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5 Easy Steps to Curate Content for Your Blog

contentking_news“Content is king.” This is the buzz phrase we’ve all heard for years. Content creation for blogs, newsletters and social media has become essential for business success – helping professionals illustrate knowledge, competency, and thought leadership. The questions facing many companies include what to write about and where to find the time. The content team at Pinstripe Marketing has learned that there are a few shortcuts to content creation that will improve search engine optimization and show clients and prospects that you are keeping up-to-date with the latest in your industry. This abbreviated version of content creation is “content curation.”

Creating original content can take several hours and a lot of research, in addition to good writing skills. This is one of the primary challenges of content creation – not everyone is blessed with excellent writing skills and hours to write, but we are all expected to generate content to feed to our audience.

Content curation is the answer.

  • Make a list of the top publications in your industry and subscribe to receive their emails.
  • Scan the headlines for stories relevant to your business and set them aside for in-depth reading.
  • While reading each article, make note of a quote or two that will spark interest.
  • Jot down an observation about the article, create a short summary, and relate it to your business; personalize the article to your company.
  • Find a photo from any of the inexpensive stock photo websites to include on your blog. Imagery is important because it captures people’s attention, so don’t skip this step.

Once you have these four pieces (article link, quotes, your observations, photo), you have a complete blog post. Use your observation or the quote as the opening paragraph, add the photo, then encourage the reader to follow a link to finish reading the article. You can take it a step further and include links to other resources for more information on the topic. Make sure all of the information you curate is of the highest quality, from a reputable source, and doesn’t send your audience to a competitor.

Creating blog posts like this is a great way to circulate content from your favorite publications, give credit to the original author, and make some friends. If you link to another company’s website, not only are you acknowledging their expertise, you are improving their search engine optimization. Perhaps in the future they will return the favor.

For more information on content and blogging, check out the following resources:

 HootSuite: Beginners Guide to Content Curation

Content Curation – 5 Ways to Succeed Eventually

HubSpot: The Ultimate List of Free Content Creation Tools & Resources

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Printed brochures in the digital age

Tampa Bay advertising agency creating brochures

If you have personal contact with clients and prospects, your marketing arsenal isn’t complete without a printed brochure. As a reinforcement to a face-to-face meeting, this collateral can be as important as your online presence.

Brochures appeal to our tactile senses. You can touch them, you can write on them, you can put them in a drawer and refer back to them. They’re a strategic leave-behind and give you an excellent reason to follow up with a client, increasing the opportunity for vital touch points. When well-written and graphically pleasing, brochures also have the power to leave a positive and lasting impression. Sure, they can be tossed. But they can’t be deleted or lost in a spam filter.

As good-looking web sites have become widely available to companies of all sizes, printed materials can often be a differentiator to illustrate quality, competency or longevity. Consider a pocket folder from your law firm with beautiful paper, interesting cuts, folds and embossed treatments; a customized portfolio from an architect you’re considering to redesign your office that includes great photography; or the brochure for that new luxury car you have your eye on. These pieces feel good in the hand and separate those companies from those who do not (or cannot) invest in superior communications.

As long as live interaction remains relevant, so too will printed deliverables. Like business cards, brochures represent a personal and professional touch that technology can never replace.

Print Magazine: 10 Award-Winning Leaflets, Pamphlets and Brochures

How Magazine: 5 Brochure Designs You’ll Love

GDUSA: 2015 Inhouse Design: Brochures & Collateral

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Pinstripe Bookshelf: The Perfect Pitch

bookshelf_news
I’ve been invited to pitch for hundreds of pieces of business over the course of my career, and I’ve been fortunate to win a significant percentage of them. Our clients know that we don’t go into meetings with PowerPoint presentations or slick handouts – we’ve all suffered enough with death by PowerPoint.* According to Jon Steel, author of The Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business, we’re doing something right, but I know we can always get better. That’s why I picked up this book and discovered more than a few new insights to boost our new business efforts.

perfectpitchAlthough written from the perspective of a strategic planner pitching new business in the advertising industry, the content is relevant for anyone charged with selling ideas and landing new clients. In the professional services realm, one can imagine what new business pitches look like – the parade of suits promising a commitment to client service, full-service capabilities, unmatched experience… all hiding behind a projector, screen and a stack of “leave behinds.” Sound familiar?

