpensively. Social media is an obvious (and very powerful) platform for connecting with your target audience on a personal level. Finally, us “regular folks” can address a concern or give a compliment to the biggest brands and get a direct – often real-time – response.

In addition to social media, technology has enabled businesses to make even direct marketing a more personalized experience. Mail and email messages not only address the recipient by name but can be crafted to reflect their very specific interests like what car they drive or what street they live on.

As surprising as it may be sometimes to receive an email from a business that knows I have a Russian Blue cat based upon a previous purchase, I love that the offers and coupons are directly relevant to my needs.

Social media encourages sharing the “human” side of your business

I don’t expect everyone to be willing to get extremely personal on social media, but I do encourage you to find a point on the spectrum that is comfortable for you. Whether you are sharing content on your personal profiles or your business’s profiles, you will increase the visibility of your posts by crafting genuine content that engages your viewers.

What this really means is skip the stock photos and use real photos of your staff or pictures from inside your office. Give a face to a name. Don’t just share a link; ask a question or offer an insightful thought that will inspire people.

Social media platforms are getting smarter at weeding out overly promotional content and spam. Avoid getting trapped in these filters by remaining genuine and personal with the content you share.

People don’t want to be sold something, they want to learn something

Think about the websites, blogs, emails and social media posts that catch your attention. Do they engage you because they are trying to sell you their product or service, or do they engage you because they offer information you deem to be valuable. I would imagine the vast majority of you responded with the second option.

Practice “personal relations” by first building trust with your potential customers. Give them useful information at no cost and with no obligations. As an expert in your field you should be grateful for any opportunity to share your knowledge.

Technology provides us with the ability to access information we need right at our fingertips which has evolved us into a society hungry for knowledge. Feed that hunger – and build trust in your brand – by offering useful information to your target audience.

Telling your story is what breaks through the noise and gets you remembered

If you have visited my new website, you will know that my PR philosophy is “Every business has a story. What makes yours stand out is how well you communicate it.” I truly believe in the power of modern day storytelling and I also believe that every business has a unique story or angle that can be their point of differentiation.

As the Public Relations industry shifts toward “personal relations,” telling your unique story is even more important. As a potential customer, yes we need to know what you do and how you do it, but we also now want to know WHY you do it. What inspired you? Where did you gather your expertise? Are you carrying on a tradition or legacy?

The answers to these questions are what will break through the PR and marketing noise that we are inundated with daily and help us remember why we want to do business with YOU over anyone else.

Do you agree or disagree that Public Relations has a growing emphasis on personal relations that is reshaping the industry? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Why Your Blog is So Important for Adding a Human Element

blog personal touchHow would you describe the content on your website right now? Is it attention-grabbing, accurate, fun, outdated, stale or boring? I can’t stress enough the importance of quality content on your website. When trying to squeeze as much information as we can into the limited time and space we have to make a first impression, we often lose one of the most important aspects of any business – the human element.

Starting a blog is one of the best ways you can thoughtfully incorporate a human element into your business or brand. A blog is a valuable marketing tool for a variety of reasons, but the platform it creates to connect with your customers and clients on a personal level is among its best features. Let’s take a closer look at why blogging is a powerful way to personally connect with your audience.

It is ever-changing

Changing the content of your entire website week after week would not only be exhausting, it wouldn’t let you get much else done with your business! While much of the content on your website will remain unchanged (until it becomes outdated or inaccurate), your blog will pump fresh life into your website on a regular basis. Use your blog to highlight news, announcements and changes taking place within your business. Let it reflect the seasons, themes and trends. Be sure and link back to older blog posts when you can. Using these techniques will turn your blog into an SEO powerhouse.

It can get personal

Limited space and limited attention spans often prevent you from telling the full depth of the story behind your business on your homepage. I have had many clients struggle with feeling like they didn’t have a way to fully communicate their history, values and mission. A blog is an excellent way to highlight all of these things! Each post can be dedicated to telling a different piece of your story.

On my own blog, some posts are about Public Relations and Marketing-related topics, but others are my own ramblings about life lessons, favorite quotes and things that inspire me. Get personal on your blog so readers can connect with you on a whole new level.

It can have many different voices

The beauty of blogging is that there really are no rules, so feel free to mix things up! I like doing this by featuring guest bloggers every so often to help lend a different voice to my blog. For your own blog, let different employees share their thoughts or even feature a blog written by a customer. The key to making your blog really feel human is to help your readers get to know the author. Include a short bio and photos of your contributors to showcase the person behind the content.

It starts a conversation

Your blog is a great way to allow readers to share their own comments and questions. Be sure and encourage this – and respond! Unlike the static content on other areas of your website, your blog has this thing called a “comment box.” Maybe you’ve noticed by now that I always end my blogs with a call for comments. Explicitly ask your readers to join in the conversation and use a compelling question to get the wheels turning.

