Category Archives: Public relations

How to grow your blog like a Fortune 500 company

How to grow your blog like a Fortune 500 company

If there’s one exercise that continually causes my blog to grow, it’s conducting a quarterly review. If you want your blog to turn into a business you have to treat it accordingly. Fortune 500 companies do quarterly reports, so why not model some of their best practices?

Why you should do this

As bloggers we’re often caught up in the day-to-day activities of writing posts, commenting on blogs, and interacting with people across various social media channels. It can feel like we’re not accomplishing much. We have a tendency to focus on how far we have to go rather than looking back at just how far we’ve come.

The process of conducting a quarterly review will motivate you to keep charging forward because you’ll get a clear look at how much you’ve accomplished. It will also give you insights into what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do differently.

The review process

Conducting a review is something you should expect to spend a few solid hours on if you want to get the most value possible from it. The review can be broken up into three main categories: traffic + subscribers, revenue, and projects.

Traffic + subscribers

Traffic is the biggest concern of many early-stage bloggers, and you should remember that not all traffic is created equal and that quality always trumps quantity. That said, reviewing your traffic on a quarterly basis can give you some deep insights into things you can do differently to increase it.

Here are three things to watch when reviewing your traffic and subscribers:

1. Compare to the previous quarter.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when it comes to traffic is that you are showing a pattern of growth. If you do a comparison and your traffic has declined, then you’ll need to think about what might be the cause:

• Are you posting enough?
• Are you building the right relationships?
• Is your content worth sharing?
• Do you need to write more guest posts?

There are a number of factors that could cause your traffic to decline or increase. Choose one area to improve and stick to it over the course of the next quarter.

2. Look at referral traffic.

Take a look at where your referral traffic is coming from. You’ll notice that you get much more traffic when you guest post on certain blogs. If that’s the case, reach out to the author of the blog and ask if you can be a guest contributor again. Connect with the readers of that blog by visiting theirs.

3. Look at subscribers.

After two years of blogging, all I can say is that your email list is gold. Every successful blogger will tell you “the money is in the list.” While RSS subscribers are nice and bring people back to your blog, I’d recommend shifting your entire focus to your email list.

Many of us neglect our lists because we’re writing so much content for our own blogs. While the numbers are important, what you need to concern yourself with most is a pattern of growth. If you’re not seeing growth, then you’ll want to make some adjustments. Below I’ve suggested a few ideas to improve your email list:

• One simple thing that will help you to improve your newsletter is repurposing content from your archives. Most blog archives are sitting around collecting dust. You can take five to six of your best blog posts and make them the content of your auto responder sequence.
• Interview somebody well known in your niche and give away the interview as a bonus for signing up for your newsletter.
• Create a free e-book. But make sure it is just as good as something people would pay for. If the things you provide for free are of no value then it’s unlikely that anybody will buy from you.


I usually have two to three project goals every quarter. Here are some sample projects that you could work on over the course of any quarter:

• A guest post campaign;
• A free e-book or manifesto;
• A course or product.

In the review process you want to make sure that you have made some progress on at least one of your projects. If you’ve made no progress on any of your projects from the previous quarter, you might want to consider taking some of them off your list.


The final thing that I tend to review every quarter is the revenue that I’ve generated. The best way to do this is to break up the revenue by categories. For example, you may generate revenue in the following ways:

• Consulting;
• Products;
• Advertising Revenue.

It’s important to break this up into categories so you can get a sense of which efforts are giving you your highest return on investment. This helps you to prioritize your revenue generating efforts.

Setting up your quarterly marketing plan and goals

Keep in mind to not have too many goals. This might seem counterintuitive, but the more goals you set the fewer you seem to accomplish. The list will seem so daunting that you’ll fail to take action towards the goals on the list.

That’s why I recommend you set fewer goals. If you happened to get those goals done you can always add more to the list later in the quarter. Establish one or two goals in each area.

Traffic + Subscriber goals

Traffic and subscriber goals are interesting because the end result is not completely in your control. All you can do is take certain actions to move in the direction of your goal. That being said, I think it can be quite valuable to set a traffic and subscriber goal since it’s keeps you focused on how to grow your audience.

For example, you could set a goal of reaching 1,000 total subscribers by the next quarter, if you are at 500 now. The real value is not reaching the number itself, but learning how to reach it. After you’ve done it once, you can repeat the process and grow by 1,000 subscribers. Just have a target to aim for over the course of a quarter.

Project goals

I recommend that you make it a goal to complete at least one project every quarter. Rather than set a number of different project goals and scatter your effort, focus on one and make it your mission to finish it. If you want to write an e-book or launch a product then make that your project for the quarter.

As I said before, you can always add more projects when you complete one. In fact, if you have fewer things on your list and complete them you’ll be motivated to keep moving forward.

Revenue Goals

When you set a revenue goal, set something that you think is achievable. Chances are that if you are a beginning blogger you are not going to make a million dollars by the end of the quarter. Setting that kind of goal and not meeting it will only frustrate you.

Once you start with a number in mind, you’ll be able to start brainstorming the different ways that you’ll hit your revenue goal. It could be a combination of the following:

• Product Sales
• Consulting
• Speaking
• Advertising Revenue

If you have an opportunity to capitalize on low-hanging fruit, then do it. Even if it is not a lot of money, it will give you the confidence to keep going.

Deviate from your plan (when it makes sense)

One final caveat I’d like to add is that you shouldn’t be afraid to deviate from your plan. Opportunities will arise, your business will go through changes, and certain actions will make more sense than the ones you originally planned at the beginning of the quarter.

If you’re too stubborn about your goals, you might miss out on fantastic opportunities. For example, if somebody comes to you and asks you to partner with them on a product launch, be open to that because it could lead to many other things in the future.

The quarterly review might be a time consuming process, but it’s a very worthwhile one. It will give you a tremendous amount of insight into the growth of your blog and if you act on those insights your blog will continually grow.

Below you’ll find links to sample monthly/quarterly reviews from my blog and two others that I think do a fantastic job of breaking down everything they’re up to.

The Smart Passive Income Monthly Reports
Think Traffic Monthly Reports
The Skool of Life Quarterly Marketing Plan Q2 Review

How do you manage the long-term goals of your blog?

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The 10 commandments of media outreach

We live and work in an age of information proliferation.

There is more information out there than ever before, but thanks to shifts in the media world there are fewer reporters. This means that it can be increasingly difficult to attract the attention a story deserves (or that you think it deserves).

Based on my experience as a network television news producer and my years on the other side of the fence in strategic marketing and communications, I have compiled 10 commandments of media outreach.

1. Thou shall tell a story. Reporters don’t write announcements; they write stories. Too often, press releases and pitches are proclamations or simply announcements. It’s hard enough to sell your pitch without having to make a reporter come up with the story, too. And on those occasions, when they do, it may not be the story you want them to tell.

2. Thou shall make news. Is your announcement really news? And is it new or does it simply rehash old information? Imagine yourself taking a look at the day’s headlines as an average news consumer. Would this story interest you? Remember it’s a reporter’s job to sell stories—first to his or her editor and then to you, the public. If you wouldn’t read it, it’s not a story.

3. Thou shall recognize the forest and the trees. It’s all about context. If it’s your company or your client, each and every announcement may be of crucial importance and interest to you, and that’s the way it should be. However, it may not be of monumental importance to the world or even your industry. What’s news to a trade publication may not be news to The Wall Street Journal. Take a deep breath; be as objective as you possibly can, and gauge your outreach—and your expectations—accordingly.

4. Thou shall know what’s happening in the world. In the media, as in life, timing is everything. What might make the papers on a slow August day will not make the cut on an August day when the stock market is crashing. If there’s major national or international news and your story can wait, hold it. If not, well, that’s sometimes the breaks.

5. Thou shall target your media. From a reporter’s perspective, there is almost nothing more unprofessional than getting a story that’s not relevant to his beat or publication. In those cases, it’s obvious that the caller or sender didn’t do his homework. Believe me—a reporter will hold this against you and possibly your client. Care enough to research the outlet you’re going to pitch before you hit send.

6. Thou shall know the difference between persistence and harassment. You should be persistent. Maybe a reporter was too busy to read your first email or there’s a relevant angle that she may have overlooked. It’s OK to follow up. It’s not OK when they have made it clear that they’re not interested. And this leads directly to the next rule …

7. Thou shall know that the Internet works. There’s a very good chance that the reporter received your first email. There’s almost a 100 percent chance that they received your email and/or your follow-up call or email. Voicemail and the Internet work. If you don’t hear back from them, they’re not interested. Read rule No. 6 and move on.

8. Thou shall know and respect deadlines. If I didn’t “make” air as a television producer, I would be looking for a job the next day. If a reporter is on deadline, he or she doesn’t have time to listen to your pitch or to respond to your email. Try to be aware of the best time of day to call. If you do reach them at a bad time, quickly apologize and ask whether you can call later or the next day.

9. Thou shall realize that the media is not a cure-all. A news story, even a major news story, will almost never be enough to launch you into the stratosphere or to save you from catastrophe. That’s especially true these days when there are so many sources of information, audiences are fragmented, and the news cycle is continuous. At most, your sales or your stock will get a nice little bump and then fall back to Earth.

10. Thou shall embrace social media. A story in Businessweek is great, but does it sell product? If you’re working with a company that sells particleboard, I may (or may not) read that story and then quickly go on to the next thing. I read Businessweek, but I don’t buy particleboard. Conversely, I’m sure that there are many people out there who don’t read Businessweek but do buy particleboard. Those are the people you need to reach, and these days you can reach them directly through blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. It’s time to reevaluate and ask whether the time and money spent pursuing traditional media may be better spent and put to better use on social media.

Wikipedia: 4 rules of engagement for PR Professionals

Wikipedia: 4 rules of engagement for PR professionals |

1. Establish notability.

For an article to be included in Wikipedia, it must be notable—that is, you should be able to verify the content with multiple independent sources. That means news articles in major outlets, not blog posts and press releases. If you want to create an article, but you’re worried about whether it’s notable, secure the proper news coverage first.

2. Be transparent.

Every Wikipedia article has an accompanying talk page that you can access by clicking the “Discussion” tab directly above the article title. If you have a conflict of interest (for example, you work for the company or you are paid to represent it), declare it here. Ask other editors to verify that your copy does not show bias either in favor of or against the article’s subject.

3. Avoid jargon.

Wikipedia has an extremely diverse audience. From journalists to investors to prospective clients, your target audience is using Wikipedia, and for different reasons.

There are times when an article might require a higher degree of specificity that employs industry terminology, but try to leave out overly complicated corporate speak. It’s not a provider of affordable and transportable dining options; it’s a fast-food restaurant chain.

4. Ask for help.

On Wikipedia, it’s more than OK to ask for assistance—it’s good policy. If you have a draft of an article you’d like someone to review, you can post your request here. Wikipedia is a collaborative project, and working with experienced editors to perfect content tone and formatting is the best way to make substantive changes.


Social media is a force for good during difficult days


(CNN) — Days of introspection and debate — in both press and parliament — have inevitably followed the greatest civil unrest this country has seen since the early 1980s. Politicians and journalists seem to understand that the underlying problems are complex and can’t be fixed overnight.

10 ways for job-seekers to stand out in the social media jungle

10 ways for job-seekers to stand out in the social media jungle |

Successful social media marketing candidates will have three key qualifications:

1. A demonstrated understanding of marketing fundamentals.
2. An ability to rapidly identify, assess, and deploy appropriate new technologies.
3. Superb writing and communication skills.

Here are some ideas to help you stand out in those areas, even if you’ve graduated:

Resist the temptation to be a social media “guru.” When I graduated from college, I thought I knew it all. Turns out I didn’t know sh*t. Then, when I was 30, I thought I knew it all. Turns out, I still didn’t know sh*t. I know—you’re different. And you probably are. It wouldn’t be all that difficult to be smarter than I am. But consider getting some actual marketing and client experience with a company or an agency before hanging out your shingle. Better yet, work at a couple of different places first.

Become a beefy marketer. An ability to navigate Facebook or YouTube might be enough to get you an entry-level job at some places, but to build a career you should become proficient at the fundamentals of marketing. Star performers will be able to apply their love of the social Web to marketing research, consumer behavior, product development, personal selling, and brand building. Get a degree if you can. If that’s not possible, join the American Marketing Association and immerse yourself in its journals and webinars. Read all you can; attend free webinars every day of your job search; create an effective RSS feed for yourself.

Don’t goof off. OK, classes are over, and you want to head for the beach or Europe for a few weeks. Whatever you decide to do, don’t be out of touch for a few weeks and then head straight into an interview. You need to stay on top of the latest developments and be able to discuss them intelligently when you get an audience with a prospective employer.

Immerse yourself.
You can’t learn social media marketing in college. In fact, you can’t learn it anywhere. You have to do it. Nobody can help you can find your blogging voice. Nobody can help you sense the rhythm of Twitter. You have to jump in and show people you have the chops.

Get experience, even if you do it for free.
Building on the last point, if you really want to engage in social media marketing, you had better be ready to show examples of what you can do. In this competitive job market, there are just no excuses not to be ready. Lots of organizations need help: charities, churches, schools. The needs are great and budgets are tight, so if you can’t find an internship, go make one.

Build your power base. If you’re looking for a job, start building online marketing muscle. Surround yourself with targeted followers, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn. Engage them in a helpful way. Identify yourself in your bio as a job-seeker. Identify local business people and marketers you can learn from, and try to have lunch or coffee with different people a couple of times each week. Check out how Antonia Harler did this.

Blog strategically. It makes a lot of sense for new graduates to blog like a house on fire. It’s good skill development, but it will also extend your job interviews. Here’s what I mean. You go for an interview. Maybe they give you 45 minutes or an hour. Here’s the last thing you say to them: “You don’t have to take my word that I know how to do this stuff. Go see for yourself on my blog.” Which, they will do. You have just extended your job interview by at least another 30 minutes.

Hone your writing skills. Blogging isn’t enough. You need constant feedback, so connect with bloggers who are great writers and see if you can do some guest posts. Be humble. Ask for ruthless editing. Repeat.

Emphasize secondary skills … even if it’s just a hobby … to provide an extra bonus to employers. If it’s a tight call between two applicants, you might have an edge if you can offer an employer a “combo deal” based on your passion for photography, editing a newsletter for a charity, doing the books for your spouse’s business. This is especially important if you are applying for a job at a startup where everybody wears a lot of hats. Find every possible way to differentiate yourself!

Ask for help. See what happened when you sent a tweet asking for help? You got a whole new blog post out of it. In general, people on the social Web are really cool. If they’re not, find some new ones. We rarely say no to somebody who is authentically trying to connect with us.

What are the community’s ideas on this one? What advice would you give to people trying to stand out and break into a social media marketing position?


Study says U.S.-based companies use social media for brand building

A new poll from merger and acquisition specialty firm StevensGouldPincus suggests that corporate clients are turning to social media for their brand building.


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5 social media sins every company should avoid

Here are the top five mistakes that I think a company should avoid when beginning any social media activity:

1. Self-serving comments. There is a fine line between being helpful and being self-promotional, and I think this is the most common mistake you will see. Some companies or individuals research blogs and post comments only as way to promote their content. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to leave out any promotional stuff and only add comments that contribute to the overall discussion.

2. All about me. Many marketers still subscribe to the notion of broadcast media—just sending out updates about themselves. Social media is about conversations and engagement. Listen to the conversations and participate when appropriate (See the first point.).

3. Follow you, follow me. I call these folks the “pied pipers of social media.” You know who I mean: the folks with thousands of friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook with no discrimination. Unless you’re a top personality, be selective with whom you follow.

4. Hit and run. I’ve noticed this trend recently. It’s similar to the first mistake, but in a different way. These individuals join communities, like LinkedIn groups, and only post discussions or responses that relate to their company. I call these folks hit and runners because they run in, post, and run out.

5. Hot-to-trot, then disappear. When individuals or companies begin participating on social media, they tend to be very excited. They join different networks, jump in on Twitter chats and comment everywhere. But after the luster wears off, their participation wanes until they eventually disappear. For corporate brands, it’s important to have a calendar of content and several individuals contributing to your social media channels.

I’ve committed a few of these mistakes, though I won’t tell you which ones. What other mistakes have you seen?

How Students Use Technology

It’s clear that today’s students rely heavily on electronic devices even when they’re not incorporated in the classroom. In one survey of college students, 38% said they couldn’t even go 10 minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device.


8 things to consider when TV news wants to skewer your client

1. Prepare your client for the worst. Only on rare occasions is it possible to impact a television report. Remember, TV news programs tend to take a side, and if it is not that of your client, get ready for a shellacking.

2. Think twice about going on camera to respond. Through editing and transitions, proactive comments can be made to look defensive and even embarrassing. There are many cases when it makes sense to provide your side of the story on camera, but think about it strategically first. Do you really stand to alter the tone of the story by going on camera?

3. Provide clear and simple responses to their questions off camera.

4. Offer a short statement. A long statement will be cut in half or paraphrased. Television news typically uses four- to seven-second sound bites. Write your statement accordingly.

5. Get as much information about the story as possible. Whom are they interviewing? What documents do they have, and what’s their angle?

6. If you do go on camera, stick to few focused message points, regardless of the line of questioning, to avoid a damaging sound bite.

7. Consider making a response video, offering your side of the story. Post it on YouTube, repurpose it on social media channels, and tag it so that it shows up on searches for news stories about the topic.

8. Follow up with the reporter as more positive news happens, because you know the other side will be doing the same. At some point, your side might get some air time.

4 Common Copywriting Mistakes Everyone Makes

I don’t care who you are; everyone makes mistakes in writing copy. Even the professionals who have to look at the copy with a jaundiced eye and tweak things. This is why we have drafts: because perfection seldom happens the first time around.

While the list of common copywriting mistakes could probably fill a small eBook, some are more common than most – like the four below: Continue reading