Perfect Pitch is not a call to end PowerPoint presentations, but a manual on how to understand your audience and present ideas in a compelling, persuasive fashion. There are dozens of useful nuggets and commentary throughout the book – things to do as well as what not to do.

One of the resounding themes throughout the book rang familiar. My very first pitch for Pinstripe was a soon-to-be-fast-growing software company and I was fortunate to end up on the short list against one of the largest and well-known agencies in Tampa Bay. After a few meetings and submitting a proposal, I won the account which helped get the agency off the ground and was the beginning of a long, rewarding relationship. In that meeting where the CEO officially hired us, she asked if I wanted to know why they picked us. I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say, but she responded, “you were the only one who behaved as if our business was important to you.”

It was then and it is now.

Order The Perfect Pitch from Amazon

* In 2006, Wall Street Journal estimated 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day around the world. We’ve seen the backlash over the last nine years, so we can hope it has gone down since then. Unfortunately, it has probably become worse.

A Beginner’s Guide to Hashtags

hashtags_news

You have heard the term “hashtag” used in reference to Twitter or Instagram. You may have even heard it used as slang in spoken language, usually said ironically and preceding a cliché, such as “hashtag YOLO” or “hashtag ladies who lunch.” This slang use emphasizes the original intent of the hashtag, which is to link associated content — an easy search tool for social media. For example, if you want to post on social networks about a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, use #TampaBayRays or #RaysUp and it will appear in searches along with thousands of other Tampa Bay Rays posts.

If we focus on the hashtag as a marketing tool rather than an ironic reference to cultural vapidity or slang, we begin to see its usefulness. It is one of the best ways to place your content in front of the appropriate eyes on social networks, and the more specific you can be, the better chance you have of reaching your target audience. Consider the following simple rules:

  • Hashtags are not case sensitive – so even though phrases should have no space, capitalizing the first letter of words in a phrase allows you to distinguish between the words – #FirstLady
  • Try to incorporate the hashtag into the body of your post – say “#ProfessionalServicesMarketing” rather than “Professional services marketing #ProfessionalServicesMarketing”
  • Think about what your client/customer/user wants to read. What are they searching for? These are your keywords and they will be your hashtags.
  • Once you come up with a list of hashtag phrases, use the social networks to search the phrases and keywords to see what other content is trending – is it relevant to your content? If the content you see is not related to yours, try to come up with a keyword that will put your content in the right place.
  • Look at your competitors’ posts – what hashtags are they using and what content are they posting? You can learn a lot by regularly visiting their social media accounts. Avoid “me too” marketing, but use competitive insights from this research to generate new ideas.
  • Choose your words wisely – you only have 140 characters to get your point across on Twitter and you don’t want Instagram, Facebook or G+ posts to be too lengthy.
  • Avoid hashtag overload. #toomuch #unreadable #annoying #whodoesthis #hashtagsforhashtags #marketing #advertising #pr #socialmedia

Twitter can be an important part of a social media strategy. It is ranked as the second most popular social media platform, next to Facebook, so it is brimming with potential customers. Instagram is among the fastest growing platform and companies are finding success with advertising/promoted posts. The challenge is to reach your prospective clients by using good hashtags and consistent posting.

Pinstripe Marketing has a social media team brimming with ideas for your campaign. We can help generate ideas or take the load off your hands so you can work on your business.

For more information on social media strategy, read some of Pinstripe Marketing’s other social media articles. 

Tampa Bay public relations