Tag Archives: Morningstar Communications

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Tips for Creating Great Newsletters

Posted in Laura's Posts

According to a recent article on Forbes.com, marketing outreach through social media has taken a backseat to newsletters. Why? Newsletters, whether online or in print, can create a more personal approach and allow people to read a brand’s message on their own time.

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The tricky part is making sure your recipients actually read the newsletters. Here are three tips to help ensure your newsletters get opened, read and acted upon:

Get to the point, fast! People easily lose interest when kept waiting, and because the purpose of sending newsletters is to share valuable information, it’s important to get to the point sooner rather than later. Remember, newsletters provide ongoing marketing touch points, meaning you don’t need to dump all of your information into one. Spread out your pertinent info; make newsletters valuable for your recipients and easy to read.

Set the tone. It’s essential brands are cautious of the tone used in newsletters. And while pulling phrases straight from the Urban Dictionary is probably not a best practice, it is OK to use a relaxed tone in newsletters. Recipients enjoy reading material with a personal and casual tone, as it amplifies the personal appeal newsletters already tote. So, when possible, push industry jargon aside and don’t be afraid to use a more relaxed tone.

Stay up-to-date. When determining the focus of each newsletter, ask yourself what your readers are currently interested in. Your recipients will quickly recognize that your brand regularly sends relevant information that matters most to them. This will encourage them to open, read and share the information found in your newsletter.

Have another helpful newsletter tip? Share it with us on our Facebook page or on Twitter @MorningstarComm.

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Leave a comment Posted on by Laura Jung

What Makes Content Compelling

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Integrated Marketing (IMC)

What's in a word? A paragraph? A story? Hopefully content that is meaningful and compelling.

Word nerds like me and my teammates at Morningstar Communications pay close attention to content, whether it's on a billboard, a restaurant menu or in an article. Noticing typos or poor grammar, no matter the business, turns me off or even away. But the worst boo-boo of all is when you deliver a message that falls far below expectations, and your audience doesn't receive it well, or at all.

So, what makes content compelling enough for your audience to both read and receive your message?

Choosing your words wisely. The words you select play a huge role in the way your information and tone are conveyed. Ditch the jargon - keep it simple and recipient-oriented.

For example, one time my sister - who's a pediatric oncologist, or cancer doctor for children (layman's terms win!) - wanted to know more about what my job entails. I told her I regularly create promo plans to leverage media placements, create content for white papers and blogs, and implement integrated marketing communications strategies. My jargon-filled explanation was way over her head.

So, I explained again delivering more detail and definitions, but in a concise way. My new precision led to my sister's “Aha!” Strategize with an intentional end-in-mind, and be both simple and effective.

Despite the fast-paced world we live in, shorter copy does not always necessarily mean better. Yes, you still need to be as concise as possible. But people like variety, and depending on their mood and what they're up to, they may be willing and eager to read your 1,500-word article. I'm not suggesting you write as many words as possible (actually, please don't), but if your story is informative and engaging, people will read it no matter the length.

Most importantly, keep your content recipient-oriented. So, you want to send an e-newsletter. You desire to share company updates, client news and a Forbes article quoting your CEO. But does this particular content make sense for your seven audiences? It's not what you want to say; it's what your readers want to hear. Ensure you're delivering messages that matter to them, that way, they'll fully receive it.

Does your customer crave intermittent and brief messages, or would she rather read a monthly ebook? Uncover your audiences' (all of them!) wants and needs through marketing automation, data and feedback, then create and tailor content based on your findings.

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What tips would you add to the mix? Share with us on social media or simply comment below.

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Leave a comment Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Expanding Your Reach in 2015

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts, Social Media, Tips and Tricks

As 2014 comes to an end, many of us are making personal New Years resolutions. While these personal resolutions are important, it is equally as essential for companies and employees to reassess their business strategies moving into 2015.

A common resolution for businesses, “We want to double our audience/leads in 2015.” This is a great resolution, and fortunately, one that can be achieved through content creation and marketing automation.

