4 Types of Content

20180124_110628I spent a day recently researching, writing and editing blog posts.

I plan for four types of content for my blog:

  • Date-specific
  • Evergreen
  • Breaking
  • Repurposed

Date-specific: I keep a content calendar for the year and pepper it with dates that are known and that I will likely write about. For example, I almost always write something related to New Year’s Day and the idea of resolutions and/or goal setting. Sunshine Week is in March and I often write about the topic.

Evergreen content is not tied to a specific day and can be used any time during the year. This post is an example of evergreen content. If I attend a conference, I frequently write about the workshops I attend and the speakers I meet. If I want to be timely (date-specific) then I will run a post during or immediately following the conference; otherwise, the content becomes evergreen.

Breaking content is tied to a story that has traction in the news. I can write a post related to the breaking news. This is known as “newsjacking,” and PR pros do it all the time. If they have a subject matter expert related to the topic, they will pitch, or work to connect, the expert with the reporters covering the story. For my blog, I’ll write a post related to the content. For example, I wrote about office success lessons learned from watching the latest James Bond movie or how people connected while watching a Royal Wedding (not Harry and Meghan, the other one).

Repurposed content: Review your most popular stories and posts and then tweak the headline or update the statistics. You can also take the content and use it on a different platform. I expect to do more of that in 2019 as I work to finish my travelogue book and complete a mystery. For me to do that, I will need to spend less time writing original content for the blog, but I hope you will still find inspiration in the posts.

When it comes to content, I am seldom at a loss for copy. I simply need to plan and identify my content opportunities.

5 Steps to Jump Start Your Career in 2019

I spent part of my winter break thinking about all aspects of my career. Although I’ve worked in communications for many years, the landscape continues to change. I want to stay current. I also aspire to be a published author and career coach.

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Photo by Cynthia Price

Here are 5 things you can do to further your career journey:

Pay membership dues. Before you pay your membership dues, consider each organization and whether you are benefiting. Will you learn something new? Will you network with individuals from whom you can learn and with who you can share information?

Take a course (or two). Learning about new platforms, the latest apps and different management styles is important. Webinars, seminars, conferences and classes all provide learning opportunities. I signed up for a daylong seminar on starting my own business. I won’t be ready to do so for a few years, but at least I’ll know what I should be doing when I am ready to make the leap.

Network. We all know the value of networking but too often we think of it only in the context of a group setting. I try to have at least two networking lunches a month. One is with a colleague within my organization. I like learning about someone else’s position. An added bonus is that because I work in communications, I almost always also get a nugget for a story. I also network with someone monthly outside of my organization. It allows me to see how other companies and sectors operate.

Enter an awards competition. Each year I look to see if I have anything to enter in a communications contest. My colleague and I review our body of work. I’m reminded of some good work. I’m also reminded of some work I could have done better. And I get ideas for other projects. It’s a great process to prepare myself for the coming year.

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. It’s important to do this yearly to ensure everything is up-to-date. Note key projects you worked on in the past year and double check keywords. Reach out to your references, updating them on your career and finding out on what they have focused.

Are you ready to jump start your career?

 

 

 

An Empty Inbox

Much has been written about how to tame one’s inbox. All of the suggestions would probably fill an inbox.

The February 2019 issue of Fast Company notes that 2.6 hours each day are spent on email, which amounts to 27 days each year.

That is a lot of time spent on email. And the topic was top of mind because as we were closing out 2018, a team member asked how the rest of us manage our inboxes. She was still wrestling with hers. We all shared our approaches, and reassured her that we, too, were still wrestling.

The takeaway for me is that one size doesn’t fit all. I use my inbox as a to do list. It works well for me. I also maintain folders, but they are for reference and filing. If I move an email into a folder without first taking action on it, I’ll likely never get back to it. I know others who move every email into a folder and then begin to take action.

For me, about 50 emails in my inbox is reasonable. More than that, and I know I am falling behind. In December just before I left the office for almost two weeks, a tiny miracle happened.

Actually, it was a huge miracle – I left with zero emails in my inbox. I was able to address everything either by handling it or scheduling it on my calendar for 2019.

What an incredible feeling. Here’s what an empty inbox looks like:

Empty Inbox.PNGOf course, within a few hours, the emails were arriving. They didn’t bother me, though, because most I could delete. And the few that remained were ready for me to handle in 2019.

Here are a few email tips to get you set for 2019:

  • Make your inbox work for you. That’s a great tip from Carson Tate, who offers a course in taming the inbox and is the author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”
  • Set aside 20 minutes midweek to review your inbox to ensure that you have not overlooked any critical emails. I also delete those that require no action and offer no information.
  • Move reference emails to a retrieval system. I either file emails into clearly defined folders or I file the attachment into a World folder so I can retrieve it later.
  • Don’t reply to an email the second it arrives. You don’t want to set the expectation that you are always available. It’s important to focus on your priorities.
  • Stick to a schedule when checking and responding to email. This is advice I gleamed from Michael Smart. It resonated because he helped me to realize that emails are not my priority. They often are a means to reach my priorities – whether that is pitching a story and having it placed in a news outlet or tracking down information to write a blog post.

What tips do you have for taming your inbox?

Review, Celebrate Your Best Work Through Contests

Each year around this time, I say to my colleague, “I don’t think I have anything to enter.” I’m referring to a communications contest she and I typically enter each year.

She, fortunately, rolls her eyes and reminds me of some good work that I have done.

