Everybody and anybody who has an online presence has an active email address. So when it comes to connecting with your audience and customers, there’s no channel with a wider reach than email. Crafting the perfect email to send to your mailing list could be the one thing that builds a strong and lasting relationship with your audience, turning a reader into a paying customer.
What you’ll learn on the course
Why Email is the best at driving conversion
An introduction to MailChimp, the No1 email service provider
What types of content to include in your email campaigns
How to craft a killer email
How to measure your success and plan for future campaigns
This workshop gives you the inside scoop on all things email and how you can use it to reach your audience in that one place they visit every day – their inbox.
Sorry to break it to you all, but it’s true. However, the tide is turning and a new generation of bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers are using these platforms to their advantage and making a living from them. Social media networks are marketing and advertising tools like any other, but unlike traditional forms of media (TV, press, radio) they are not subject to stringent regulation. They are embedded in our digital culture purely as ‘social connectors’ and to the average consumer that’s true (on the surface) and that’s why we all love them. But the reality is that they are billion dollar money-making corporations, not worthy social-enterprise projects.
I find it surprising that considering the overwhelming power and effect social media has on our lives that so many people misunderstand its purpose. Money and the currency of influence is what fuels these networks. But we continue to attach the morality of friendship, trust and authenticity to the likes of Facebook and Instagram and feel a sense of collective outrage and disappointment when we are reminded of the commercial realities which are bubbling beneath the surface. I probably sound very cynical, but don’t misunderstand me, I’m just looking pragmatically at these networks as business tools.
Part of the reason I felt compelled to write this article is because there has been a huge amount of discussion in the last week sparked by an ‘Insta-mums‘ thread on a Mumsnet discussion forum. Several high-profile social media influencers including Mother of Daughters and Father of Daughters (pictured below) have come in for all manner of verbal abuse and criticism for making money through paid social media content. Now, personally I think that if you put yourself out in the public domain you have to be prepared for a certain degree of negativity – there will always be a few people who can’t resist judging and bitching (let’s not forget Katie Hopkins has made a career out of it). However, personal insults (or trolling) are obviously unacceptable and unnecessary, and the armchair warriors would clearly never say it to their faces. That said I do think it’s brought up some interesting points and I think there is a collective delusion going on around this topic.
The global corporations like Facebook (who own Instagram) are making billions of dollars harvesting all our data and selling it on to companies which in turn target us with ‘demographic specific’ advertising. We are all happy to create accounts and spend inordinate amounts of time on these platforms. The unpalatable truth is that we are all caught up in the murky net of advertising on a daily basis: consciously or unconsciously and to deny that fact is at best naive and at worst hypocritical. Where an opportunity to make money exists people will exploit it. Fact.
Winning the game
Now, if you turn this on its head and start to consider that bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers are making these mass commercial platforms work for them as a business then you can begin to understand the appeal. After all a lot of work goes on behind the scenes building a social media brand – just take a look at Mother Pukka AKA Anna Whitehouse. Her approach and response to all this judgement and ‘Daily Mail-esque’ controversy is to be open and confrontational, but not in an aggressive way – Anna plays the game as it should be played. She’s a businesswoman making a living and is happy to discuss the pros and cons of walking the tightrope between personal and business. At least she’s open to discussing it and surely that’s the point – the more transparency the better. If she’s not your cup of tea then find someone who is.
I’m not making any judgements about specific individuals, but I think it’s important if you’re going to have a debate about the perceived unsavoury aspects of making a living by selling stuff via social media that you acknowledge the part we all play as consumers in that – we are all at the behest of big business. So, if a few people choose to make money by using it as a business tool we shouldn’t be surprised or overtly offended.
You may choose to be personally upset by the commercial partnerships some bloggers choose to go into, and that’s fair enough. That’s what the unfollow button is for. Within reason you can choose what you see (damn those pesky algorithms). So, I urge people to make active choices about what and who they follow and also remember people are making a living from platforms that are making a living from you. If you have a problem with that then perhaps social media is too morally corrupt a place for you. My philosophy on the whole culture of social media brings to mind a classic quote by Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it”. Don’t lose sight of what drives the media-technology companies to engineer these social networks. Get what you want from them and enjoy it for what it is.
