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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 Is it attention-grabbing, accurate, fun, outdated, stale or boring?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 While much of the content on your website will remain unchanged (until it becomes outdated or inaccurate), your blog will pump fresh life into your website on a regular basis.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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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 Do an Introvert and Extrovert Live Together in Peace?

Opposites_attract When I first met my husband, I immediately loved how effortless it was to be with him. I was content in his company because I could be myself and say whatever was on my mind. Some days we would pack a week’s worth of activities into a few hours and other days we would do absolutely nothing special – and every day together was (and still is) so much fun. To people who know us, they might say we are a good match for one another. We have similar interests, career aspirations and humor. Yet, what many people would never guess is that we are actually opposites when it comes to our personality type. I am an introvert and he is an extrovert. While there are other differences as well, this has been the most noticeable throughout our life journey together.

A common misconception is that introverts are shy and extroverts are outgoing. Not so. What it really boils down to is where you get your energy. I require alone time, solitude and quiet to recharge after interacting with people. My husband, the extrovert, gathers his energy from being around people. A day of solitude is actually draining to him. You can see how two people with opposite personality types can quickly run into a few road bumps when seeking out their energy sources.

So how can we all get along and give each other the space, or the attention we need even when it’s opposite from what we might crave? Here are 5 tips for how I have personally learned to live in peace and balance with someone the opposite of my personality type.

  1. Make an effort to understand each other’s personalities.

I gave you the two-sentence summary of introverts and extroverts, but that hardly scratches the surface. One of the best things my husband and I did was take the Myers-Briggs type indicator leading up to our marriage. We were able to see the differences in how we approach different situations in life and it really shed light on areas in which we may not see eye to eye because of our different personalities. Rather than being frustrated because he didn’t react to something the same way I did, I gained the understanding that he is reacting in a way that is appropriate and acceptable for him. Also, realizing that he is drained by too much downtime and solitude gave context to why he might like to hop to the next activity when I would rather have a break. Really understanding each other’s personalities is essential for living together in peace.

  1. Don’t judge or compare.

With the understanding of our differences, comes the temptation to judge and compare these differences. It also made me self-conscious of handling situations differently than he would. Why would I rather stay home when he wants to go see friends? Why do I feel drained when he’s excited to interact with everyone around him? The answer to this question is that it simply doesn’t matter. Comparing an introvert to an extrovert is like comparing hot to cold, black to white, up to down and wondering why they aren’t the same. It’s maddening if you don’t recognize it and change that way of thinking! In your own relationships, try not to be critical of each other’s need for social interaction or desire for alone time. Rather, encourage it.

  1. Find balance with independent activities.

My husband enjoys things I don’t and vice versa. Rather than give up these hobbies and interests because we don’t share them, we seek them out independently. An example is when we go on vacation. He might spend an afternoon golfing (something I have never had an interest in) while I read a book, take a nap or spend time with someone else in my family. There are still many things we do together, but we are not joined at the hip. We are confident and comfortable with our relationship to enjoy time apart without feeling guilty or conflicted. This has been a very valuable for helping us – an introvert and extrovert – live together happily.

  1. Be in tune to cues and triggers.

While we are opposites, this is not an excuse for my husband or me to be blind to each other’s cues and triggers for stressful situations. I continue to learn from past experiences what may cause him to be uncomfortable, unhappy or angry. These are very different from my own triggers. I can also pick up on non-verbal cues for when he may be in more distress than what he is openly communicating. I then search for ways to change the situation to alleviate the problem before it grows into a full-blown fight. I can say the same for him about me as well (and I will openly admit that I am more likely the person getting stressed out). Taking an active role in trying to understand each other’s personalities has helped us to be a better support system when times get tough.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

Finally and most importantly, come to terms with the fact that you cannot and should not be the sole source of each other’s happiness. Especially in the beginning of our relationship, I wanted to accommodate my husband and his active and outgoing personality. If he suggested something to do, I would oblige even when I needed some downtime. This works for a while, but as we grew in our relationship I felt more and more comfortable expressing my desire for some alone time. We had to learn that these differences were not our failures to make each other happy. Sometimes he will attend a social event and I’ll stay home, and when we come together again we are content and excited to see one another. The bottom line is that opposite personality types aren’t designed to be the missing piece that fills every void. We must still seek out other friends and activities to be truly fulfilled.

Opposites attract – and we are one more example of this truth – however, learning to live together day in and day out while accommodating our opposite personality type has been a continual learning process. As we continue down this life journey together, there will be much more to learn and maybe the best we can do is stay passionate and sincere about wanting to help each other live a life of contentment – in whatever form that contentment is found.

Are you an introvert or extrovert who lives with the opposite? Share how you accommodate each other’s personality types by commenting below!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Life

 

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Twas the Week of Christmas…

Twas the Week of Christmas

(It’s become an annual blog tradition…a fun twist on a familiar favorite!)

Twas the week of Christmas, when all through the house
not a computer was turned on, not even a mouse.
Their cords were wrapped up in the corner with care,
in hopes that I had strength to leave them there.

