This past Saturday, I got an email that my HARO contributions were published in this article, How to Never Run Out of Blog Topics for Your Website. I always love getting press and aligning with other industry experts like Ann Handley, Chief content Officer of Marketing Profs and author of the book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

In this quick read, you’ll find tips on how to create blog topics.  You can also check out two of my favorite free tools; Tweak Your Biz Title Generator and Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. Punch in a few key words and get 100’s of title and content ideas – some that are crazy, but others that can be used for blogs, articles and almost anything you publish. I like to call them idea generators, to spark your imagination!

I hope you generate some great content and business from these free PR tools!

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How do I market my blog?” There are hundreds of ways to promote a blog via PR and publicity, but I decided to ask Google the same question.  In less than 30 seconds, I found this article, How to Work with a Virtual Assistant to Market Your Blog. Hint: You don’t need a VA to do the work.  You can do it yourself or share the task. Heck, you can even ask your savvy teenager to help out!

In the post, Chris Ducker shares a list of almost 200 blog directories that you can submit your blog to. The list is a few years old, so I wanted to share a more recent resource by Harsh Agrawal who promises an epic collection of 131 verified blog directories. I’ll be curious to see what works and what doesn’t.  Information changes in a moment’s notice, so sometimes good enough is good enough. It’s the action that creates marketing momentum.

Lastly, I’d like to share HubSpot’s Guide to 50 Online Local Business Directories. You may find something new here to increase your visibility, brand awareness and exposure.

Oh, and sales.

Creating a blog is not only one of best examples of your owned media, it’s also a wonderful tool to showcase your expertise, get visibility, publicity and PR.  Bottom line, blogs help you get noticed, but you have to write and post on a consistent basis.

Robin’s Rainmakers has been a platform that has helped me increase online and offline credibility, reputation, speaking opportunities and form valuable partnerships, like the one I have with Constant Contact. I’ve also revved up my personal and professional brand. Blog all you like, but pull in traffic!

Here are 5 Ways to Pull Traffic to Your Blog

  • Use images. Take your own photos or create graphics on Canva.com. You can also use one of the hundreds of free online photo resources. Google free images and read sites like Entrepreneur.com for suggestions.  I like Gratisography.com because it’s fun. Pixabay.com is also a resource we use. See what’s here too at com/FreeBlogPhotos.
  • einstien-robinsamoraMake your images fun. Have you used Photofunia.com? You can put yourself and others in the picture. Here’s an example of a fun graphic I use in presentations. It gives me credibility and aligns me with experts.  Right?
  • Don’t forget Infographics. HubSpot has an amazing example of templates to create infographics.  Take your tips and create a visual that will be shared over and over again.  What’s to gain? Higher visibility and brand recognition.  It’s all about sharing and pinning. The Art of Engagement. Can you use any of these ideas from HubSpot? tinyurl.com/HubSpotTemplates
  • Make the most of your headlines with a title generator. Here’s a cool tool you can use to get ideas for headlines and articles. Some may be way out there – but use what looks good and think of this as an inspiration tank.  Co-Schedule also has a free headline analyzer, but start with this one first to get the swing of it. tinyurl.com/CoolTitleGenerator
  • Take advantage of YouTube. You know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.  And, you probably know that you can create a welcome video and mention your blog, as well as link to blog posts from video descriptions.  Did you also know that you have 5000 characters to work with in the video description area? This isn’t the place to stuff keywords, but rather be strategic in your marketing and SEO efforts.

Of course there are other ways to pull traffic to your blog.  Guest blogging, podcasting, speaking gigs, book signings, Amazon Author Central, Good Reads, by-lined articles, networking, interviews and more.

“If you just keep moving forward, you’ll amaze yourself” – Anonymous

I’ve been speaking more than usual lately, and I love it.  Mostly, because I was scared to death of speaking for years and never thought I would never have the nerve to get up and talk about what I know best: PR, branding, small business marketing and being able to combine the core values of your business and personal brand to help you achieve your best version of success.

For some it could mean improving your expert status, credibility, reputation or visibility. For others, more speaking gigs, opportunities for joint ventures or sponsorships. And that all leads to sales of one kind of another. No sales, no business.

Confidence in sales is a must have.