Changing the culture
Now, rather than having a go at all the people trying to make a living via social media, how about ploughing all that energy into making Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their friends more accountable for their advertising standards. Also, while we’re at it how about better regulation generally on social media and more education in our schools, colleges and universities. How about re-educating the workforce too while we’re at it? Big businesses should take more corporate responsibility for the effects their networks have on society and be clear, open and subject to scrutiny.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to think about how you want to look. Give your wardrobe a refresh and ensure you’ve got clothes that work for your lifestyle and make you feel good. Here are a few of my simple styling tips to help you smash 2017.
As a Personal Stylist I am always telling my clients about the importance of colour. Wearing the right colours for your skin tone, hair and eye colouring can instantly make you look younger, more radiant and healthier by diminishing lines, blemishes and dark circles, bringing definition to your features and defining your bone structure.
So many men and women opt for black as it is the safe option, goes with everything, think it makes them look slimmer and doesn’t show the dirt. However not everyone can wear black. It can be draining, cast shadows and have a negative and ageing impact. I think black can be boring and dull – if I am wearing black on my top half I will usually glam up with a slick of red lipstick, add statement jewellery or a bright accessory. Most Personal Stylists offer colour analysis as part of their services if you want to find out your most flattering colour palette. Wear colour and shine!
Dress for your body shape
I love fashion and follow the latest trends but I know that not every look will work for me. The high fashion trends we see on the catwalks always diffuse down to the high street in a more wearable look but they still aren’t for everyone. I strongly believe in style over fashion and dressing for your body shape.
Look at your figure, identify your body shape and recognise your best bits to draw attention to and the areas you want to distract from. Don’t be governed by fashion, only wear the trends that are flattering for your figure.
If you love it, buy it!
When personal shopping I always have a plan of action, a list of what my client needs and a targeted approach but actually I’m all for impulse buying too. Sometimes you just spot an item and know it is right for you, in which case if you love it and can afford it, definitely buy it. Most of my favourite things have been bought on impulse, snapped up instantly with no regrets as I know it’s ‘so me’.
If you love it, wear it!
Don’t keep clothes for best. Think of how you can work the items you love and been complimented on into your every day wardrobe. You deserve to feel fantastic all the time so style them up for any occasion. Dress down your favourite dress with a denim shirt over the top. Team those killer heels you bought for your Christmas night out with jeans and a jumper. Wear that summer dress you love also in the colder months layered with tights, boots and a leather jacket. Think about making your wardrobe work harder and wearing your favourite clothes in different ways.
Show your personality
Does your style reflect who you are? If you are stuck in a style rut and need inspiration think of a celeb or someone you know whose style you admire and look at what they wear and how they put together an outfit. Pinterest and Instagram are a great source for style inspiration. Also consider making an appointment with a Personal Stylist. They are no longer just for the rich and famous and will save you time and money in the long run by teaching you how to dress for your colour and shape and avoid making fashion mistakes in the future. They will pass on tips and styling hacks to freshen up what you already have in your wardrobe too.
Add interest to your outfits
Look at how you can implement updates to the clothes you already have in your wardrobe and show your personal style. Experiment with different ways to wear your clothes.
Play with cuffs: roll up sleeves to show off your wrists, a flattering part of a woman’s body and show off bracelets. It’s also fun to layer different sleeve lengths in colder months.
Play with collars: colour on coats and jackets can frame your face or undo an extra button on your shirt to open up the neckline and reveal your décolletage or a layer underneath.
Half tuck your tops: tucking a t-shirt in on one side is a way of adding a little definition to your shape and creates a relaxed look.
Turn up your jeans: experiment with cuff thickness depending on the style of jeans and the shoes you are wearing.
Wear your accessories
In my opinion jewellery doesn’t get worn enough. So many of my clients have beautiful items stored away never to be seen. When I ask why, they say it’s either too special or stored in a way that it is forgotten about and not considered when putting an outfit together. Belts are a great way to tie a look together and highlight your waist. Scarves add a pop of colour or a different texture and can be worn in so many different ways. Quality accessories can make a budget outfit look expensive and unique. If you pay attention to the details you’ll achieve a high-end look for a fraction of the price.
