Recently I had the privilege of attending the emfluence Marketing Platform User Conference 2013, where Kansas City marketers got up to speed on digital marketing trends. Presenters touched on a variety of creative and effective e-mail marketing and social media strategies. It was during a presentation by Mark Fidelman, author and Forbes columnist, that I learned a catchy new phrase: “newsjacking.” Newsjacking, as Fidelman explained, is inserting your brand into a viral discussion of news.
A consumer example is how Oreo uses newsworthy events to its advantage—inserting an Oreo cookie into historical events like the Mars Rover landing for example. Their timely posts fit perfectly within the buzz around events, and are “eaten up” by consumers at a time when news is peaking on the topic.
Timing is key with newsjacking, Fidelman states. Don’t engage in newsjacking too soon before people are aware of a particular story or event. And definitely don’t engage too long after the story has happened, as people generally are ready to move on. The sweet spot for newsjacking is right before the news peaks.
Proactive pitching and social media are perfect avenues for newsjacking. Our team frequently engages in timely proactive PR to position our clients as thought leaders in their industries. For example, recently when the Supreme Court made an important ruling, we pitched an attorney from our client Stinson Morrison Hecker to a local publication to provide expert insight on the decision, resulting in a story that ran the next day. Leveraging thought leadership like that in the right place at the right time can result in a PR win for clients. It requires careful observation of the news cycle, and really knowing your clients so you can spot appropriate opportunities.
Give it a try! How can you take advantage of the news cycle to share the expertise of your organization?Tagged Holly Eckold, Morningstar Communications, newsjacking, proactive, public relations, social media
I can’t help it. I always find myself reading articles that incorporate a numbered list. “5o best iPhone apps!” “15 practical tips for creating a simpler, happier life.” “10 awesome beaches around the world!” I recently looked through my bookmark list to find twenty articles with numbered lists, and wondered: WHY? I know I’m not the only one magnetized by the power of lists.
The top five reasons we like top five lists:
1. Scan-ability. Let’s face it, we have the attention span of squirrels. If we open an email and see long, text-heavy paragraphs, our eyes go cross-eyed. When material is condensed, numbered, bolded or bulleted, our eyes sigh with relief.
2. Curiosity. We like to try to predict what is on the list. Curiosity is what made me click on the recent Kansas City Star article 50 things every Kansas Citian should know. We want to know how our thoughts match up with the writer’s thoughts.
3. Easy action steps. Lots of list articles include self-help tips, teaching readers how to better their lives or solve a problem. There’s something comfortable about scrolling through the familiar numbered list format, and seeing action items clearly listed like punchlines. The list style fosters quick learning and makes action items seem achievable.
4. Organization for our messy lives. As Herbert Simon put it, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” With so much information at our fingertips, it is refreshing to see content organized into simple bite-sized pieces.
5. Personal and engaging content. Lists can be targeted to a specific audience or universally appealing. Either way, the list format makes people want to chime in and add their two cents. In fact, check out this snarky NPR article “The 20 unhappiest people you meet in the comments sections of year-end lists.”
A numbered list may immediately spark our interest, but it is the content in the list that ultimately holds our attention. Consider incorporating numbered lists with compelling content into your communications. Your readers will thank you for it.Tagged Holly Eckold, Morningstar Communications, reasons we like lists
According to Nielsen, the average internet user visits a whopping 2,646 websites per month. While the majority of our time on the Internet is spent visiting familiar websites (e-mail, social media, search engines, etc.) we also navigate unfamiliar, terribly frustrating websites. We know a bad website when we see it, but what characteristics make up a good website?
I’ve been taking Fundamentals of Web Design, a continuing education course at the Kansas City Art Institute, and it’s made me look at websites in a whole new way. Here are some tips the class has taught me about web design:
Always start with your audience in mind. What information is your audience searching for? Don’t make them jump through hoops to get the information they need. Start by really trying to understand your audience. Plenty of research, strategy and planning should happen on the back-end before you dig into developing the site.
Simplicity is key.
