A.wordsmith

3 Ways Glossier is Owning their Strategic Communications

Working in office situation

Working in the field of PR and communications, it’s interesting and refreshing to observe companies who “get it”. I have to admit to personally being a fan of Glossier and their products – but their smart approach to thought leadership, communications and social media is equally as engaging from a business perspective. Glossier effortlessly and expertly weaves together all the elements that support strategic communications – and as someone that falls directly into their customer target, I can tell you it’s working.

Glossier CEO and Founder Emily Weiss started the company after years of running a highly successful beauty blog called Into the Gloss. The blog was built around interviews with women from all walks of life, providing peeks into their beauty routines and products. Eventually, Weiss saw a gap in the beauty industry and created her own products that she felt would best appeal to what her readers were missing.

Emily Weiss, photo credit: Entrepreneur

Emily Weiss, photo credit: Entrepreneur

Elevating their leader

Weiss had a thought leadership advantage with Into the Gloss – she’d already established herself as an industry expert before she launched any products.  Into the Gloss still plays a crucial role in Weiss and Glossier’s thought leadership. The blog is fully established as a stand-alone expert source referring readers to a wide range of products, from beauty store moisturizers to exotic skin serums.  While Into the Gloss is closely tied to the Glossier brand, I’m often surprised how little they push their own products, obviously being conscious of being over “sales-y”.

Weiss’s thought leadership is not limited to the realms of make-up and self-care. She presents herself as a business thought leader as well. She’s established herself as an expert on building a socially driven beauty brand as well as a successful woman entrepreneur who secured $24 million in B series funding last November. Weiss frequently posts about speaking engagements, business events she attends.

Finally, Glossier’s thought leadership includes multiple members of their staff recognizing their value and influence in the company’s success. While Weiss is the face of the company, Into the Gloss and their social channels regularly feature the different areas of their team, from IT to product development to administration.

Social, Social, Social.

Glossier’s social media is a case study for everything social can be. It’s valuable and engaging, attractive and pristinely branded. While it may look effortless, it’s clearly methodical and well-planned.

They’re Instagram story experts – whether giving an inside look into the office or creating mini-videos about different products.  Users are engaged with reoccurring posts such as #wallpaperfridays where Glossier features a new image followers can screen cap for personal use. The images always fit within the overall branding.

Glossier makes use of user generated content and routinely quotes customer feedback. Weiss is quoted in a Fast Company article saying: “We think of things from a content perspective: How would this show up in a user-generated photo?” Smart.  User generated content not only builds rapport with customers (most millennial users love having their photo shared with 690,000 people), but also demonstrates how willing their customers are to share their involvement with the brand. Glossier’s social channels feature photos and videos of customers using their products.

glossier insta 2Glossier insta1

Killer Content (visual and copy)

Glossier’s brand voice is conversational and witty. Their website reads like a conversation you would have with your confident, takes-no-BS best friend. In an interview with Tech Crunch, Weiss said Glossier approaches content as talking to a customer as one would text a friend. This approach is evident everywhere – from social media to product descriptions.

Here’s some examples of their website copy.

“We Make Emails: “We do this thing where we send email updates on stuff you’ll probably want to know about: new products, Into The Gloss posts, promos, and parties. Unsubscribe anytime.”

Balm Dot Com product description: “Opt for Original, or choose from five mood-enhancing flavors: Birthday (inspired by Milk Bar’s famous cake, with subtle shimmer), Rose (with a barely-there pink tint), Cherry (with a sheer, juicy red tint), Mint, and Coconut. The lip-smacking 11-year-old in you is freaking out right now. Collect them all!”

Glossier describes themselves perfectly with this description: “We’re the beauty brand that wants to be friends with you—mostly because we’re not so much a brand as we are real people over here just trying to rethink the beauty industry and have a good time doing it.”

Glossier, I want to be your friend too.

 

6 Design Tips for Better White Papers

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In our digital world of social media attention spans and interactive brand experiences, the traditional white paper isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to convey content. But white papers still play an important role in many B2B organizations, as objective and informative pieces to aid sales, act as lead generation tools, and provide a means to position an organization as a thought leader in a given field. How can you ensure people will actually read your white paper? I have a few design pointers to help liven up this traditionally text-heavy document.