Lucy Eastment is a Personal Stylist who lives in Bristol with her husband and two children (aged 4 and 2). She runs her own business Styled By Lucy and works with men and women of all sizes, shapes, ages and lifestyles using colour analysis, wardrobe consultation and personal shopping. Lucy offers simple solutions for everyday style problems and inspires her clients to look good and feel good, even when juggling family, work and social life.
Lucy’s career story…
“I was a PA for many years but when I returned to the office after maternity leave I decided it wasn’t for me and if I was going to be away from my gorgeous babies I wanted to be doing a job I loved. I was always a wannabe fashionista keeping an eye on trends and I was often asked by friends, colleagues and even strangers in the street about my style and where I bought my clothes so I looked into a career change as a Personal Stylist. I trained with Style Me Training Academy in London, following that I became the Bristol based Personal Stylist for Style Me and have since launched Styled By Lucy. I absolutely love my job and feel so lucky that I have found a vocation that I am passionate about.”
Lucy on social media…
“I have found that potential clients look at websites to find out about services and prices but they want to know more about you and see your personal style before they book. I have a website and Facebook page but it is Instagram that has really helped me grow my business. I use Instagram to show my own personal style and Instagram Stories when I’m out and about to show great buys I come across when I’m out and about in the shops or looking online. I find selfie taking all a bit cringe but I’ve had great feedback from my Instagram page and I’ve been told by clients that my visuals are why they have chosen to book with me rather than other Personal Stylists in Bristol.
Lots of my clients use Whatsapp to keep in touch with me. If they are out shopping or trying on outfits at home and aren’t sure about something then they’ll ping me a photo for advice. Likewise if see a killer outfit I know would suit a certain person I will snap it and send via Whatsapp instantly. It is a great way to connect again with previous clients and easily show them new looks and how to update their wardrobe whilst I’m on the go.”
Lucy is following…
@chloelovestoshop: “My Instagram fashion crush is west London fashion blogger Chloe, a classy mum of three who shares her daily outfits. I love how she mixes high street with designer. Her Instagram Stories are full of good buys and a glimpse into her world which is the reason I look at her Instagram account every day.”
@selfishmother: “Molly Gunn mother of two with another on the way is the founder and editor of selfishmother.com blogzine, sells #goodtees through thefmlystore.com to raise funds for charity and is a freelance journalist. The super mum has also recently opened The FMLY Store a funky shop in Bruton, Somerset selling her iconic slogan clothes and other lifestyle and homeware brands and hosting events. I have paid the shop a visit and loved the vibe and the welcoming family feel.”
@lenaperminova: “I follow Russian model, socialite and mother of three Elena Perminova for style inspiration but mainly for extraordinary luxe life ogling. She flaunts her lifestyle and wealth with a feed of dreamy couture dresses and exotic family holidays. Elena is the founder of the first global Instagram charity auction for her childrens charity @SOS_by_lenaperminova with donations from fashion houses and her high profile friends.”
I attended Blogtacular last weekend (a blogging and online conference in London). Rather than write a blog post detailing my thoughts on the event I thought it would be fun (and a good way to test out new skills) to try my hand at recording a Podcast. I used the Opinion App on my phone, so bear with the quality. I think it sounds OK and it goes to show what you can do with mobile technology these days (record, edit, overlay music and share).
Meet Claire Greville, a Digital Mums graduate who has since set up her own social media consultancy Greville Social in Bristol. Claire studied Accounting and Finance at university and had a successful career working in higher education, before making the difficult decision to take redundancy after they were unable to accommodate her flexible working request (sound familiar?). So with no idea of what she was going to do, but with a bit of time to reflect on what kind of job would suit her and her family, Claire stumbled across a Digital Mums Facebook advert, and the rest (as they say) is history.
Why did you choose Digital Mums and what was it like doing the course?
