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

The Importance of Being Earnest (In Your Copy)

So since it’s my job to create engaging and readable copy for both myself and clients, does it not display some arrogance to assume I can write good copy and what’s more tell you about it? Maybe. But then it’s not as if I just woke up one day and decided to be a copywriter. Writing is a skill I have honed through years of hard work and practice.

And editing? Editing is a skill I still hone daily. Thankfully my MA taught me the importance of editing, right after my BA taught me to just write until the page has enough on it to motivate you to carry on. At least, that’s how I write. I know this is not the same for everyone.

Anyway, back to the topic in hand: the importance of great copy.

I’ve worked with scores of small businesses, and OK I’m maybe a bit more eagle eyed than some ‘normal’ visitors to your website, but if I see typos, misplaced apostrophes or random capitalisation, I really might go and look elsewhere for my product. It implies a lack of professionalism: not checking things through.

copywriting is an acquired skill

Well crafted copy should invite you to look deeper

For me, though, the spelling and punctuation is merely the tip of an ever approaching iceberg. I love to be entertained. We all do. So if I land on your website, of course I want to see some pictures explaining what you do, but I also need to read about it.

But I don’t just want to read like a manual. I want to hear a story. I want to care enough about the characters, feel connected enough with the vision to actually buy into the ideas of your company.

But for some reason loads of companies still think it’s ok to write boring copy.

For what it’s worth, when I’m writing copy for clients these are the factor I consider, and advise you to do the same.

Make a relevant, snappy headline.

OK, articles about writing always bleat on about this. And I have got it wrong heaps of times myself. So I am definitely qualified to tell you: choose your words carefully! Whether this is the headlines of news items or actual page sections: make it clear what the customer will read.

Be funny.

Don't be afraid to be funny in your copy

When I write for Tasting Britain, I reveal funny facts about my life

Don’t be afraid to make jokes, puns and be funny. It makes people like you and trust you and feel comfortable. Even bad jokes are OK, so long you as you acknowledge that they’re bad. So, more importantly write to potential customers the way you would talk to them.

Just be yourself.

I know this isn’t a dating advice column, and even if it was that is so tired and clichéd, but seriously: just be natural. Speak to potential clients through written words the way you would face to face. Client relationships, after all should be about longevity and trust. Who trusts someone who says ‘utilise’ instead of use just because it sounds bigger? Not me!

Don’t dumb down

That said, don’t dumb down what you’re trying to say either. If it’s appropriate, people can handle technical terms or big words; hopefully using context to help understand. There is definitely no need for pretention – it won’t make you seem any more trustworthy.

Be personal

Address the customer as ‘you’, use personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ or even mention names. This all helps engender trust and build relationships, which is your primary goal once you have got people on your website.

For more about how to raise your online profile, please read other blog posts. To have a chat about how I can help you, please call 07729263818 or email me laura[at]palavermaven.co.uk

Professional writer and press manager

A storyteller’s tale of a year in business

Buena’ dia’, whistled the man through his gapped teeth and ratty moustache. The plastic bottle of aguardiente ensconced in his dirty jacket hung as a Christmas decoration from his bailer twine. He took advantage of the first available space to nestle his head into the bristly seat cover. I studied his face. A face you could climb up; its crags and boulders mimicking the Andes; rising in the surrounding pueblos. His left eye was a pastiche of the lake at Cotopaxi – minus the perpetual rainbow thrown into the sky. Outside the rain tapping on the leaves applauded in the last month of the year. Its gentle beat was the quietest sound as November departed. The road from Quito to the jungle is long and winding.

 

Deciding to spend my holiday this year working on cacao farms in Ecuador; the days involved trekking through muddy paths, wielding a machete and learning permaculture; evenings marvelling at the combined sounds of a bassy frog, honking goose and cascade of cicadas. The rhythm of a rainforest rave like nothing I’d ever slept through before, it became a prize, a comfort at the end of a long day.

with an incredible content of antioxidants real bean chocolate is having a resurgence

Bespoke bars come from aerated beans

Waking up to the sounds of a rainforest couldn’t feel much further from the skreigh of gulls ripping bins apart on my backstreet doorstep in Falmouth. Further again from the swollen black sky of Tokyo where I was living a few Decembers ago. Having chosen hummingbirds to decorate my website and associated social media pages, it seemed serendipitous that the end of my first full year as a fledgling business I should be surrounded by them; their call part of the soundtrack to my day.