Make it read like a story

When I’m confronted with a wall of text, the first thing I want to do is break it into digestible chunks. Even if these chunks of content end up being a number of pages, I still find “chapters” easier to process than a run-on document. Breaking the white paper content into sections provides opportunities to insert visual interest elements like photography, graphic title treatments, or clever subtitles. Allowing the reader to take a break and come back later makes for a better, less burdensome reading experience.

Include images

Relevant photography and graphics support the content and provide visual interest. They also allow for visual “rest” as the reader processes technical content. Abstract imagery can highlight larger overall themes, especially if woven in as a series.

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White Paper for North Highland

 

Use interesting layouts

Full-page columns are uninviting and difficult to read; leveraging multiple columns, ¾ column layouts with sidebars, and ample use of whitespace make for a much more interesting reading experience. Thoughtfully placed callouts and quotes give readers a taste of what’s coming, break up the page, and add a bit of variety in color and typefaces.

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White paper example from Ascend Studio

 

Include infographics 

White papers often include lots of facts and figures, and those data points are much more interesting and impactful in graphic form. Charts, tables, and even type-based data callouts help highlight key pieces of data, and add pops of color to otherwise plain pages.

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White paper example from Art Version

 

Embrace white space

Yes, white space will result in increased page count. But I am much more willing to read a longer piece with a comfortable layout than a shorter piece with cramped, tedious blocks of copy.

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White Paper for Sparks Grove

 

Make it colorful

Embracing whitespace does not mean avoiding color. Thoughtfully placed pops of color help create visual hierarchies, and immediately enhance an otherwise boring page. Some of the most text-heavy pages are immediately improved with just a spot of color or two.

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Tableau Visual Analytics White Paper

A beautifully designed whitepaper looks professional, is a pleasure to peruse, and represents the expertise contained within. A positive visual experience helps legitimize the content and create a sense of trustworthiness for the reader. It also makes the piece much more shareable, making for broader exposure to your content and brand.

Social Media Strategy: How to Manage Multiple Pages

small business social media

For small to medium sized businesses, launching and managing a social media campaign can be challenging. The budget often doesn’t allow for outside support or hiring an extra team member to help the marketing team (if the business even has a marketing team). Executing great social media strategy also takes a lot of time, effort, and a long-term investment – a lot to add to someone’s already very full plate! Still, social media can be a boon for smaller businesses; making the effort should be a priority in any marketing strategy.

When businesses have more than one location, or specific products that may warrant their own separate social media pages, things can get even more complicated. Not only are there multiple social media platforms to contend with, there are multiple pages that need specific content fine-tuned for individual audiences. However, it is a beast that can be managed. Here are four tips for keeping your multi-channel, multi-account social media campaigns on track.

Utilize a content calendar

social media strategyTo excel at social media, a business will need to have a long-term idea of their goals and strategy. Scrambling to come up with a post at 3 PM every afternoon is not only stressful, it’s not a great use of your time. Sure, you’ll have content up, but it might not be targeted or well thought out. Your social media campaigns should tie into your overall marketing strategy.  One of the easiest ways to streamline your social media process is by using a content calendar. Using Google Docs, DropBox, or good ol’ fashioned Excel, create a monthly social media calendar. At the end of each month, spend some time going over your marketing plans for the next month, and create social media content that ties in to those goals. Depending on current events and business happenings, the calendar may need to change – so keep things flexible.

Use a scheduling tool

Once you have your carefully drafted and thought out social media calendar in hand, starting your week each Monday will be a lot easier. To make it even better: utilize a social media scheduling tool to schedule post in bulk for the week ahead.

There are several paid and (mostly) free options for that business can take advantage of. On the most basic end, some platforms like Facebook offer built in schedulers. There are some outside platforms like Hootsuite that offer a free option. There also several platforms available for monthly subscriptions that offer a wealth of analytics and info that may be difficult to access otherwise. Spend some time at the beginning of the week getting everything scheduled across all your pages and channels. This doesn’t get you off the hook the rest of the week, however; you’ll need to check in daily to make sure things are posting and check in on audience feedback.

