More to Come

Finding your Strengths

imageI was asked to come back to Kent State University (my alma mater) and speak at PRSSA’s annual Communications Connection event. This was my second time speaking at this event, and it’s still crazy to me because I feel like it was just yesterday that I was the student attending this event to gain knowledge from area professionals.

The topic I was given was “finding your strengths” and I thought I would recap the key points I told the students.

  • Identify what you love to do and recognize what you excel at. Build on those strengths and find opportunities that will allow you to do what you love.
  • It’s OK to not know what all of your strengths are! This can take time, and that’s totally fine. (There is a great book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, that takes the guess work out of identifying your strengths and weaknesses.)
  • Take advantages of committees (i.e. PRSSA Kent and AAF Kent), internships and jobs. This will allow you to gain valuable knowledge and get experience in multiple areas. You never know when these opportunities will turn into a passion you didn’t even know you had.
  • When interviewing for an internship or job, I highly recommend having a section in the back of your portfolio that highlights things you are passionate about. Even though this may have nothing to do with the job you are applying for, it says a lot about you and your personality. For me, I highlighted several of my favorite photos that I had taken, along with several of my favorite posts from my Vera Bradley blog. Besides, it’s easy to talk about the things you love! Embrace it.
  • If you know your strengths, but your current internship or job doesn’t necessarily list that in the job description, I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do- especially when I can use a skill that I’m already good at, and help an organization that may struggle in that area due to lack of resources and time. Either way, it’s a great networking opportunity and you’re gaining real-world experience, too!
  • On the other hand, if you know what one of your strengths is, let’s say- media relations, yet your current internship or job doesn’t list that in your responsibilities, speak up and talk to your supervisor or boss. Letting them know (or better yet, showing them) that you are interesting in a particular area, is one way to get on their radar. Ask if you can sit in on their next media pitch or see if you can help craft the next media list, the worst they can say is “no.”

Do you have any tips that you would add? I’d love to hear them.


Open Office Considerations

There was a lot of interest in the concept of open offices at the Worldcom Americas Meeting earlier this month. Open offices can offer a significant cost saving for employers, but they can also dramatically increase employee stress and decrease productivity. As open office dwellers ourselves, we’d like to share a few suggestions for those who may be considering knocking down the walls:

  1. Consider how much time team members spend on the phone. Lack of privacy makes client conversations more difficult, and constant exposure to other people’s phone conversations creates disruptions for those who aren’t part of the discussion.
  2. Separate meeting spaces from workspaces. Sound carries in an open office. Plan ahead to make sure a meeting in one part of the office won’t create so much noise that it takes over the entire space.
  3. Give employees a way to control how accessible they are. There’s a fine line between “spontaneous collaboration” and “constant interruption.” You might be able to ignore someone who stops at your office door in a traditional office, but that’s harder to do when they’re staring at you from the other side of a table. Let employees create visual cues that let others know when they’re not available, and respect their need for some uninterrupted time.
  4. Respect how employees need to work. Chances are you have account managers who spend a lot of time on the phone, senior staff who regularly meet with clients and team members, and writers, analysts or developers who need blocks of uninterrupted time to produce work. Creating a space that works for everyone may mean grouping employees together by work style rather than client team.
  5. Ask your employees for their input before you draw up plans. Their insight can help you determine the best use for your space and minimize frustration and stress in the long run.

Author: Pam Long[Google+]

True Digital Communications is the newest member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group

I am pleased to announce that True Digital Communications joined the Worldcom Public Relations Group this week. I was a member of this esteemed network of independent PR and marketing firms in the past and am so happy that they welcomed True into the network. We are the only digital marketing focused firm in the network.


For our clients today, we now have the ability to provide you access to firsthand geographic insights and representation, best-in-class public relations services and experience, and unparalleled industry knowledge. For example, if you have an event in Los Angeles, we will work with The Pollack PR Marketing Group, which is based there, to provide strategic planning and support. There are more than 140 agencies in the Worldcom network with offices all around the globe. See the full list here.

I am a firm believer in working with partners who can provide knowledge and insights to help our clients achieve greater results and growth. I know many of our Worldcom partners personally and believe we can work together well with them in developing solutions to meet our clients’ challenges.

As True continues to grow, I will be tapping well-established and successful Worldcom friends to give us direction and insights as we add services, team members and continue to evolve. I know we will be better because of it.