It doesn’t have to “sell” you something

Your blog is meant to be a free resource for your clients and customers; be generous with the information you choose to give away here. Share advice, lend your expertise, help solve a common problem in your industry or simply make people laugh. Shift your focus from “How will my blog earn me money?” to “How will my blog grow a relationship with my readers?”

It builds trust

Finally, your blog will help to build trust and loyalty with your readers. After reading a book, don’t you feel like you get to know the main character like a real-life friend? Consistently publishing new content to your blog, week after week, will have a similar affect. You will build a virtual friendship with your readers and they will look forward to hearing from you on a regular basis. Remember that consistency is critical here. Going radio silent with your readers will make them feel like they’ve been “stood up” and weaken this trust.

Ready to get started? First, learn the essentials for a successful blog. Then, learn how to promote it for even more impact. Happy blogging!

Does your business have a blog? Share how it has affected the way in which you connect with your customers and clients by commenting below!

 

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Head in the Cloud: How to Use Cloud Technology in All Facets of Your Life

head in the cloudIt’s a hot technology, a buzzword and a phrase that gets misused in countless different ways – I’m talking about “the cloud.” Whether this concept inspires you, humors you or just plain confuses you, it’s one that is worth getting to know and ultimately embracing.

Cloud technology has already proven to be the present and the future of how we interact with each other on a daily basis. You may be using cloud technology without even noticing! Now I don’t claim to know much more than the Average Joe on the particular topic of a hosted private cloud; however, a topic I do write about frequently is time management. For me, better time management and working “in the cloud” are closely related.

In an infographic created by SingleHop.com, you can get an idea of just some of the ways in which people are using cloud technology to streamline work and take social life and entertainment on the go.

I now want to share with you six key ways in which I personally utilize cloud technology in both my social and professional life to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Let’s take a look…

  1. Access files on the go

This is likely one of the biggest and most common uses of cloud technology, so I would imagine many of you can already speak to this benefit. I store all of my client documents, personal documents, photos etc. on DropBox.com. I don’t require much space, so I still qualify for the freebie account, which is an added bonus (because I love a good deal).

By keeping my files in “the cloud,” I can access them anywhere, anytime on my phone or with other devices like my iPad. I can’t tell you how many times this has made me look like some uber sophisticated consultant in a client meeting when I can reference spreadsheets or pull up design proofs at a moment’s notice. It’s also been a great tool to improve efficiency because I can send (and re-send) a document to a client even when I’m out of the office all day.

  1. Replace the need to email myself notes, reminders, files, etc.

If you have ever emailed yourself a file or photo so that you could transfer it from one device to another, raise your hand. I’m going to assume you are all raising your hands. I’m guilty too! It wasn’t until I embraced cloud technology that I realized there’s a far better way to do this. If I want to take a photo from my phone and transfer it to my computer, I simply upload it into my cloud (there’s an app for that) and it appears in its proper folder in mere seconds.

  1. Share big files

Luckily, I don’t have to deal with sharing large files often, but I’ve learned that with cloud technology what was formerly a BIG inconvenience of a BIG file is now just one more step in the process.

After an event, I often have a slew of photos to share with a client. Even the highest resolution images can be plopped into a folder, put in my cloud and then shared with the client (who is enabled access to just that folder and not my whole computer). Even my least tech-savvy clients have no trouble clicking the link and accessing the materials. This has been a big headache reducer and time saver!

  1. Reduce physical file storage – and costs

Late last year, I upgraded my work laptop (which was as beneficial for workflow as it was for tax deductions). Like any new “toy,” I wanted to keep it as clean as possible for as long as possible without junking it down with old files and photos from my old computer. I’ve been able to selectively decide what I keep on my hard drive, because everything else can…you guessed it…go in my cloud.

Furthermore, the cost of purchasing more physical storage for your computer is a greater investment than paying for more cloud storage.

  1. Plan for growth

I’ve strategically built my business to be flexible so it can accommodate growth as well as slow seasons. The use of cloud technology is just one more way in which I accomplish this. I can quickly expand into more storage space if ever and whenever I need it. For now, that’s not a forefront issue, but in the future it might be. I like knowing that the possibility is always at my fingertips with a simple upgrade that doesn’t require a professional IT person installing pricey hardware.

  1. Gaining peace of mind

Finally and most importantly, cloud technology gives me the peace of mind that my files are stored somewhere other than physically on my computer. Heaven forbid a cup of coffee should make its way onto my keyboard or a small house fire should take place. But if Murphy’s Law proves true, I like knowing that I can hop on another device and access my insurance policy, among other documents…while pouring a new cup of coffee, of course.

