I recently read Peter Bregman’s book, “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done.” As a mother and a PR executive trying to balance work, family and my own personal fulfillment, I found a lot of the book helpful. Bregman’s words are designed to help readers find a way to master their use of time, increase productivity and focus on what will make them happy and successful.
Bregman talks about the “Find Me” button, which he describes as similar to the one on the Google Earth app. The idea is to zoom out from your daily life, take a brief break from what you are doing, and see where you are. It reminds me of my kids’ recent STAR karate lesson: Stop, Think, Act, Review. You need to stop just doing and think before acting.
Bregman recommends breaking free from the limitations that others put on you. As he points outs at the end of chapter five, “Life isn’t about some of you; it’s about all of you. Don’t negate, integrate.” This is a key lesson that we all need to remember. Start with a few goals such as not checking emails in the evening after a certain hour, having a sit-down dinner with the family a few nights a week, taking an exercise class or volunteering at a local organization. Make them a habit.
How did you integrate your work and personal lives?
At this point, most companies have a Facebook presence. But once you’re on the social networking mega-site, how do you make it pay off? Follow these five steps to improve your returns and increase brand awareness.
- Engage – Don’t get in the bad habit of talking at your fans. You want to talk with them. Providing relevant content and presenting the opportunity for your fans to contribute or asking for their opinions will increase Facebook fan activity.
- Go beyond the standard tabs – Facebook offers a standard fan page layout with tabs for company info, events, photos and video, but you can do so much more. Check out the Static IFRAME app to design your own tabs or integrate your YouTube and Twitter accounts. Take advantage of the options available to provide your fans with a complete experience.
- Add multimedia – Fans love seeing different forms of content. Photos, video or music are all guaranteed to get more of a reaction than just text. Mix up your postings so your audience has a varied experience.
- Avoid too much self-promotion – No one likes talking to the person at a cocktail party who can only brag about herself. Same goes for Facebook. It’s expected that brands will post a certain amount of bragging content, but don’t overdo it. Also, post stories that relate to your industry, ask for input from fans or post a video from an industry event you attended. Your main goal should be to provide fans with valuable content, not to talk about how your company is an “industry leader.”
- Follow best posting practices – Dan Zarella of HubSpot analyzed the best times and frequency to post on Facebook. Follow his advice so you can reach the widest audience and grow your fans without turning people off with too-frequent updates.
Do you manage your company’s Facebook brand page? Tell us what successful tactics you’ve discovered.
Have you ever asked yourself what makes content shareable? PR Newswire’s on-demand webinar, “Creation & Curation: 'C'ing Eye-to-Eye on Content” explains how a company can align its content strategy with curation objectives so that its message reaches the appropriate audience and attracts more visibility through social sharing.
Kristie Wells, founder and president of Social Media Club, Inc., discusses why it is important to create content.
- Content allows businesses to create mindshare
- Content is a good tool to help manage online reputation
- Content generates traffic
- Content improves search rankings
Wells recommends that companies conduct audits to see what types of content they already have. These audits will uncover existing whitepapers, tutorials, blogs and articles. After uncovering content, businesses should then highlight where they excel compared to their competitors.
Wells recommends companies come up with a strategy by:
- Developing an editorial calendar
- Using simple, relevant page titles
- Understanding that headlines and keywords are the most important part of content
- Staying consistent in tone, frequency and keywords
- Making content easy to consume by using bullets, photos, videos or tables
“A blended strategy is the way to go,” Wells said about content creation and curation.
Jake Wengroff, global director of social media strategy and research at Frost & Sullivan, said content creation and curation is about “feeding the beast.” He added that curation has risen as an alternative or additional strategy that communication specialists had to adopt.
“When we curate, we have to source the content that we want to align ourselves with,” Wengroff said.
Wengroff recommends analyzing websites, Twitter influencers, Facebook pages, YouTube channels and SlideShare publishers with which a business should align its content. When it comes to content, he urges marketers to post and share through social media channels.
Regarding curation and creation of content, Wengroff said it is important to understand where traditional media channels fit in today with the social media explosion.
Do you maximize your content distribution with social media?
Can I have a show of hands from people struggling with information overload? Unwieldy email inboxes? Unmanageable to-do lists? We all know that frustrating feeling of not knowing which project to work on next and struggling to keep everything straight without letting any of the juggling balls drop.