Having started 2014 reproached by my failure to teach full time, I ended it by returning to several things I love: Ecuador, volunteering and (yes) chocolate. Not entirely unrelated to the work I’ve been doing with Cornwall’s only bean to bar chocolate producer, Also I am looking for social responsibility projects to support as part of my long term vision for the business.

What I expected to learn and what I eventually have; like the best laid plans of mice, men, hummingbirds and writers – well, went astray. But it did provide me the space to take a look at the future of Palaver Maven and what I want to happen next. From the fantastic work with  sustainable seaweed harvesters The Cornish Seaweed Company and their propulsion into mainstream media, to the attention The Chocolarder has received from luxury magazines and food blogs; it’s been an amazing year. My small business has made connections to big press on behalf of small businesses, and

I’ve been blown away by meeting each and every person who has dropped their job in order to live the dream.

Recently having started writing adventure stories for Sharing Socks, I feel happy to combine my love for adventure with social projects; particularly those surrounding education and equality. As 2015 beckons, presenting with it the option for expansion, I’m excited to be offering the opportunity to help young people in Cornwall find an in-road to media careers.

with a love of words as obvious as my own, Thomas is a hero

A Child’s Christmas in Wales: Dylan Thomas’ inspiring poem

So as December arrives, we’ve got tasting menus to try around Cornwall, and exciting events such as returning to the rainforest here in Cornwall to tend to, it’s a great time to be in Cornwall. And it’s an even better time to be a business in Cornwall.

From brand relationships, case studies, press campaigns and white papers to newsletters, website copy and regular content, have a browse around the site and let me know if there’s something you think I can do for you.

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

Is your content part of the user experience?

Content marketing remains the Marmite of discussion on my favourite hangout for engaging with copywriters across the globe: twitter. Some love it: singing its praises as a new way to make brands connect with customers. Others prefer the more traditional methods of emailing and calling. But with this incessant marketing, how many websites are getting the content right? How many are weaving it throughout the core of the user experience?

Nobody puts content in the corner

Excellent content uses all of the space

About ten years ago, I met someone who walked around the beautiful beaches of Cornwall in ripped up shorts, a guitar and an obsolete lack of direction. Soon, he turned the MSc in Physics he’d gained into a mastery of SEO: which was a mystery to me at the time. I wrote a lot, and was prolific on social media; one day he told me I’d probably be a really good copywriter.

“I write for passion!” I exclaimed dramatically, never dreaming to deign to write for corporations.

Now I am a full time copywriter, I do think back to those days; knowing that my values haven’t really changed. Yep, I write for small local businesses now, but I still write with passion. My storytelling on client websites is driven by my innate fascination with words, etymology and storytelling. I want to shout it from the rooftops. Even the funny ones.

But how are clients; corporations, brands using their approach to content? Every single word shaped on this site, on any site, should be making use of the great storytelling capacity of copywriters.

No copywriter  puts content in the corner

Like the gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale, Cornwall, content can become obselete

It’s as important as the design! I don’t want my well-honed stories to sit there redundant; like the old gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale. You see, some websites treat content as a disease: something that should be hidden away in a category labelled ‘blog’ just because that’s the new SEO, don’tcha know?!

Remember school discos in the 80s? Maybe before. Either way, I remember the early ones as boys on one side; girls the other. We forgot to use the whole space.

This is the problem many websites have with content.

Content is everything within that site. And out of it too. Social media interaction? Content. Product descriptions? Content. About Us? Content. Images? Content. Landing page? Yep, content too. Don’t limit it to blogs and don’t relegate them to some dark corner.

Nobody puts content in the corner.

 

Integrate content throughout the site to optimise and enhance user experience of the whole space. Link everything together: from the images of your staff party to your ethos, from the press success you have had to the funny anecdotes about what went wrong this week.

All of this is content, all of it is communications and all of it helps people to engage with your brand.