Miss Pinot was nestled all snug in her bed,
while visions of toy mice danced in her head.
For once taking a cue from my sleepy, gray cat,
I settled my brain for a short winter’s nap.

Is it possible to tune out all of the clatter,
to focus on Christmas and what truly matters?
No doubt it would feel different to completely unwind,
what’s the worst that could happen, we’d have a good time?

So from now until next week, the blog posts can wait
there are loved ones to hug and cookies to bake.
This short disconnect will help creativity to soar
and inspire me to write even better than before!

Until then, don’t worry what to do with your time,
make your own holidays as relaxing as mine.
Here’s my final wish before the exit I make,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a short break!”

happy holidays

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Life

 

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Why Being Positive Makes You a Target for Criticism

target on person

In the midst of so many horrific, unsettling and unnerving events going on worldwide – from Ebola to Isis and many wars and natural disasters in between – it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on all the good that still exists.

The media has done an excellent job of using all of these stories to sell papers based on shock value. How scary can they make the headline? How much hype can they create within a single article? Unfortunately, the duty then falls upon our shoulders to seek out the truth and to build up our own sense of hope.

Hope – what a powerful word.

Hope, or the lack thereof, can completely change your outlook on life. Even when surrounded by negativity, feeling hopeful can keep that bounce in your step and that smile on your face. However, in thinking late one night before bed as I had just scrolled through some of the latest headlines and was reflecting on some of the conversations I had that day, I came to the conclusion that one unexpected byproduct of having hope is that it can make you a target for criticism.

Anymore, if you don’t give in to fueling the hype machine with your responses to casual conversations about politics, wars, healthcare or the weather, people tend to criticize your motive for doing so. Want to see this point proven first hand? The next time someone asks you “So what do you think about [insert negative topic]?” Respond with, “Oh, I’m really not concerned. The solution is in good hands. And it’s still a beautiful day, right?”

The criticism you’ll receive, either by verbal rebuttal to continue the conversation or by a strange look and an awkward silence to end the conversation, will fall into one of three categories. Let’s take a closer look at what they are.

You don’t care enough

Myth: If you’re hopeful that things are okay or will all work out on their own, you simply must not care enough. Not true. You care, you care a lot. This is why you’ve taken on the challenge of cultivating a positive outlook at a time when it is the default and the easy way out to be negative. Regurgitating the mass media’s opinion takes little care whatsoever. It’s the positive people that truly do care about the greater good by maintaining hope.

You are naïve

Myth: If you’re not worrying, it’s only because you are too naïve to understand the gravity of what’s really going on. Not true. If anything you have a better understanding of the topic than most people which is exactly why you’re choosing not to worry. Either you know it’s something not worth worrying about or you know that worrying does absolutely nothing to solve a problem, even if it is of concern.

You are not doing everything you can to help

Myth: If you’re holding on to hope that the solution is already in good hands, you aren’t doing everything you can to personally help the situation. Not true. Pertaining to 99 percent of the world’s topics of concern, you personally can’t do much more to help than to remain calm and positive. By not contributing to the hysteria or spreading around exaggerated facts to scare people further, you’re doing one of the most important things you can be doing – spreading peace and hope.

It’s a tough topic, but one that I think is very important for us to give some thought to. Are we the hopeful ones being criticized into today’s frenzy of negativity and fear or are we the ones fueling it? Don’t let the risk of criticism stop you from cultivating hope in your own life!

In what ways have you experienced criticism for being positive? Share your own stories by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Life

 

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The Art of Storytelling: Why This Tactic is so Valuable for Your Business

storytelling

The influence of storytelling can be found in all aspects of our lives. First, think of how we are entertained. We watch television and movies, read books and surf social media. All of these components include storytelling in one way or another. Now think about how we mentally and emotionally connect with the world around us. We share our day’s events with our friends by recounting them through a story. We read news stories in print and on the web. And we reminisce about old memories through stories that evoke every emotion imaginable.

Do you now see why storytelling is such an essential – and powerful – means to communicating a message? It’s important to remember that storytelling is anything but new. Before civilization knew how to write, we told stories as our only way of learning and passing along knowledge to one another. In fact, a good story teller was among the most respected and revered people in a community!

Before I turn this into a history lesson, I’ll finish with one thought. While our label for the modern day “storyteller” has many names, the gifted storytellers among us still rise to the top as charismatic and effective communicators. They are deemed likeable, influential and wise. There are several things we can all learn from these storytellers and apply toward our own business communications. Here are 5 ways to incorporate storytelling into your public relations and marketing efforts:

  1. Give the sweet and condensed version

People don’t want to read the next great American novel when learning about your business. They would much prefer the Reader’s Digest version that highlights the most interesting, impressive and important details, while skimming over the things that are basic and obvious. Say what you need to say in the fewest words possible and carefully select those words to have the greatest impact. The “less is more” theory absolutely holds true to your marketing content. Rarely will people spend more than 7 seconds trying to understand your message if it is not clear. Keep it simple and keep their attention!