In recently reading “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta and “Bit Literacy” by Mark Hurst, I was struck by how both authors provided methods to reduce your clutter, streamline your life and increase productivity. One similarity between the two books is the strategy for reducing your email inbox to zero messages. Although that seems to be an impossible and scary task, both authors point out that inboxes are not designed to be to-do lists. Rather, we should read an email, respond to it and then file it. I haven’t yet achieved the desired zero, but I have gotten the number of my emails down to fewer than 20 (for one day!).
Additionally, both writers focus on prioritization of to-do items. By choosing the essential tasks for each day, we empower ourselves to meet these goals and finish larger projects. Rather than focusing on minor, in-the-weeds details, we should focus on those items that will have a longer and stronger impact on our careers. Now, that’s not to say that the details and little to-dos can slip off and be forgotten. These, too, must be completed, but they should not be the focus of your daily work life. Schedule a few small windows of time to complete them and remain on track.
We are all overwhelmed with the amount of information we need to process everyday, and each author provides his take on how to simplify and manage it all. “The Power of Less” looks at focusing on the essentials only and eliminating the clutter, while “Bit Literacy” examines how best to organize all the digital information in your life to keep from being overwhelmed. Both authors make valid points, helping the reader to gain control in an effort to increase her work (and personal) productivity.
What productivity tips work for you?
Members of the Metis team recently attended the BostInno Monthly Meetup, which took place at Dillon’s. Photo credit: Caitlin Crowe
Every networking event is different, but attendees tend to have the same goals for all of them: extend your network for professional development or new business.
Meeting new people gives you the opportunity to discuss your career and often gives you a chance to learn about different companies that you may have otherwise not known about. Learning about companies can be beneficial for new business.
Our team can often be found at Publicity Club of New England, BostInno and Mass Innovation Night events, to name a few.
Some of us hit up the recent BostInno Monthly Meetup together. Metis got to chat with some professionals in the public relations field and tech company executives about their businesses and roles in the industry.
So how do you go about finding an appropriate networking event to attend? Check out Ritika Trikha’s article, “8 Handy Sites for Finding Networking Events” in U.S. News.
Trikha recommends checking out some of the same websites I visit to find networking events:
- Meetup.com offers a number of opportunities to meet people with similar hobbies and interests. The site also promotes industry-specific professional networking events.
- Eventbrite.com provides a listing of local events and offers a search option for events intended for networking.
- LinkedIn Events Directory can help you select an event based on industry, location, and appeal.
- NetParty.com lists events in more casual settings such as lounges, nightclubs or mansions, and it’s geared toward young professionals.
- Mediabistro.com is great for professionals in the fields of marketing, public relations, social media, publishing, writing, journalism and other media-related trades. Mediabistro.com offers niche-specific networking events.
What are your favorite networking events?
Email is a fast, personal and cost-effective platform to update customers and nurture prospective leads. As our clients have learned, relying on this channel to send regular updates to customers and prospects bolsters relationships. One company enjoys an average click through rate (CTR) of more than 20 percent, which is above the average five to 15 percent CTR typical for B2B newsletters. This drives more traffic to the company’s site and results in higher whitepaper downloads.
E-newsletters are even more effective when used as part of a cross-channel marketing strategy. A 2011 Customer Engagement Report shows that 72 percent of marketers surveyed believe e-newsletters are most likely to boost customer engagement. Following in second place is Facebook, with 48 percent citing the platform as most likely to improve engagement, and in third is Twitter, with 46 percent.
Leveraging email and social platforms together increases word-of-mouth marketing and greatly expands a company’s reach. Cross-channel marketing offers further options to nurture leads; businesses can connect through multiple channels and find how a prospect prefers to be targeted. Plus, social media can drive email opt-ins as prospects can, for example, like a brand on Facebook and register for its email list at same time.
Promoting an e-newsletter across multiple channels can be simple. First, develop a subject line for the email – for optimal results, this should be fewer than 50 characters and tease at least one content item from the newsletter. Then expand that subject line to about 120 characters and add a link and hashtag to promote it on Twitter. For Facebook, expand the message even further and post an update with a link and photo.
Have you seen positive results from email campaigns?
Is your company looking to stand out and stay top-of-mind with its audience?
Many companies want to generate creative content, and some are turning to surveys and polls to gather useful data to distribute through a variety of channels. Douglas Karr, CEO of DK New Media, and John O'Connell, senior public relations manager
of HNTB, shared their tips for how companies can be successful when using these tools in the “Stay Top of Mind through Creative Content Generation” webinar presented by PR Newswire and Zoomerang.