Tweak content for each platform

For each platform, and each page within that platform (such as pages for different business locations), you’ll want to finetune the content. It’s totally acceptable to use the same content across your channels – your newest blog post, for example – but the actual post will need tweaked for each audience. Also, consider that some of your Facebook audience may follow you on other channels too – they probably won’t want to see the same exact post three times in a row.

When planning your content for the month, consider posting the same piece to different channels on different days and times. Be sure to use analytics tools to get to know your audience on each channel, and understand what will fit them best.

social analytics

Use free, built-in analytics

While there are platforms that offer in-depth analytics tools for social media, a good portion of small businesses won’t have the budget available for it. Thankfully, you can glean a wealth of information from several channels built in analytics tools.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all offer at least basic insights tools. We have a more in-depth POV on this topic, which you can check out here. When you’re managing multiple profiles, analytics become even more important – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting the same thing across the board. Multiple business pages offer the opportunity to get personal and make authentic connections with smaller, more targeted audiences.

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a strategy for one page or 10 is that social media is about the long game. There will be trial and error, experiments, and a few risks needed when you first start out. As your audience builds organically over time, you’ll gain their trust and approval – something that can’t and won’t happen overnight.

Tools to Help Copywriters Find Their Flow

Tools to help copywriters

In an ideal world, copywriters would have time to let inspiration strike. We would get to brainstorm, let ideas incubate, bounce them back and forth with fellow writers. You know, just like Peggy Olson and Don Draper did on Mad Men. In the real world though, copywriters often have to come up with creative and compelling copy on the spot, alone and sometimes even without a proper brief.

Like most writers, I’m a pen hoarder. But through the years I have compiled a set of tools to help copywriters that make the writing process easier and more enjoyable. The following free apps and websites have rescued me countless times when deadlines were creeping up. Let’s take a look.

Thesaurus.com

I’m going to start with this one even if you roll your eyes because sometimes having a reliable thesaurus by your side makes all the difference. I use Thesaurus.com as often as I reference the AP Style Guide and I’m not ashamed of it. Plus, it’s the most comprehensive thesaurus online and a cool mobile app, and it has never failed me.

Words to Use

This tool may sound like it works as a thesaurus, but it does a lot more than grouping words by their meaning. Words to Use groups subject-related words by parts of speech like nouns, verbs and phrases. The list was created in 2008 by copywriter Amy Pogue, and it continues to grow as a resource for anyone who writes.

Un-Stuck-It

I write a lot of B2B materials and sometimes I unintentionally carry business jargon to less formal, more conversational pieces. Un-Stuck-It is a free web app with a sense of humor that helps you find words that flow better and that may resonate more with your audience.

Free Dictionary’s Idioms Dictionary

Though I would never advise a fellow copywriter to use idioms, I do encourage them to search Free Dictionary’s Idioms Dictionary as an exercise to find new meaning in those overused and trite words. Who knows, you may find a brilliant pun that actually works!

Rhymezone

I never thought I would ever have to write copy in rhymes, until it happened. A client wanted a TV spot to sound like a Bob Dylan poem read by a cowboy in the voice of the dude from the Big Lebowski. Turns out, I was only able to make one of those things happen and I owe it all to Rhymezone.

Live-Keyword Analysis

I see a lot of brands stuffing keywords onto their pages. Over-optimizing SEO is a dangerous game and can get some websites penalized. Plus, contrived SEO is as bad as terrible writing and your audience will quickly notice it. Live-Keyword Analysis helps you calculate the density of keywords in your text so you can reach that sweet spot.

Hemingway App

When Ernest Hemingway’s real estate in Cuba was cleared, his family found some notes he had seemingly written to himself, in pencil. One reads: “You can phrase things clearer and better.” And the other: “You can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.” The creators of the Hemingway App took his notes to heart and developed a program that highlights overly complicated words and suggests alternatives. The app also calls out adverbs, difficult-to-read-sentences and passive voice. The way Hemingway himself would’ve liked it.