Social media and email marketing (elements of content creation) are both excellent ways of delivering your company’s message. And most businesses utilize social media and email marketing to some degree, however, they are commonly separated making it difficult for potential leads/customers to connect with your business. That’s why it’s a no-brainer for your business to employ marketing automation.

I recently read a blog post on Act-On about how to double your company’s conversions, and ultimately your audience/leads, by uniting social media content and email marketing content. One tip especially stood out to me: “Ask for the social share via email.”

Businesses have the ability to extend their reach by sharing calls to action in their email blasts and e-newsletters. Include links to multiple social media channels in the email, making it easy for the recipient to share the content with his or her network. Chances are, if the recipient finds the content interesting, they will want to share it with their network – a perfect way to extend reach and engage similar mindsets.

Also consider pushing out a follow-up email to those recipients who opened or downloaded your content. This follow-up email should include a simple call to action. For example, programs like Click to Tweet allow recipients to tweet a pre-created message informing others of the valuable content they just read or downloaded from your email.

As you head into 2015, I encourage you to make resolutions for your business like the one listed above. At Morningstar Communications, we specialize in helping our clients extend their reach through various content marketing tools and strategies. Follow us on Facebook to learn more. And don’t be afraid to share this information with your own network.

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Content Marketing Versus Noise

Posted in Brian's Posts, Online Marketing, Tips and Tricks

As businesses strive to provide relevant information directly to their customers and increase their visibility, content creation is becoming a tool that most utilize. The creation of unique and thought provoking content across a variety of channels can provide a deep exposure to audiences and position individuals as thought leaders within their chosen industries. But while these businesses may understand the importance of content creation, their execution may leave a bit to be desired.

When developing a thorough content creation strategy it is difficult to toe the line between relevant and high quality content, and noise. Noise does not simply mean content that serves no purpose or is repetitious though. Noise can be created through content that may seem meaningful, but fails to fill the bill. Below I have listed a few examples of noise and how to avoid them:

1. Regurgitating Company Verbiage. When creating content for your website it’s tempting to simply reiterate sales talking points and previously crafted company language. While they may have a place on your website, your blog audience and social media followers want to learn something new or fulfill another desire. By writing with the reader in mind you create compelling information your readers will come back for.

2. Preaching to the Choir. One mistake businesses make is write a blog on a topic without actually providing any new or interesting information. Make sure you provide a fresh perspective and a unique point of view when creating your content. While you don’t need to be different just for the sake of it, providing a compelling unique point of view will entice repeat visits.

3. Writing About Nothing. So, you have a blog scheduled for Jan. 2 and you can’t think of an interesting topic. Why not write an evergreen blog on the New Year? It may be easy, but writing a pointless blog simply to get it out there doesn’t provide any actual value to your readers. Why not tap into the expertise of your colleagues and seize the opportunity to repurpose content. You may be surprised by the knowledge you find.

As more individuals begin to understand the impact content creation can have on your brand, the amount of information available to write about can be inundating. Being able to provide information and position your viewpoint with precision is key to cutting through the noise and being recognized as a thought leader.

How does your business generate new and thought provoking content? Visit our Facebook page and share some of your stories.

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Comments Off Posted on by Brian Van Note

Key Learnings from 2014

Posted in Morningstar Communications Updates, Tips and Tricks, Tricia's Posts

Can you believe 2015 is right around the corner? I sure can’t. As so often happens at the end of the year, ‘tis the season for 2014 wrap-up blog posts.

Earlier this month, Casie Gillette at KoMarketing, a search, social and content firm we work with on our client Hallmark Business Connections, posted the 10 things she’s learned about SEO in 2014. I especially liked number three: “Content Marketing Must Have Marketing.”

This key learning is so true. Content marketing is a double-edged sword. Great content means nothing if no one reads it, and no one will read your content unless it’s great. We’ll just assume for now that you have engaging, recipient-oriented content. (If you’re having trouble with content creation, check out my last post on content creation tips and tricks.) So, now you have to get your content read. At Morningstar Communications we create content marketing plans for each piece of content released. These plans include content marketing strategies and tactics across the Four-Channel Media Model. From sample tweets and LinkedIn posts, to one-to-one communications with customers, these promo plans ensure your content makes it to the people who matter most to your organization.

