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reporter

A call from a reporter is an opportunity for you and your association to share valuable information and build your reputation among readers and viewers. A little preparation will help you get your message out and pave the way for future interviews.

  1. Ask who the reporter’s audience is, if you’re not familiar with the publication. Consider the audience and their knowledge level, and then tailor your comments accordingly.
  2. Identify what you believe is most newsworthy to his or her readers. You have a limited time to tell your story, so get to the point.
  3. Make sure you know the basics, i.e., the five Ws and H: Who will benefit? What is new or innovative? When will an event occur? Where? Why is this important? How does this advance knowledge?
  4. Be prepared with some short anecdotes and examples. Reporters will be looking for information that helps their readers relate to your comments. While you should have one or two stories in mind, be careful to avoid scripting your comments.
  5. Speak slowly; allow the reporter time to take notes.
  6. Avoid using acronyms and technical jargon.
  7. Don’t speculate. If you don’t know the answer to a question, offer to investigate and follow up with a response.
  8. End the interview by summarizing your two or three main points.
  9. Offer to share photos, graphics or links to videos that illustrate the subject. Visuals can be as simple as your head shot or your organization’s logo – anything that will add color and draw the eye to the article.
  10. Make sure the reporter has your correct name, title and organization’s name. Offer your contact information and volunteer to answer follow-up questions. Do not ask to review the article before publication.

Four Bonus Tips for Video and Audio Interviews

  1. Remember to take a millisecond break between sentences. The reporter may not be able to use your entire response. A brief pause allows for editing, without cutting you off or omitting your comment entirely.
  2. Repeat the subject of the question in your response. For example, let’s say you’re asked, “How long have you been working on this project?” Don’t say, “Five years.” Instead, say, “We started developing this project five years ago.” Parroting back the subject allows the video editor to delete the reporter’s questions and keep the focus on you, the expert.
  3. Avoid wearing small prints, checks or plaids, which create a moiré effect or rainbow pattern on camera.
  4. Offer to meet in a quiet space, away from the crowd. Not only will the sound quality be improved, but you won’t inadvertently film other people without their permission.

Finally, remember that reporters are working on deadline. If you aren’t available to comment, they will move onto someone who is. The more accessible you are, the more likely you and your organization are to be featured.

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super social

I recently attended a Social Media Breakfast (#SMBMAD) presentation by two members of American Family Insurance’s innovative social media department on the topic of employee advocacy. They were very clear that organic social media reach for companies is dead, and that employees can play a role in counteracting this.

 This post includes both information from that presentation and incorporates supplemental information from additional research.

What is employee social media advocacy?
Employee advocacy, in social media terms, refers to amplifying your organization’s marketing messages by leveraging the social media influence of your employees. This is done by making it easy for your employees to share company messages with their personal social networks.

An on-point employee advocacy program has three key components:
• It delivers relevant messages to your target audience, providing value to them.
• It supports your brand and enhances your culture as an organization.
• It generates share-worthy content, so your employees are inspired to share it with their family and friends.

Why do it?
No one likes to see their social feeds filled with sponsored content, no matter how relevant the algorithm predicts it should be. Let’s face it. Organizations are tolerated on social media just because they help keep networks free for others. As it is, social media channels are making participation more and more difficult for organizations unless they pay to play.

One quote from the American Family’s presentation, attributed to Augie Ray, CX research director at Gartner, was, “Your brand is disappearing from consumers’ news feeds, but friends will always see content from the people they know, care and trust.”

In other words, employees can help provide your branding messages with:

Reach
Employees have the potential to greatly expand a brand’s reach on social media. And the math is simple. Consider how many fans your organization’s Facebook page has. Now consider your employees and add together how many friends they each have, individually. I bet the result is quite a bit higher than your brand alone. In the presentation, it was stated the average is 10x higher, and 90% of employees’ social contacts will be new to your brand!

Trustworthiness and authenticity
People are trusted more than companies, and personal accounts are not filtered by social networks the same way that corporate messages increasingly are.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here’s how to start:

Designate a leader
This person coordinates the different components of the program, provides information and training, clarifies guidelines, answers questions and collects feedback from participants, as well as external data.

Set up a system for measuring results
You can only manage what you measure, so start out by deciding what your reasons are for establishing an advocacy program and set measurable goals. Examples might include organic reach, a shift in target demographics, web traffic or sales.

Establish a social media policy
Be sure everyone understands the guidelines, and that they are reminded of them periodically.

