5 Tips for Creating a Strategic Infographic

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetGraphic design background or not, anyone is capable of creating a stunning infographic thanks to easy-to-use tools like Piktochart. The hard part is being strategic about the communication within the infographic. Here are five tips for creating a strategically designed infographic for your brand.

  1. Establish your story first. Once you start working with all the fun design elements, it can be easy to get lost in the different options. Make sure you’ve established the goal of your infographic and a basic outline of your main points before you start in on the design.
  2. Identify key statistics. The point of an infographic is to share information, not to sell a product. Once you’ve identified your goal and main points, begin researching to identify important facts and statistics that will provide the basis for your infographic and convey your main points.
  3. Is your target audience someone other than yourself? Then have someone else look at the information you’ve gathered as well. The message you’re sending might come across differently to them than you might expect and it’s important to realize this before you’ve invested time in designing the infographic.
  4. Design with purpose. Your message should dictate the design, not the other way around. Every element you include in your design should have some purpose other than the fact that it looks good.
  5. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action. While it’s important that your information comes across as sincere and untainted by a company agenda, it’s also necessary to include some way for readers to interact with your company, even it’s as simple as visiting your website to learn more.

Have you created an infographic before? What design tips did you pick up?

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Social Media Strategies for the Holidays

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The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us, but is your social media strategy prepared to keep up? Whether you’re hoping to drive traffic to your Etsy shop or need fresh ideas for a national company, here are some social media strategies to consider this holiday season.

Don’t forget about the little holidays.
Did you know there are 9 holidays other than Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas that you can plan your social media efforts around? Socially Stacked lists them all here. Try offering a special coupon code for your handmade store on Small Business Saturday or catch the attention of that shopper who’s added your items to their wish list but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet by promoting free shipping on December 18.

Share a story.
What are you thankful for this year? What holiday traditions does your family celebrate? Establish a personal connection with your customers by sharing a little of your own story and asking them to share theirs as well. Whether it’s through a photo on Instagram, a well written blog post or a simple Facebook update, make sure to tap into the personal aspect of these channels.

Solve a problem.
From shopping for that hard-to-buy-for person to decorating on a budget, there are many ways you (and your product) can help your followers throughout the holiday season. Cull together the perfect holiday gift guide or post a quick video to help even the worst gift wrapper create a pretty package. By solving an issue, your followers will see you as a trusted resource rather than just a brand pushing their own products all season long.

How do you stay creative with your social media strategies during the holidays?

Discovering the Best Digital Strategy for Your Brand

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I recently read this article on FastCompany that suggests brands are wasting their time and money on Facebook and Twitter. My reaction? That’s probably an overstatement. Yes, millennials are moving away from Facebook and Twitter is tricky to navigate as a brand, but there is an undeniable value in being where your audience is.

Leave your company’s Twitter account unmanned and the disgruntled customer who reaches out to you will only become more frustrated by your lack of response. Although social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are popular within certain audiences, nearly everyone online has a Facebook account.

Facebook can also act as a hub for your social media outreach unlike any other platform. Upload a Youtube video or share a stunning Instagram photo? Don’t forget to post it to Facebook as well. Facebook culls your content from various channels to create a stronger brand identity.

Now, I don’t disagree with the article completely. I do believe that a subscriber to your email list can provide greater ROI than a Facebook fan. However, sending an email and publishing a Facebook post can both feel like a shot in the dark. Although an email has a 90 percent chance of being delivered, the recipient then has to make a conscious decision to open your email – and I’m sure I’m not alone in deleted emails from companies (even if I really like the brand) without even reading them. Even if your Facebook post is only delivered 2 percent of the time, when it does reach your target audience, it does so without any effort on their part. By consistently sharing quality content on both Facebook and Twitter as well as through email marketing campaigns, you will reach both the loyal customer who is excited about engaging with your brand and the casual fan who has forgotten you even exist.

As for Twitter, the platform’s new “Buy” button could increase its value for brands. I am interested to see how this new tool will pan out for companies on Twitter.

What do you think? Are giant networks like Twitter and Facebook valuable for brands or should they redirect their efforts elsewhere?

Photo Credit: Spencer E Holtaway via Compfight cc

The Future of PR

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI recently visited PR agencies in Seattle with UO PRSSA. Listening to PR professionals talk about their work not only validated my desire to go into the industry, but it also helped me realize that the direction I want to go in is closely tied with the future of PR as a whole.

One of the agencies we toured was Allison + Partners, an integrated agency that takes a “holistic view on strategies,” according to Tom Bird, Senior Vice President of the Seattle office. By combining public relations, advertising and marketing in one office, they are able to provide clients with the best possible strategic communication plan, regardless of which area of communications the specific strategies traditionally fall under. As the line between paid media and earned media continues to blur, more and more agencies will have to be prepared to offer integrated strategies.

Spaces that used to be available to PR professionals are now becoming more pay-to-play, according to Rebecca Mosley, founding partner at DUO Public Relations. As a result, blogger relations are becoming as important, if not more important than traditional media relations. For example, PR professionals at Allison + Partners will pitch both the Wall Street Journal and the local fashion blogger. Mosley says that because bloggers are so trusted by their readers, they can bring in more revenue than even a placement in the New York Times.

The face of public relations is changing. Blogger relations will become as important to PR professionals as their relationships with local reporters and the thinning boundaries between PR, advertising and marketing, not to mention the overlap of social, will result in more agencies offering integrated communication stragies.