Here are 7 Confidence Building Exercises to Increase Sales (and your Mojo)

  1. Begin with a pep talk every day. Make one up according to where you need to go, who you need to see, how you need to feel. Practice conversations in your head and in front of the mirror. Change it up frequently. Ask your partner, spouse, friend or dog to tell you how great you are.  Say thank you.
  2. Smile and say hello to at least 5 strangers and tell them what you do. Change up your approach and see which intro gets the best response. I’ve been at the copy desk at Staples and met prospects who turned into clients. Put yourself out there – then follow up!
  3. Learn how to tell at least 3 jokes, and get good at it. You’ll never know when you need one to break the ice! Make sure they’re appropriate for the crowd.  Remember, you’re representing your brand, even after hours and that second cocktail.
  4. Challenge yourself in some new way. Go to a new MeetUp or networking group and talk about your services. Join Toastmasters®. That’s where I started. Start small if you’re nervous about the big stage. Serve as a chair person of a volunteer group.  Acknowledge, accept and put yourself out there as someone everyone should know.  You are the expert in  _____(fill in the blank), right?
  5. Give yourself lots of chances. Throw a party! There are so many adjacent possibilities to trying something new. Just like marketing and PR, you don’t put one media pitch out there, you have a MIX. It’s the same way in building confidence. Revving up your energy creates new energy.
  6. Be a better receiver. Accept compliments, ask for testimonials, build a referral program.  Sometimes, we forget how good we are or don’t ask for the business.  Make a decision to reach out to happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Send surveys to get feedback. Use all of the good, and learn from the not so perfect. Isn’t that how we grow?
  7. Review your progress. How are you feeling on a day by day basis? What are you accomplishing in your career or in other parts of your life? Make note of your successes, sales and growing pains and take a look at the week’s end. See how small changes in your attitude, change you!

Confidence is a game changer even if you have to act as if, for just today.

PS – This is an updated version of a blog from 2014.  I made it more relevant to the Sales and PR process. I’m a bigger believer now more than ever. Confidence is a game changer!

Are you tired of posting content to your social media news feed and having it fall flat in the insights?  Then you should think about adding some GIFs to your digital marketing. GIFs are probably the most under-utilized media that I’ve seen in the digital marketing space.

What’s a GIF?

Definition: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is “a computer file format for the compression and storage of digital video images.”  Source:  Merriam Webster Dictionary

In general terms, GIFs are those fun little images or mini videos that play over and over.  They can easily be embedded into your digital marketing to add some movement to your content and bring a little flavor to your online branding.

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to GIFs, is if you want to find a GIF or create one of your own.

Finding a GIF

I use GIPHY.com as my source but you can also find them on TumblrTwitter or do a quick Google search.

Saving a GIF (that you found). 

Once you find a GIF, the next step is to save it to your system.  Believe it or not, you treat GIFs as images.  Simply right-click and select “Save Image As”.  Just make sure “GIF Image” is your “Save as type”.

Making a GIF

If you can’t find a GIF that drives the message home, you can make one of your own.  There are sites that let you do this such as  Giphy’s Make a GIF ToolMakeAGIF.com.  My personal tool of preference is the Ripl App(For iOS devices).

How to use GIFs in Social Media

You probably have figured out already that when it comes to social media marketing, images will always take preference over text, and videos will always receive more interaction than images.  However, sometimes we don’t have the time or interest to create a video for every post that we create.

Enter your new friend, the GIF

Find or create a GIF and voilà!  You’ve now made your social media marketing more interactive!  Rather than posting an image, you can make it dance across your news feed – and give your account some more attention and interaction online.

Here is an example of how I used a GIF in my social media.  It was Friday and I was personally feeling run down after a long week.  I thought my audience may feel the same.  So I sought out a fun GIF to lighten the mood – and groove into the weekend.

Looking at the reporting, this one post received a total of 33% of my entire reach for the week.  “Reach” in social media terms is defined by the amount of people that saw your post in their newsfeed.

GIFs Aren’t Limited to Your Social Media 

You can use them in your blog content, or add a little flavor to your email marketing.  This may depend on the email marketing program that you work with.  I use Constant Contact.  I have been able to use GIFs to spice up the material in a content heavy newsletter.

The best example I’ve seen of a GIF in an email marketing campaign is Olive Garden.  They were promoting their delivery service during a weekend that had both an awards show and football playoff game.  They used a creative subject line, “Cleats or Stilettos?” and when you opened the email, your eyes fell upon this gorgeous GIF.

As you can see, for 5 to 10 extra minutes of finding or creating a GIF, the payoff is worth it.  Go seek out a GIF or make your own – and watch as the content pops off the screen and your numbers skyrocket.


Jeannine O’Neil, (@Jeannine_Oneil) owner of JO Social Branding, is a digital media strategist who empowers and educates marketing professionals on how to make the best use of their social media and email marketing.  Through JO Social Branding, she has positioned herself as a thought leader in the digital marketing industry.  In addition to her work as a speaker and consultant, Jeannine has a weeklynewsletter and podcast titled, “Social Eyes”.

A recent client asked for a promotional strategy to promote her event and though it varies by industry, target audience and personal preference, I found certain similarities and tasks that needed to be completed.  I thought I would share some of them with you as an overview of what you’ll want to think about. Keep in mind that this is a sampling for a local event, not an entire plan of social media, onsite event strategy and presentation preparation.