  1. Call upon personal experiences

Bring the characters of your story to life by sharing their personal experiences – both triumphs and failures. This adds that “human element” that allows your audience to connect with your story on a deeper level. Another strategy is to write the story in first person, allowing people to hear your voice and associate you as the storyteller – not some anonymous third party. Not only does this add credibility, but it shows you are involved with your business on a very personal level and your customers can expect this same level of personal attention.

  1. Focus on evoking one emotion

So often business owners want to describe their services with numbers, statistics and cold, hard facts. People don’t connect with – or remember – this approach. Instead, people remember only how you made them feel. Take control of the emotions you evoke with your storytelling by thinking strategically and planning your content appropriately. Most importantly, select just one emotion and focus the details of your story on this emotion. For some industries, humor is the most effective. For other industries it’s pity or fear. And the list goes on and on. Do your market research to see what your target audience receives well and use this as the theme that brings your entire story together.

  1. Don’t make yourself the hero

In many cases, you as the business owner will play a role in your story. You can certainly be a character, but avoid making yourself the hero. Instead, focus on the people or the lesson. Speak directly to your target audience with your story by making it conversational and asking rhetorical questions. Or focus on teaching them a valuable life lesson by sharing your struggles as well as your successes as inspiration for what they might achieve. While you might very well be the hero of your story, take a backstage role and let your audience bask in the lime light.

  1. Remember your audience

Finally and most importantly, remember to whom you are telling your story. Sure, you are speaking to people, but what kind of people? Get inside their minds and figure out what makes them tick. Maybe they are tech-minded, science geeks. Speak their language! Don’t try to appeal to them with romantic, flowery language. It won’t work. For any type of marketing, you need to understand your target audience. Apply this knowledge toward how you shape your story.

Now that you have 5 strategies to keep in mind when crafting your own business’s story – take it and run with it! Tell a story that sets you apart from your competition. Tell a story that makes you relatable and likeable. Tell a story that inspires people that they can also achieve success against all odds. Let’s continue this beautiful tradition of storytelling and respect it with stories that are worth remembering for a lifetime!

How have you benefitted from the art of storytelling in your own business or personal life? Share your experiences by commenting below!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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5 Reasons Why Having Connections Isn’t Enough for Successful Public Relations

connection fail

Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. Sure, I’ve built up a good book of business and take my networking seriously, but I’m not even close to knowing every reporter on a first name basis – nor do I feel inadequate for this (cue gasps of PR professionals everywhere).

Now I’m not saying that having connections doesn’t mean anything, I’m just saying that it doesn’t mean everything. In fact, a lack of connections is the one thing you can compensate for with a solid strategy, on-point content and polished presence. The other way around? Not so much.

You know that old adage “It’s not about what you know, but who you know”? Well, I’d like to dispel this myth once and for all with five compelling reasons why having connections isn’t enough for successful public relations. Humor me, will you?

  1. Your story still has to be newsworthy

You might rub elbows, share jokes and sip coffee with a good variety of local reporters; however, if you expect them to repeatedly publish non-newsworthy stories as a favor, you will quickly drain that well dry. Everyone answers to someone and even their best attempts to sneak in your promotions will be vetted out by a check and balance somewhere in the hierarchy. Besides, it won’t do anything for preserving their reputation as a respectable reporter.

  1. You need to understand the outlets and what they are looking for

Continuing to pitch a variety of clients’ stories to the same outlet where you have your connection is putting on blinders to all other outlets that may be far better suited for a particular topic. People who rely too heavily on their connections often push clients to use that outlet, yet it’s not always in the best interest of the client. A lack of such connections leaves you with the unbiased freedom to pursue outlets solely on their reach and relevancy.

  1. It takes strategy to select the right angle

As I mentioned above, even the best connections won’t make up for the lack of a story’s newsworthiness. So often what makes a story newsworthy is the angle you take when writing it. This requires a good understanding of what makes the media tick and a strategic mind to align that with how you pitch your story. Simply writing the facts, even if free of any grammatical errors, is not enough to make it to the front page.

As far as having connections, even your own uncle or brother who works for the Wall Street Journal will need to decline an article that is overly promotional or self-serving. The ability to select the angle that will grab a reporter’s (and readers’) attention is worth so much more.

  1. Your content needs to be polished

You may have fostered some pretty solid connections in the local market; however, if you continue to provide them with crap writing, you can expect your emails to start getting “lost” in their inbox. The best connections will not outlast press releases and articles that are strewn together haphazardly and laced with elementary grammatical errors. A knack for creating captivating content and an eye for catching spelling and grammar mistakes is worth far more than the ability to name drop. Before you place any more emphasis on stalking reporters, first dedicate your time to polishing your basic writing skills.

  1. Connections can come and go

Finally, if your entire public relations strategy is built around your media and business connections, you are playing a dangerous game. Connections, as with any relationship, come and go fluidly. Even when you dedicate great amounts of time and energy to fostering them, it takes two to keep a relationship going and a connection or two may decide they need some space. If this should happen and you don’t have quality communication skills to lean on, you will most certainly fall down.

What additional skills or strategies have you found to be more effective than simply relying upon personal connections? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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