Tag: blogging

THREE KEY TIPS TO START 2020 AS A YEAR OF PROGRESS

2019 is over. Let that sink in.

The older I get the more I find myself asking the same question every time 1st December appears on the calendar. No, it’s not whether I will finally make it to Santa’s nice list but more where has the year gone?

If this sounds familiar, and you find yourself in a constant state of confusion trying to figure out how another 12 months have come and gone in a flash, then I’d recommend taking some time over the Christmas holidays to have a period of deep, self-reflection.

Whether it’s looking at the good and bad both professionally and personally, having a cathartic release at the end of the year can be an extremely powerful tool for moving forward, but only if you are truly honest with yourself.

Celebrate the successes!

If you’ve achieved new client wins, contract extensions, new hires or overall business growth, you must recognise the triumphs that your hard work has delivered. With that being said, it is equally as important to evaluate the failures. I believe that taking stock of these combined experiences allows us to learn, progress and ultimately reach our full potential.

So, before 2020 begins and we think about what we will be thinking when we sit down one year from now scratching our heads as to where another twelve months has gone, I have put together a list of my three top tips to help immerse yourself in the here and now.

  1. Journal writing

Start the new year by dedicating yourself to writing a journal or diary entry. Whether its daily, weekly or even monthly, putting pen to paper can often prompt reflection and force you to remember key experiences and moments that would have otherwise been forgotten.

Not only does this allow you to keep on track of your ongoing activity, meetings and workload, but it also can be used as a prompt to generate new ideas and strategies. Furthermore, it could act as a blueprint, outlining what has and hasn’t worked in the past which can be used to help form new decisions for the future.

  1. Monthly comparisons

Measuring progress can be done in many different forms, depending on what area of the workplace you are looking to assess. Whether it’s an analytical approach, goal oriented or from an economic perspective, comparing and contrasting your progress can indicate which areas need reviewing and which areas you are performing most strongly in.

Identifying what worked, but more importantly what didn’t work, is a practical way of assessing how you’ve either been successful or fallen short in many critical aspects of the workplace.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings, no matter how big or small, will not only help you eliminate the fear of making the same mistakes, but it will also highlight your strengths and how you’ve been able to use these to achieve success.

Once the month is over, repeated the process.

  1. Self-imposed breaks

Whether you are completing long or short  projects, reaching deadlines or simply trying to manage an increasing workload, taking a break in a busy period can often feel detrimental to your work, especially when you feel as if you are performing at a high level.

Realistically, however, you have to ask yourself how long this can be maintained before hitting the proverbial brick wall. Operating at a rapid pace will eventually leave you feeling overwhelmed, unfocused and frustrated, all of which combined will lead to a drop in overall productivity. To avoid such a scenario, we must allow ourselves to step back and take a much-needed break.

Whether its twenty minutes, an hour, a day, week, month or longer; the ability to step back, refocus and revaluate what you are trying to achieve can be such a valuable skill to have. Implementing this practise into the workplace will not only encourage you to stay mindful of your ambitions, but it will also help you understand when you are at full capacity and unable to deliver your desired end goals.

Practise what I preach

The purpose of each of all three tips is to ensure we become self-aware of our strengths and weaknesses, which then allows us to identify and address critical areas of improvement. We strive to be better today than we were yesterday, therefore we must show significant signs of growth year on year.

As we expect to get even busier in 2020 at Open Comms, I will be making sure to implement all three tips as soon as we return in January. Whether its crafting a press release, rolling out a social media campaign or securing media coverage for our growing list of clients, it is critical that I constantly work towards building on the success already achieved and improving the less developed aspects of my skillset.

Content is king – long live the king!

User generated content has become an increasingly appealing option for businesses, not least because they can share their ideas, thoughts and passions at the touch of a button. In addition user generated content is cost effective and accessible – after all it’s your time that you need to invest.