Think about the simplicity of Google’s web interface- no frills, just what we need. Make the navigation on the site as natural and intuitive as possible so that pieces of information are available right where the user thinks they should be available. And just because you can create a website full of technological bells and whistles, doesn’t mean you should. Minimalist web design is refreshing.
Think about what’s inside the box- not just the package.
Writing content for the web is not the same as writing for a brochure or newsletter. Website content should be concise, scannable and captivating. Content should be optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) but also human and engaging.
And lastly what I learned from my class…
Drink caffeine and try not to space out if you want to learn code.
Seriously, it’s like learning another language.
Web design should be about keeping your audience and their needs front and center. Want to learn more? There are countless blogs out there on web design; check out Web Design Ledger and Vandelay Design for more tips.Tagged Holly Eckold, Morningstar Communications, Web Design Tips
I recently represented Morningstar Communications at Kansas City’s PRSA Day, which included a career fair for college students interested in public relations. I loved how enthusiastic and driven the students were—asking question after question about what experience makes them the most attractive to employers in the PR field.
One student asked me something particularly interesting. She said, “I feel like one of my strengths is coming up with creative ideas in a group brainstorming session. Is that something that I should write on my resume or bring up in interviews?” Absolutely.
Divergent thinking, or coming up with multiple solutions to a problem or a question, is a skill that is so incredibly important today not only in the PR field, but in multiple industries.
Brainstorming sessions are where the best ideas happen. It’s amazing how different people offer different perspectives and ideas have a snowball effect. I loved a quote I recently saw in Fast Company from designer Aza Raskin, who said, “I love to take a spark of curiosity and pour fuel on it.” Brainstorming sessions are like pouring fuel on creative sparks.
At Morningstar Communications we frequently use group brainstorms to come up with new ideas for clients. Only one rule exists at our brainstorming sessions: no “fire hosing” other people’s ideas. If you make fun of an idea, you have to wear a fireman’s hat as a funny sort of punishment for “fire hosing.” All ideas are welcome at the brainstorming table.
Below are links to a couple of interesting articles with advice for those interested in a career in PR. Both mention the importance of creativity and curiosity, among other important skills for new PR professionals to hone.
7 Essential Tips for PR Newbies- Petya N. Gergieva
The PR pro of today: What do employers really want? –Arik Hanson
What skills do you think are important for employees in the PR industry?Tagged Brainstorming, Creativity, Holly Eckold, Morningstar Communications, New PR professionals
When you check out a new website for the first time, what page on the site do you linger on? Michael Margolis, Founder and President of Get Storied, contends that we spend the most time on the About page—getting a feel for the company or individual’s story.
I recently watched a webinar by Margolis entitled “The Secrets to an About Page that Rocks,” which offered tips on how to express your story in relatable and engaging ways in places like your website and LinkedIn profile. Margolis believes we spend the most time on About pages because we are drawn to stories. The more personalized and compelling the story is, the more connected we feel to the storyteller. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Rogers put it best when he said, “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.”
The webinar got my mind racing not only about how we write our personal biographies, but also about how many outlets are available these days to express our individuality.
The new Facebook timeline that is being rolled out in the coming weeks displays users’ unique lives through their engagement with Facebook. As Nathan Bransford of CNET puts it, Facebook Timeline “is built around a similarly simple but powerful idea: what if you could see your whole life in one place?”
Facebook is among many sites giving users the opportunity to publicly display their individuality. Pinterest, a site that has recently captured my interest, allows users to collect photos of things they enjoy—food, photographs, clothes, design, architecture— and share the visual collages with connections. Hunch asks users to answer fun questions about their preferences regarding books, restaurants, music, technology, etc. It then allows the user to connect with people with similar tastes and receive personalized recommendations for other things they may like.
The list of sites and apps appealing to our thirst for individuality is astounding. We are left with an abundance of online outlets to display our preferences, and it is up to us to fill in the blank pages. What captivates you? What things are you naturally drawn to? How do you spend your time? What quirky idiosyncrasies make you, you? These individual preferences make up our story, and these days there is no shortage of ways to share our story and connect with others.Tagged Facebook Timeline, Holly Eckold, Hunch, Individuality, Michael Margolis, Morningstar Communications, Pinterest