Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why It's Important to Think Before You Blast Out Emails

This is an excellent "email check off list" by Seth Godin. Before you send off emails (either individual or group), review this check list. I included my favorites from Seth's list below:

  • Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete). 
  • If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it's? Just wondering. 
  • If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email--free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
Sometimes email may not be the best communication channel, and emails can often get lost in translation. Not to mention, people get tired of forwards and "spammy" email. Before you send your next email, take the time to carefully review Seth's list -- it might save you from annoying someone or potentially losing a customer or client.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Entrepreneurial Path of Girl Scouts - Why Girl Scouts Are More Than Just Thin Mints

I am the oldest daughter of six children and was raised by a single mom. I was a Brownie and aspired to be a Girl Scout, but based on tight budgets I wasn't able to be a Girl Scout. I watched as my Girl Scout friends were shuttled off to summer camps and earned their badges. I always thought being a Girl Scout was the coolest thing a tweener could be.

This is a fantastic article from INC. about why Girl Scouts become entrepreneurs. I think it's amazing that a large majority of female business owners were Girl Scouts in their younger days.
"The Girl Scouts have been preparing girls to become leaders — and to run their own businesses — for 100 years. (Last week, in fact, was the 100th anniversary of founding of the Girl Scouts of the USA by Juliette Gordon Low.)  This is no idle claim: More than two thirds of the female members of  Congress  and an incredible 80% of women business owners were Girl Scouts. Clearly, there's something about this organization that really works."
Look at how the Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for decades - that's some serious sales and marketing training. Not to mention, their Thin Mints have a secret, magical formula in them that keeps people craving more...and MORE! 

Congrats to the Girl Scouts - they have done an excellent job supporting and helping  young women over the years! Who knows? Maybe I'll volunteer as a Girl Scout Leader in the future so I can finally have my Girl Scout summer camp experience. 

If you were a Girl Scout, please leave a comment or drop me an email - I'd be curious how the Girl Scouts helped prepare you in the business world! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do Content Registration Forms Really Work?

People aren't going to magically hand over the keys to their kingdom - their personal information and email address. And can you actually GET people to sign up for your site? Are they providing you with legitimate information?  Take a good look at your content registration forms on your website, blog and landing pages. Are you turning off people and losing prospects? How could you improve your forms?

I stumbled upon this article from one of my favorite content marketing sites, Content Marketing Institute. These statistics are eye-openers for those who sell a product or service.
"Consider these findings from TechTarget’s report, “When Worlds Converge:Similarities in Brand Reception and Media Consumption of IT and Personal Technology Buyers. Of the 3,269 IT buyers surveyed, 43 percent said they were somewhat willing and 42 percent were very willing to share their contact information when they are ready to make a purchase. However, while 53 percent of respondents were somewhat willing to provide those details in exchange for “expert or editorial information,” only 19 percent were very willing to do so in the same scenario. 
Add to this the fact that separate research (sponsored by Janrain and conducted by Blue Research in October 2011) uncovered that 88 percent of consumers admitted to having given incorrect profile information on registration forms. It’s no wonder that Sirius Decisions found that 10 to 25 percent of all prospect records contain critical data errors."
The average consumer is not as dumb as we think. People don't always want us to have their information due to privacy and spam issues. Less is more when creating opt-in forms on your sites. Don't ask them to fill out a twenty page registration form. Keep the form simple. If I have to fill out a complicated registration form, I usually don't complete the process. I just don't have the time to waste filling out a long and complicated online form...and neither do your site visitors and prospects.

Take a lesson from HP. Look at your stats and get a feel for the conversion rates of your content registration forms. What's missing? You could be losing out on sales by ignoring your forms.
"According to a MarketingSherpa case study, HP trimmed its confusing 15-field monster of a registration form to five essential fields. It also collected visitors’ IP addresses and email domain names to cross-reference them with third-party data. The results speak for themselves: The new form yielded a 40 percent conversion rate — an increase of 186 percent — among visitors from HP’s support pages." 

Monday, March 12, 2012

When It's Time to Disengage

In our digital world, it becomes all too easy to get involved in cyber drama on your social media groups and forums (as well as our offline world). Mind games are a waste of time and energy, so when faced with unnecessary drama sometimes the best thing to do is "disengage" and walk away from people who drag you down and aren't on the same ethical wavelength. Alleviate mind games by communicating openly and honestly with clients, colleagues and employees. Power and ego trips won't get you far when trying to work effectively with others. Check out these life-lesson pointers from The DailyOM - a powerful message to begin the week! 

"Life should not be lived through a series of mind games, but from truth and looking deep within.

