My wrap on the Emerging Writers’ Festival Digital Masterclass

The Emerging Writers’ Festival Digital Masterclass was held on Friday 24th May at the City Library.

The full day workshop featured an inspiring range of speakers. The broad theme was creating digital content to support your writing and to build your profile, with a focus on blogs and social media.

The diversity of content and speakers made for an information-packed day. There was plenty to learn and take away, depending on your background and interests. The content ranged from the very practical (how to produce a video, podcast and ebook), to the more strategic (planning and goal setting).

I was impressed by the presenters’ expertise and their passion for their craft. What they all had in common was that they had a good idea, and had a go at executing it, even if they didn’t have the technical skills at first. They tried, they failed, they learned and they got better at it. They sought out advice and collaborated with others. They tapped into their community, or built a new one to support their work. They knew what they wanted to achieve, even if the path wasn’t clear. They found their niche. And the warm and fuzzy part is that they are now sharing what they learnt with others.

I love this video that Mark Welker showed us on the creative process. For me, it really summed up the overarching message I took away from the day. Don’t be scared to try new stuff. At first you won’t be so good at it, but if you keep trying and learning, you will get better at it, maybe even become great at it.

 

Here are a few of my personal highlights from each of the presenters.

Rose Powell (@rosepowell) took us through practical exercises on strategic planning, risk identification, asset mapping and goal setting for establishing a successful website/blog. The take away message from Rose’s presentation was to be strategic about what you want to achieve, make the most of your networks, have clear goals, and find your niche.

Jo Case (@jocaseau) took us through a case study of The Wheeler Centre Dailies site, with a focus on how they both generate and commission content. She included a practical exercise on pitch writing. The content model Jo presented included a wide range of different formats and sources including feature articles, curation of content from other sources, reviews, news, entertainment, events and book extracts. Her model was really useful in thinking about how to keep a website’s content dynamic, interesting, and fresh with limited resources.

Thang Ngo (@ThangNgo) is Australia’s #1 video food blogger. He talked about finding your niche, producing unique content, creating an online community, supporting others, and building your profile. Like Rose, he emphasised the importance of having clear goals.

Johannes Jakob (@jojojakob) gave us the low-down on creating podcasts, based on his experience creating the JOMAD podcast.

Mark Welker (@mwelker) from Commoner Films spoke about moving from one medium (writing) to another (video) and the parallels for story telling in both mediums. He stepped us through the video-making process and shared his tips including: capturing natural light, using a controlled camera, getting up close to your subject, and focussing on texture and detail.

Ash Davies (@PhotoGuides) from Tablo Publishing gave us a crash course on creating, marketing and distributing ebooks. He showed us a demo of his new product Bookmaker. If only every 20 year old had Ash’s creativity, initiative and drive. We would have solved the world’s problems by now.

And so, that wraps up my summary of the digital masterclass. Did you go to the workshop? What did you learn?

Getting the boss on board with social and digital

Dionne Kasian-Lew

Dionne Kasian-Lew

It can be difficult to convince risk-averse business leaders of the value of social and digital. Meanwhile their organisations miss out on the rewards offered by the digital economy and fail to connect with social savvy consumers.

I spoke to Dionne Kasian-Lew about how marketing and communications professionals can lead the social and digital agenda in their organisations and get the boss on board.

Dionne Kasian-Lew is the CEO of The Social Executive™. She is also the author of The Social Executive: the multi-trillion social economy and an advisor to boards and executives on leadership, innovation and corporate and communications strategy.

Justine Hyde: Business leaders often worry about the risks of engaging in digital and social. What are the risks of not engaging?

Dionne Kasian-Lew: The digital economy is growing while many other areas are in decline. The IDC says global ecommerce is worth 16 trillion and Boston Global Consulting predicts for G20 nations social will be worth $4.2 trillion by 2016. Companies that are online and engaging are outperforming others. Businesses need to think about the fact that eight new people come online every second and most are using social or mobile to connect.

Some executives think social media is a fad but look at two examples. LinkedIn was established in 2003 and now has 200 million users, most of whom are professionals. Facebook is about to turn nine and has a billion users. This is not a fad.

JH: How does a business leader become digitally literate?

DKL: Literacy is having enough knowledge about an issue to make good decisions about it. Boards and c-suites need to know the difference between ICT, digital and social media and how they contribute to the success of a business.

Given the opportunities and risks presented by digital and social media, boards should be asking their CEO: what’s our online marketing/engagement strategy? It’s time for social and digital bootcamp for boards and c-suites.

JH: How can communications professionals influence their CEOs to see the social and digital ‘light’?

DKL: Executives are lagging when it comes to adopting social media. The most common question I am asked is: how do I influence the boss?

My response is to ask communications professionals what social media channels they are using and what they are doing to position social media in their organisation. I ask them what their competitors in this space are doing and who they look to as benchmarks for practice in their industry. I ask how they are leading the change in their organisation. Finally, I question them about what game-changing technologies could blow their company out of the water.

