Professional writer and press manager

Setting business resoultions

So, I implemented a much needed hiatus from updating over the Christmas period. Catching up on real life and hanging out with friends and family can be an all too distant memory for many other small business managers like me!

I’m not a massive fan of resolutions, since so many people set wishy-washy goals without achievable steps. Myself included. This year, to save me from tears, I’m focusing on goals that are attainable.

Seasonal dust beginning to settle, we welcome what I believe in the rest of the country to be a wintery cold new year. Down here in Cornwall it’s still been a respectable 8° at its lowest, most of the time. Apart from the 2 days of ground frost, which excited me so much I actually got my camera out to photograph its glittering beauty.

winter frosts resemble new beginnings in business

Crisp content glitters like the frost of winter

Last year, I focused on one resolution: to write more. Crikey! I don’t think I could have expected this to be fulfilled with quite the ferocity it was. Some weeks producing over 10,000 words of content for just one client, and adding to that heaps of calls, emails and meetings. Still, I achieved it, due to its simplicity.

So what resolutions can small business owners make, and stick to in 2015?

Outsource

Whether it’s accounting, content creation or social media; weed out the aspects of progression that are time consuming and outsource them to an expert. Generally, this means they will spend a focused amount of time, which is likely to be much less than you, on achieving goals within that area. Outsourcing is the first step towards progressing because you’re focusing your own time elsewhere.

 

Having recently acquired several new clients, I am excited to see that more and more small companies are understanding the value of outsourcing a multi-skilled writer. Building case studies, content and even branding and marketing strategies for different companies allows my clients to do what they do best, and gives me the same opportunity.

Remember to schedule relax time

So, OK right now after having had some time off, you can see how vital that time is. Productivity, motivation and enthusiasm are all restored with lashings of resilience if you allow yourself to enjoy some time off. It’s simple, and yet so many of us are forgetting to do it. Hopefully the inevitable rest many of us have managed to glean over the festive period reminds us of the importance of this!

Commit to Content

I know: it’s easy for me to say. Indubitably, large companies have all got this underway now. Producing excellent content is a strategic endeavour, which brings with it a range of benefits, ultimately resulting in the same thing: more sales.

Boosting organic SEO, developing trust relationships and demonstrating your authority within your field; content creation is a game changer for anyone whose business has an online element. Which should be almost everyone in 2015!

Excellent on brand writing will raise your profile

A successful media campaign yields impressive results

Promote your business

Whether you have a budget for advertising or prefer to carry out an email marketing campaign, make a commitment to a consistent promotion, so people know you’re still there: offering them a solution to their problems.

Through regular interaction on social media, we have seen The Cornish Seaweed Company’s exposure raised significantly through appearing twice on Saturday Kitchen. This has not happened overnight but rather through regular promotion and contact with a relevant audience. It’s a similar story with Chocolarder who sold out of all stock this Christmas due to massive press exposure from our campaigns.

However you choose to do it: from flyer drops to social media or through press release and blogging, decide on a strategy and implement it. Sales for one of my clients have increased by more than 5 times.

Essentially breaking your goals down into bite size chunks and working through them empowers you to feel like you have achieved something.

Anyway, I’m still getting my head around this whole getting back to work thing. And it’s Sunday and the kettle’s boiled. Happy new year.

Professional writer and press manager

Can your brand afford not to have a professional handling social media?

Clearly intended to invite controversy, the title of Steve Farnsworth’s article Is Social Media Beyond A Public Relations Professional’s Skill Set is pretty effective at producing clickbait.  And that’s its intention. Any article’s intention is to inform people of its angle, but more importantly to incite a reaction: igniting enquiry. I was no rebel for resistance when I saw this little gem early this morning.

Having actually read his article, and the article that incited him to write it, it transpires that I agree entirely with both articles’ premise, and wish now to contribute my own opinion on the relationship between being a PR professional and managing clients’ social media accounts.

Weaving together a raft of skills gained, from marketing to content creation, from social media to journalism and everything in between; it’s the job of a PR professional to create brand messages that are seen by the public. Be that in 140 characters via twitter or an extended blog post about the latest news, and company developments; everything counts as content, and everything creates a dialogue between your brand and the public.

By opting to choose a professional in modern PR, you should find someone who is able to strategise your social media usage, ensuring they:

  • create targeted, insightful content to appeal to a wide audience of prospects
  • educate and inspire both existing customers and prospects to engender trust and build a culture of respect for the brand’s authority
  • generate targeted leads and new sources for lead generation through engaging relevant prospects
Expert content creation is linked with social media

PR Professionals need to wear the hats of experts in marketing and social media today

PR, like SEO, content creation and arguably sales and marketing in general, is a movable feast. Particularly in the digital area. It’s a long lasting relationship that incorporates all kinds of skills and knowledge, which change daily.

