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Is the bundle right for me?

As you consider the special year-end bundle that includes the Blog Boost and Press Push, I wanted to give some more context as to who we’ve created these programs for.

Both are created with a similar goal in mind: to remove the barriers that are stopping you from sharing your work on the regular.

There are a million reasons why you don’t blog more frequently or do PR. Some of these reasons are related to process, especially in PR, but most of them are psychological blocks that are holding you back.

You’re scared of alienating people, whether it’s the audience you already have or your favorite blogger. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, break any hidden etiquette rules you don’t know about, and you certainly don’t want to bother people.

What I learned in my PR agency days is that the only way to get past this discomfort is to do the work.

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.
You don’t have to wait to be confident.
Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
 * * * Carrie Fisher * * *

Because what you will find is that your world will not come crashing down if an editor doesn’t reply to your email, and that any reluctance you feel to put yourself out there is far outshone by the feeling you get when your favorite magazine decides to pull your product or interview you for an article they’re writing.

The reason it feels so impossible to promote your work now, whether it’s on your blog or through media outreach, is that you haven’t been doing it with any regularity. When sharing your work and ideas becomes a habit, it doesn’t matter that one particular post didn’t take off with your audience, because you know that next week is another opportunity to connect with them. It’s okay if that website didn’t accept your contribution, because you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket.

The more you share, the lower the stakes for each individual post or pitch become.

This is the mindset Megan and I want to instill in you through the Blog Boost and the Press Push. That sharing your work and ideas regularly are an essential part of running your business, and they’re not a big deal. There’s nothing to dread or worry about, because promoting your work is as natural as breathing.

Now, we might not quite get you there in a 6-week course, but we hope to instill in you the habits and a safe environment for asking questions and trying new things so that you can get much closer to this ideal.

So back to the question — are these programs for you?

If you’re already confident in sharing your ideas on your blog at least once a week and have had success in pitching bloggers and magazine editors, you probably don’t need to take advantage of this bundle. The only reason you might is if you’ve let your good habits slide and want the extra accountability of getting topics (Blog Boost) and pitch angles (Press Push) from Megan and me within a structured program.

The accountability and emphasis on action over planning is the #1 benefit of our Blog Boost and Press Push programs. If you need a little extra nudge to follow through on your marketing commitments, these programs are an outstanding opportunity to get support.

If you feel doubts about the value of your content (does anyone care?), or have a hard time following through on your plans, then this bundle is a wonderful option for you. Megan and I are committed, caring teachers, and we are very invested in getting you to take action each week.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Jill Maldonado had to say after going through the Press Push this summer:

“Worth the price of the course alone, was the ability to participate in the Facebook group. I watched your feedback on other people’s assignments and learned a TON from that. Much gratitude for your generosity of spirit!”

How I Prioritize My Marketing Content

More and more, I’ve been talking to business owners and marketing managers that feel overwhelmed by all the marketing channels out there.

You know you can’t possibly do it all. You believe that your job as a leader is to decide where to put your focus each day.

But it’s a lot easier to give lip service to those ideas than to live with the feeling that there’s always something more that you can be doing.

What keeps me steady and focused is having my own hierarchy that helps me prioritize the marketing I do for B. I’ve recently revised and updated that hierarchy, and I thought I’d share it with you today to see if it gives you some food for thought for your own marketing to do list.

Here’s the basic hierarchy I’m using now:

Owned content, or the content I create and publish on my own platforms, is the foundation of my marketing plan.

Time spent: It can take me anywhere from 1-3 hours a week to produce 1-2 pieces of unique content.

There are a few reasons I prioritize producing blog and email content above all else:

  • It’s the best way for me to share my expertise and build trust with business leaders and marketing pros looking for PR and marketing insights for their business.
  • Blogging more than once a week has been shown to exponentially increase traffic to your website.
  • No matter what changes Facebook or any other social media site makes, I know that I have ultimate control over how the content on my own site is presented.
  • The more I blog, the easier the content flows. When I take long breaks, starting up again is much harder. It’s easier for me to maintain a regular writing schedule to be hot-and-cold about creating content.
  • When you communicate regularly to your list, it’s easier to launch. It can feel awkward to promote a new program when you haven’t been regularly providing value with content, and it should! All taking and no giving is no good for anyone. When you make a point to email your list regularly, sales emails don’t feel like a big deal. They’re welcomed by the people who have been gratefully and interestedly following your emails all along.

I also want to note here that people tend to get hung up on the difference between a blog and an email. But this is a false distinction. The words “blog” and “email” and even “podcast” describe the container of the content — not the substance. In other words, you can create one piece of content and share it with your blog for people who like to subscribe to RSS Feeds and to your email list for people who like to subscribe to email lists.

It’s like the difference between reading a book in hardcover, paperback or on a Kindle. Your audience will have different preferences, but ultimately, what they want is to read the content of the book in their preferred container.

Most business owners tend to give their email lists a little extra love in the form of bonus content or opportunities, because of how valuable it is when someone gives you their email address. It shows a high level of trust and engagement. But if you’ve been stressed out about what to put in your blog versus your in email, just publish the lion’s share of your content to both!

When I’m releasing a course or program, launch-specific content comes next.

Time spent: This can be up to 30 hours a week in the 2 weeks leading up to a first-time launch, because I do all the back-end work myself. I need a VA! :-)

Often this encompasses blog and email content, but launches often require a little extra, so I break it down a little differently:

  • If I’m launching to an interest list, I don’t want to stop communicating with my main list.
  • Webinars have become a big part of my launch process and require extra creation above my normal blog posts and emails.
  • I tend to group any special social media content here like a new Facebook page cover (these get shown to more of your fans than regular status shares).

PR opportunities are the next step.

Time spent: Roughly 1 hour a week to pitch + up to 2 hours to follow-through on opportunities.

I used to do a lot of PR for my own business, but when I started working with clients, I let it slide.

I was fortunate. Before I opened up for PR clients, I had been online blogging and doing guest posts and interviews for years. Gosh, I was design blogging on the side back in 2010. I already had an email list full of email that knew, liked and trusted my business. People who were waiting for me to say I was taking on clients.

So I slacked off on the PR side. And it hurt. A lot.

My site traffic, domain authority (that’s the measure of how google and other search engines rank your site), and email subscriptions all went down quite considerably.

So now I’m making PR for B a much bigger priority. At this point, it only takes me about an hour or so to put together a new blog post, so there’s no reason I can’t spend another hour doing PR. I just started this up again, and I’m excited to see the results. Right now, I’ve got 5 guest posts and interviews in the hopper.

Social media comes last, if at all.

Time spent: Maybe 30 minutes a week.

I used to love Twitter so much, but social media has felt more like a promotion ground than one where people are genuinely connecting. I haven’t given up social media (for business — my instagram is full of cat photos) entirely, but I’m strongly considering it.

My plan is to run a 1 or 2 month-long test and see what happens. I’m going to track how much traffic and engagement I can generate with social media before deciding to give it up entirely.

I want to be clear that I’m not recommending you quit social media or make it last on your priority list. My friend Megan Auman gets amazing results using Pinterest for her jewelry business. This one definitely depends on your audience. You can look into social media demographics to see where your audience is spending their time.

Ultimately, I try to find a balance in my marketing between what I can track and measure and the intangibles. You can’t easily measure the way your blog content builds trust (although I do get very nice emails that help!), but based on what we know about human nature, it’s reasonable that this is a widespread conclusion and strategy. After all, trust in relationships is fostered when people show up. When they’re there for you when you need them. For me, blogging, emails and podcasting are the equivalent.

I want to be here for you when you navigate over to B, looking for something to get you unstuck around your marketing strategy or PR.

So there you have it. My marketing priorities each week. Sometimes when I have a little extra time, I take on a special project. Like this week, I made a little graphic for you to reference if you want to follow a similar plan. 😊

 

how to prioritize your marketing content

5 Ways Consistency in Your PR Program Pays Off

When people ask me whether they should hire a PR agency or do their own PR in-house, I often want to know what kind of budget they have for hiring. Too often, small businesses only budget for 3-6 months of PR agency support, which can lead to disappointment if you don’t have a plan in place for maintaining your PR program after the contract ends.

While you might think that hiring an agency to do a 3-month blitz is the most effective way to get publicity for your business, the truth is that consistency is the key to seeing increased traffic and sales.

I’d much rather see you send out one pitch a week than blast 100 press releases out in a brief campaign.

Why is this so important?

Here are my top 5 reasons for recommending a slow-and-steady PR program over a one-time blitz.

1. A longer PR campaign is more effective in introducing your work to a new audience.

One of the most important factors for building your reputation is simply showing up with your message, time and time again. You know that old marketing adage that a customer needs to see your business 7 times before they remember you? It’s true.

That’s about how much exposure it takes to encode your business into an individual’s long-term memory. So when you’re building your brand, it’s critical that you aren’t just a flash in the pan.

You need to get in front of your audience again and again.

If you do a one-time PR blitz, you might reach the same person two or three or even five times. But in a longer program, you have multiple chances over a longer time period to reach this individual, through the original placement and as you make a point to repeatedly share your publicity on social media.

2. Repeat exposure to your message and work builds credibility.

Think for a second about some experts and business leaders you trust. Chances are, you’ve seen them in the media or on blogs or podcasts a few times.

The more often you come into contact with an idea, the more credible that idea becomes.

This is how ideas — both good and bad — enter the mainstream. For example, part of the reason so many people still believe in the link between autism, despite the fact that the study it was based on was roundly discredited, is how often the idea and its proponents were cited in the media and on blogs.

On the flip side, repeat exposure to celebrities dumping buckets of ice on their head helped the ALS Association raise $115 million. One viewing of the Ice Bucket Challenge could easily be dismissed as a fluke, but when you look at a timeline of the campaign, you can see how the fundraiser took off after the 6th or 7th public challenge.

It’s hard to manufacture true vitality, but through PR, you can give your ideas more traction.

3. You get more opportunities to pivot.

A lot of business leaders come to B wanting to know what’s newsworthy about their product or business. They’re worried that there’s little to share, but more often than not, we’re working to hone in on the best story angles to pitch. For every new project, we start with 3-5 different pitch angles.

After working for a few months, we’re able to discern what’s most effective — both in terms of getting coverage but also in terms of traffic generation and sales.

A consistent PR program gives you the chance to learn and adapt your strategy and angles to the market, leading to you a lot more success in the long-term.

4. You’ll get better at it.

Just like any other skill that’s new to you, the more you pitch, the better you’ll get at it. You, or your marketing assistant, will start to see more opportunities, develop angles with more finesse, and get them out faster.

When I train small businesses to do their own PR, I tend to recommend that you budget 4 hours a week at the start, with the expectation that your time commitment will go down to 1-2 hours a week for pitching. Following up on press opportunities will take some extra time, of course, but that’s what we all want!

5. A longer program tends to lead to more coverage.

PR can be a numbers game. This means that, generally speaking, the more pitches you send out out, the more coverage will come back. I’ve found a 15-20% success rate to be a good baseline for most small businesses starting out with PR.

But this won’t be the case if you’re spamming press releases to journalists. The success rate goes way down if your pitches aren’t targeted to the contacts you’re reaching out to. That’s why, though it may be counterintuitive, a slow and steady PR program where you only pitch one contact a week will often lead to more placements than a one-time blitz reaching 100 or more media contacts.

Have you thought about launching an in-house PR program? Sign up for my email list to find out about training programs geared to thought leaders and small teams.

  

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