Create a social media warehouse
This should include a wide variety of articles, video clips, infographs, photos and other images for employees to choose from. You don't want everyone sharing the same exact thing at the same time, or your efforts will seem canned and disingenuous.

Consider employees’ social media motivations
Consider that many employees want to find fulfillment in their work and want their contributions to make a difference in the world. Your employees will want to share that which makes them proud. Think sustainable environmental practices at the workplace, volunteering in the community or teams working on the organization’s latest project. Similarly, when an organization’s social content recognizes team members, colleagues will naturally want to share.

Feel free to recycle content
Recycling and repurposing content that’s already been created and even previously used can be really powerful, especially if it was well-received in prior iterations. Plus heck, it’s already available, and what could be easier than that?

Start small
Begin by training (and periodically retraining) a core group of employees who are already socially active and who appreciate and relate to the culture of the organization. And keep participation strictly voluntary.

Create a social work environment
It should not only be OK for employees to share on social media, but it should be encouraged, and even fun, to do so. Consider gamification, creating a leaderboard and mini-competitions. American Family encourages the use of #OneAmFam to help cultivate their engaging social culture.

Comply with full disclosure
Employees should indicate in content they share that they are employees of your organization. This may sound like a surefire way to kill all the fun, but American Family keeps it both transparent and light by using #iWork4AmFam. As a matter of fact, the tool they use to facilitate and automate their advocacy program automatically tacks this on to all employee posts.

Try out tools of the trade
There are a number of online tools that help facilitate the organization, scheduling and posting of content. Some are free or very inexpensive. Some companies, like American Family, use comprehensive customized tools.

Appreciate employee efforts
Show advocates that their participation matters, that what they’re doing is having an impact and is appreciated.

There are additional perks for your organization, too:
Aside from the obvious, increased social media exposure, employee advocacy programs can demonstrate your trust in employees. Advocacy programs improve internal communications between team members and management. Employees can derive deeper meaning and purpose in their work through exposure to great content and actively owning and sharing it. All of this helps employees develop a sense of ownership in the organization

On top of all that, employee advocacy programs can boost the bottom line. According to the National Business Research Institute, a 12% increase in brand advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth. It has also been found that socially engaged companies are 57% more likely to get more sales leads. All this using a tool you already have — Employees!

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underwear

The thought of public speaking is enough to make even the most composed and confident among us a little nervous. While public speaking is often ranked among people’s worst fears, it is also an experience that many of us encounter at some point. Over the years I’ve been given a lot of advice on the best ways to approach a public speaking opportunity. These are some of my favorite tips.

Be prepared…but not too prepared. It goes without saying that practicing a speech is beneficial. I’ve known some people who can practice once a few minutes prior to speaking and they’re ready to go, but I need a little more preparation. If possible, I’ll practice in front of a group and ask for feedback. Am I talking too fast or too slow? Am I using awkward hand gestures or not making enough eye contact? Is my speech too long or too short? Also, I like to practice with any technology I’ll be using, like a wireless mic or slides. In the course of practicing a presentation I have found that there can be such a thing as over preparation. There often comes a point where I find myself second guessing my remarks and wanting to make a lot of last minute changes. This is the point when I’ll stop, put the speech away, and focus on something else for a while.

Keep slides simple. My husband does a lot of presentations that involve the use of slides. His advice when it comes to slides is “less is more” and I tend to agree. Text heavy slides or slides with a lot of graphics or animation can distract from what the speaker is saying.

Be comfortable. The colleague who gave me this advice was referring to physical comfort. The day of a presentation is not the day I choose, for example, to wear a new pair of shoes for the first time. I make sure to carefully choose an outfit that fits the event’s dress code (if there is one) and that I’m comfortable in. Clothes can be a great confidence booster but they can also be a huge distraction if I’m onstage tugging at my jacket or thinking about how my shoes are pinching. Being comfortable with the place where I’ll be speaking is also incredibly helpful. If possible, I’ll do a run through on site to get a sense of things like the size of the room and how much space I’ll have to move around.

Finally, I try to remember that I’m the only one in the room who knows what I’m going to say. The audience doesn’t have my speech memorized so if I forget a line or make a small mistake, chances are I’m the only one who will know.
I have found public speaking to be great for building self-esteem and each of my experiences has certainly been a terrific learning opportunity! How do you approach public speaking? Have you received any particularly helpful tips or advice?

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your
Who among us hasn’t dashed off an email at the end of the day, and then cringed when the morning light reveals a word that sounds similar but has a different meaning? Most of the time, it’s a simple error.

