Raise some hell

Isn’t Facebook having a hard time lately? If I had to hazard a guess, and you know I want to, I’d say every communications university program across the country, well, across the world, probably, includes Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent in their curriculum. It’s all very intellectual and interesting- here’s the Wiki version- but the basic premise is that news and information is manufactured by those with influence (political, financial, cultural), who use the mass media to deliver their self-serving agendas to the community. In my Master of Communications program, a fellow student wrote a fantastic thesis about how the principles of Manufacturing Consent are applied in the radio media, specifically talk back, to create public backlash. My colleague’s premise was that the shock jock audience weren’t upset about an issue, or aware of an issue, until their leader ignited their moral outrage. The whole concept as I’ve described it is quite depressing, really, isn’t it?

I was reminded of Manufacturing Consent and manufacturing outrage recently, when a client was invited to address a Senate Inquiry. I had a quick read of my client’s submission to the Inquiry, and was personally quite staggered by some of the evidence they presented. I had a brief consult with my client about the public invisibility of this issue, and advised them that they needed the absolute opposite of an issues management strategy.

 

They need to manufacture some outrage, stat.

 

So what is the best way to get people to connect with your cause? A full communications campaign created by an experienced and skilled communications consultant (here’s my favourite) will offer a multitude of approaches across a range of media, but if you’re limited to a direct email campaign or a media release here’s a little checklist to have in the back of your mind as you’re drafting:

  • Give an overview and background to the issue so readers have a very clear idea about what the problem is, and why it’s a problem for them.
  • Be impassioned and personable, but be cool.
  • Use clear language that cuts to the core of the issue as it applies to your reader.
  • Get to the point and keep it simple- don’t overwhelm. In The Birdcage, Gene Hackman’s character said ‘People don’t trust details; they trust headlines.’ 
  • Get your header perfect.
  • Have a clear call to action for readers to follow.

Apply these principles, and you’ll have a really effective tool to raise awareness of your issue. And as always, I’m happy to help- just get in touch and together we’ll manufacture some good, old-fashioned outrage.

Tell me, do you get fired up easily? 

 

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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Bring out the big guns

Like a true Type A, I really enjoy working with clients to make sure their communications and marketing plans closely align to their strategic business plans, and that the messages they send out effectively reach the people they most wish to connect with.

Many people I work with have distinct goals and strategies for their business, but lack the strategy and skills to showcase what they do in a way that their ideal client responds to. Enter my Bring out the Big Guns communications planning package, a roadmap to communicate a vision.

I really love the work process involved in helping a client create a strategic, long (ish) term communications strategy for their business. Together, the client and I look at their business communications objectively, and I recommend actions to bring elements together cohesively to showcase your business and cure your communications ills. Then, together, we can move your business forward by taking your notebook full of ideas and translate them into actionable, effective communications plans that are closely aligned to your overall business plans and goals. We create a plan of attack that showcases the business in the best possible light,  and cuts right to the core of the business messages, giving a clear framework and a set of tactics and strategies to get the business story directly to the dream client and communicate the vision. At the same time, we smash their business goals right in the throat- bam!

It’s so important to have a communications strategy that is aligned to the broader strategic business plan. A good strategy will have the information and detail for implementation over time, and result in a tangible air of smugness, knowing that business is supported by strong, effective communications.

Tell me, do your communications set you up for what you would like to achieve in your business?

Get my Communications Planning 1 Pager Quicky

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications and copywriting bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock copywriting a range of products, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Holding a mirror to your communications

How does your business look from the outside? It’s really, really difficult to look objectively at one’s own business communications.*  Your business communications are broader than your services, products or offerings. They speak to your strengths, your experience and the benefits you offer. All your business communications- your copy, logo, website, emails and social media- tells a story about your business. Are your messages are clear and compelling? Is the way you communicate your business aligned to your values and reflective of your values? Are the aligned to those of your ideal client?

There’s a number of ways to look at your communications from the outside, but an easy (ish) way is to take the perspective of your ideal client and how they engage with your touchpoints. This can be an incredibly valuable exercise.

Here’s some things that tell me business communications might be off the mark:

People with gmail (or God forbid, hotmail) as their business email rather than a dedicated URL eg holly@blue51.com.au. Most hosting packages come with email hosting as part of the deal- mine certainly does, so if yours doesn’t, have a shop around.