In addition, many Worldcom member agencies are already reaching out to our True Team members to provide digital marketing services and recommendations. We are quickly finding our skills and services are helping create successful integrated campaigns for their clients.

Worldcom is an exciting partnership for True and for all of our clients, today and tomorrow. I invite you to check out Worldcom and please let us know what questions you have.

U Talkin’ to Me?

UTalkintoMeBy now, it’s no secret that social media has become a major outlet for communication across every industry worldwide. I would go as far to say that business leaders outside of the marketing world are even aware that a brand should have a social media strategy complete with personality, style and characteristics that match the brand image. However, not everyone on social media seems to know how to post content that speaks to their audience and conveys a tone that highlights their brand image.

So far in my career, one of the areas I’ve focused a lot of my time and effort in is social media messaging and tone. I’ve heard business leaders of other agencies and my own say that they know why they need a Facebook account but they don’t know how to effectively talk to their customers through the channel. This is where messaging and tone become major players.

With both messaging and tone being key elements in your social media strategy, the best way to effectively convey these factors is by knowing your audience. The more research and understanding you have with the people you interact with on your page, the more effective your social strategy will be. People on social media interact with what they know; let your audience know your brand. Their personal connection to your brand and content is what will boost your engagement rates.

Unless you’re a pet store or something of that nature, resist the urge to post the cute puppy “Happy Friday” photo. We’ve all had thought about posting to Facebook about the weather or a trending topic from the Internet, but if the content doesn’t relate to your brand, steer clear. I highly suggest checking out John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight rant regarding corporations on Twitter for a better understanding of how brands should not act on social (I was going to link out to the video in this blog post, but it’s a little too vulgar…but also hilarious). Anyway, it’s better to focus your social media strategy on content that allows you to create a direct connection with your audience. One of True’s areas of expertise is the building products industry, which is heavily dominated by male culture. It would not make sense to post content with puppies and flowers to men who work with power tools day in and day out. The content needs to reflect the brand and appeal to the correct audience.

Equally as important as the content of your messaging, is your tone of voice. How does your brand talk to its audience? Going back to True’s industrial clients, tone of voice definitely plays a factor in audience engagement. Because the audience is mainly blue-collar construction workers, using a dominant and confident tone in the messaging resonates better than a cheerful and energetic tone. The audience needs to identify with your content in order to engage. The best way to go about that is to speak to them on the same level.

As a recap, it’s important to have a clear image of your audience, with the goal in mind of making your social content as personal as possible. Social engagement stems from the connection the user has to the post. A user’s connection with social content derives from the right messaging and tone that appropriately reflects the brand. The more you know about your audience, the better your social media strategy can be, which will lead to better engagement rates that benefit your brand.

: ) Is Modern Communications Personal?

acronyms 2We live in a world of instant communication and information. While the power of this technology is awesome, we forget that it does come with great responsibilities too. How many times are we texting or talking on our mobile phones when we shouldn’t or are checking Facebook while we should be paying attention in a meeting.

Earlier this week Pope Francis asked Catholics to “get off the Internet and do something productive.” I guess even the Pope knows what a time-suck social media can be.

Long before there was an Internet and the idea of digital marketing was non- existent, when we needed to communicate, we spoke to each other. We picked up the phone and called, set up a meeting or talked at lunch. Instant messaging was however long it took the U.S. Mail to deliver a letter and e-mail was a typed letter, not handwritten. I remember seeing my first fax machine in 1992 and being amazed. What technology would be next? Turned out to be the pager which was a big pain in the butt.

As communications became faster and more powerful, it also became less personal. I remember my first conference call. I quickly realized that I liked to see faces when I spoke so I could gauge body language during conversations. I hated conference calls. Then email came out. Quick, fast communications but totally devoid of the tones we hear in voices that give us cues on emotion. THIS BECAME SHOUTING.

Today it’s texting which has its own language (LOL, OMW, IDK) and signs to show our emotion such as : ) Thank God I work with a team of 20-somethings otherwise I would still think that “LOL” means Lots of Love and “WTF,” Why that Face? I’ve learned the hard way that neither is an appropriate response when texting a friend who is going through tough times.

Communications and technology is a powerful and profitable business. Worldwide it has launched revolutions. Locally, it makes sure me and my team receive  a paycheck every two weeks. However, never forget the power of a phone call or better yet, getting up from your desk and talking to one another instead of sending an email or another text. Learn the power of reading faces and listen for emotion and tone.