Whether you have a company blog, or prefer to use social media tools to share your thoughts, there is an international audience just waiting to hear what you have to say.

What to consider

The problem with user generated content is that often once the excitement of uploading your musings wear’s off, businesses are left with websites and social tools that are clearly out of date.

What usually happens is that someone takes responsibility for uploading content, even getting the support of the senior team, only to then find that managing the process is constantly on the bottom of their ever increasing ‘to do’ list.

All this then does is reinforce that marketing and communication is not a priority for the business – whereas user generated content should be used to promote and showcase success and the value that a consistent approach can deliver.

How to manage the process more effectively

Many organisations choose a single person to manage all user generated content, which includes the drafting and uploading of all articles, but a better and more effective approach would be to pick one person from each team to submit an article of their choice.

This will then share the workload and empower those who are asked to contribute to do so on a less frequent basis. So, rather than having one person contributing to a company blog each week, you can share the workload by requesting that each team submits a blog once a month.

What you are also likely to find if you share the management of a company blog is that the content becomes more engaging and it gives people who are genuinely passionate about their job the chance to share their thoughts and have them published.

This will still require one person to chase and ensure that people do submit their copy on time however it makes the process far simpler and less demanding.

How to make it engaging

Some businesses can struggle with finding topics that they feel their visitors, followers, connections or fans will be interested in reading however it’s worth remembering that they have already taken a step to engage with you and without updated user generated content all you are doing is metaphorically turning your back on them – now that’s not friendly when you think about it!

To make things easier all you need to do is add the website, blog and social media to your weekly or monthly meetings. Create a calendar of events, activities, dates, products, services and subjects that are relevant to your business – you can then choose any one of these to expand on and share.

As an example you could be a clothing company and in which case you could consider the following; fashion, materials, manufacture, design or retail. There are lots and lots of things that could be covered.

Top tips

In order to get best value from user generated content, we would recommend that you keep it simple. Consider how you can share updates with your audience that will add some value.

Blogs as an example are a great way to share the personality of those within your organisation. Choose people who you know will want to contribute and who will get a real buzz from seeing their copy online – it will make life much easier than trying to drag content from those who would rather not contribute.

Put together a list of words that can be associated with your business and also the topics that are covered in industry magazines. What’s great about user generated content is that it’s your opportunity to have your say – obviously you need to be mindful that anyone can access your thoughts and there is a fine line between opinion and ranting – but it’s a great way to share your thoughts.

If you draft a simple question and answer document that can be updated in no more than 20 minutes you can send this around to the teams within your organisation and simply use this as a team update or ‘five minutes with’ section to the blog. This is really simple and should provide you with interesting and engaging content to share.

Clients and suppliers are a great resource as well. If you are proud of the work that you do with them then ask that they feature as a guest blog, sharing their thoughts and views with your audience.

There is no doubt that time and resource needs to be invested in generating interesting and engaging user content but once you start to see the value, which can be measured by increased web hits or shares, likes and retweets across social tools, it becomes clear that it can add real value to your business, while also raising your profile and positioning you as an expert within your field.

How often to post

There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should post or update user generated content but as a guide we would recommend that you update your blog once a week to start with. This will give you a realistic target and will encourage visitors to come back to your site or to share your comments more often.

Taking little steps to implement a strategy that you can manage internally is a great way to build on your marketing activities and if you really don’t have the time – you could always ask an agency for support.

At Open Communications we work with businesses to develop a strategy that they can manage. We offer full day sessions with up to 6 people from any one organisation able to get involved.

Getting people excited by user generated content is often the first hurdle to cross and making them understand the value and benefit that can be achieved as a result isn’t always easy. Working with a third party can do this quickly and give you the hints and tips you need to build a strategy that will last and deliver a return on investment.

Better still, if you work with a reputable company they should have examples of other businesses they have worked with who have seen the value and are putting steps in place to create interesting, engaging and up to date content that they share.