An about page that’s lacking in brand story. It doesn’t have to be Pride and Prejudice, but some copy that covers off the who, why, how and what is a way to connect with your ideal client, and also paints a picture of your business.

Psst- want a freeby checklist for your about page?

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Imagery that’s bad, or worse, absent. Invest in a branding shoot with an amazing photographer (I love this one and this one) and use the imagery across all your touchpoints.

A lack of consistency in colour, font, sizing and tone speaks to a lack of processes and frameworks. It’s an easy fix, my pretty. If you’re not particularly visual (I’m not), engage a designer to create a visual style for you, specifying the fonts and colours that best suit your branding, and apply them religiously across your business communications.

I’ve had some people tell me they rely solely on word of mouth marketing for their business. I’m a massive fan of providing service so exemplary that your clients do your marketing for you, however keep in mind, the vast majority of people when given a recommendation by a trusted friend or family member will head straight to Dr Google to check out your business. What happens when someone googles you and your business? You want to look as good, as professional as your clients are telling their friends you are.

Tell me, how does your business look from the outside?

*picture me Jane Austen style, saying ‘one’s own debacle’ and ‘where effing art thou, chocolate?’

 

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications and copywriting bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock copywriting a range of products, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Compelling copy that turns boring to sexy

Yep, there’s no denying it- I’m bringing sexy back. OK, that’s more than a bit of an embellishment, but I often have clients tell me they struggle with their business writing projects because they think their industry is boring. There’s a well known saying, so well known I can’t recall who said it, other than one of my Masters of Writing and Literature professors, but it goes a little something like this:

‘There are no boring topics, just boring writers.’

Firstly, ouch. Secondly, I absolutely agree, but making a potentially boring topic exciting can be a challenge, but one I grab with both hands.

My Top 10 Go-To Writing Prompts

One of my clients is a peak body for a highly-technical and incredibly complex industry. They produce regular high-level research and modelling reports that run for many hundreds of pages, with industry-specific impenetrable jargon TO THE EXTREME and detailed graphics, incomprehensible to the average person, aka those of us without engineering degrees. The executive summaries of the reports alone are dense and difficult to read, an exercise in ‘sorry, what?’

Not for a second am I suggesting my client’s work is any way boring, but translating their content into a form palatable to journalists and politicians, two of the client’s key stakeholders, requires my full wits, and sometimes a double shot of espresso.

The key to making the boring transformed into boo- yeah? Story! Ah, my favourite… Writers need to look at information from many, MANY different angles to find the ‘so what’, that one core element that will bring the content to life and create an emotional response.

In the example of my highly-technical, niche-on-steroids client, the first step in my process is a quick phone call. In just a few minutes, I establish the key findings, the implications for the client as well as the broader community and the main points they want covered. Next is a thorough read-through of the publication, highlighter in hand, searching for the hooks that will turn the research findings into a story, based on what the client has told me the ‘so what’ is for this piece of work.

A few significant statistics, fingers flying over a keyboard, and et viola. A suite of content ready for distribution,usually a press release, perhaps an opinion piece for the national dailys, email campaigns to their members and stakeholders, some social media captions for their channels and a happy client out there causing some well-earned rumblings. No boring here, folks.

Tell me, what’s your process from turning boring to sexy?

This is a post in my Writing for Business blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my social media and digital marketing bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock online communications and how to use digital marketing to solve your business marketing problems.  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Grammar and spelling not your thing? Takes you forever to bang out a 300 word article? Need to update your flyer or website but you get tangled in words? Gosh, don’t put yourself through that quagmire when there are people out there with Masters in this shiz- aka me.

Give love to get love

According to my Instagram feed, it’s Valentine’s Day! JK, and really, it’s not even funny that the algorithm is being such a biatch that I’m perennially confused about what day it is. It seems I’m not alone in my chagrin with Instagram at the moment; I know there are people in biz muttering to themselves and shaking their fist Grandpa Simpson-style at the way the platform is behaving of late.

It’s not easy running a business, and when the tools that have served you well stop doing so, well, that’s just the bee pollen on top of the green smoothie. What to do? Well, let’s start by going back to basics by giving some love. It is the month of love, after all.