Funnily enough, I found Digital Mums through Facebook (I understand now that it was a cleverly targeted advert!). I was scrolling through my feed one afternoon in October 2015, when I spotted the details. It seemed almost too good to be true as it was exactly what I had been looking for – flexible, rewarding work which I could do from home. I immediately checked out their website and the course sounded really interesting, so I emailed for more information. I did lots of research about Digital Mums in the meantime, but I was getting more and more excited as I thought about it. I loved social media, and the prospect of being able to work for a business as part of the training was very appealing. I decided to apply, and a few weeks later, I was offered a video interview for a place on the course. I was quite nervous but I really needn’t have been. Nikki (one of the co-founders, pictured on the left below) was lovely, and before I knew it, I’d been offered a place on the Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme starting in January 2016.
The course itself was a fantastic but very intense experience. It was 20 weeks long, but run over six months, in order to accommodate some of the school holidays. The ‘live learning’ aspect was brilliant. I was paired with a business from the very first week of the course, and I was able to apply everything I learned each week straightaway, which meant that I retained all of the information I was taking in (and there was a lot!). It was also a great way to learn about managing clients and their expectations.
Every student is put into a peer group with five other mums, and my group ‘The Katherine Ryans’, was such a fantastic support. We spoke every week of the course, through Google Hangouts and WhatsApp, and I’m still in touch with them now. The course finished at the end of June and there was a scary final report to hand in, but I passed with flying colours. I took a few weeks off over the summer before starting work for a small digital agency based in London. I did that for a couple of months, but quickly realised that I would prefer to work for my own clients, so I set up my own social media consultancy, Greville Social.
I currently have three clients, all of whom I work for remotely. I still provide social media consultancy to the lovely business that I trained with: Cambridge Academic Performance. I’m just about to start running a new Facebook campaign for Green Ginger Design, a fantastic web designer based in East London. And I’m currently managing Facebook and Instagram for Eye Heroes, a small charity who are campaigning to prevent avoidable blindness in the UK. I’ve also recently been selected as a mentor for Digital Mums, working 1:1 to support another mum through the course and beyond.
My work/life balance is now exactly what I could only dream of two years ago. Gone are the ridiculously early morning starts, and the stressful commute. I now have time to walk my sons to school every day, before I settle down to work in my home office. I do most of my work during school hours, and all of my clients are happy for me to work remotely, keeping in touch with them via phone, video calls, and email. As my work is so flexible, I even have time to do a little bit of volunteering in the local area, helping out at my sons’ school, and also running a local community group’s Facebook page.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing a Digital Mums course?
Make sure you’re absolutely committed to doing the course. It will take over your life for six months and you need to be prepared to put the hours in every single week. It’s not something that you can do half-heartedly as you need to keep up with each week’s tasks and assignments. There isn’t time to fall behind, and the deadlines are strict.
I was fortunate that both my children were at school when I started the course so I studied during the day, but there were plenty of mums on the course with younger children. Just think about how you’ll manage to find the time to study as well as look after the kids. And don’t worry if you haven’t studied anything new for a long time – all the other mums will be equally as nervous as you are. But the support you will receive from your peers and Digital Mums both during the course and afterwards will increase your confidence ten-fold.
The support from the #DMCollective (Digital Mums graduates) continues to astound me every day, and I feel genuinely honoured to be part of such a talented and inspirational group of women. If you’re a mum looking to change your work/life balance, then I highly recommend the Digital Mums course.
What are your top social media tips for small businesses?
Be selective: you don’t have to be on every platform. It’s far better to do two platforms well, than five poorly. Work out where your target audience is hanging out, and focus your time and efforts there.
Be consistent: establish a tone of voice and stick to it. Turn up every day – post at the same frequency, preferably at the same times, so that your followers know what to expect from you.
Be social: it is called social media after all! Don’t just promote yourself. Take an interest in others, join in conversations, and you’ll start to build relationships, which will pay off in the long run.
Claire is following…
Mother Pukka: such an awesome inspiring lady who champions the Digital Mums #workthatworks movement. I love watching her Instagram stories.
Jools Oliver: is effortlessly stylish, and the sneak peeks into her life with Jamie and her five gorgeous children are fascinating.
Talented Ladies Club: I love their mixture of motivational quotes and practical advice, as well as inspirational stories about working mothers.