For better or worse, many people have been raised to believe that communicating in an honest and open way will not get them what they want. They have learned, instead, to play mind games or go on power trips in the service of their ego’s agenda. People stuck in this outmoded and inefficient style of communication can be trying at best and downright destructive at worst. We may get caught up in thinking we have to play the same games in order to defend ourselves, but that will only lead us deeper into confusion and conflict. The best way to handle people like this is to be clear and honest with them." 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Part II - How to Protect Your Online Rep from Spammers & Scammers

by Karen S. Elliott & Therese Pope

Continued from yesterday’s Part I of  How to Protect Your Online Rep from Spammers & Scammers.


The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect with other people in your career field or in complimentary fields. LI requires that “invitations” are sent, and accepted. Your first connections should be carefully considered. Once you establish your first connections, you can branch out by joining groups. LinkedIn is NOT a sales platform and should not be used to blatantly “sell” or advertise products or services – spammy behavior will get you quickly banned.

Connect with LI groups

First, find groups that are specific to your purpose of having a LinkedIn account. Are you a writer? Look for writing-specific groups like publishing, editing, and specific genre sites like horror, children’s books, ebooks, and so on.

If you want to join a specific group based upon your profession/industry, use LinkedIn’s “Search” function and click on “Groups”. For example, if you are a marketer or copywriter, search for keywords such as copywriting, marketing, sales and marketing, advertising, social media marketing, public relations, etc. Make sure to join complimentary groups (people who might need your services). For example, if you are a copywriter and write web copy check out creative groups such as web design, web developers, graphic design, graphic artists, etc.

If you have made a connection with a person and you realize they have become caustic, disconnect. You will still see their posts on group pages. Group administrators are usually good about getting rid of problem members, but if you find the administrator is not reacting, send a personal message to him/her.

Beware of fake profiles/accounts on LinkedIn. Some warning signs: no photo or the photo looks like a stock or fake image, they fill in their profile/summary with repetitive keywords, their profile is blank or not filled in completely, etc.

When sending an invitation, don’t just send the generic template “invitation request.” Include a personal note about yourself and how you can be of assistance to the other person.

How to Report Spam & Abuse/Harassment on LinkedIn
Refer to LinkedIn Help Center for specific questions and topics related to spam and violation of Terms of Service, etc.

 Google Profile - Fill out a Google+ Profile  and include a photo. A complete Google+ profile helps protect your reputation (especially if you have a common name). When people search for your name, your Google+ profile will pop up with your picture and information. If you have stalking issues, forego the picture. Google+ is fairly easy to navigate, including security and privacy settings.

See Google+ Account Privacy settings, under Account Overview – you can edit visibility. In the upper right corner, the little tools icon (looks like a bumpy wheel). Click that, you’ll get a drop-down, Google+ settings …

How to set up circles - You can also set which users (those in your circles) will see posts. Set circles for family, friends, business associates, etc.

How to get rid of someone in a circle – Click on the circles icon (different colored circles in a button, top middle). Click Remove (right, near the top). Easy peasy. If and when they come back at you, you have the option to Ignore.

Basic safety precautions for adults and your teens

Don’t share too much information on where you live, the hours you work, where your young children or grandchildren go to school, or when you are going on vacation. It would be a really bad idea to announce, “We’re going to Disney World in two weeks!” (this gives the robbers plenty of time to plan).

The worst is happening

You have set all your safety and security parameters, you have protected your profile, you are cautious about who you connect to. And you have some bone-head who won’t leave you alone.

Important step – TELL THEM you want to be left alone - Tell the abuser to stop. Make it clear, keep it simple, i.e. “Do not contact me in any way in the future.” And then DO NOT RESPOND to them after that.

If you feel it’s necessary, contact the page/forum/group and tell them what’s happening, who’s doing the harassing, and so on.

Keep a record of everything – save the posts, tweets, comments in a special file – you may need it if you have to report it to the authorities.

The next step

If you feel you are being abused or targeted or you have actually received threats, contact legal counsel and/or contact authorities.

 How to Report Internet Stalking & Crime

“Watchdog” organizations that help prevent cyber bullying & online stalking:

This form allows you to report a cyber stalker to QuitStalkingMe:

For Kids & Parents:

Government organizations:

Federal Trade Commission – Fraud & ID theft

Reporting to authorities, FBI site - “How to Protect Your Computer”
“How to File a Complaint with the IC3”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Protect Your Online Rep From Spammers & Scammers

I had the privilege of collaborating with friend and colleague, Karen S. Elliott. Karen and I are on a mission to to spread the word about how to protect your online reputation from pesky scammers and spammers. 