Engagement and engaging with content is a way to send love and positivity out into the world, and that’s never a bad thing. Social media engagement is a way to create a long term relationship with clients and customers, and of course also with your colleagues and your supporters. The more engagement a specific post has by way of likes and comments, the better the visibility will be, rewarding it by the algorithm.

Don’t be stingy with your double taps, and allocate time in your schedule and workflow to go beyond the double tap and comment with thought and consideration. If someone has given you a real live LOL, tell them so! If their post reminds you of a conversation you had recently with a friend, tag that friend. If they’re expressing that they’re having a good time in biz, a hard time juggling the load or an absolute sh*tfight of a time, then acknowledge them and offer empathy.

Engagement like this builds brand awareness and loyalty, but more importantly, connection.

Tell me, does the Instagram algorithm do your head in?

Pick Your Perfect Social Media Platform

This is a post in my Digital Marketing blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my social media and digital marketing bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock online communications and how to use digital marketing to solve your business marketing problems.  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

My Top 10 Reads for 2017

Holly Cardamone Top 10 Reads for 2017

Each month, when I stroll my way around my Google Analytics, one of the highest performing posts is last year’s reading round up. Seems everyone loves a good book recommendation, and Lord knows I love sharing an opinion, solicited or otherwise.  Of course, as per last year, these books aren’t necessarily new books, but they’re new reads for me.

Here’s the thing- writers read. You want to improve your writing? Read. It’s as simple as that. Reading gives me so much joy and pleasure, but it strengthens my writing and my creativity like nothing else. This year’s list is pretty light on in terms of books about business, but any piece of work that makes me rethink my sentence structure, or try a new opening or spark my mojo will obviously only benefit my business writing projects.

Let’s get reading, shall we?

1- Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

OK, I’m 98% sure this series is the reason my book total is down by 15 this year, BUT each of these books weighed more than a newborn. My husband gave me the series for Christmas last year, and I absolutely devoured them. They’re a fantastic read whether you’ve seen the series or not, although I was a bit over all the pillaging and raping by halfway through the series.  I wish I’d read them first because they lay out who’s who in the zoo much more clearly than is possible with the TV series.

2- The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

I freaking loved this book. It reminded me of The Handmaids Tale (which I also reread this year alongside watching the incredible series and loved it as much as when I was a wee thing in my Year 12 uniform)  in terms of the dystopian-ish, all-too-could-be-true narrative. I read it in one sitting, and then felt sick about the way the world (and this country) views women.

3- Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson

A beautiful, sad and melancholy read, this one. The old man with shaking hands image had me teary, and so did his divine connection with his grandchildren. A gorgeous, gentle novel with divine prose.

4- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

This book fell into my hands at the library, and was bloody hilarious. I’d seen and read a lot of Anna’s interviews and love her self-deprecation, her smarts and her refusal to buy into the BS of the world she inhabits. This is the sort of book I’d give to my daughters to read when they’re teenagers as she’s a great role model for working hard and staying cool.

5- Once/Now/After/Soon series by Morris Gleitzman

My older cherub and I started a mini book club with this series. It was her first intro to fiction about the holocaust, and of course was horrifying, evocative and really quite difficult to read and explain in terms of the subject matter. Morris Gleitzman does such a beautiful job of conveying something so horrific and incomprehensible via characters and language that connects to a young (and old- aka me) audience.

6- The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

This is one of those business bibles that is artfully included in almost every ‘take a tour of my office’ instagram post, positioned in a jaunty angle next to a fiddle-leaf frigging fig or some such greenery. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I could call myself a woman in biz (#girlboss! #eww) without reading it. There’s some really good, practical, commonsense and easy to apply practices that Ferriss recommends. Do I now have a 4 hour work week whilst raking in the cash Scrooge Mc-Duck style? No, but I have limited checking my email to three times a day, so that’s a win.

7- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

It seems the older I get, the more I connect with cantankerous old farts. Ironic, really. I hinted on Instagram that this one might in fact make my top 10 reads for the year, and look, here it is.  It’s funny and slightly heartbreaking, and the writing is really beautiful.