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In 2015, I challenge you to think of every piece of content as a multi-channel marketing opportunity. How can you leverage your content across the board? Creation and execution of a content marketing plan will help.

What are your favorite key learnings from 2014?

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

The Role of Social Media in Content Marketing

Posted in Best Practices, Online Marketing

Content marketing strategies require creativity, dedication and endurance. In addition to being comprehensive and well thought out, your content needs to fit into an overarching strategic plan for your company, and that includes your social media efforts.

The purpose of content is to give the people who matter most to your organization access to information of interest and relevance to them. Simply put, your content educates your target audience. The purpose of social media is to start a conversation.

Speaker and author Jay Baer says, “Social media is the new telephone. Content marketing is the new brochure.”

These words are too true. So, why not align your social media efforts with your content marketing plan? Once your target audience has consumed your content, use social media to gauge their reaction, start a conversation and further extend the life of the content you created.

Here are three tips for supporting your content marketing strategy with engaging social media posts.

Utilize content calendars:

Content calendars are an effective and efficient way to determine topics of focus for the year and to develop manageable timelines. Create a social media calendar in addition to your content calendar to ensure your topic areas align.

Be timely:

While having a plan for your social media and content efforts is necessary and helpful, it is also important to join conversations that unexpectedly arise throughout the year. If a topic surfaces that relates to your business, draft a blog post or byline with accompanying social media posts to further position your company as a thought leader in your industry.

Keep your audience in mind:

Understand who follows you on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and what they are looking for on each platform. When possible, tailor your posts and content to meet the needs of your audience.

Aligning your content marketing and social media efforts is an effective way to educate and interact with your target audiences. If you’re interested in learning more about these topics or have a comment or question, drop us a line on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Comments Off Posted on by Paige Kauffman

Enhancing Team Productivity around the Holidays

Posted in Best Practices, Tips and Tricks

With all of us in the thick of the holiday season, it's easy for team members' productivity levels to slip at work. We are easily distracted, looking forward to spending time with family, stressing about gifts, preparing for travel and all the other things that go into planning for the holidays. The following tips will help the team stay focused and ensure they end its year on a high note:

Share Calendars
Make sure every team member is aware of each others' schedules during the holidays. A shared calendar is a very handy tool. Mark the hours and days each member is out during the season. This can help develop a plan to ensure they cover all client projects and meet pending deadlines.

Prioritize
Help your team prepare a priority list. Holidays are a busy time and having a list of priority items gives each team member a clear focus area. They will spend productive time tackling the most pressing items, especially those with year-end deadlines.

Lend a hand
While you may have some time to spare, another team member may be swamped in client work or projects. This is the perfect time to show your team spirit and offer a helping hand. It is also an opportunity to learn something new about a part of your company or a client you aren’t currently familiar with.

Spring clean in winter
If your priority list is small or already taken care of, there's no dearth of preparation you could do to welcome a new work year. Take advantage of the down time by reorganizing your files, cleaning out your desk (or the office fridge – major brownie points with your team members!) and sorting through your files, making a list of what your clients are expecting from you in the first week of the new year and whom you will need to reconnect with. Make some 2015 goals and write them down.

Be reasonable and embrace the holiday spirit
It’s important to remember that the holidays are a time when you have to be reasonable. You can’t expect employees to stay late every night. Unless it’s necessary, be understanding about the time your team members can put into their jobs. As long as they are delivering on their expected daily and weekly work hours, they should be allowed to leave at a reasonable time.

We are keen to hear about ways by which you are keeping productivity levels high at your organization during this holiday season. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Comments Off Posted on by Suchitra Kamath

Elevate Engagement and Drive Sales with Marketing Automation

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Integrated Marketing (IMC), Online Marketing, Social Media

As marketing and technology evolve, so should your strategy. Meaningful, recipient-oriented content creation is a highly effective way to reach the people who matter most to your business. Combine this with marketing automation and strategic communicators will adequately identify engaged users and prospects in the ever-changing B2B landscape.