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Photo by Cynthia Price

Whether we win an award or not, entering the contest has merit for us. Before entering the contest, we review our work. When we get our entries back, we read the judges’ comments and see what we can learn from them. If we win an award, we feel great about our work.

The review process itself is a good measure of our work. We start of by collectively looking at the categories and reviewing our work product throughout the past year. We determine if we have good stuff to enter. Some of the work we consider we probably could have elevated the results further so we decide not to enter that work. Reviewing what we have done also reminds us of communications we might replicate in the coming year.

The judges’ comments also are important. They offer suggestions that can make the work stronger. I find the comments useful as I embark on the next project. When they note that I’ve done something well, I feel good, but I also want to be sure to replicate it if appropriate.

Most communicators work hard on an article, a campaign or a project, but when it’s finished, we quickly move on to the next thing. An award for the article, campaign or project acknowledges the great work that was done and that others recognize the effort.

Sometimes, it’s good to smell the roses – or the ink on the certificate of achievement.

Note: For tips on how to enter a contest, check out this post.

Hello 2019!

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Photo by Cynthia Price

My office closes for the last week of the year so my team met a few days before to think about 2019 and to recap 2018.

We touted our successes, acknowledged our challenges and reassessed our 2019 goals, making a few tweaks. We left the office energized for our break and ready to ring in 2019.

A professional communications group to which I belong is doing something similar. We’re meeting for a few hours on a Saturday. We’ll connect with each other, share our intentions for the year, participate in small group discussions and have opportunities for professional headshots to be taken.

I do the same in my personal life. I reread my journal and look through my desk calendar. What made me happy in 2018? What do I want to do more of in 2019? What do I wish I had done differently?

I read a great post from Cy Wakeman that life is about the choices we make. In 2019 I am choosing to step up, live in joy and help others.

How will you spend 2019?

How to be the Perfect Speaker

Somehow this year I found myself wrangling speakers for three conferences. It was a good challenge, and I now know how to identify my perfect speaker.

The perfect speaker gets deadlines, is respectful and is engaging. Here how they do that —

Submit your bio, photo and workshop description on time. Conferences have many speakers and if everyone is late with their details, it throws off the entire schedule. The information is needed to post to the website, to send a “Save the Date” card and to develop the program. Speakers should also adhere to the required content lengths. If I have to edit someone’s bio, it may not be to their liking, and I’m inevitably stuck in a back and forth email volley until it’s the right length.

Confirm your presentation requirements at least two weeks in advance. Conference organizers want to ensure that they have everything speakers need for an effective presentation. Usually organizers will reach out and ask, but as a speaker, if you have a special request, let them know. Many years ago, we had a speaker who requested a bar stool for her presentation. Knowing that ahead of time prevented last-minute scrambling.

Remain on point. The session description provided to the conference is in many ways a contract. When attendees read it, they are expecting to hear that content. Don’t disappoint the audience. When creating your presentation, make sure it fits within the allotted time so the session does not run long. Ideally, the conference will provide a time keeper to keep everything moving, but if it’s a small conference, do your part to stay on time.

Repeat the question. It’s challenging to hear in rooms. When you take audience questions, repeat them so others will know what was asked. It also means that your answer will make more sense.

Decide on your equipment. Some speakers like to use their own equipment. If that’s the case, be sure you have all of the necessary adapters and power cords. Just in case, have your presentation on a thumb drive. If you don’t want to bring your own laptop and will be using the conference equipment, provide your presentation in advance so it can be loaded and tested on the equipment that will be used. And again, bring a backup copy on a thumb drive.

Connect. Audience members are looking forward to learning from you. They may have more questions following your presentation. If your schedule permits, take the time to connect with audience members who rush to the front with their business cards. Some who rush to the front may simply want a selfie with you because you inspired them. Talk about a great reward!

Promoting Your Experts

If your job is to get media placements, you may want to consider how you promote your experts.

It’s not enough to respond to media inquiries and connecting the reporter with an expert in your organization. Nor is it enough to pitch your expert directly to reporters.

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Image courtesy of Deanne Taenzer, ExpertFile

In today’s short and ever evolving news cycle, you have to be ready. And that means being able to raise the profile of your experts.

How do you raise their profile? It’s not as hard as you may think. In fact, you likely already have many of the pieces that would enable you to do so.

I picked up some great tips on this topic from Deanne Taenzer, ExpertFile’s vice president for business development. She is an authority on developing online thought leadership content programs that use an organization’s experts.

“There is so much scattered content,” Taenzer said. “We need to collect it in one place so others [reporters] can find it.”

It’s about making it easy for journalists to find the experts they need. Journalists seek experts who are relevant, credible, engaging, influential and responsive.

Content pieces that contribute to an expert’s authority include:

  • Biography Create a current biography of your expert, including a photograph.
  • Media Assets Include a list of all media outlets in which the person has been quoted or appeared.
  • Social Media Note the person’s social media if it’s relevant and if the person has a strong following. If your expert tweets about a relevant news story, it’s likely a reporter will see it and express interest in speaking with her.
  • Research Include a list of published research and links, if relevant. This demonstrates the expert’s scholarly work.
  • Speaking Engagements List what groups the expert has spoken to and what the topic was. Include the audience size if known.

These pieces address the needs of journalists. When they are located in one place, it makes it that much easier for the journalist to find the appropriate expert.

The idea is to create a directory for your experts. You can partner with a firm like ExpertFile or do it yourself.