8- Life in Half a Second by Matthew Micalewicz

This is a business-ish book about goal setting, with nothing particularly groundbreaking or new, but one which I found really well-written and which gave me a boost of motivation, hence it’s inclusion in my top 10, because I’m really short on good biz books in this year’s reading list AKA this is no War and Peace but I know people will be reading looking for a biz book recommendation or two. That said, yes, it got me fired up, so it has earned it’s place on this list. OK? Sheesh!

9- Black Rock White City by AS Patric

I really liked this novel- it’s set in Sandringham in Melbourne’s bayside, and I recognised so many landmarks. The language is clean and sparse and so bloody evocative. It has a real sense of malevolence and creepy drama that was unsettling and so, so good.

10- Second Half First by Drusilla Modjeska

I love Drusilla’s writing, and when I think about who I want to be when I grow up, it’s a close tie between her and Helen Garner. Some parts of this book were pure writing perfection, others were a bit plodding, with not the quite same of oh-my-freaking-god-this-is-incredible-ness of Poppy and The Orchard, but I did love, love, love it and highly recommend.

That’s it- my favourite books of the 60 I’ve read, as of today, 15 December 2017. I’d love your thoughts, your recommendations, your reactions.

Happy reading!

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Blue51 Show and Tell: My Top 10 Projects for 2017

2017 Blue51 top 10 projects writing and communications

Gosh, I’ve worked on some fabulous projects this year!

I’ve kicked around strategies for social media, for launches, for events and for writing projects. I’ve written websites, about pages, sales campaigns and even the odd carefully crafted text message.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is some of my favourite projects for the past year:

  1. SciDoc Solutions is a terrific speciality business that embraced a rebrand, complete with a brand spanking new website.
  2. Vibrance Clinics launched in 2017 and I absolutely loved bringing their brand communications, website and social media to life.
  3. It’s no secret that writing makes me feel as though the Gods are smiling upon me, and I was utterly in my zone of bliss when Louise from Style with Substance asked me to add my writerly glitter to her website about and services pages.
  4. Bouncing around communications strategies to generate a buzz is always a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours, so I loved working with The Independent Mum as she launched into NZ.
  5. Have a sales funnel that needs filling? Whilst my background in nursing means I can’t write ‘fill a funnel’ without sniggering (don’t ask because the visual I’ll give you won’t be pretty) in terms of communications gorgeousness, I have a crapton (lol, funnel, crap, lol) of word nerd ideas- just ask The Relationship Workshop.
  6. Collaborating with industry colleagues is a fantastic communications strategy with enormous win/win potential, and this year, Western Special Needs Dentistry absolutely nailed it, with support from yours truly.
  7. OK, so this one’s a bit cheeky, because it’s not a client project, but mine! I was completely chuffed to be nominated for a business award this year.
  8. Following on from my nomination was the communications strategy I managed for my beautiful client Gosh Hair‘s nomination for a Corporate Responsibility Business Award. Spoiler alert- we won!!!
  9. Ten years in business is an achievement worth celebrating, and celebrate Kinderballet did!
  10. Something very special popped up in my communications arsenal this year- my new logo! I teamed it up with a new website, and have had such an amazing response.

Thank you to all my wonderful clients- I absolutely love my work, and feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to help you tell your story and grow your businesses using beautiful communications.

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Lessons from NANOWRIMO for content marketing

Lessons from NANOWRIMO for content marketing

Ah, November, that most magical time of the year for word nerds around the globe. Why? It’s the annual 30 days of insanity that is NANOWRIMO.

It’s a strange acronym, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. The basic premise is to write 1666 words a day, every day, for thirty days, resulting in a novel of 50,000 words. I first discovered NANO when I was doing my Masters- Writing and Literature- and fell in love with the concept straight away.

Psst- feeling a little blocked? Here’s a sweet little freeby to get your writing muse working overtime:

My Top 10 Go-To Writing Prompts

Here’s what I love about NANO in the context of content marketing and writing for business:

  • It involves goal setting that is crystal clear, achievable and just a little bit nuts so as to involve growth and development
  • The concept is wholly focused on creating before consuming- it’s easy enough to get stuck into ‘research’ with writing projects, but the only way to get something written is to write. #funnythat
  • You can’t edit a blank page, so bang out the daily word count and then go back and edit- this stops the over-analysing and uber-judgement. Don’t tweak and fiddle- just keep moving forward.
  • It pushes you firmly out of your comfort zone. Let be be clear- writing 1666 words a day isn’t easy. Some days, the words flow (my record is just over 11,000, but I don’t recommend it because my fingers swelled like sausages), but other days the words just don’t come, which of course means hitting the word count is really difficult. Once a day or so is missed, the word count becomes pretty daunting, really quickly.
  • It is extreme, but it is doable, even if you stretch your goal by 12 weeks to decrease the word count to 500 words per day.
  • The approach can be applied to any project within a business.