Like mighty oaks on a still night, the principles are unbending: you want to increase exposure, focusing on targeted prospects, present a positive public image of the company and build trust relationships. But where PR has changed is that it’s interlinked with content creation. And it’s essential now to offer value to prospects and existing clients. This often happens in the form of linking content marketing to social media. And to being available on social media channels to answer questions and develop dialogue.

For example, embedded into my work with Chocolarder and The Cornish Seaweed Company, is recipe creation to engage prospects. This is giving people who are interested in the product something for free. They don’t have to use Chocolarder chocolate or Cornish Seaweed to create the recipe. It’s personal choice. However, since many people have also read the copy in the About Us section, and interacted via social media, the majority have a vested interest in the ethos of the company and will choose their product.

Giving prospects something valuable to take away

Content creation includes recipes

The result is that by giving people a valuable product, albeit free recipes or advice, you strengthen your position as an authority on the subject, whilst also creating desire through subtle marketing. Gone are the days of the hard sell, with individuals preferring to invest in companies who create a feeling.

It stands to reason then, that the same person who is creating the tone of voice across all channels –  blogs to brochures, and pins to tweets – ought to be responsible for managing PR campaigns. So in retort to Farnsworth’s question: A PR professional is more than qualified to manage social media. So long as they’re forward thinking, modern professionals who understand the evolutionary and fluid nature of all things digital. Preferably with an online portfolio demonstrating a varied toolkit to draw from.

I can offer content management and brand development across all channels, including PR campaigns or management.

Some of my clients choose to outsource my services, and for others I have an in-house role. How much or little involvement you wish me to have depends entirely on your business, your budget and your preference. If you want me to suggest ideas; I’m full of them. However, I’m also pretty well qualified at just converting words into stories.

To have a chat about any of this, please feel free to call 07729263818 or email me laura[at]palavermaven.co.uk.

Professional writer and press manager

How content changes can help you get noticed

Whoosh! How on earth did it get to be November? And an unseasonably mild mid November at that?

It’s not you: it’s me

Content has really changed over the last few years.

What used to be a mandatory part of a website; reserved for keyword stuffing and announcing tidbits of company news, has suddenly become the game changer that can propel your company forward into the homes of the masses. Better yet, like a garden, a relationship and, theoretically a bank account; the more you put in, the more you will get out.

Content is a sure-fire way to grow. And the way that it’s changed means there has never been a better time to release bits of content throughout the many digital channels; building your brand’s online presence. The most exciting by-product of this is engaging with people who have a genuine interest in your product, service or company.

I recently posted about the ubiquity of content. It is everywhere and in everything your brand creates and sends out. From a photo of the prototype, or the methods and processes used along the way; to the finished product and everything you communicate about it afterwards.

Making waves via social media make content accessible

Effective content marketing starts with ripples

Testing the waters

As you intrepidly dip your toes into the creative waters, beginning to experiment with what’s out there and what works; you might make mistakes. The same way that rockpools can hide tiny crabs, the internet can hide theses pitfalls. But it never stops rockpooling from being fun! Advice columns throughout the business and entrepreneurship communities implore you to be specific with content, but this takes time, and experimentation, and a little bit of magic. Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms have their own in-built analytics, which allow you to track response and engagement with followers.

This way you can identify trends in popularity and respond with more of the same. This post by B2B explains what to look for and how to look for it in greater detail; but, put simply, whatever generates the most engagement and the most sales, leads and meetings is your bread and butter.

When ripples become waves

Honing this down to a strategy for getting noticed involves tenacity, sagacity and diversity in digital methods. It involves being open. It involves being social. The power of twitter is demonstrable by the recent successes we have seen with client work. As Christmas approaches, sales have increased at an astonishing rate for two of our most treasured clients: authentic artisan bean-to-bar chocolatiers from Penryn, Chocolarder and sustainable, ethical seaweed harvesters The Cornish Seaweed company. Where having articles in certain publications may have created ripples; passing these around through social media will make waves.

creating waves in the social media indusrty

After the storm comes focus and strategy

The way content has changed recently only serves to make it easier for brands to produce and distribute it; building relationships, building trust and building impact.

If you’d like to discuss how a strategy could be implemented  to help raise your exposure, and therefore sales, please get in touch to discuss your needs. From general copy to press releases and bespoke packages: no undertaking is too big or small and you are under no obligation.