How do you think the future of PR is changing?

How to Navigate Twitter Chats

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Coming off my post on networking as an introvert, I thought I’d dive into my favorite form of networking: Twitter chats. These hour-long organized conversations on Twitter are by far the most fun I’ve ever had while networking. I can meet people from all across the country and even the globe from the comfort of my own home without needing an ounce of makeup or a stuffy suit.

Despite the low-key atmosphere, Twitter chats can be a little intimidating at first. The conversation moves quickly, making it easy to get left behind or overwhelmed by all the side conversations. Here are my tips on successfully navigating your first Twitter chat:

Use TweetChat to manage the conversation. Don’t make the mistake I did and try to keep up with the conversation using Twitter’s search function. It doesn’t work as smoothly and you’ll be guaranteed to get a little frazzled.

Make personal connections. Don’t be afraid to get behind in the main stream of conversation in order to have a one-on-one chat with another participants. You’ll gain so much more by striking up a conversation with someone whose comment caught your attention than you will by dutifully responding to every question the host throws your way.

Become a regular participant. Even if you feel a little overwhelmed the first time, you’ll quickly gain your footing and people will begin to notice you more. Eventually you’ll establish rapport with other regular participants, which is key to building your network.

Some of my favorite Twitter chats are Chelsea Krost‘s weekly #MillenialTalk and the monthly #CoffeeDateChat hosted by Coffee and Cardigans and Life, Love + Coffee Stains. PRSSA also hosts a number of Twitter chats – find out more about those here.

What Twitter chats do you participate in? Do you have any tips for getting the most out of the conversation?

Photo credit: NYC PR Girls

How to Succeed at Networking as an Introvert

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I’ve been told time and time again how important networking is for PR students – that applying to job postings is a waste of time and that a successful career is based on who you know. However, as an introvert, networking is the last thing I want to do. Ask me to revise my resume? Sure! Ask me to update my LinkedIn profile? Ok! But tell me to attend a networking mixer and I’ll be gritting my teeth the entire time.

That’s not to say I discredit the value of networking. I have learned firsthand how a strong network can help me attain things I never thought possible, but I prefer to approach networking in my own way.

Here’s how I’ve learned to succeed at (and even enjoy) networking as an introvert:

Look for one-on-one opportunities
Rather than attending the numerous mixers and career fairs you’re bound to have access to, schedule informational interviews with professionals you admire. This way you can do your research ahead of time and come prepared with thoughtful questions. You’ll build a more personal connection than you would by working a room and collecting business cards anyway.

Focus on listening, not speaking
Practice good listening skills rather than trying to supply the majority of the conversation. This means making eye contact while the other person is speaking, smiling appropriately and paying close attention to what they’re saying so you can ask insightful follow-up questions.

Make the most of the situation
If you do have to attend networking events, such as conferences or mixers, make them work for you. Earlier this month, I attended the PRSSA National Conference with hundreds of other students from around the country. Although we had a tightly packed schedule, I made time for myself to recharge even if it meant skipping a session I wasn’t necessarily interested in. Although I missed out on some of the content, having 45 minutes in a hotel room by myself allowed me to recuperate so that I could fully immerse myself in the next activity.

For more advice on how to network as an introvert, make sure to read this post by Cupcakes and Cashmere, this article by Fast Company and this article from Harvard Business Review.

Do you consider yourself an introvert? How do you take networking into your own hands?

Photo by: John Mitchell

4 Brands Built on Digital

digital-brandsRecently, a prominent creative in the advertising industry gave a guest lecture in one of my classes. What captured my attention most during the lecture was when he told us that he didn’t know of any companies that had been built solely on digital.

This stunned me because I could think of multiple brands that grown their business solely on digital platforms. A former creative director at DDB, his mind what set on mega-corporations such as Apple or Coca Cola. This made me wonder – does digital have to create an iconic brand in order to be considered a valid platform for company growth? Or does its opportunities lie in the fact that it evens the corporate playing ground, allowing small businesses to achieve high levels of success? Thanks to my entrepreneurial spirit, what excites me most about social media is the latter.

Here are four brands that I admire for their digital strategy:

Ruche: What started as a post-grad hobby selling clothing and jewelry on eBay eventually grew into an online boutique with an established online community. Co-founders Mai and Josh Olivo have immersed their brand in the fashion blogger community, becoming a favorite shopping destinations of many bloggers and their readers.

Freshly Picked: Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked has managed to turn what started as a handmade baby moccasin business into a multi-million dollar company. Her secret? She’s built her entire following for free on Instagram without spending a dime on advertising.

Stitch Fix: In an attempt to revolutionize the online shopping experience, Katrina Lake has capitalized on the trillion dollar “mommy market” with her personalized monthly clothing boxes. Lake established a mutually beneficial relationship with mommy bloggers, a four million strong community of powerful brand ambassadors who blog about their adventures in parenting. For more on Lake’s impressive digital strategy, see this Forbe’s article.

Rifle Paper Co: Anna Bond’s stationary company began as a small business out of her and her husband’s garage apartment in 2009 and has quickly become an international brand. Bond told The Everygirl, “We’ve never done any advertising, and our biggest marketing has been through blogs and press writing about our products. I had a blog and was using social media when we launched, and I also think that helped gain a loyal following before we even had one thing for sale.”

Tell me what you think! Does digital have to create an iconic brand in order to be considered a valuable strategy? Or has it already proved itself by allowing small businesses to thrive by creating a community around their brand?