NANO is basically productivity on steroids. I love that the urgency created with a 30 day goal makes me incredibly focused and moving forward towards the end game.

Tell me, do you like challenges?

 

This is a post in my Writing for Business blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my social media and digital marketing bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock online communications and how to use digital marketing to solve your business marketing problems.  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Farewell Facebook, hello mailing list

Time to gently move people away from social media and on to your mailing list

Don’t listen to anyone who says email is dead. Email campaigns still have massive conversions. Best of all? Email isn’t a slave to a reach algorithm- your message lands directly in someone’s inbox, not hidden away in a feed.

Here’s the thing- social media is a non-negotiable, must-have communications strategy for 98.9% of businesses, no doubt about it. However, there’s no escaping the fact that the lack of control of a channel is problematic. So many people I know (including me) have fought the urge to shed tears of pure frustration because of the impact on the latest algorithm on engagement. Put simply, it’s not a great idea to have social media as a sole channel of communicating with a target audience, and needs to be implemented alongside broader, complementary strategies. It’s a good idea to gently shepherd people off Facebook and onto your mailing list.

Clients are sometimes reluctant to add ‘create, develop and nurture the bejesus out of a mailing list’ to their overflowing list of things to do in their business. Strategically managed, a list will drive people back to your website, help you remain front of mind for your zone of genius, and engage your target audience in a personal, meaningful way.

The people on your mailing list (gained legally and with no icky practices like signing people up without their consent) have shown a genuine interest in your business. It makes absolute sense to stay in regular contact with them. Of course, you don’t have to go it alone. Get in touch with your favourite word nerd for a spot of support. Spoiler alert- it’s me.

Tell me, do you have a campaign to put your followers to work for you?

Pick Your Perfect Social Media Platform

This is a post in my Digital Marketing blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my social media and digital marketing bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock online communications and how to use digital marketing to solve your business marketing problems.  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Tell your brand story- it’s the core of effective communications

Tell your brand story- it’s the core of effective communications

As either a long term Blue51 aficionado or a new visitor arriving via Google, social media or because your friend said ‘you have to check out Holly’ *waves hello* you may not know that ‘tell your story’ is my tagline. Yep, that’s it.  More than a tagline, it’s the core of my brand story, the essence of what I do through my communications, writing for business and social media services. It guides everything I do in terms of the services I offer and my communications and marketing.

A good brand story will share how and why your business was established, your motivations, drivers, criteria for success- both yours and the people you serve. Basically, they provide an insight into your work and the people involved, both as providers and recipients, and the relationship between the two, in the context of the benefits your work provides others.

I love writing brand stories for clients, and I think they’re incredibly important to use in your communications toolkit. They enhance and facilitate connection and engagement which are essential to building relationships. It’s an articulation of your values, the core of your work, and so it’s not a set and forget task to tick off. You’ll use iterations of your brand story across all of your business communications, from your website (not just your about page!), your social media posts, your marketing and sales funnels, your client work process, in fact your entire client experience journey should emulate your brand story.

OK, so this sounds quite wishy-washy, which is soooo not me. I’m all about the practical and action based, so here’s some examples and tips for sharing your brand story:

  • Write out your brand story (the who, the what, the why) in the first person wherever possible. First person point of view resonates and is engaging.
  • Turn this into a blog post, or copy for your about page after giving it a decent edit.
  • Write a set of at least five key messages that fall out of your brand story and align these to the different services/arms of your business and what you do. These will become prompts for your social media strategy, or your captions, to be more specific.
  • Include elements of your brand story in your client touchpoints including proposal documents, invoices, website contact page and emails.
  • Weave your brand story into your bio and elevator pitch. The why is almost always more interesting than the what, and together they’re a pretty compelling combo.

Tell me, do you have a clear and well articulated brand story for your business?

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This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications and copywriting bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock copywriting a range of products, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.