But when precise English counts, for example, when you’re (not your) writing a proposal to a prospective (not perspective) client or your annual personnel (not personal) review, build in some extra time to pore (not pour or poor) over your writing and flush (not flesh) out incorrect words.

The following is a list of commonly confused words I’ve come across while editing my own or others’ work. I’ve included some memory aids.

Accept: Always a verb meaning “to receive.” Accept an award.
Except: Means “but for.” Think of exclude.

Addition: In math, you add two numbers. You would never ed.
Edition: An editor edits a new edition of the book.

Advice: Noun meaning “guidance” or an adjective, “advice column.” Advice and guidance both end in ce.
Advise: Always a verb. Advisers advise.

Affect: Almost always a verb meaning “to change.”
Effect: Almost always a noun meaning “result.”

Assure: To calm someone.
Ensure: To make sure.
Insure: To provide insurance.

Breath: A noun that rhymes with death.
Breathe: A verb that rhymes with seethe.

Cite: Verb meaning “to name.” The police cited him in the citation. ¬¬¬
Sight: Something seen or the sense. What a sight to see!
Site: A place, as in worksite or website.

Complement: A verb meaning to supplement and a noun meaning complete.
Compliment: That’s so nice.

Council: A noun for a group of people, like a tribal council.
Counsel: Usually a verb. A counselor counsels.

Desert: A dry place like a desert island. Both have one “s.”
Dessert: Super sweet.

Foreword: Comes before chapters in a book.
Forward: Onward!

Lay: Verb that takes an object. Now I lay the baby down to sleep.
Lie: Also a verb, no object required. I too lie down, my rest to keep.

Loose: Adjective describing how something fits or something that isn’t confined. A moose is loose.
Lose: Verb that rhymes with choose. If I lose weight, my clothes will be loose.

Moot: Debatable. Up in the air, like a hoot owl.
Mute: Speechless. Rhymes with flute. You can’t talk and play a flute.

Precede: Comes before. The firetruck precedes the parade.
Proceed: The parade moves forward.

Principal: Usually an adjective meaning the first or chief. Can be a noun, as in the school principal. Originally, the school principal was the principal teacher.
Principle: A rule. Both end in le.

Set: Takes an object. I set the book on the table.
Sit: I sit in the chair to read.

Than: Used when comparing. Easier said than done.
Then: Relates to time. Think “when.”

There: Not here.
They’re: Contraction for “they are.”
Their: Possessive, like his and her. They’re going to their house.

Wave: Wave goodbye.
Waive: Waive your rights.

Who’s: Contraction for “who is.” Who’s having a party?
Whose: Possessive, like his or hers. Whose party is it?

Your: Possessive of you. What was your score?
You’re: Contraction of “you are.” You’re the best. Really, you are!

Simply becoming aware of frequently muddled words will improve your writing. But I encourage you to develop your own mental tricks – words that rhyme, familiar sayings or lyrics, visual cues (the more farfetched the better) – to help you find the right (not rite) word every time.

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Selling your members or association partners on the value of content marketing can be a challenge, especially when they're stuck in a traditional marketing mindset. I hear from many members of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) (an AMPED association partner) that much of their business is word-of-mouth and repeat business. Some even tell me they aren’t currently looking for new business; they have all they can handle at the moment!

Even if you have plenty of new business now in your industry, take heed. Many B2B and B2C clients do research without consulting a salesperson.

This isn’t new or groundbreaking news. This shift has been happening for years, and it’s not relegated to this “new generation,” known as Millennials. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by CFE Media on buyer behavior, it’s generally difficult to pin this responsibility on Millennials, Generation X or Baby Boomers.

Content marketing is playing “the long game.” One won’t see immediate results, business, or leads. So why do it? Why spend time and resources to post content like case studies, social media and buyer’s guides like the CSIA’s Industrial Automation Exchange in addition to managing your website?

Frankly, if you play the long game of content marketing, you will win. You will get noticed. Your site traffic will increase and your brand will be associated with knowledge and expertise in the industry. But, you need to create and post content in different sources other than your corporate website.

You might be thinking, “Why on earth would I want my prospective customers on any place other than my own website?” Read on; I think you might be surprised on how people, (technical minded or not) make buying decisions.

In February 2015 CFE Media conducted a market research/scientific study titled “Identifying Content Needs along the Engineers’ Buyers Journey.”

Following are three of the questions asked in the survey pertaining to the value of content. For each question, I have also stated CFE Media’s interpretation of the data collected. I added an insight and takeaway from the data, plus why it’s important to the future revenue of your business.

Special note: While this survey was geared toward engineers, it should not be discounted as insight into B2C or less technical industries. In general, engineers are more methodical process driven and less emotional about purchasing decisions. In other words, the statistics reported her are generally a smaller “muted” representation of the general population. This is demonstrated in the first question below.


1. What percentage of your buy/specify evaluation process is complete when you typically contact a supplier/vendor?

On average, buyers are nearly 40% through their decision making process before connecting with a vendor directly (CFE Media.) View the data here, Slide 10.

CM 1

According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth Study, buyers will consult more than 11 sources before they make a purchasing decision.

Did you know when researching new vendors or products for solutions in automation technology, clients build trust with your company without direct input from your staff?

While one could argue that clients aren’t always engineers, (the focus of the study) content marketing is a ubiquitous to every industry. Statistics will vary by industry, but the importance of creating and sharing content is still relevant. For instance, in the consumer market, buyers are as much as 90% through their decision making process before contacting a vendor (Google, 2012.)

Whatever the generation, profession or industry, people use online sources to make key decisions about purchases. Assuming you want your company a part of that decision, it’s imperative that your marketing strategy includes posting content in places where your prospects will find it. And the more places they see your brand, the more they see you are not a fly-by-night organization. One of the principles of successful marketing communications is repetition.

Key Insight: A corporate website should only be one part of the journey for a prospective client. The buying process is no longer linear, therefore a website is not the final destination. (Harvard Business Review, 2014.)

Key Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to show them around your marketing collateral hosted and linked elsewhere. Don’t be reluctant to post your marketing collateral on multiple sites. The marketing and sales funnel no longer look like this, instead the new marketing funnel looks like this.

2. In your opinion, how valuable are the following content sources when seeking information on the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, and products?

In other words, what do clients click on and read? What influences them to narrow down a field of players to three bidders?

“Sixty percent or more of respondents cited supplier/vendor websites, trade publications, trade publication websites, and industry association websites among the most valuable content sources when seeking the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, and products” (CFE Media, 2015.)

CM 2

Note that search engines were reported as the most valuable source, followed by supplier websites, trade publications, industry association websites, and newsletters. Social media appears “valuable” by “only” 20% of respondents.

Use caution in interpreting this data. Much of the aforementioned content is also shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. View the data here, Slide 9.

Key Insight: Buyers will use several different sources online and offline, digital and in print to research and learn about automation technology.

Key Takeaway: You must be seen in several different places to get noticed and earn their trust.

3. How valuable are the following types of content when researching the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, and products/services?

According to the study, “Seven in 10 respondents value product information, white papers, trade publication articles (print and online), and case studies when researching the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, and products or services. Additionally, two-thirds of respondents also value webcasts or webinars for the same purpose” (CFE Media.) View the data here, Slide 10.

CM 3

Pay close attention to the entry on the bottom of slide 10, “Value of content types.” Again, use caution in interpreting this data. Even though blogging has a relatively low ranking (21% of respondents found value as a content type) as a valued source of information, consider that most of the aforementioned datasheets, brochures, case studies and white papers are delivered via contextual links in blog articles or social media.

Key Insight: As your clients try to solve their automation issues, they will do Google searches, ask LinkedIn Groups for referrals, and consult industry knowledge in many forms. You won’t be able to pin one source as “the one” that convinced the customer your company is the right fit. That takes time and incremental marketing touches.

Key Takeaway: Your company must adopt a diverse approach to content marketing. While you should put content only where your customers are to avoid spreading your marketing team too thin, it should be found in several places to give credence and validity to your message.

Conclusion
As mentioned previously, marketing through content is a long haul, but it does pay off. You can’t ignore how buyers make important decisions. They will look for you on Google. And if you are diligent and pervasive, you will get noticed.

Your site traffic will increase and your brand will be associated with knowledge and expertise in the industry. You need to create and post content on different sources other than your corporate website.

What do you think? How does the data differ in other industries? Post links and references if you can.

Sources Consulted and Cited
2015 Marketing to Engineers Research Study, CFE Media
Marketing Can No Longer Rely on the Funnel, Harvard Business Review
The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott
Three Flaws with the Funnel, Forrester Research, Pardot
Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
Zero Moment of Truth 2012 Study, Google
Why Marketing Has Changed Forever, Digital Tonto

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