Sample PR Checklist for Your Upcoming Event  

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Now, the bigger the event the more promotion you’ll need to fill the room. There’ll be website promotion, Twitter mention and strategy as well as being part of a social media support group who will co-promote on your behalf.  There are also Facebook posting opportunities on your personal and business page and the possibility to boost content where it counts the most.

LinkedIn promotion may also be considered if appropriate on your own page as well as in groups you belong to. You can also ask for plugs from clients and event organizers, and distribute flyers at networking groups and speaking gigs.  Heck, even friends of friends in your inner circle will say a good word if you ask them to help out.

No matter what promotional tactics you use, never underestimate the power of picking up the phone. Many would rather die than call. I’d rather call than die.  Make 50 calls a day and you can get used to anything.

I’ve got 10 pages of ideas that I could share with you, but it would get too detailed and I want you to feel inspired, not bogged down with a giant PR and marketing plan and to-do list. There’s a wheel house of strategies that can be used over and over again. Some will work, others will fail miserably. But, you have to try.

Holding an event is an investment in showcasing your expertise and building your business. Be sure you have enough help to promote your event online and offline, before the event, during the event and post event. And even though the event ends, you’ll still be promoting the content in one way or another, your next workshop, upcoming speaking gig, new products and services – and the list goes on.

Be it free or paid, creating and hosting an event takes courage and promoting it to the right audience, who likes, knows and trusts you – as well as finds value in what you teach, makes all the difference in the world.

The first step in planning an event is making the decision to have an event. The step isn’t really a step though. It’s a quantum leap in promoting who you are and the courage to speak your truth.

Teach to reach!

LinkedIn has so many opportunities to showcase your skills, expertise and talent. And, one of the most underutilized PR and marketing opportunities is publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. It’s a platform to write about your expert topic, repurpose your blogs and presentations and engage an eager audience who want to learn more. Posting on LinkedIn Pulse increases your credibility, reputation and ability for others to like, know and trust you, as well as share and comment on your work.

Publishing Articles on LinkedIn is Easy – Here’s How You Do It

  1. First, you need to have a LinkedIn account which can be as simple or complex as you want, but please make it key word rich and complete in all categories – highlighting your experience. Thumbs up to everyone who takes more than 30 minutes to create a compelling profile and posts a professional headshot. (A high resolution photo is always preferred for when you’re picked up by the media.)
  2. There are two ways to publish on LinkedIn Pulse, but the easiest is to post an article from your home page where you see “Publish A Post”. You’ll have an opportunity to write about your signature topic in depth, create a catchy headline, upload a recent image (or create your own graphic on Canva) and then post your The format is user-friendly and whether you know anything about WordPress or not, it should be a breeze. (this is the end)
  3. Consider writing at least two times a month, but weekly is even better. A longer article with about 500 – 750 words is preferred to provide valuable information and insight on your expert topic, and aim to pen at least five paragraphs. Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch. Publishing on LinkedIn is all about showcasing your knowledge.
  4. If you’re short on time, it’s possible to repurpose older blogs and change up the titles, intros and outros, but only if they’re not already posted on Pulse. You probably have a wealth of digital assets and information in your head, so plan to get it all on paper/online and create an editorial calendar to stay on target and for tracking success. Be sure to vary up the times and platforms posting your articles so there’s consistency but not duplication.
  5. Need Inspiration? Even the best writers get stuck for ideas. Feel free to check out topics that are trending on LinkedIn and Twitter, research BuzzSumo, refer to questions clients and prospects are asking, dive into Quora to see what others are inquiring about – and always be listening to what’s going on in your industry and what your target audience should know to stay ahead of the game.

One of my clients is having great success with LinkedIn Pulse. She blogs regularly and writes a weekly article about her expert topic. I love how she’s built her credibility and reputation from writing and engaging with her readers, as well as networking to the max. She’s taken what’s in her head, put it on paper and tweaked it multiple ways to reach a wide and growing target audience.  Always improving her analytics to match leads and sales, she pays attention to the various groups she’s a part of, listening then writing.

Now, if you’re wondering what days are best to post, recent research has shown that it’s typically Thursday and Sunday, but you should check with your own industry trends. Again, don’t send your blog and post your article the same day.  Mix it up to get the max.

Be strategic in your thinking, writing, and sharing.

You’ve worked hard to write outstanding content. Now promote it via LinkedIn Pulse and other social media platforms to reach your target audience, and turn prospects and customers into raving fans.

And the good thing is, it’s all free!

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.

Hopefully, wherever you are, it’s spring and a perfect time to clean out (or as my stylist says) edit your closet. Take advantage of this newfound energy and direct it to your online assets.