Cold Turkey

If you’re like me, you get easily distracted when you’re writing. You go to a site to do some research and before you know it, you’re on a news site or reading emails. Thankfully, there’s help. Cold Turkey helps you quit this terrible habit by locking you out of certain sites or apps for a period of time. While there are many other distraction blocker sites out there, I find Cold Turkey to be the most customizable and easy to use.

Writefull

Writefull is a neat add-on that uses artificial intelligence to improve your writing. The app checks your writing by running it against a database of correct language. It helps you hear how your text reads, translates text in any language into English and finds out which words you’re using most often.

Urban Dictionary

Have you head of galories? They’re calories women consume when you go out with your girl friends. Not to be confused with palories, the calories men consume when they’re hanging out with their pals. Trust me, you’re not getting old, language is just…evolving. Urban Dictionary has been around for ages and it has saved me from sounding like I live under a rock multiple times.

Tools to help copywriters

Happy writing!

 

Your Most Underutilized PR Resource: Your Employees

your most underutilzed pr resource

 

Listening to your customers via social media, review sites, website comments and other digital forums has become second nature for most businesses, but many aren’t always the best at listening to their own employees’ stories. That means many businesses are missing out on a major internal resource for their PR efforts. Your own employees can be an excellent source for compelling stories that humanize your brand, engage your customers and add authenticity to your marketing. Here’s why you should consider sourcing stories from within your business:

 

Why are employee stories important for PR?

Sometimes the most effective way to tell your business or product story isn’t through the CEO or the voices of your customers, but by sharing the experiences of your employees. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees are trusted between 16-38 percent more than CEOs on issues ranging from financial earnings to innovation. Today’s audiences can tell when a story is a little too sleek. In the age of social media and constant digital connection, authenticity is key to connecting with customers. Adding the right internal voice to your PR efforts lends credibility to your cause and showcases that your company practices what it preaches.

A product designer may have a fascinating reason why a feature was added to a product, or an engineer might be the best voice to debate a hot topic in your industry. Do you have employees that volunteer their professional skills in the community, or have inspiring stories about how they came to be where they are? These are all good starting points to begin connecting with your employees and start working their stories into your PR strategy.

 

The payoff

Sourcing stories from your employees can provide a big payoff for your PR campaigns. Take for example this Business Insider story of two Google employees who lived in their van for two years, which highlights the unique culture and opportunities the company provides. Or this Portland Business Journal story about a Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield team investigating fraudulent Medicare billing, which drives up costs for their customers. By mining stories from their internal teams, both companies leveraged new ideas that share their message and lend an extra air of authenticity to their brand story.

 

How do I start uncovering these stories?

There’s a simple way to start gathering employee stories: listen. Your business likely already has a variety of methods for this, from regular team meetings to staff recognition programs. Start mining those existing efforts for new story ideas. Your team managers and HR will be your best friends here – start a regular dialogue to help them start thinking in “story mode.” Since they spend the most time interacting with employees, it’s paramount to get them thinking about PR as an everyday activity and start sharing stories that could be good candidates for PR outreach.

Customer Service on Snapchat

snapchat customer service

In its short history, Snapchat has grown from a novelty app to a social media platform in which brands are eager to pioneer new styles of social media campaigns. From branded lens and geofilters, to influencer “story takeovers” and specialized in-app ads, there’s a multitude of ways for brands to utilize Snapchat. Users on Snapchat tend to be digital natives, younger and turned off by traditional advertising. They expect personal connections from the brands they love and buy from. Snapchat is a natural platform for these connections, and some brands are taking it to the next level by using the app as a customer service tool.

Brands have already discovered that Twitter makes a great customer service tool and allows for quick responses – but it doesn’t allow for voice or face-to-face conversations. Early adopters of Snapchat are discovering that the platform offers the direct connection of Twitter, with the added benefit of video to help solve customer issues, and puts a friendly face on customer service. Here are three ways brands are elevating customer experience through Snapchat.

customer service

Troubleshoot customer service problems with video

For certain consumer and B2B brands, troubleshooting product issues can be difficult over the phone. But busy consumers often don’t have time to come back into the shop, ship the product back, or make an appointment to have their defective product looked at. Forward-thinking companies like iOgrapher are experimenting with applying Snapchat’s convenient video messaging to their troubleshooting process. Customers with concerns can make a short Snapchat video describing the problem and send it directly to the business’ account. This is convenient for both customer and business: The consumer gets a quick, easy way to send in a “support ticket,” and the business gets a physical look at what the problem is, rather than trying to decipher the issue over email or phone. While this might be difficult for one customer service rep to manage for large corporations (and the multitude of customer issues they respond to daily), small to mid-size startups and businesses can use the platform as a free tool to connect to consumers where they are and respond in a more personal way.