Meet Jenny Raymond, founder of Mamazou, an online parenting community for ‘practically imperfect parents’. She has experienced the usual highs and lows of setting up a business, but receiving industry recognition and being able to work flexibly around her daughter makes it all worthwhile.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been a Londoner and I’m the middle of three children. I live in north-west London and have been married for almost six years. We have a gorgeous 3.5 year old daughter and hope to have another one in the future.
I was never a fan of school and I left education after my A-Levels to try and earn money. At 17, I thought that was a much better deal than going off to University. I started off in the recruitment industry as a receptionist for a while and then moved up to a compliance officer in the medical recruitment sector.
After two years there I moved onto bigger and better things and landed a career in the private banking world – I worked my way up and was there for almost six years. From there I moved to a family run business and now work in the accounts team whilst running Mamazou and being a full-time mum. I’m fortunate enough to work from home.
For those who don’t know, Mamazou is a community dedicated to supporting #perfectlyimperfectparents around the world. It offers access to forums, blogs, giveaways, discount codes, a shop and much more. The idea was born when I was pregnant with my daughter and I was searching for some advice online. Some of the parenting forums I came across were bitchy and judgemental and left me feeling isolated. It was then when I had my light bulb moment and I’ve been preaching positive vibes and tolerance on Mamazou since.
Mamazou launched originally in December 2014 but went quiet after a few months because the IT company I invested in went into liquidation. I’d lost everything I had worked towards and it was heartbreaking. But thanks to support from my family and friends, I pushed myself to give it one more go and re-launched in spring last year. So I like to say it’s only really a year old!
How has digital technology and social media has changed the way you work?
Digital technology changes all the time but in some ways it has made life so much easier. In other ways it has made it very difficult as it has impacted society hugely and not in a positive way. When it comes to social media, I under-estimated the amount of time you need to spend on social media when building up a company that relies on it! Whilst I love it, it can be exceptionally overwhelming and it’s important to take a break from to reset at times. I’m very grateful for social media though, because without it I don’t think the business would be as successful as it is now. It is great for getting content out there, networking with people, gaining friendships, developing relationship, marketing and being more visible.
What are you top tips for building a successful online community?
Connect. Get to know your audience, be authentic and let them see the ‘real’ you. Engage with your community and be honest. I really believe that when you show who you are (vulnerability included) that your words will resonate with others and relationships will be built.
Meghan Markle: I was so upset when I found out she was shutting The Tig. Some of her posts were exceptionally inspiring and motivating, I love her quotes and I always loved reading about her humanitarian work.
Meet Maxine Kerley, a digital marketer and owner of Digital Bon Bons, a marketing company for parent and children focused businesses.
Tell us about yourself
I am a digital geek and I can’t hide it. I’ve worked for a number of different industries over the years from a dental software company to a fashion brand and it was while I was working for this fashion brand that I really discovered and fell in love with digital marketing. I say love because I really did, it hit me hard and to have something you do for a living be a passion as well – I’m grateful for that.
I’d had experience working with parent and children focused brands in previous job roles and it was while I was on maternity leave with my daughter Ava, that I really started to get to know these type of businesses and what their challenges were. I returned to work in 2015 and then last summer created Digital Bon Bons – a marketing company helping business owners reach their target audiences of parents and children, digitally. I officially launched on New Year’s Eve 2016.
Getting to grips with digital marketing takes time and making a business work online can take even longer. For a business owner, you want to see results for all the efforts you’re putting in. I’ve collated together some tips that can help you get started.
You have a fantastic website and it’s live but Google doesn’t know about it and it won’t until you verify. You need to tell it that it’s there, waiting to be crawled and picked up for search results. This is done using Google Search Console, so you will need a Gmail Account to do this, but a Gmail Account is so important, especially if you want to take advantage of Google Analytics too. Once verified you will start seeing your site appear in listings.
Have a plan
To really make a success of digital marketing in your business you need to have a strategy outlining your goals. Ask yourself – “What do I actually want to achieve with my digital marketing?”. Is it website hits, e-commerce sales, thought leader? Whatever your goals, you need to have these on record. The next step is creating a plan. This will detail how you will achieve those goals, the actual methods that will be put in place across all the digital platforms you are using. This will not only help you stay focused but will save hours of time, crawling the internet for content ideas, posts, designing newsletters late into the night.