Again, here is the infographic produced by SingleHop.com that I referenced above. If “life in the cloud” still seems like a far-fetched reality for you, take a closer look at some of the ways in which you can begin to use this technology for personal and professional benefit.

What are some other ways you keep your “head in the cloud” on a daily basis and use cloud technology to make your life easier? Share your ideas by commenting below!

SingleHop LITC

 
 

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The 4 Most Powerful Words You Can Ask Someone

helping hand clip art

Both in life and in business, we experience individual struggles that cause us stress, frustration, anger, embarrassment and overall contribute to one of those “really bad days.” What’s worse is that because these struggles are uniquely our own, we often feel like we are completely alone when it comes to overcoming them.

Feeling the need to internalize our bad days and the challenges they bring only feed the unhealthy cycle in which we forget to reach out to other people who appear to have hit a road bump. This brings me to the grand reveal of the four most powerful words we can ask someone today. And that is….

“How can I help?”

It’s deceptively simple and so obvious that it seems silly. When we see someone struggling or upset, we should ask how we can help. But, do we? I’ll be the first to admit I do not – at least not as often as I should. In 2015 I want that to change. I want to inspire you to also take the lead in transforming us back into a society who takes an interest in the health and well being of the people around us– not just an interest in their latest status update. Here is why this simple question is so powerful.

It forces us to let our guard down.

I know when I’m having a stressful day where I feel like my to-do list is a mile long and getting longer, I am too proud and too overwhelmed to stop and think of how someone else might help to lessen the load. From experience, when someone asks me “How can I help?” it’s such a welcome relief and feels just as good as a comforting hug.

I used to blow off this question because only I could perform many of my work related to-do’s, but I have since learned to think outside the box and find ways (like household chores, running an errand or offering a few hours of childcare) that people can help out regardless of their skill set or expertise.

It gives us a support system.

Asking this question is the most meaningful way in which you can express to someone that you’re there for them. It’s putting your money where your mouth is and actually offering to do something rather than simply saying “I’m here if you need something.”

No, take the initiative to ask someone what it is they need. By asking, not telling, you’re ready to assume the risk that they could need you to do something time consuming or undesirable. But it also makes us feel like we have a partner in all of this mess – and sometimes that is the only thing we really need.

It’s not condescending or judgmental.

The question “How can I help?” is simple, but perfectly phrased. Compare it to “Do you need help?” This variation can come across like a judgment that the person needs help for whatever it is they are going through. Give them the immediate acceptance of acknowledging it’s okay to need help and skip right to offering your hand. Especially if it’s an issue of pride, you won’t help the situation by first making them admit to needing help.

It eliminates our excuse to act like a martyr.

Most importantly, being asked “How can I help?” eliminates the temptation for us to feel sorry for ourselves and muddle in our own misery. Having someone standing in front of us with a hand to lift us up is the best way to make us grab a hold of our boot straps and pull them up high. Sometime we enjoy playing the martyr as a defense mechanism or because we want a reason to complain. This is neither healthy nor going to help us break the “bad day” cycle. Being asked “What can I do to help?” is a powerful way to make us stop feeling all alone and like no one cares – because someone does!

Who is someone you should ask “How can I help?” Reach out to them today and say these 4 simple words. Then share how the answer and the actions that resulted changed both of your lives!

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 5

Welcome back to the fifth and final week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my action plan for rebranding?

what is your plan

You’ve now reached the point in the rebranding process where you need to outline your plan for implementation. You’ve made the decision to rebrand, identified your current customers, revisited your mission and tied it all into your unique story. This is the exciting part where all these pieces come together to unveil your new brand and begin the process of introducing it to the world.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet or big red button that will allow to you seamlessly insert your new brand where the old once was and have everyone recognize it, relate to it and build a positive relationship with it. That will take time – and most importantly – consistency. I emphasize consistency because time alone will not get the job done. You cannot sit on your hands and wait for your new brand to start driving sales. Rather, you need to take action immediately to build a strategic plan and follow through with that plan day after day.

So let’s talk more about this strategic plan of action and what you need to consider when laying it all out. While every part of the rebranding process we talked about leading up to this week is indeed important, your plan for implementation can be the make-it-or-break-it moment. Even the best brand will have little impact if it’s not strategically and consistently implemented. To help you confidently craft your own plan of action, here are 5 tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Think beyond the logo

Just as there is a lot more to a person than hair and clothes, there is a lot more to your business than its logo. Updating your website, social media profiles and email newsletter template with a new logo is only the surface of rebranding.

Remember to dig deeper when creating your plan of action. For example, change the content on your website to reflect your new mission, story and overall “vibe” that you want to create with your new brand. If you’re moving toward a modern and fresh brand, do away with that long and stale messaging that no longer resonates with your target audience. Another example is to apply your new brand to the voice you use on social media. Share content that will interest this newly identified target audience and spark discussion with things they care about.