Karr urges companies to stop selling and instead look at ways to provide value, capture the audience’s attention and build authority. This can be done through “feeding the senses” with text, audio, video and kinesthetic elements.
Often, we see companies put out information once and then discard it. Companies need to repurpose this material; they don’t need to reinvent it, but rather tweak it to entice their entire audience. One way Karr recommends doing this is by repurposing.
You can turn:
• Survey results into a whitepaper;
• A whitepaper into an infographic or presentation;
• A presentation into a blog post;
• Blog posts into a webinar; and
• A webinar into a survey.
After creating all this content, the information can also be shared through press releases, social media, landing pages, and traditional media placements. Then, companies can track their analytics through the various distribution channels.
O’Connell recommends generating themes for surveys and polls based on timeliness, newsworthiness and potential for generating worthwhile discussions among key audiences. He suggests using survey results to extend a company’s story.
An example of a survey conducted by HNTB that generated content was a question on public transit. The survey found that, “More than four in five (83 percent) Americans agree public transit and high-speed rail infrastructure should receive a larger share of federal funding than they do now. However, Americans were far more likely to choose high-speed rail over driving or flying for a trip to a city in their region in March 2009 than February 2010 (54 percent versus 38 percent).” That information became the basis for materials that could then be repurposed as part of a larger content strategy.
Does your company already use surveys and polls to generate content?
While I always expected to start a career in PR, my experience at Metis through Northeastern University’s internship program has made me realize that I – and many others -- held misconceptions about the field. Here are five of the most common misconceptions I’ve encountered:
- It’s a 9-5 job. It’s not unusual for me to log onto my computer in the morning and see email chains being sent as late as 11 p.m. The things that we deal with are often sensitive and require quick turnarounds.
- All you do is write press releases. Although some PR firms may work this way, it’s not the most beneficial for clients. One of the things I’ve learned is the importance of issues response. The best way to get a media briefing for a client is to get on the phone and call reporters who are covering issues similar related to your client’s expertise.
- You control the media. It’s up to us to make publications and reporters interested in speaking with our clients. It is a PR rep’s job to recognize an interesting story and provide reporters with supplementary information, photos or videos to support that story.
- A media interview = coverage. As exciting as it is to have a positive response from a reporter interested in speaking with your client, it doesn’t mean that he or she will feature the company in an article. It’s up to reporters to decide what they wish to write about, and if they don’t find an issue relevant, they won’t cover it.
- It’s quick and easy to write white papers and press releases. I can write a 10-page paper for class the night before it’s due, but in the real world, things don’t work this way. PR pros write multiple drafts and work with clients to get to final pieces of content. One press release could take anywhere from four days to four weeks before it is finalized, depending on the topic and the parties involved.
In a recent Harvard Business Review survey of more than 2,300 people, 79 percent said that in-person meetings are the most effective way to connect with new clients, while 95 percent said that a face-to-face meeting is a key factor in successfully building and maintaining trusting, long-term relationships. The MassChallenge speed networking event was organized to do just that: establish relationships.
The first ever MassChallenge speed networking event was held at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development (NERD) Center in Cambridge. To provide each attendee with a personalized experience, MassChallenge coordinators asked each attendee to fill out a basic background questionnaire to indicate the type of people we preferred to meet. The information was used to setup “blind dates” based on networking objectives.
The evening was filled with the best and brightest in Boston’s entrepreneur community. I discussed innovative ideas and future collaboration across a variety of industries with a great number of people. However, not everyone I spoke to was an entrepreneur. At one point during the evening, I was paired with a financial advisor and an attorney. Even though our interests didn’t align perfectly, we still had meaningful conversations. Here’s how to have interesting conversations at networking events:
1) Past experiences: Everyone comes from somewhere. Ask the new contact about her past careers, cities where she has lived and universities she attended. That can lead you to a statement like, “Oh, you went to Boston College? So did my best friend, Jane Smith.”
2) A friend-of-a-friend scenario: It turns out Jane Smith’s boyfriend works with your contact’s husband, who happens to work for a new startup. Trusting relationships and recommendations are as good as gold in the world of startups and entrepreneurs, so make connections.
3) Extracurricular passion: Most people enjoy activities outside their careers. If you can’t connect with someone on her past experiences or acquaintances, try to find out what she loves in life. You never know; you might find your new running buddy at the next networking event.
How do you connect with people at networking events?