Professional writer and press manager

Why Social Media is Vital to Your PR Strategy

Blustery winds and the onomatopoeic sounds of leaves started November, which seems to be rushing by in a whirlwind of excellent and yet crushing marketing campaigns; gearing up for Christmas. This years’ #FollowTheFairies campaign has been nothing short of excellent in terms of representing the exact post I had scheduled for this week. It portrays the dichotomy of our lives in glittering glory.

content trends rise and fall

Brands in Cornwall can reach anywhere in seconds with social media

One of the things I’ve learned in my varied life as a teacher, chef and now writer; is that people will always be talking about you.

Back in the 80s when we just told our friends what we thought about someone or something, it had an effect on things within a certain locale. But obviously through social media these thoughts and opinions can spread far and wide. Word of mouth is powerful, and now it’s never been easier to digitally let words out of your mouth or off your fingers and across the mosaic of wires we call the internet.

This cascade of chatter, like the November seas, has its rises and falls.

 

As the name Palaver Maven was intended to suggest; I’m an expert in creating chatter. And I love to do this across all channels. Since I initially tried to reject it in the early 2000s, the rise of Social Media has been exponential. In recent years, I embrace it as wholeheartedly as I did the rebrand of Opal Fruits. I mean it took me time, but it grew on me.

Social media, of course, gives people another platform to talk about you.

Or your brand.

And now they can do some real damage if they want to, or help to create a buzz. If someone mentions your brand on any social media, it’s going to get picked up by other users of that platform.

Conversations, allegations, accidents, or emotional experiences can spread as easily as water from behind a dam. And not only that, but they can reach further and wider than Brunel could have ever perceived.

Pretty much once they’re out there, these soundbytes, snippets of opinion; you have no control in the matter.  If your company is not harnessing the extreme power of social media in today’s world, then you are missing valuable conversation with not only customers, but prospective ones. Of not only answering queries as they come up, but also celebrating the great stuff. Admitting the errors. Of making followers active.

These days, people trust social media more than other forms of marketing. It’s a friendly place. It’s an arena for real people to emote about what they like or dislike. What’s funny; their views on current affairs.

What about the magic and sparkle?

The reason this post links so well with the #FollowTheFairies campaign is that the small acts of ‘kindness’ exhibited by the fairies, were reported by local news; quite the way a traditional press release might be. However, that hashtag incited many people to create ongoing murmurations online and suddenly: we knew who the fairies were. In some ways we’re disappointed to know that the magic has gone. In the same way we did with the fairies, we want to believe.

By now, be it through local press or online presence, or often a combination of the two, people have helped to endorse the fairies and what they are doing. This is why social media use and strategy needs to be an integrative part of your business’ marketing plan.

An endorsement on social media is free advertising.

More than content with my Michel Roux Jr chat

Being endorsed by a celebrity can change things over night for brands

Because it takes no more than the click of a button: it’s easy to endorse a brand. Positively or negatively.

When working on a press campaign recently, a little bit of interaction with a celebrity chef increased my clients’ site activity; sales; and responses from ‘traditional’ press. Having seen the brand pinged about via twitter and other social sites, it was beginning to feel ubiquitous; rapidly increasing followers.

 

 

 

 

To talk over branding or content ideas with a Palaver Maven, please subscribe by leaving your email in the box below, call or fill out the contact form.

Professional writer and press manager

Developing character: the multiple personalities of a content writer

This post may debunk the magic. Read on at your discretion…

“you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

Excellent branding, as I’ve often said before, starts with excellent planning, and also entering into and maintaining a dialogue with your audience. We’ve always been told, in any industry, that customer service is the most important factor. Which it always will be. Essentially, great customer service is about communication. All good relationships are about communication, and excellent branding is making a commitment to a long relationship.

What it also involves is an element of magic. And what I mean by that is not some terrifying display á la The Great Danton or Houdini. It’s the element of magic that Michael Caine, aka Cutter, in the film The Prestige refers to when he says “you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” And creating amazing stories across all brand communication channels is much the same kind of magic.