  1. Include tactics across multiple platforms

In the point above, I mentioned some tactics pertaining to your website, email newsletter and social media. Don’t stop there! Identify all the ways in which you communicate with your customer base and be sure to apply this rebranding to each platform. Some examples include your automated emails (such as when a customer purchases a product or fills out a contact form), blog post topics and direct mail pieces.

Additionally, the rebranding process doesn’t end with your visual or written content. Depending on the situation, this may call for some media relations. Issue a press release emphasizing the newsworthiness of your new brand, host a party at your place of business or hold a press conference. The more reason you give your audience to celebrate with you, the more memorable you make your rebranding process.

  1. Emphasize in your communications why this is a positive and exciting change

Have you ever seen a business with a sign saying “Under new management!” hung in their window? I have and I always read this as “Sorry we failed. We fired the screw-up, so give us another chance!” You customers may question your motive behind rebranding; make it clear that this was a strategic decision and a positive change that has made your already successful business stronger than ever. You can communicate this in any way you choose to announce your new brand. Whether it’s on social media, on your website, in your newsletters or through a press release, take control of the speculation behind your new brand and align it with a sign of positive change and exciting things to come.

  1. Empower your employees to be advocates for the change

Your employees are a valuable part of the rebranding process, so be sure to empower them with the ability to share the word and get excited about it. Make them feel like they are on the “inside” and let them be among the first to know about your decision to rebrand before you go public with it. This is their company too, so make them feel a part of it! With the support of your employees, the unveiling of your new brand will be a much more powerful and positive experience for everyone.

  1. Scour every corner of your business for remains of the old brand

This final step is one that many companies fall short of completing. It’s taking the time to search every nook and cranny for remnants of your former brand. This could be anything from old letter head, coffee mugs, t-shirts, business cards and even email signatures for all your employees. All of this needs to be changed, pitched or donated to make room for your new brand. The danger of allowing these items to stay is that people within your company will inevitably use them and although it may be subconscious, it will send the message that the old brand is not really gone.

Just as you should clear the clutter of a past relationship before moving on to a new one, you should also clear the clutter of your old brand to set the tone that the new one is the only one that matters now!

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Part 4: What is my unique story?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 4

Welcome back to the fourth week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my unique story?

what is my story

Last week, I talked about the importance of establishing your current mission as part of the rebranding process. This week, I want to share with you how to take that “standard” mission statement and really make it stand out by strengthening it with a story.

When you took that fresh look at your mission statement, you may not have needed to change much. A few tweaks and word substitutions may have done the trick to bring it up to date with your business’s current brand and future goals. But making your mission relevant isn’t enough – you must also make it resonate. Simply stating “We strive to offer the highest quality of service at the best rates possible…” will quickly blend into the noise of every other company saying the same thing – unless you include a personal story to make it uniquely memorable.

I emphasize the power of storytelling frequently on both my blog and in my consulting business. I have always been captivated by stories, but I became an advocate for this art as I continued to see the impact it had on helping a message resonate with its audience.

Your own rebranding process is the perfect time to identify that story that best tells your customers about your passion, your innovative ideas and why you’re in it for so much more than just a paycheck. This is your chance to humanize your business in a way no competitor can completely replicate – by telling your personal story.

In a past blog post, I talked about how to incorporate this story into your branding efforts, but I want to take it back one step and give you some starting advice on how to first identify the perfect personal story to highlight. Let’s take a look:

  1. It doesn’t have to be about you.

Make it about your customers instead. A story can still be personal to your business even if it isn’t about you. Instead, tell a story about how you solve customers’ problems, make their lives more enjoyable or inspire them to do great things through your products and services. Use real life examples with which your audience can relate. Make them feel like you’re telling “their” story.

  1. Highlight a point of differentiation.

Tell a story no one else can. To really stand out from your competition, you want to highlight what makes you unique and unable to be replicated. This might be the relationships you’ve built or challenges you’ve overcome. Or maybe it’s about your level of education and experience that is more than what’s expected in your industry. All of these angles will showcase what makes you different and will attract customers to work with you.

  1. Let your customers tell the story.

A testimonial from your customer is a very powerful and compelling story. Let them be your megaphone. I love when a customer’s story takes you on a journey, relaying their struggles and positioning a company as the answer – so long as it feels genuine. This should be more in-depth than a traditional once sentence testimonial and should have a beginning, middle and end, just like any good story does.

  1. Recount your “Aha” moment.

Rather than telling the story about how you’re changing people’s lives with your business, talk about how your business is changing your life. Was there a definitive moment when you remember being inspired to start your business? Tell the story of the time you realized your calling to do what you’re doing now – and why you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Sharing this passion with your customers will make you feel human, trustworthy and likable.

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Part 3: What is my mission?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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