You want your business to get found when people type words into search engines – this is all down to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and one of the big topics so far this year is about ‘local search’. If you have a local business, for example, a class or a bricks and mortar shop then you need to be thinking about local search. Using tools like Google My Business to highlight all your business information is really key. This means when someone is searching and your business is applicable, it will not only pop up in the page results but also on the right hand side with a box full of your images, website, opening times, address and reviews.
Being your own boss is hard work and time management is an issue a lot of my clients struggle with when it comes to social media. With so many platforms and trying to reach the right customers, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up. A social media management system is a huge help in not only planning your posts and content but also for providing reporting so that you can see how well it is all going or where your challenges are. I’ve used several systems over the years so some of my recommendations are Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social (ideal for larger businesses), Planoly and Later. The last two are specifically for Instagram and while they won’t automatically post for you like other systems for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, it does prompt reminders for you. Come on Instagram, change that API and help us business owners out huh!
Digital success definitely doesn’t happen overnight, even though it may seem that way for some. It takes work and planning but it can be done and you can do it.
Doing it for the Kids When I launched the business I discovered Frankie’s account on Instagram and it was brilliant. For a newly launched business I felt like I was amongst friends. The community she has created around DIFK is brilliant because not only are there regular blog posts from inspirational people but you always feel you have support and you’re never alone.
A Branch of Holly Her blog is filled with productivity tips to help keep you focused on what you want to achieve in your business. I’ve read so many of her amazing post on helping you manage your time, how to achieve better results in your blog and much more. She is truly fantastic at what she does.
Emma Gannon I discovered Emma on Twitter first and before I knew it I found her Podcasts and I just couldn’t stop listening. She interviews truly amazing women about their journeys, their inspiration and it’s funny and light. Her website is a fantastic hub of life online and last year she published her first book of the same name all about growing up online. So many things I identified with having grown up with Yahoo Chat and AOL, not to mention a dial up modem.
Consumers make quick judgements about brands. We spend so much time online these days, we are constantly making snap decisions on who to follow. There can be different motivations as to why someone chooses to follow you, but for the purposes of this article I want to focus on businesses who are trying to attract new customers, and retain existing ones. If you’re looking for some quick pointers to help you stay on track with your marketing strategy read on.
One of the biggest turn-offs for a lot of people is inconsistency. As a consumer if you aren’t sure what a brand represents it can be confusing and you are less likely to commit to following and engaging with them. If you are starting out and want to build a community (and ultimately attract customers) you need to set out a clear brand identity for your company. I’m not just talking about visuals, but knowing how to translate your brand’s personality into the written word is crucial too. Are you funny, informative, irreverent or serious? Try anthropomorphising your brand – for example if Social Butterflies was a person it would be a career driven mother who was a savvy consumer of lifestyle products and services. If you can define its personality and attributes you can begin to see its place in the market. Being confident about this information will help you stand out from the crowd and create a niche for your business.
STAY TRUE TO YOU
Don’t keep chopping and changing your offering. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a company that regularly changes its image and business offering. Being consistent doesn’t mean you can’t evolve of course, but over time. If you’re overhauling your entire proposition within a matter of months from launching (or even every couple of months) then something is seriously wrong. You need to take time out, reassess what it is and have a clear business strategy before you start marketing your services. Particularly if you are offering any kind of marketing services – this could be the kiss of death for your business otherwise.
THINK LIKE A CONSUMER
The best way to get back to basics with your online business presence is to think about how you interact with social media as a consumer. Sometimes you can be so immersed in the day to day running of a business you forget to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. Look at how other businesses project their image online – what works and what doesn’t.
BE A LEADER
But don’t follow a lazy business model by simply copying what other people are doing. Authenticity and originality are the attributes which will engage and retain your customers, so keep it real. You’ll find that customers in a niche audience will tend to follow the same people, so you will stand out as a copycat pretty quickly. If you’ve been inspired by someone else’s success then that’s great, but trying to keep up appearances and shadowing someone else’s online persona will only lead to feelings of disappointment. Concentrate on your own strengths, your company’s USP and carve out your own voice.