Phone calls without a call center

Occasionally, customers don’t need (or want) to use a video to discuss the challenges they’re having with a product – a phone call can suffice. But some call center systems can be frustrating to deal with, and no one enjoys listening to hold music for 20-30 minutes while they wait to speak to an actual human. Using Snapchat’s phone call feature, brands can connect with customers on an app they’re already spending time on. Brands need to connect with their audiences where they “live” – and that probably isn’t on an automated phone system.

Tutorials and guides

Particularly with beauty, food and health products, consumers love to see real people using and explaining products before they make a purchase. Whether it’s showcasing the variety of ways to use a hairstyling product or sharing a recipe using a new food item, brands can build goodwill by helping their customers learn how to use what they sell more efficiently. Snapchat is a perfect platform for tutorial videos. Brands can use their own staff or partner with popular influencers and offer tutorial videos for their followers. When advertised beforehand on other social platforms, brands can ensure an audience for their Snapchat story (which will only stay live for 24 hours).

 

Though still in its early stages (and facing strong competition from Instagram’s Stories), Snapchat is still growing in popularity, especially among the younger age set. Brands who jump in now will be ahead of many companies, and will be able to experiment and pave the way in this new field of customer service. Customers will continue to demand personal, authentic connections, and brands that adapt to these needs will only benefit.

Why Learning Another Language Makes You a Better Writer

LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE MAKES YOU A BETTER WRITER

Most of the time, language is effortless. Despite the labyrinth separating the thoughts in my prefrontal cortex from the words in my mouth, I can ramble all day without thinking twice about the process.

Language is effortless, that is, until we encounter a new one. In a foreign language, finding the right words suddenly takes work, and we’re forced to dissect sentences, rethink our message and consult the dictionary.

This exercise of searching and editing mirrors the process of writing. Skilled writers attempt to construct language in particular ways — clearer, richer, more visual, funnier, shorter, longer — that may not immediately flow to our fingers. Language learning is like interval training for writers; in fact, learning another language makes you a better writer and may be one of the best ways to enhance writing skills.

Descriptions get more creative

When we first learn a language, our vocabulary is limited. At times, we have to be creative to get our message across. For example, imagine that I want to tell someone that I bought a vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, I don’t know the word for “vacuum cleaner.” How can I say vacuum cleaner without saying vacuum cleaner?

  • A thing that cleans the floor that is not a broom
  • A broom that sucks dirt
  • A broom that breathes
  • An electric broom
  • A carpet cleaner without water
  • A floor sucker
  • A mop for the rug
  • Something that washes the ground with air

 

It’s like a particularly painful game of Taboo in which I can only use the words I don’t need. Yet by going through this awkward process — saying the words “floor sucker” while making a whirring noise — I’m stretching my mind to build new, concise definitions and clever descriptions.

There’s a whole new world of idioms and metaphors

Metaphors and idioms add spice to language and help readers grasp abstract or complex concepts. They’re also often unique to languages and cultures. Learning another language makes you a better writer because it gives you a whole new reservoir of metaphors.

Russians use the phrase “spitting at the ceiling,” to describe sitting around and doing nothing. The closest parallel in English might be “twiddling your thumbs,” but that phrase doesn’t deliver quite the same punch that the Russian does. Used in English, “spitting at the ceiling” could add an interesting if icky visual to any prose.


LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE MAKES YOU A BETTER WRITER

Foreign languages give new insight into familiar words

Learning another language makes you a better writer by forcing you to examine your native vocabulary in new ways. In English, the word “know” is simple: It has one core definition, and even small children recognize and use it. However, Italian dictionaries offer two different translations of “know”:

  • The first is sapere, which means “to know” something that can be learned or memorized, like a fact or a skill.
  • The other is “conoscere,” which expresses familiarity, personal insight and recognition in the way you might know a song, a person or a place.