About Karen S. Elliot
Karen was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, Look it up! Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun. Her favorite book is the dictionary.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and grandmother. You can find her at her website, The Word Shark and her blog. Connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Part I - by Karen S. Elliott & Therese Pope

From Karen –
I had an old “friend” contact me via FB. I remembered as soon as I saw her name why I stopped being friends with her. I did not want to connect with her and told her so. She came back with an abusive email (ah, the memories) about what a lousy friend I had been, about all the favors she’d done for me in the past, etc. Made me wonder, “If I was such a lousy friend, why did she want to renew contact?” I blocked her. Problem solved.

My experience –
I had a client who had a stalker on Facebook that escalated into a harassing situation. The stalker sent my client’s editor a crazed message about him, and claimed he was a fraud, etc. She went on a rampage and proceeded to stalk him on other article sites and left nasty comments. Stalker-lady then left disparaging comments and attacked me and my company on an article site. The client and I took action immediately and contacted the site’s editor. I received a personal phone call from the editor, and they assured me they would not tolerate stalkers who attack their writers. Stalker-lady was banned as a result of the action we took.

How to Protect Your Computer

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." – Benjamin Franklin. Wise words and he didn’t have social networking.

We should all have spyware, web protection, virus protection, etc. installed on our computers. If you don’t have virus software installed, check out the following anti-virus software: McAfee, Avast, AVG, etc.  


At this point, all email programs have automatic spam filters. You can also set additional parameters for blocking odd emails. Mark incoming mail “spam” if it looks suspect or block specific email addresses. Best bet – don’t open any email if you do not recognize the address. And for goodness sake, don’t open attachments from anyone you don’t know!

Your social networking


It’s best to set up parameters when you first start your page, however most of us just started a Facebook page and floundered through. From Karen: “My son was going to Iraq and he wanted me to join Facebook, so I did. I didn’t investigate anything, I just started a page.”

My experience: I originally joined Facebook because I have siblings in the military and they were stationed all over the country and world, and it is easier to keep in touch via Facebook updates.

As we all know, Facebook changes applications without consulting any of us billions of users, so check your security periodically.

Maintain a modicum of privacy on your Facebook profile. Allow little to show except basic information until you are friends with someone. Don’t “accept friend request” without knowing who that person is, how or why they are approaching you, or what their intent is.   

How to create privacy settings for new Timeline:
Go to Privacy Settings > How Tags Work and change the settings for "Maximum Timeline Visibility" from "Public" to "Friends."

If you're super-intense, you can change those settings to "Custom" and choose "Only Me" -- then you'll be the only one who can see the posts.

Limit your past posts -- which may have been made public at the time -- to Friends only. To do this, go to "Limit the Audience for Past Posts" and click "Manage Past Post Visibility," then "Limit Old Posts." This will change all past posts to Friends-only, even if you initially made them public.

From the Facebook Security pages: “Once you block someone, that person can no longer be your friend on Facebook or interact with you (except within apps and games you both use and groups you are both a member of).”

Reporting abuse or policy violations -


Watch for comments @your-name-here. You can set Twitter parameters so that everything with @your-name-here is delivered to your email (if email is the first thing you check, this might be helpful).

If you realize a tweeter has a problem with you or the comments escalate, consider “Report a Violation” under Help Center Guidelines and Best Practices, Safety Center, Reporting Violations. Then block, unfollow, protect.

How to block users on Twitter -

WordPress Blog  

Handling and reporting abuse -

Set safety parameters on your Dashboard, along the left side list of options, go down to Settings, Discussion, and it will take you to page that says Discussion Settings. Set parameters as you see fit.

Dashboard drop-down menu under the Blog Tab – Manage Comments – you’ll see Unapprove | Reply | Quick Edit | Edit | History | Spam | Trash. Pick whatever response is necessary to manage individual comments made on your blog.

You can also delete troll comments. Go to Dashboard, Comments. When the comments list pops up, click the little box to the left of the commenter’s icon. Under Bulk Actions - Unapprove, Mark as Spam, or Move to Trash; then Apply.

 Blogger (Blogspot)

After logging into your Blogger account, go to the Settings | Posts and comments tab. Under the Comments settings, choose accordingly. If you want to moderate comments that people leave on your blog: under “Comment Moderation?” click on “Always”. You will receive an “Awaiting Moderation” message. You will then need to review and manually approve comments. If you receive spam comments, you can report them as “spam” and pesky spammers will be blocked from leaving comments on your blog.