Online assets are properties you’ve created on social media platforms you’re using (or not).  My recommendation is that you’re always consistent with your branding, message and voice. That may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at what we still have “out there” but may have forgotten!

 5 Tips to Refresh Your Online Presence

1)  Keep Your Website Current As You Grow Your Brand. Many entrepreneurs are ahead of their website by at least nine (9) months because change is a constant. Some have had websites from 2008 without even a refresh. Consider moving to a Word press format for updating copy, blogs, photos and simple SEO. Keep your look and feel current with where you are now. Change happens. You either go with it, or it goes without you.

2) Get a List of All Your Digital Assets and Passwords. Yes, you have a website, but what about your owned media (blog) and other social media channels? LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Should I continue? Keep this list updated and handy and every once in a while, consider refreshing passwords. If you do, please tell your team!

3) Make Sure to Have Consistent Profile Information. When you look on LinkedIn or Google+ do you cringe when you read your old profile? It happens. Getting into the zone of writing about yourself takes time and effort. And your photo? Lose or gain 20 pounds? Sporting a shaved head or gone red? Now’s the time for a new headshot. And make it, high res, please. The media will love you and so will I.

4) Look at All Your Landing Pages and Autoresponders. If you work by yourself or on a small team, it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything you do. Look back at your marketing and PR calendars to see the projects you’ve worked on. Where do you have links? Are they all working or are some broken? Do your autoresponders need a rewrite? Now’s the time for spring cleaning!

5) Give Your Email Signature Permission to Work 24/7. I was just featured in Fit Small Business for contributing top ideas for email signatures. Since you’re always updating your image and work, your email signature should keep pace as well.  Are you a new author? Share a chapter. Have a freebie? Provide a link. Work globally? Include your time zone. Won an award? Tell the world. It’s easy peasy and free!

Refresh. Renew. Revitalize. And maybe even – Reinvent yourself.

I’m all for it!

PS. I’ll share some great news next week about a new partnership I have that can help with your marketing and provide even more tips, tricks and tools to engage your audience. Stay tuned for the announcement and keep promoting yourself and your brand!

Want More tips for Spring Cleaning Your Personal Brand?  Email me here! 

First, check out this awesome tool that analyzes and scores the headlines you’ve written.  It’s a free headline analyzer from Co-Schedule.com. If you’ve never used it before, definitely give it a try. The goal is to come up with a score as close to 100% as possible.  Mine rated a 72%.  What I should do (note to self) is write a page of headlines and in my free time, analyze them.  Better yet, I’ll invite a few friends to come over and we’ll come up with titles over a bottle of wine. I bet they’ll rock.

There’s also another tool that analyzes the emotional marketing value analysis of a title. This fascinates me (as many things do) and I’ve included the link here.  It’s another perspective on how your headline is viewed and it’s available online at the Advanced Marketing Institute.

Next up is an article on how to tweak your headline using specific words and punchy phrases.  Author, Tamsin Henderson gives her advice in this article which was featured yesterday in HARO (you gotta love HARO). Read How to Tweak Your Headlines for Success and see what changes you can make in your copy. And yes, we do recognize that character counts do count.

HubSpot always has great information and articles on a variety of marketing and public relations topics. Here are more guidelines on How to Write Catchy Headlines & Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist from Corey Wainwright. Be clear, accurate, brainstorm with others – and don’t forget to be a little bit sexy.

Lastly, let’s look at Megan Marrs’ article 19 Headline Writing Tips for More Clickable, Shareable Blog Posts from Wordstream.com. She asks her readers to think about adding numbers, digits and lists, educating your audience, breaking convention – and also suggests writing about breeding distrust, indicating we’re a pretty cynical society!

There you have it.  A variety of sources on ‘How to Write a Kick Ass Headline to Market Your Brand’.

I’d add to this with the following advice.

Practice makes perfect. Go to a supermarket and look at the headlines on tabloids and magazine.  Think about eliciting a response from your reader. And, try to use key words that align with your brand. Vary it up though. You don’t want to build on boring.  Remember, you can’t always use the headline alone to drive traffic. It’s just part of the mix. Write great content, be relevant and use free SEO tools, tactics and plug ins to help as well.

We’re not trying to be perfect here – we’re all learning as we go.  We’re also building our brands in ways that express who we are and how we can help others.

 

PS – I’ll be speaking about ‘How to Get Free Publicity for Your Brand and Grow Your Business’ in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, March 26th at Sleek Marketing University.  The theme of the event is Digital Marketing For SkyRocketing Growth – What’s in Your Arsenal?  Join me and fellow speakers Christina Inge, Kai Chung, Jamie Bradley, Chuck Goldstone and Craig Carpenter as we dig deep into online marketing and how you can ramp up your business in a big way. Use the code SOCMED for 40% off.