Communication is personal, regardless of the technology that connects us.

The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Graph Search


The audience data on Facebook is a marketer’s dream.  And if you aren’t using Facebook’s free tools to mine it, you’re missing out on valuable insights about your customers.

Graph Search queries aren’t new to Facebook (they launched in 2013 with updated profiles), but so few people seem to use the feature. Its primary purpose is to make Facebook more like Google – answering useful questions for Facebook users to add value to the service. For example, typing “Restaurants my friends like near Cleveland”) in the blue header bar returns a Yelp-like map of restaurants and reviews. But the information you can query about pages, people who like pages and their interest are endless. What can you find out? Glad you asked. See the full list of Graph Search queries for marketers below.

There are a lot of things this info can do for you, including:

  • Guide your content strategy
  • Offer promotion and contest ideas
  • Reveal ad targeting opportunities
  • Show social media best practices for similar audiences

Don’t let the long list of queries scare you. You won’t need all of them. We just had trouble finding a comprehensive list for marketers, so we made one of our own! If you just want to learn a little more about your audience, try starting with the following process.

  1. “Interests of people who like [my page]” – Dip your toe in the water and learn a little bit about your audience’s interests.
  2. “Pages liked by people who like [my page]” – Similar to interests, this will tell you what your audience does on social media. Look for your competition on this list to determine if there’s a strong overlap.
  3. “Pages liked by people who are interested in [interests revealed by previous searches]” – See what pages with people with those interests like. What kind of content do those pages post? What kind of tone do they use?
  4. “Groups of people who like [pages identified in step 3]” – Looking at the groups those users belong to will give you an idea of the types of conversions and topics the audience finds interesting. It can help you determine the types of content you should produce or help you find influencers.
  5. Repeat all the above steps for your competition. Depending on the overlap in likes, you may get dramatically different results.



Discover What People Like

Find out what people like:

  • Favorite interests of [person]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who live in [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and live nearby
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and live in [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and work at [company]


Behavioral factors

  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who like [page]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who live in [place]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who work at [company]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who live in [place] and like [page]


Similar/Popular Page Identification

  • Pages liked by people who like [page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [page]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and work at [company]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and live in [place]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and work at [company]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and visited [place]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and like [page]


Find people

Find people by where they work:

  • People who work at [company] and like [page]
  • People who work at [company] and live in [place]
  • People who work at [company] and visited [place or location page]


Find people by pages they like:

  • People who like [page] and [page]
  • People who like [page] and [place]
  • People who like [page] and visited [place or location page]


Find a new group:

  • Groups of people who like [page]
  • Groups of people who like [page] and [page]
  • Groups of people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]



Find places

Find Businesses/Services

  • Places that people who like [page] visited
  • Places that people who live in [place] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] and like [page] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] and live in [place] visited



Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]


Are we “too connected”?

IMG_8534Over the past six months, I’ve noticed an overwhelming (and somewhat shocking) trend at almost every in-person meeting I attend. Before I tell you what it is, I bet you either have one right beside you, or you may be reading this blog post from one. That’s right – I’m talking about cell phones – those wonderful little devices that allow us to hold the whole world on our fingertips. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of having my iPhone by me at meetings from time to time, but now that I’m tuned into the fact that many of us feel we “need” to have our devices inches from our reach, I’ve been consciously putting my phone away. This rant isn’t to scold anyone who may keep their phone next to them, but I’m hoping this may serve as a gentle reminder that it’s OK to put your phone away. I promise you that the withdrawal from your device won’t kill you. Sure, you may get the shakes or feel anxious about missing the next great selfie your friends post to Facebook- but I can guarantee you (and most importantly) your co-workers and client will secretly be happy that you were fully engaged in the conversation.

Are we capable of multitasking? 

Multitasking is a skill that many people think they are good at. But can the human brain truly process multiple things at the same time and process them well? Ira Hyman, a Western Washington University cognitive psychologist and professor believes multitasking comes at a significant cost.  “Whenever people are in a situation when they’re both trying to track a social interaction they’re engaged in and track something with their cell phones, they’re engaged in a divided-attention task,” Hyman says. “What this means is that they’ll do both things more poorly than if they did one of them.”

Meeting Etiquette

I guess the point I’m trying to get to is that having your phone out at a meeting just seems rude. So please, the next time you’re in a face-to-face meeting, make it just that. Face-to-screen just isn’t the same.