According to Blogger (run by Google):
Here are some examples of content we will not remove unless provided with a court order:
  • Personal attacks or alleged defamation
  • Parody or satire of individuals
  • Distasteful imagery or language
  • Political or social commentary”
 For more helpful tips on how to report abuse, check out Blogger’s Support Section.

Stay tuned – tomorrow Karen and I will post Part II which includes LinkedIn and Google+. We will also share loads of websites with information on what to do and who to contact if you think you are being targeted or stalked.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Limbaugh's PR Backlash: Advertisers Take a Hike

I think Rush Limbaugh needs a reputation management/PR refresher: "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."

If you haven't caught up with recent news, shock-jock Rush Limbaugh publicly slammed a female law student and called her derogatory names. This doesn't come as shocking news to me as Limbaugh's hands have been slapped in the past for his negative, degrading comments, especially towards women.

As a result, seven advertisers pulled ads from Limbaugh's radio show (despite Limbaugh's public apology). I applaud these advertisers for taking a stand and not tolerating this hateful vitriol that Limbaugh spewed. Limbaugh is the last person to be pointing fingers and name-calling.

There is NO excuse for Limbaugh publicly defaming this young woman - it was beyond unprofessional and juvenile. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not at the expense of slamming another person's character and reputation. Obviously, he couldn't get out of hot water this time and his apology didn't cut it with his advertisers. I hope he learned his lesson -- we can only hope.
Emboldened by Rush Limbaugh’s public apology over the weekend to a law school student whom he had called a “slut” and a “prostitute,” critics of the radio talk show host are intensifying their online campaign against his advertisers. The apology, they said, was a signal that the campaign was working. On Sunday, a seventh company, ProFlowers, said that it was suspending all of its advertising on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” despite his apologetic statement a day earlier... (Source: The New York Times)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Content Marketing Tip #3: How to Turn Guest Interviews into Valuable Content

In my college journalism classes, I was taught the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where and why. An interview does not have to be a nerve-wracking experience,and allows you to share a new, fresh perspective on tired topics. Over the course of my career, I have conducted hundreds of interviews ranging from well-known yoga teachers to world-renowned health/medical experts to authors. I love the interview process, and enjoy learning what makes people tick. As a blogger, I have conducted fascinating interviews with fellow marketers, copywriters and editors, and it's allowed me to mix up my content and add diversity to my blog.

The interview is the easy part. Prepare a set of ten questions before you conduct the interview and think "news-worthy" angle. What topic/angle will capture your targeted audience's attention? Keep the interview short (no more than an hour) and always follow up with a thank you email to the person you interviewed.

A few interview tips to remember: 
  • Do your research first BEFORE you interview and write your interview questions. Check out your expert's website, bio, social media sites, company information, etc. Be prepared or you will come off sounding like a novice during the interview. 
  • What's the real story behind your guest expert? Remember to ask probing questions and don't be afraid to dig deeper. Be kind, courteous and respectful of boundaries when asking questions, but you don't have to stick with the "safe questions". What is that one thing that your readers would NEVER guess about this person? What makes him/her quirky, fun, different, stand out in the crowd, etc.? Don't rattle off "resume/bio" questions - zzzzz...boring! 
  • Check your facts before you publish your content. If you aren't sure about a fact or need clarification, don't be afraid to connect with your guest expert and "fact check" before your content goes live.  It's helpful to record interviews so you can review before you create your content -- ALWAYS ask permission from the person before you record their interview). 
Great, so you completed the interview...what comes next?

Follow these simple steps and spin your interview into valuable and marketable content.

1. Create a Q&A blog post that features your guest expert. If your guest interviewee shared a copious amount of information, break the interview into a series throughout the week. Include "teasers" on your social media and send out an email announcement about the interview to your email list. As a courtesy, make sure to include a brief bio and links to the guest's social media/website, contact information, etc.

2. Interview your guest "live" on video or via podcast. If writing isn't your forte and you shine on video or audio, record a "live" interview and then post on your website, blog, social media sites. If you plan to record the interview, ask permission from your guest expert BEFORE you start recording. Keep your audio/video short (3-5 minutes) and keep interview questions to a minimum. You can also use the video/audio as a promotional teaser to draw people back to your blog or website article.

3. Repurpose the interview into a press release and/or article. If the interview has a news-worthy angle, spin the content into a press release or article. Make sure the press release or article does NOT sound like an "informercial" for the expert's products or services. The purpose behind a press release and article is not to sell - it's to inform and educate. Post on free press release services and article marketing sites. Not only does it help promote your company/brand, but it also cross-markets your guest expert as well.

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies