It’s Awesome When Your Content Connects!

Posted on December 5, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.

Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.

For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.

At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination. Connect With content

The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.

When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.

What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.

The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!

Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.

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Old & New PR: Break the Cookie Cutter by Revealing Clients’ Human Qualities

Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

As I think about social media and inbound marketing, my mind sifts through what things we did in traditional PR that can stay — and what’s gotta go. In that mindset, how do we help our clients to stand out in the crowd? Let’s keep story telling. Let’s ditch ‘spin’.

What hasn’t changed from my old to my new PR thinking is that we differentiate our clients by humanizing them. Fortunately ‘being human’ is a social media watchword! But when you look at website after website or press release after press release in a given industry and encounter jargon and sameness from company to company, you see that this humanizing business can be a real challenge.

Then – and especially now — when companies take safe haven in communications conformity, they do so at their peril. From a PR practitioner’s standpoint there’s no reason for it — though convincing clients to humanize can be risky and require a fair amount of education, client service elbow grease and creativity.

The most seemingly ‘cookie cutter’ business probably has a personality and culture that makes it a oner. It always was — and still is — up to PR and marketing professionals to learn enough about what makes our clients tick to understand how this differentiates the way they do business from their competitors. Building a relationship where the client trusts that we will humanize them professionally and in their best interest, can serve as a model for the relationships we help them to build with their important audiences.

I remember 20+ years ago taking on a relatively new bagel baking company as a client. A skeptical colleague said, “What can you possibly do for such a commodity business? There’s a bagel shop on every block?”

Turns out that the business was run by two brothers who were willing to let me personalize them in their PR campaigns. One was the baker and, I learned, he had created an awesome, crusty Italian hearth bread, in addition to his staple bagel products. He was a really sweet guy who loved kids and coached softball. The other brother — a former Ford model who had made ‘the Italian Look’ famous on the international fashion scene – was handling business development. As we built a relationship, we discovered that he and I had worked on the same high profile men’s fashion awards show in New York for years but hadn’t met.

Italian Look, Italian bread. There was something interesting here! And the connection we established in the ‘getting to know you’ phase allowed the brothers to trust my instincts about how to connect them to their publics.

So, what did we do to differentiate them? The Ford model brother and I contacted the top designers we both knew and put on a dazzling charity fashion show that people remember to this day. With the baking brother we set up a hometown baker apprenticeship program for non-college-bound kids.

In promoting these efforts, their baked goods – as high quality and delicious as they were – were pretty much secondary. The human interest and the lack of commercialism attracted incredible media attention. People came, tasted and bought. By offering their unique talents, their caring qualities and their wares for the greater good of their community, they were embraced and became the most famous bagel shop in the state. The business is thriving still.

Solid PR practitioners have been creating these kinds of client representation strategies since the start of the profession. In recent years, many have been sidetracked, buying into the idea that we have to ‘spin’. But, if we creatively focus on how our clients’ human qualities drive the business, there’s no need to spin anything. The reality of who they are is quite good enough, thank you.

As we move marketing and PR into online communities the same principles hold true – in spades. On the social Web this approach is the expected one. By participating and making a contribution, our clients will attract the positive attention they deserve.

OK – to the music! One of the reasons I love jazz is that it offers endless variations on themes. In fact, jazz improvisation provides the perfect example of how to apply skill and creativity to break the cookie cutter. Today I was in the mood for piano music – solo piano to kind of ease into the week. I pulled out the piano genius Bill Evans’ Conversations With Myself, which in a way this blog is, although it is absolutely meant to be shared with you all.

In reality, the album isn’t a pure solo piano effort because Evans overdubbed a ‘third hand’ onto each tune – a bit of technological tinkering that was largely unpopular at the time — 1963. And maybe it still is. It makes for an unusual and unique sound, revealing Evans’ personal human qualities that can be mischievous and ironic. Regardless, it is considered a classic.

In reviewing the play list, I discovered that it included Evans’ rendition of Love Theme From Spartacus, the tune that accompanied my first blog post, played by Yusef Lateef. I didn’t even think that I had a recording of this tune by another artist – but there it was. So now you’ll hear it again through the filter of Bill Evans. Have fun listening to them back-to-back. Each jazz musician makes a tune his very own. That’s what we all do and must communicate about our businesses within our industries!

 Enjoy! Hope to see you soon.

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