 

I took “know” for granted my entire life. A single language lesson led me to reconsider it and has changed the way I use this simple English word. Rather than using “know,” I now seek out terms that add more clarity to the narrative.

It’s English Grammar 101

Even people who sneer at the “AP Stylebook” and “Strunk & White” depend on the English grammar systems. When we use our native tongue, however, we have little appreciation for its complexities.

For example, in English, the word “the” is always placed before a noun, and it always looks the same:

German grammar (6)

Foreign languages learners learn a new grammar system from scratch. In German, the shape of “the” depends on the role it (and its noun) plays in the sentence. For example,

Why Learning Another Language Makes You a Better Writer

In these German sentences, “the” takes multiple forms (der and den) depending on who is doing the biting. The main subject (the biter) takes “der; the object (the bitten) takes “den.” This kind of differentiation between subject and object actually exists in English, but its usage is limited to pronouns:

LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE MAKES YOU A BETTER WRITER

To speak German, I have to learn to recognize the role that “the” (and the noun it modifies) plays in the sentence, and doing so forces me to reflect on a facet of English grammar that most of us never consider.

Learning another language makes you a better writer

There’s some irony in the fact that a new tongue is the best way to understand your own, and that learning another language makes you a better writer. Yet for those of us who spend our days surrounded by words, it’s a powerful way to expand and grow as  writers, messengers and thinkers.

Conversational Writing: The Art of Keeping it Real

Conversational Writing

How often do messages on websites or marketing emails make you wonder if a human wrote them? A lot of content supposedly “targeting” us completely misses the mark. The writing is not conversational. It doesn’t sound like us. It doesn’t make us want to engage, and it lacks personality altogether. Some brands still confuse professional with formal and corporate with serious. Others forget how important it is to tailor content for each medium, coming off stiff and dated in social media and blog posts.

What is conversational writing?

Conversational writing is the kind or writing that makes readers feel you’re talking with them, not at them. It’s meant to keep things fresh and casual, and to help establish a brand’s voice across their website, social media, blogs and contributed articles.

Is conversational content better?

Conversational writing works better in some contexts. When we read content that sounds like us, we immediately feel a connection. As content marketers, our job is to inform, connect, persuade and inspire. We focus on finding the right “voice” for our audience and then on tailoring messages for each medium so they are more likely to convert. Sometimes this may mean relaxing our tone in client’s website’s landing page to establish trust and open opportunities for more personalized connections. Sometimes it’s about writing friendlier, shorter emails with one ask instead of five. It’s not about ignoring all brand guidelines, it’s about tweaking them to match how readers speak in different touchpoints. Some industry experts view conversational writing it as a form of copywriting UX, a way of using language to create more engaging experiences for readers.

But what about the serious technical and business stuff?

There’s still a place and a purpose for jargon and technical writing in formal business pieces like case studies, reports, RFPs and white papers. But don’t expect visitors to stay on a website that reads like an obscure instructional manual or to click on a link inside an email that sounds like a bank’s automated phone system message.

writing, conversational writing, copywriting, audience engagement

Can we write conversationally and still respect grammar rules?

Most regular rules don’t apply in conversational writing because it’s often full of slang and crutch words, creative punctuation and sentence fragments. It’s personable and unpredictable. While it’s never okay to sacrifice clarity for the sake of style, it’s okay to start a sentence with “and” or “but” to match your natural cadence in a blog and to use contractions or #hashtags on social to keep your messages light and your character count low.

A few tips on conversational writing

Conversational writing doesn’t have a style guide. What sounds like a conversation to me may not sound the same to you. The level of flexibility depends entirely on your target audience and the style they connect with. Below are a few tips to start using a healthy dose of conversational writing.