People must realise there is a lot more to a brand than the lovely pictures that get shown on social media and the crafted stories spun to engage and inspire readers. Behind every business is accounts and finances; admin; bills; payroll; training; outsourcing; and whole host of less-than-exciting menial tasks that a small business simply cannot function without. And yet, what they buy into are the snippets of stories, the development of character: the suspension of disbelief.

we know it's not really magic, but we don't want to know the truth

Storytelling in branding is like magic

Coming up with a strong and believable branding story requires creativity and strategy and excellent storytelling. It also requires the attributes of a professional writer. You need to sound like the protagonist. Your brand is leading the story, by becoming an authority voice. Kathi Kruse wrote an excellent post about the techniques used within a good content strategy, and essentially boiled hem down to the literacy points I would have taught my kids when I was teaching: show don’t tell, build drama, write about the stuff you like. All of this is advice that excellent writers such as Marquez, Atwood and Murukami would give.

It’s no surprise that with this level of detail, professionalism, strategy and time, many people choose to employ a professional writer to create tone of voice.

Part of my job as a content writer and branding consultant is to help craft these stories for my clients.  And to do this well, first I need to spend some time with them, really getting to know their character, the character of their brand and start to shape a direction for the story of this character to go in. The peaks and troughs. Ups and downs. How would they react to current affairs?

In any one week, I might be an American business man imparting his marketing secrets; a food expert reviewing restaurants and products, a young fashionista describing the newest makeup on the market; or a yoga expert evaluating the effectiveness of different anyasas. I also have my regular posts, where I review food and drink products and restaurants, write for The National Curriculum.com website and give marketing and content writing advice right here.

I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

At times, I  have focused so sharply on this array of characters that I almost feel I have multiple personalities. I write only for brands I care about, and so immersing myself in their worlds is no hardship. But once a project is complete; which can happen for any number of reasons; I find myself missing hanging out with my friends. I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

Just as we do for a good story, a movie or book; we need to suspend disbelief when ‘buying into’ (in the psychological, time investment sense) a brand. And if you can ignite that same sense of curiosity, excitement and empathy, you will build a successful brand and see sales increase.

To find out more about my services, stay tuned via my e newsletter once a month. Sign up by popping your email in the box below, but please feel free to contact me by phone or email too.

 

Startup 15: The Social of Media

As a startup business myself, I have enjoyed providing a service to support other start-upss in gaining exposure through Press Releases and social Media  and maintaining it through well crafted content. Fortunately the nature of my work allows me to encounter people from a far reaching variety of industries: from cutting canvases to marketing mangoes; labouring over language to pushing pixels.

It’s very rewarding meeting so many people for whom starting a business has moved from a dream or an idea to a reality and empowering to share successes and lessons with such people.

Maplace.co is an example of just that. Below is the Maplace Press Release I have sent to organisations today. This is a truly social media: empowering other startups and existing businesses by offering a low cost platform for their advertising and outreach.

Passion will drive you forward: Maplace for Startup 2015
Two Czech citizens became so disillusioned with menial work in the UK, they decided to make a new map. Passion and perseverance pushed them to achieve this nomination.

In the days of digital ownership becoming a household name, Maplace.co has launched an innovative platform for businesses to gain online exposure. Essentially an innovative map application designed to allow consumers to purchase a piece of our planet, people have been snapping up their maplace for just £1 GBP.

In a time when physical property ownership is a controversial issue, following the global recession, Maplace.co encourages users to make their mark on places of significance to them. Registering to use the app is free, with normal rectangular ‘plots’ commanding a token payment of £1. Own your street, your first school, somewhere you went on holiday for just £1.

Partly like a global Monopoly game, partly a multi location social media; the app was born out of the dream of self employment, and breaking free from the mundane. Winning the nomination for Startup15 would see popularity in the innovative platform rise exponentially: raising the online profile of thousands of companies across the globe.

The journey so far has not been easy. Co-founder Rose Nekudova said, “We came to the UK to try and start the business and we knew it was going to be tough. The long hours in low wage jobs made us miss our families and we were almost ready to return to the Czech Republic. Instead, we managed to use our feeling as motivation to succeed. We want to empower other startups around the world by providing a platform for them to advertise and interact with the public”

Maplace.co is the first ever social platform allowing people to own their place on the world map. By uploading logos, businesses can get their brand noticed anywhere in the world: the more recognised, the better. Like owning houses on Mayfair in Monopoly, recognised spaces will be more lucrative for participant businesses. Own Big Ben and advertise from there. Buy up big buildings to capitalise on their notoriety.

True innovation and perseverance created Maplace.co: a revolution in technology, limited only by the imagination. This innovative concept winning the startup15 award would mean enabling other startups to gain exposure through a cheap solution to advertising: making it put the social into social media.

To find out more about Maplace.co, visit Maplace.co

About the founders:

From humble beginnings, we were spurred on by a true belief in our product. Our hope is that people will use Maplace.co to connect with others and create a unique online community. We hope to inspire others with our story.