Our very name palaver maven means expert of communications in ye olde playful English and so we know a little bit about effective content use and communicating with brands, for brands and with customers. To have a chat about anything related, please call on 07729263818 or drop me an email on the contact page. A

And if it’s just the content you like, have a signup to our email and get our updates to your inbox. You just pop your email address in below and we’ll do the rest!

 

 

Great content starts with research

Why high quality content is so important to your SEO

Once upon a time…

…arguably, like humans ourselves and the parts of the world we can lay claim to having created; the internet was a kind of easier place. In its very being both alien and robotic, we had preconceived ideas about the way it worked, and in its infancy, we could program these ideas in its memory.

High quality fibre optics

Endless fibre optic content of cyberspace

Search engines, those newly born sponges they were at the time, were easy to fool with the ‘art’ of SEO. Back then, it was hardly an art; stuffing keywords into content, which was barely legible and certainly not entertaining, but it didn’t really matter. No-one read it anyway, apart from the machines. Which we’d created.

In many ways SEO was a game: the quicker content was released, the more swollen with target phrases, words and repetition, the easier it was to win. We were writing for robots and we were winning. But remember; the internet itself was a robot: a mysterious collection of wires that somehow connected us to parts of the world we’d only read about in books.

A cold, alien space many of us could not comprehend; like all new landscapes a terra incognita, a myth.

With the passing of time, we created social networks, and established digital marketing, optimised branding and organic results. We’ve turned the internet from a frigid hinterland into a fresh and friendlier place. Google rolled out responses, which have levered the cumulative effect of ridding that barren landscape, dominated by machines; of the manipulative practices of game players. Like our closest friends, Google is intuitive to our search wants and needs.

The internet evolved to be less alien and, rather like R2D2 from Star Wars once was and Jibo, the friendly robot, today; it has won its place in our hearts and as part of the family. Along with this has come brand friendliness too. So SEO, naturally, has matured into a friendlier, more human orientated art form.  Creating and maintaining friendships, relationships and trust by aligning content with your audience’s intentions. And being in it for the long haul.

Ultimately, what this means is that success can only be merited when you try to achieve your goals through meeting your clients’ needs. And herein lies the ancient art form of storytelling. Better know, in trendier circles as #contentmarketing. Like all good robots, Google wants to mimic its masters. It does this by tracing your online behaviours and using the gathered data to create a kind of customer prototype.

SEO is a game

If content is king, then research is queen

Your branding needs identity. Your identity must reflect that of a typical member of your audience. If content is king (and these days, it really is), then research is queen. By creating an ideal customer, you can build an idea of where they hang out, which channels of communication they use and what their daily obstacles are. And how your content can help them overcome them.

Just as you do in a real friendship, understanding this prototype, this ideal buyer; their desires, their needs, their questions; and supplying gripping, well researched and high value content will create meaningful relationships.

Just as robots are a serendipitous by-product of evolution, an anthropomorphic creation; the ramifications of this process are that you will naturally build up the keywords and phrases that improve your organic search ranking.

Great design needs great content

Brand Publishing: Are you content with what’s underneath?

A brightly burnished, branded website is exciting for us all. Especially ones with fashionable, hand drawn graphics incorporating sharp branding. Clever colour schemes to match memorable images and sear logos to our ever-exposed brains.

What’s going on though, when you start scratching that shiny veneer?

Many brands are pouring their business investment expenditure into revamping the aesthetics of their websites to lure in prospects like bees to conical celled flowers. Rightly so. A stunning website is vital to attracting clients.

But what keeps them there, and beckons their return is what’s underneath: the website content. Great content at that.

A land of contrasts

When visiting Iceland during February earlier in the year, I discovered the amazing story of the poetry that migrated to Iceland during the Second World War. Having long been a fan of Icelandic music – its darkness, duality, longing, and the way it so aptly mimics the scenery –  the story of the seafarers sent to fight on a sprawling mass of magma, in the North Sea, fascinated me.