DON’T OVERSTRETCH YOURSELF
Don’t compare your business offering to others and simply try to match or exceed it. If you have a strong offering in one or two keys areas, then focus your energy on building those up and making them pay. Once you’ve honed those, then you can look to expand your services or product range. Spreading yourself too thin just to keep pace with competitors is not good business practice. Always remember what your key skill sets are, refine them and teach yourself new ones.
IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE
The message is pretty simple: know who you are and what you do. It’s not rocket science, but so often people get overwhelmed by the mass audiences online and start to panic. This is totally understandable; it can be an overcrowded marketplace. But all the more reason to take a step back and have a clear digital marketing strategy in place before you go live. Be confident in your offering and if in doubt seek advice from professionals.
If you’re interested in finding out more then visit my new digital marketing consultancy website: amywhitedigital.com.
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Kelly Pike is an arts and culture PR Consultant based in Bristol, and owner of Folk Public Relations. The phenomenal rise of digital and social media has changed the landscape of public relations. With that in mind we asked Kelly to share her thoughts on the industry, the age of the social media influencer, and how best to promote your business online.
Tell us about yourself
A lot of things can lead a girl into PR and for me it was books and a love of talking to people. Non stop. I spent most of my career working in London publishing houses looking after household names and award winners of all kinds. I loved it. Big time. But children and London’s crazy property ladder saw a move to the south-west and Folk Public Relations was born. Slowly and on the back of very little sleep. I specialise in arts and culture PR but am excitingly branching out into some mama-brands such as This Mum Runs.
How has digital technology and social media changed the PR landscape?
Recently I’ve found myself thinking back to the start of my career, in the early noughties. Back then we used to joke about bloggers asking for review copies and how really they were for their nan or a present. Not for promotion. Publicity was very traditional then. It probably hadn’t changed for decades. Digital technology and the social media revolution have changed my industry more than many. It’s not enough to get great coverage in a women’s glossy or a TV show. Now a campaign needs to feel holistic and organic. And it needs to feel real.
Social media is a key part of this. We’ve seen the traditionally fairly separate disciplines of marketing and publicity merge so that quite often now publicity includes social media marketing and all my plans will include social media influencers now in the way they used to include celebrities.
It’s actually quite nice because I think it all feels a bit more authentic. Influencers are already your target demographic so what you end up with is publicity which feels much more authentic and real. And PR which feels like that is much more likely to end up creating the much courted and incredibly elusive word of mouth affect.
What are your top PR tips for women wanting to promote themselves and their businesses online?
What social media has also done, of course, is make promoting yourself much more accessible. Social media influencers should be the core part of anyone’s campaign; sometimes the only part of your campaign. And because you can usually contact them directly through Instagram or twitter, there’s no excuse.
Make it authentic You need to get to know the influencers and treat them as people. Chat to them, make friends. It’s social media after all. Then they are much more likely to want to help you by featuring your product. And you gain some new friends. Win, win. It all makes sense really. Call it PR karma if you will.
Stories If a career in book publishing has taught me anything it’s the power of the story. Stories sell; stories get under the skin; stories help people connect with a product. Everyone has a story and the key to a great PR campaign is finding its story. I will always ask my clients if there are any personal stories behind what they are selling. And there is always something – be it that eureka moment, a journey through adversity or a family member who inspired them.
Read the papers Whilst social media adds depth and voice to your campaign and many great brands have started out there, you lose nothing by knowing the media. I keep a reference collection of newspapers to remind myself of columns and writers and headlines which work well. And I read as much as I can. You then start to get a sense of where your story will work best – life and style sections for example, or first person columns. Keep and eye on the news to see if you can use it as a launch pad for an opinion piece.
And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone I’ve noticed that fewer people like to do this. It feels almost rude but it’s still the best way to make sure things happen. At least you know they’ve heard you when you speak to them.
Don’t give up. Keep being you. Making friends. You’ll get there in the end.