  1. Write as if you were talking to a friend. Start by reading your content out loud. Does it sound like something you’d actually say, or does it sound like something out of the Pelican Brief?
  2. Don’t write for everyone. Know who you’re talking to and write for them. Attempting to write for everyone will only dilute your message.
  3. Start with clarity. Start with your main message first so it doesn’t get lost when you add personality.
  4. Keep your sentences short. You know that amazing white paper intro you want to share on LinkedIn? Try chopping up the sentences to sound less academic. Unless your English teacher is your target audience, you definitely want to keep it short, sweet and light.
  5. Skip the long word when the short one will do. You don’t have to flaunt your vast industry vocabulary everywhere. Don’t let poor word choice stop a reader in their tracks.

Design Week Portland 2017

To be honest, I was supposed to post to our blog last week, but I was too busy checking out Design Week Portland 2017. Did you experience any of the great events last week? For those who haven’t heard, Design Week is an annual celebration of all things design-related: architecture, art and craft, graphic design, design education, experiential design, fashion and apparel, film, landscape design, manufacturing design, illustration, industrial design, interior design, interactive design, music, urban design, and writing and design criticism.

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Political resistance through design

It is overwhelming how much there is to experience, including talks, panels, events and parties, open houses, competitions, screenings, workshops, and the list goes on. I had the opportunity to check out a few cool events, including a panel on design’s role in political and cultural resistance, designing for craft brew brands, and a fun pin show benefitting arts education. Our own client, IDL Worldwide hosted an awesome (and delicious) “Design Fight Club // Crossover” where local chefs teamed up “with IDL or guest creatives to challenge participants to solve similar problems in a 30-minute sketch-off competition.” So fun.

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Designing for a Craft Brew Brand

Every year Design Week gets bigger and better—there is no shortage of things to do, and with increasing participation from all sorts of Portland businesses and organizations, the events are more and more appealing to any and everyone—not just those who work in design fields.

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Designers from all over the country contributed beautiful, wearable pins to sell at this show, with proceeds benefitting arts education.

So if you missed this year’s events, make sure to mark your calendar for next year!

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a priority for brands in 2017. In 2016, influencers emerged as a powerhouse for brands looking to reach millennials in the personalized, authentic way that they desire. Celebrity endorsements have always been a tool for marketers with the right budget, but influencer marketing takes this concept to the next level. It combines star power with the more casual endorsement you get from word of mouth – social media influencers are typically much more connected to and familiar with their fans than A-list celebrities are. While some social media stars command big pay checks from the huge brands they work with, there are thousands of micro-influencers that are more easily accessible to small businesses with limited budgets.

Influencers with millions of followers aren’t right for every brand. Micro-influencers in specific industries are not only more affordable for smaller businesses, they’re more likely to reach the people who will become actual customers. Micro-influencers are often cheaper for businesses to work with, and may even do partnerships for free products or services. In exchange, they can offer direct, personal connections with consumers businesses may struggle to reach efficiently otherwise. Their reviews of products are much more authentic than major influencers with millions of followers that they definitely can’t connect with individually.

How to Find Micro-Influencers

You can find influencers who would be a great fit for your business in a variety of ways, ranging from free options to purchasing tools built for this purpose.

  • Start with your own followers: Take a look through your own fans on social media. For followers who have a few thousand followers of their own, and are already fans of your business, a partnership with your brand could be a natural choice for them.
  • Connect with local bloggers: Google is your friend here – search for popular local bloggers in your area. If their content is a fit, check out how they prefer to connect.
  • Hashtags: On Instagram and Twitter, browse popular hashtags related to your brand’s products. Chances are, some of the top tweets come from influencers in these topics.
  • Buy a tool to help: Buy a subscription to a service like Klear to get a more in-depth look at who holds influence in your industry.

 

What to Expect

When working with influencers, it’s important to pursue an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship. Treat influencers with respect, and they’ll be more open to working with you. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Research how the influencer prefers to be contacted, and respect what types of partnerships they’re willing to do.
  • Do your due diligence and research the influencer’s history and past brand sponsorships. This can help avoid a crisis for your brand later.
  • Plan to build a relationship over time. Influencers may not be open to a partnership right away, even if you’re willing to pay. They need to get to know your business first, and understand if it works with their brand.
  • Make sure all posts from your influencer clearly state their relationship to your brand – transparency pays off with your audience and avoids legal issues.
  • Ideally, plan for a long-term relationship and not a one-off sponsorship.