After losing over 200 Icelanders during the war, the women were enveloped by the desolate poetry brought over by British troops. The drab and terrifying words of such authors as Siegfried Sassoon and his protégé Wilfred Owen lulled Icelandic women to whisper ég elska þú into the luminescent skies. Elska means to love. Despite finding the bleak scenery and volcanic landscape inhospitable, the men found female hands at cannery row were liberal with their love.

Trading primarily in fish sourced in from the icy seas, cannery women would give up their love under endless skies. Winter everywhere: within the frozen igneous rock containing tiny worlds, on the twisted branches grabbing at the sky, inter-crossing each other with the same complexity as a modern bus map; the men found the landscape portentous.

When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see

Yet, as Nabokov said “You can get nearer and nearer to reality; but you can never get near enough, because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable”, the molten lava burning beneath the curvatures of land and surging to the surface would fashion new topography.

How does this relate to content?

carved from high quality basalt content

Mirroring the basalt columns of Iceland’s geography

It’s about what’s underneath; how that feeds into what’s on the surface. As the winter sun sinks over the bay, Hallgrímskirkja, a modern church that resembles an organ with its stepped sides reaching up to a pinnacle, stands overseeing Borgartúni. Carved from glassy basalt; forged from rapid cooling magma, this modern landmark is a metaphor for choosing high quality content.

Its unique figure quietly disrupts the mountainous backdrop and contradicts the sharp frozen air, belying something of what’s going on under the surface. Rolling beneath the frozen fields seethes the spark of fire.

This fire embodies what clients want from content. Something unusual, something different and something that changes their view. Answer their problems, enrich their lives and ultimately create content of value and you will see return.

To speak to me today about breathing fire into your content, however big or small, please call me on 07729263818 or use my contact form.

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Content marketing

Content marketing magic

With content marketing being the chatter on twitter; the murmuration in marketing; and the bombination on bizitalk, it still strikes me as interesting that businesses are either not using the facility at all, or getting the message so wrong.

Whilst its primary objective still aims to generate leads, interest and hopefully conversions; content marketing is about so much more. As Simon Grover explains in a great post by Quietroom, the potential of losing something is a stronger motivation than that of gaining something. One good piece of content might lead to one, or several, decent sale(s), which is all well and good if your business is based on front-end sales. However, unless you’re an ice cream vendor on a beach in Benidorm, you are probably going to want repeat customers; those who value you, your ideas and your input.

Forging fickle content for the sake of filler is a mistake businesses often make in marketing campaigns. Or worse yet, creating content so drenched in keywords that slippery puddles of desperation ooze across your branding. Unfortunately in a sector so saturated in lists and tick sheets, many businesses are afraid to fly away from the rest.

Create something that feels different.

To speak to customers in a language that is entertaining, distinctive and inarguably yours is what really matters in creating memorable content. Of course hitting out once and commissioning an outstanding piece of crafted content to intrigue, inspire,  and educate your followers may see a peak in traffic for a specific duration, it is maintaining that unique tone across all communications, and for an extended period that is going to make clients care.

Crave something they don’t have. And want it.

Essentially what you’re hoping to create is a resource that is valuable in the content you disseminate; whether didactic, descriptive or entertaining. You see, what you want is a type of engagement that brings people back for more. An experience that evokes emotions. The adage: people won’t remember what you say, but how you made them feel can be assimilated to what you want to achieve here.

Creating a feeling of trust, faith and understanding means they will come back. It may take some time, but they will – at some point. They’ll return because they want to repeat the experience you created for them before.

And when that time comes, they must be made to feel welcome in the same unique tone they have come to expect from your brand; developing the relationship.

A cohesive approach across all outlets requires some strategic thinking. With that said, whilst shaping sheltering content is important in nurturing relationships with your brand, what you’re producing does need to have value for you too. Before you even start drafting your content; have a clear idea of who it’s for and what they will get from it. And also have a clear idea of how it correlates to your objectives as a brand.

If you are considering ordering high quality content, you must have a realistic understanding of the relationships you wish to establish  with clients, and pragmatically envisage a timescale for developing them as such. Trust across the digital airwaves is no less tangible than trust in real life. It takes time and effort from both parties. Through investing in a sustainable content plan over a specified time period, and through partnering this with effective distribution channels you have created marketing magic.