Kelly’s is following…
This Mum Runs: I recently started running. I never ran. Ever. I would stand in the cold and laugh in people’s faces weekly at the park run as I waited yet again at Park Run. I would never run. But then I came across This Mum Runs and it’s ethos has been a total game changer for me. Mel Bound is an incredibly inspiring woman who has made it her mission to empower women who felt like they had lost themselves, or felt lonely, isolated, depressed or just lacking in me-time and give them headspace through free social runs and a hugely supportive, welcoming and active Facebook community. She also runs a totally parent friendly business and she recently was picked as a figurehead for a huge Facebook campaign #SheMeansBusiness and was picked by the Sunday Times as one of their 100 disrupters. They have done incredible things in the south-west but are expanding to London in April. I urge all mums everywhere to check her out.
Doing It For The Kids: One day when I was felling a bit worried about where my next project was coming from I came across Frankie and her blogline Doing It For The Kids. We got chatting and before I knew it I was writing for her. It has hugely increased my love and engagement with Instagram because the community of freelance parents there are so supportive. We’re all going through the same issues. It’s great to not feel alone. Plus I got some projects out of it
I work from home a couple of days a week, and like all women I end up doing chores in between work. Loading the washing machine, unloading the dishwasher (and reloading), checking the fridge for missing items before the inevitable ‘top-up’ shop to the supermarket later (I feel a sad sense of achievement if I can avoid going at least once a day). My ability to multi-task is second to none, as is my ability to procrastinate. The internet has been calling me today with its cheeky loveliness and I’ve been powerless to resist. However, and quite unbelievably, amid endless cups of tea, a quick power-up in the form of a few ‘Waitrose-mini-hot-cross-buns’, I have actually written my CV. I know, I’ve even impressed myself.
I run this magazine alongside my day job, and I’m currently trying to find time to launch my freelance business (digital marketer and editor). During this process I’ve been going through my CV for the first time in a long while, and oh my lord it’s been an uphill struggle. Does anyone else find writing in a self-promotional style buttock-clenchingly awkward? I’m happy to write about other people and tell their story, but when it comes to listing my own experience and achievements I feel out of my comfort zone, much like Nigel Farage at a Eurovision party.
Writing down your professional story is an exhausting process, but once you’ve written it you can spend an infinite amount of time refining it, or as I like to call it, disappearing down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest (goddamn you Pinterest). There are so many styles and designs these days for CV writing that I find it all a bit overwhelming. So I’ve decided to stick to my guns and opted for simplicity. A clean design coupled with riveting lists of experience and achievements *should* speak for themselves.
Part of the reason I’ve done this, is so I have a clear vision of what I can offer, what I know and how much that is worth to a business (and I don’t just mean financially, don’t underestimate sparkling wit and personality). If you’re thinking of returning to work, looking for a new job or perhaps starting a business, writing a CV can be a cathartic process – think AA meets NCT (but with jobs) – the first step is admitting you’ve got a problem, and remember, it’ll be worth the pain! It’s a good idea to get other people to check for errors obviously, but most importantly, writing about yourself in the third person (always a bit weird, but necessary in this context) helps you think objectively about what it is you have to offer. Which, I can guarantee will always be more than you think – age for once is a distinct advantage!
I’ve used two photos to illustrate visually what I mean about having a ‘CV reality check’. The main image is obviously not mine but an idealised, Instagram composition (credit to desk of dreams creator: Emma Highfield). The second one is the reality of my home working situation (it’s my kitchen table surrounded by crap). My point is that you need to think of a CV as you would the picture perfect desk – it’s a contrived version of reality. We recognise the same concept in the real picture, i.e. there is a table and a computer, the similarities end there sadly. So don’t stress about how to present yourself on paper – just write it down and tidy it up later.
We all have bundles of experience to offer future employers, particularly once you’re over the hump of, ahem…35 (ish). We should learn to celebrate our achievements for what they are, not compare ourselves to Instagram perfection (that gorgeous desk can bloody well piss off with all its neatness). Being a mum unofficially qualifies you as a PRINCE2 practitioner, referee, chauffeur, wine taster extraordinaire, UN diplomat (I could go on). Basically you’re awesome, even if at first glance your CV needs sprucing up.