Author: Allison Ewing[Google+]

Time for a Facebook Break?

facebookbreak 2Every generation has its breaks. For my grandfather it was a lunch break. For my parents it was a coffee break or a smoke break. So what breaks do we take today? Increasingly we check our favorite social media channels to see what’s going on.

True Digital Media Strategist Shannon Wallace pointed out a new social media trend. With so many people using mobile devices to access social media, it’s common to take a quick break during the workday to check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what’s going on. Shannon refers to it as a Facebook Break. It’s the Millennial’s and Generation X’s version of a coffee or smoke break, which they might be doing too since they multitask constantly.

When you’re developing a social media strategy, remember to think about how your target audience consumes social media. They’re probably not Facebooking for hours but instead are checking in for five to 10 minutes. You need to grab their attention and not ask them to do too much. They don’t have time. Remember, no one likes to work when they’re taking a break.

Digital Nomads – A new approach to mobile marketing strategy

It’s no secret that mobile is the future of marketing. So I won’t restate that truth. However, I will beg you not to underestimate the statement. It’s easy to do. Marketing is all about connecting an audience with products and services. We do this by knowing and understanding the audience.

That audience is changing. All of it. Not just 18 to 25 year olds or affluent professionals. All of it. We are now perpetually in motion and it’s all thanks to our phones.

We aren’t embracing mobile

The concept of mobile is unnatural to us. Thousands of years ago, people learned life was easier if they stayed in one place, harvested crops and domesticated livestock. Since then, we’ve evolved the concept to the point of infallibility. We’ve swapped trade for a monetary system, commercialized food production and engineered endless technological advances to make stationary life simpler. The idea is so baked into our ethos that it’s become a core tenant of marketing: place. The physical location of a good or service.

But we made one mistake. We got too good at developing and refining agricultural, industrialized society. You can get in your car and drive as far as you’d like in any direction. As long as you have a wallet and credit card, you’ll find food and shelter. Add a smartphone, and suddenly you have a traveling stationary life – a new form of nomadic living.

Overcoming instinct

People aren’t just looking for your product or service from their computer chair in a home office. This is no surprise. But look a step further and you can see nomadic living in everything about how audiences interact with your product or service. Are your mobile users at work, on the couch watching TV, sitting in traffic or in a hotel room? What do they want to know in those times and places?

We’ve heard marketing teams talk about responsive redesigns as failures because mobile bounce rates don’t change. But mobile users are often only looking for a name or address. They will go to a page, get the info they need, leave the site and register as a bounce.

Sometimes marketers miss opportunities in lead generation because a site doesn’t cater to customers on the move. This can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’re asking for information that’s too cumbersome on a mobile device. Even if you think your mobile strategy is buttoned up, consider this scenario. True was recently at SMX Advanced (a search marketing conference for SEOs and search engine advertisers) where Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team and overall Google guru, asked a room full of top digital marketers if they felt they had outstanding mobile strategies. Every hand in the room shot up. Then he asked if their lead-gen forms were coded to autofill on mobile devices. The majority of hands slowly receded and everyone looked kind of embarrassed.

Now what?

This post isn’t a roadmap to a better mobile strategy. It isn’t even a lesson in mobile marketing. It’s a strong recommendation to re-evaluate your audience and learn how and why they move. Because they are going somewhere. If you can’t help them get there faster, then someone else will.

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]

Our New Favorite Pinterest Tool

When Pinterest introduced analytics for business accounts in early 2013, marketers could finally gain some insight into what works and what doesn’t work for their brand. Pinterest’s built-in analytics show what’s popular (most pinned and most clicked), what’s been pinned from your website and documents impressions, reach, clicks and visits for a specified date range.

But what if you want to go beyond metrics for individual pins? How do you know what boards are working well, which ones have the highest potential to go viral, and where to focus your efforts for maximum visibility? That’s where Tailwind comes in. We’ve been using the free version for the past few months and we’re impressed.

The profile view gives you a quick snapshot of the basic stats (followers, pins, repins and likes), but then goes a step further to translate those stats into engagement indicators that  tell you how your entire account is performing.Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.22.22 PM


From there, Tailwind digs into each individual board in an account and provides a snapshot of activity (pins, followers and repins) plus the same engagement indicators. Using this information, marketers can begin to zero in on boards and topics with high engagement and use that information to further drive Pinterest strategy.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.31.45 PM

How about you? What are your favorite Pinterest tools or tricks?