Marketing automation is a proven method. According to Act-On, companies that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451 percent increase in qualified leads.

Learn more and discover how marketing automation makes sense for your business:

1. Reach out to the right people at the right time. With the ability to measure how your content impacts the buyer journey through email and social media campaigns, your sales team better understands when to reach out to qualified leads, and consequently increases business development and revenue.

2. Get to know your customers. Increased data from your marketing automation platform will help you understand what makes customers tick. Embrace recipient-oriented communications and personalize your messages to prospects. The marketing team can adjust communications depending on users’ positions in the sales funnel.

3. Maximize search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Marketing automation platforms like Act-On help identify key words to utilize month to month in blog posts and website content. Ensure your communications rise to the top of Google searches, and thought leadership is smart, timely and thoughtful.

Is your company interested in being among the 80 percent of businesses realizing marketing automation ROI in less than one year? Learn more by interacting with us on Twitter and calling us at (913) 851-8700.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

The Beauty of Content Repurposing

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts

In school, we’re constantly required to create and write new content. While original content creation is a necessary skill for those of us in the marketing world, we often get caught up in trying to “reinvent the wheel,” which is quite time consuming and therefore costly.

At Morningstar Communications, we are firm believers in repurposing content, when appropriate, of course. For example, we often create promotional plans for our clients in which we recommend creating materials such as a press release and then repurposing the content in the release to form blog posts, social media posts, etc. I found a recent article intriguing, discussing the benefits of content repurposing. Here are the highlights:

  • Repurposing content boosts SEO. Having multiple “repurposed” pieces with the same topic and keyword bumps up your SEO value.
     
  • It expands your reach. Content repurposing helps you reach your current and prospective audience by providing the same content in multiple vehicles (blog posts, newsletters, emails, etc.). The more places the content lives, the more likely your audience is to see it.
  • Content repurposing makes an impact. Relaying the same message across multiple communication platforms allows you to reinforce your key points, often leading to continued conversations.
  • And my favorite: Content repurposing reduces stress! Content creation is not only costly, it’s time consuming and difficult with so many tight deadlines. Repurposing content allows for breathing room, keeping the quality of the content high and not rushed.


Interested in learning more about how Morningstar Communications can assist you in boosting your SEO, expanding your reach, making an impact and reducing stress through content creation and repurposing? Drop us a line at info@morningstarcomm.com.

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Tips to Enhance Your Client Service

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts

As one of my favorite authors, Lewis Carroll, once said, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”

I love this quote because while it’s so applicable to all aspects of life, it particularly relates to the public relations world. Those who put their clients’ needs first and foremost are those who thrive and succeed in the PR industry.

At Morningstar Communications we focus on providing exceptional client service through several proven account management techniques. And over the years, we’ve become known for these methods as our clients regularly voice their appreciation. Want to enhance your client service and become known as a client champion? Take these tips into consideration:

Hold regular meetings. With numerous deadlines and hectic work travel schedules, it can be difficult to carve out time for a meeting to touch base with clients on weekly needs. At Morningstar Communications, we schedule regular meetings with each of our clients for the entire year (i.e. the first Wednesday of every month). This helps keep our team and clients organized, focused on overarching goals and accountable for deliverables despite crazy time restraints.

Provide meeting recaps. After every client meeting we compile a recap email listing action items for our team and our client. We organize action items in order of importance to help team members and clients prioritize their workloads. In addition, we also send out a separate internal email outlining which team member will take point on each action item. This strategy allows us to communicate what needs to be done in an effective and efficient manner with everyone involved on an account.

Schedule mid- and end-year review sessions. Halfway through each year and at the end of each year, we schedule time with each of our clients to discuss what’s worked, what hasn’t worked and what should be added to enhance our relationship. This allows us to highlight our successes and provide our best recommendations for the following year.

I encourage you to implement these methods into your account management services and share the feedback you receive from clients and your team members with us on Facebook.

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung
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