It’s safe to say that we live in a world dominated by online communication. When our parents and grandparents began getting Facebook accounts, I knew that social media was not a trend reserved exclusively for Millennials. From Facebook to Twitter to blogs, it seems that nearly everyone and every company has an online voice.
The ability for anyone to take part in online communication means that a lot of what is out there is simply noise that we easily ignore. Therefore, if I’m going to share my thoughts with the entire online world, I want to be sure that I am creating something valuable, not just noise!
An article posted on Ragen’s PR Daily last week outlined tips for creating a meaningful blog to break through all the online clutter. Here are the top takeaways from the blog, with a bit of my commentary sprinkled in:
- Coming up with a direct but enticing title is the most important part of your blog post: A title should catch your reader’s attention, but make sure it relates to your post. I always wait until I have finished my blog or article to come up with a title. That way I know that it relates—and I normally have an “ah-ha!” moment while I’m writing that provides the perfect title.
- The perfect blog post lets readers know immediately what they are about to read: I love a great novel, but I have to agree that when I am reading a blog, once it nears novel (or even short story) length, I lose interest. Especially for younger generations, online is synonymous with quick and easy. Readers will only give you so much of their time.
- Top-10 lists and rankings interest readers and give them a reason to read to the end: I don’t know what it is about a good top-10 list, but people seem to love them. Think about how much excitement and buzz David Letterman builds with his nightly top-10 lists—wouldn’t it be great to create that for your blog? The once-you-start-you-can’t-stop Pringles mentality helps maintain your readers’ attention.
- A great blog needs a lot of outbound links: Just because a blog is your opinion, doesn’t mean that you should refuse to back up that opinion. Links make your blog more credible and a better resource, more than just your opinion. They also help increase SEO, or search engine optimization, which is always a nice plus, especially for a corporate blog.
- Make your post look nice: Organizing your post nicely so that it is easy to read makes your reader happy and allows you to emphasize the things that are most important.
- Adding images or videos is crucial to breaking up text and keeping it interesting: One of the greatest things about publishing your content online is the ability to make it interactive. Try posting a video instead of typing out your blog to give it a since of personality. For businesses, videos make your company seem more personal and better optimize search engine rankings.
- A perfect blog post is concise and stays on topic: You came to this blog to read about…well, blogs. If I randomly started writing about cooking, you would be confused and probably stop reading. Each blog should be able to stand on its own and focus on what it claims to. There’s nothing worse than false advertising.
- Keywords are key: Using commonly searched terms and tagging them in your blog helps bring in more readers.
- Stay under 1,000 words—aim for 500 to 800: Online readers’ attention spans are only so long. Keep it short whenever you can.
- Don’t simply say what everyone else is saying: Blogs are personal. They should include opinion and insight. Readers are much more likely to keep coming back for more if you offer something new. Think about what makes you unique and apply that to your blog. Are you a jokester? Add a humorous commentary to your blog about (insert over-discussed topic here).
So to abide by tip number nine, I will leave you with this: like all writing, becoming a great blogger takes time and learning tricks like these. Find a topic that you are passionate about and make the effort to share your thoughts with the online world (parents and grandparents included!).
By Amanda Coppock
The PR industry is ever-evolving, continuously adapting to the media and technology that has changed the practice in the last decade. In the three short years since I graduated, I have watched the competitive nature of the business explode, mirroring the large number of under-grads marching towards a career in PR. Looking back on my few years in the professional arena (and because hindsight is 20/20), I wanted to share a few thoughts and learning’s for you soon-to-be grads.
A notion that has come to me with a quarter-century in age and experience is that you must remain open to any opportunity. During my job search earlier this year, I was told by a number of hiring managers that, because of an agency’s desire to grow organically, I may need to take a step back and intern again. Since my career path took a turn away from agency PR, I opened up to this advice and came to the realization that an internship with the right company would be a killer opportunity to get my foot back in the door and re-introduce me to the ways and means of agency life.
Through word-of-mouth, I have been hearing stories circulating of recent or soon-to-be grads declining interviews for a post-grad internship. I get it. You want to be a full-timer. You want the stamp of approval that you belong in this industry. You’re young (and obviously cool), so you figure that you are in-the-know with social media. And here we come to my second point: if you are presented with the opportunity to meet with an agency or PR firm, no matter the position, take it! Use it as a way to build relationships, hone your interviewing skills and get to know more about the agencies that are out there.
My background is case and point. Once again in agency-land, I am reminded why I love this field: there is always something new to learn and smart people who love to share their wealth of knowledge. The beauty of being an intern is that you are supposed to be soaking up the brilliance of your peers with the advantage of a learning curve. There is time to become informed about your clients, just make sure to quickly crank up your game and show that you are developing as a professional. An internship is only what you make of it and your coworkers will take notice when you are taking your work to the next level. It’s vital to follow up on projects, volunteer to pitch in on other teams and be transparent about what interests you. Speak up in brainstorms, be an active member of your team and continue to build your visibility within the company to mold an internship into an entry-level position.
Although there are the lucky ones who, in the last few years, have managed to secure a job right out of school, that person may not be you. It sure wasn’t me. Remember these three pillars – Right Time, Right Place, Right Fit. All must fall into place, both for you and for the company. Be sure to keep all of your wants and needs in mind and, if you find that you may have settled in your choices, make a change! The power is in your own hands to make your future. Your resume is like a blueprint to the career you are reaching for, so fill it only with opportunities that get you one step closer to your dream.
You must prove yourself (a lot) to get started in this industry. The level of competition is only growing, so don’t miss out on a chance to first get your feet wet. Be patient and, with time, you will find yourself steering towards that epic first job.
In summation, my motto is this: Learn, Hustle. Hustle, Learn. HUSTLE.
~Blair Riley, Porter Novelli Atlanta