It stuns me that few people can answer these questions, since with their analytical and creative strengths communicators are in the best position to lead this change.

Communicators need to know the business case for social media, be digitally literate and understand the impact of digital on productivity.

This means using the various platforms, learning how people connect and share and figuring out which of those platforms is best for you and your business. We must be sure to have our own house in order before we can attempt to influence the boss.

JH: How do organisations become strategic with digital and ‘social era’ ready?

DKL: A good start is to understand the digital and social lay of the land and to know what is happening in their industry specifically. Organisations need to know who their customers are, what they want, and how they want it.

Next, they need to develop a strategy that accounts for future capabilities required in the business. Once they understand these capabilities they can begin to build these capabilities by training existing staff and recruiting new talent.

JH: What are the digital and social trends to watch for 2013/14?

DKL: We will see increased convergence and integration of digital and social into our lives, bodies and beings. Google Glass has arrived, digital clothing sensitive to body heat already exists, as do technologies that allow us to self-diagnose medical conditions. We have digital pacemakers and 3D printed kidneys.

In social we are moving from using individual platforms to working across channels (like email) through Google+.

This article originally appeared on the SMK blog.

Personal branding insights from Power Stories author Valerie Khoo

valerie_khoo

Social media has opened up the potential for managing your professional profile or ‘personal brand’ with a much broader network.

Increasingly, professionals are looking to platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to initiate digital handshakes, to make new connections and to find a wider audience for their ideas.

Valerie Khoo is National Director of the Australian Writers’ Centre, co-founder of SocialCallout.com and author of Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. Her personal blog at ValerieKhoo.com was just named by SmartCompany as one of the 20 best business blogs in Australia.

I spoke to Valerie about how she has successfully built her personal brand and asked her advice on how to harness the power of social media to do this.

JH: What is personal branding and why is it important to today’s professionals?

VK: Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s what you’re known for. Your personal brand helps you stand out from the crowd. Your personal brand will help create opportunities and open doors for you. If people have already heard about you, and if you’ve developed that all important “know, like and trust” factor through your online presence, it’s easier to get meetings with busy people, secure speaking engagements, acquire new customers or even score yourself a book deal. If you’re not paying attention to creating and building your personal brand, you’re just making it harder for yourself to get ahead. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever before to build your personal brand – if you are strategic about it and use social media as a tool to connect with others and to showcase your expertise.

JH: You’ve been very successful building the brand of the Australian Writers’ Centre and your own personal brand. How did you do this?

VK: At the core of building both these brands is authenticity and passion. With the Australian Writers’ Centre, we are passionate about sharing resources that will help people in our writing community. We tweet links to useful articles, competitions, courses and any information that will help aspiring writers. We also answer queries through social media – and we help people wherever we can, whether they are one of our customers or not. My personal brand is a bit different. I often share links to useful resources or have conversations on social media about topics I’m interested in such as writing, entrepreneurship, and blogging. But my social media stream isn’t all business. I also share a small part of my personal interests as well. Anyone who follows me on social media will know I love my pets!

JH: How does social media complement more traditional ways of building your profile such as networking and speaking engagements?

VK: All these methods are important. Real life networking is invaluable. Similarly, speaking engagements are a wonderful way to connect with a room full of people. You can’t catch up for coffee with everyone so social media enables you to maintain connections. I’ve made some wonderful friends on social media who have turned into real life besties.

JH: What is the most challenging part of building your personal brand via social media?

VK: You should be protective of your personal brand and the image you’re presenting to people via social media. Think before you Tweet. If you complain about your staff or share drunken photos from the weekend, you’re leaving a clear impression about who you are and what you value. Use your common sense.

JH: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had?

VK: When I released my book “Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business”, I was amazed when my Twitter stream suddenly filled with photographs of people with my book and comments about how much they were enjoying it. They were all using the hashtag #powerstories. Not only was I grateful for everyone’s kind words, it was so wonderful to see people sharing their experience of the book with their own followers. Other people were reinforcing my own personal brand. I felt blessed by this.

This post originally appeared on the SMK blog

Talking content marketing with The PR Warrior

One of the most talked about marketing and communications strategies at the moment is content marketing: the creation and sharing of content to attract and retain customers, generate leads and increase revenue.

I wanted to find out more about content marketing, so I went to the source and had a chat to Trevor Young. Trevor is a leading thinker, consultant and speaker in the fields of public relations, marketing and communications.

Trevor Young aka The PR Warrior

Trevor’s blog PR Warrior has been named one of Australia’s Top 25 Business blogs by Smart Company, where he writes about leadership in communications, with an emphasis towards social media and content marketing.

JH: What do you see as the main benefits of content marketing?

TY: Content marketing, when done well, can increase awareness of your brand, reinforce a thought leadership position, help generate warm leads and build relationships with customers. The key thing is identifying what are you trying to achieve, and then skewing your efforts towards that goal.

The big benefit is that content marketing can be highly effective in attracting people to your brand by providing valuable and compelling content. This is contrary to traditional marketing wisdom where you push the message out. Content marketing is as much a mindset as anything – a willingness to connect with people and share ideas and information.

JH: How does content marketing complement other marketing tactics?

TY: It dovetails perfectly into traditional public relations. Social media and content marketing are core components of modern-day PR. Obviously, content is crucial to social media marketing. When it comes to creating content today, PR people can now widen their vision and produce it across multiple platforms, on the cheap and on the fly. And marketers, especially those in the B2B space whose role it is to generate new business leads, should be all over content marketing.

JH: If an organisation is thinking of going down the content marketing path what do they need to consider?

TY: You need to consider whether you have the right attitude and mindset. Are you comfortable with sharing stories, ideas and intellectual property? Are you happy for your employees to be publicly involved?

If you answer yes to these questions, you need to work out who will be the driving force internally. If it’s a large organisation, there might people involved from different parts of the business. Think about forming a small working group. If it’s a smaller company, chances are it will be the owner or CEO driving things, which is fine if they have the time to devote to the process.

You’re going to need to know your ‘spheres of conversation’. What direction is your content going to take? What tone is going to be used?

There’s nothing wrong with starting small and building momentum. You don’t need to do everything immediately. Build your content base over time and use social media channels and events to participate in your community and engage customers, friends and influencers.

JH: There’s a smorgasbord of choices for types and formats of content that can be used in content marketing. How do brands choose the right mix?

TY: A lot comes down to budget and resources. Ask yourself the important question: How does our audience (clients/influencers/potential customers) consume media or like to receive information? It’s wise to have a range of options. You can repurpose content across multiple mediums. For example, blog posts can have accompanying video, and regular video interviews can be turned into podcasts and syndicated via iTunes.

I’m a huge believer in solid cornerstone content such as downloadable PDF e-books. If you’ve got a lot of complex information to convey infographics are a great communication vehicle. More and more I’m loving video as a powerful way to communicate. Opt-in e-newsletters are also incredibly effective for many types of businesses, even if they’re not as sexy as other mediums.

You should produce content for your core channels and then occasionally mix it up a bit. It’s smart to be flexible too. Measure what’s working and if something is not all that effective, be prepared to ditch it. Having an online hub where you house all your content is critical, for example, a well-maintained blog or online multimedia news room.

JH: What’s the secret sauce to compelling and shareable content?

TY: If content goes ‘viral’ that’s the cream on top of your content marketing strategy. There are types of content that seem to get shared more often. Really well put-together infographics tend to get shared a lot and list-type blog posts (i.e. 5 top tips for xyz) also do well. Meaty research reports and e-books written around a powerful theme are effective. High quality content will generally resonate with the intended audience if it’s been produced with the right intent, regardless of format.

Occasionally something will come along that really surprises you. Recently I produced a simple Flipcam video of a CEO of a medium-sized company adding a bit of colour and commentary to some research presented in a media release. News Ltd. picked up the video from the website and ran it across all their online mastheads giving us mass coverage. It was a great but certainly nothing we’d planned for.

If your brand is strong and you have a solid community of advocates, enthusiasts and supporters of what it is you do, then if you create killer content, it’s more likely to be shared around, liked and retweeted because you have a fan base to do that.

JH: How does content marketing sit alongside SEO?

TY: Very closely. Lee Odden from TopRankBlog talks a lot about the ‘holy trinity’ of search, social and content. The key is to bring the three elements together for optimum effect. In an interview I read with Lee he pointed out that SEO focuses on rankings and traffic, content people think about distribution of press releases and blog posts, while the social media guys care about engagement. That presents an inherent challenge for uniting the three but the goal is to start bringing them together.

My focus is on producing the best content I can that I hope will resonate with the audience. Knowing what keywords and phrases need to be employed is fine. I’ll incorporate them but only if their inclusion adds value to the finished product. In other words, avoid over-using keywords and blanding out your content for the sake of SEO.

JH: What does the next 12 months look like for content marketing?

TY: If you talked about content marketing to people 12-18 months ago you would have probably got a blank stare. There are less blank stares today and there will be even less by the end of 2013 as content marketing gains traction in Australia. It is more or less mainstream in a business and marketing sense in the US. It’s not at that level in Australia yet, but the signs are there.

Content curation will become really important – careful and strategic curation of content and adding insights.

Video is going to get even bigger. A strong emerging theme is the humanisation of brands, that is, getting people out from closed doors and interacting with customers, and putting internal experts at the front and centre of a company’s content efforts. Video humanises a business.

Smart marketers will up the ante by producing high quality content that can be repurposed, remixed, or as Ann Handley from Marketing Profs  says: “re-imagined”. They will have content as a cornerstone of their marketing and PR efforts. Whether that means employing journalists or using an external agency, I don’t know, but it’s bound to happen.

You can follow Trevor on Twitter @trevoryoung

This post was originally featured on the SMK blog