8 Writing Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

I wrote my first blog post two summers ago. And I wish I could erase it from the internet. Reading it is like looking at my middle school Facebook pictures — it’s almost too cringe-inducing.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, though. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and the last paper I wrote was about the Odyssey. I didn’t know what I was doing.

But after completing several content marketing internships and taking classes like business writing, electronic journalism, and creative writing, I’ve learned how to write for an audience. Blogging is almost second nature to me now.

If you’re just starting out with blogging and struggling to produce something you’re truly proud of, don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to enroll in a bunch of writing classes or join a content marketing team to become a good blogger (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). You can hone your writing skills online — and this blog post can be one of your bookmarkable resources.

Listed below are eight essential writing tips I’ve gleaned from all my classes and content marketing experience. Check them out to learn how to engage your audience with clear, concise, and compelling content — and make me even more embarrassed about the first blog post I ever wrote.

8 Essential Writing Tips for Crafting Clear, Concise, and Compelling Content

1) Trim the fat.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your writing, the easier it is to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your writing, follow the four pointers below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like “Sam was writing about his van.” “Sam wrote about his van.” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like “The decision of the board was final.” to “The board’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • When a noun ends in -tion, change the noun to a verb. For example, “They will collaborate to create a new style guide.” sounds cleaner than “They will collaborate in the creation of a new style guide.”
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2) One sentence should only cover one idea.

A clear sentence that’s easy to understand covers one main idea. But sometimes writers focus too much on sounding smart rather than conveying information in a simple way. This can lead to complex sentences that confuse readers.

You must remember your readers don’t care about your writing prowess. They want to quickly understand the solutions to their own problems, and simple sentences can fulfill that need.

Use the Hemingway App to gauge whether your sentences are bold and clear.

3) Sentences don’t live in isolation.

If you want to craft a compelling sentence, you need to account for its surrounding sentences first. Using the same word in consecutive sentences or covering similar ideas in two different sentences is redundant. To create a more stimulating experience for your readers, vary your language and cut repeat information.

Use Power Thesaurus to replace overused words with dynamic synonyms.

4) Vary sentence length and structure.

I saw a graphic called “How to Write” on Twitter about a year ago, and it took my writing skills to the next level. Take a look.

How to Write.jpg

Humans crave variety. And just like how short, medium, and long sentences complement each other, simple and compound sentences complement each other too.

Your writing becomes repetitive and boring when your sentences have the same structure or length. Diverse sentences make your writing pleasant to read.

5) Scrap the cliches.

Would it be cliche to begin this paragraph with a cliche? I thought so. That’s why I didn’t do it. Cliches sap your content’s originality.

People use these phrases so much that they lose their true meaning. Some studies even claim that figures of speech like “hungry as a horse” or buzzwords like “leverage” can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for experiencing emotions. They’re too stale to impact you.

A good way to test cliches is by asking yourself if you’ve heard the term before. If so, aim to express your idea in a new, fresh way. You can also nix cliches by filtering your content through a cliche finder tool.

6) Appeal to the senses.

Good fiction writers can make their readers experience the stories they write. By using concrete details that appeal to their reader’s senses, they can paint vivid pictures with only words.

Skeptical? Well, in a 2012 study at Emory University, researchers monitored participants’ brain activity when they read metaphors involving texture. Metaphors like “He had leathery hands,” lit up their sensory cortex, which is responsible for perceiving texture through touch. When they read a similar phrase like “he had strong hands,” their sensory cortex didn’t activate.

“Leathery” is a concrete detail that appeals to touch. And it places readers into the exact scene the writer described. Metaphors and similes also help people visualize things by comparing a concrete picture with an abstract idea.

Business writing definitely differs from creative writing, but you can still harness the power of sensory language in your blog posts. If your readers can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste your ideas, then they’ll be hooked on your content.

Having trouble grasping this concept? Here are some examples:

  • Visual: “You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.” – Can you see how long this ad is?
  • Auditory: “But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones.” – Can you hear his obnoxious laugh?
  • Touch: “Let your well-formatted paragraphs put her attention in a guillotine hold.” – Can you feel how captivated she is?”
  • Smell and taste: “Turn bland writing into zesty sound bites.” – How strong was that quip’s flavor?

7) Let things go.

When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go.

Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing.

Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.

8) Take a break.

Have you ever reread your final draft so much that you can’t determine whether it’s Neil Patel good or high school essay bad? You can even convince yourself that a lousy draft looks great if you’ve worked on it for long enough.

Before you submit your final draft, it’s crucial to walk away from it. Forgetting about your work will help you develop fresh editing eyes that can discover overlooked errors and new creative opportunities.

Eddie Shleyner, copywriter and content marketer at Workforce Software, follows “The Rule of 12” when he edits his blog posts. After writing his final draft, he walks away for 12 hours. Then he makes his final round of edits, where he always finds a mistake or a better way to polish his copy.

What writing tips do you find useful? Let us know on Twitter!

free guide to writing well

9 Testimonial Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy in 2017

When potential customers are researching you online, they’re getting to know you by way of the content of your website. Understandably, many of them might be skeptical or hesitant to trust you right away.

To prove the value of what you have to offer, why not let your happy customers do the talking?

Your testimonial page serves as a platform to show off how others have benefited from your product or service, making it a powerful tool for establishing trust and encouraging potential buyers to take action. Plus, having a testimonial page serves as yet another indexed page on your website containing content covering product features, pain points, and keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Read on for a closer look at what makes a great testimonial.

What Is a Testimonial?

First, let’s have a little vocabulary lesson. Google’s dictionary definition of testimonial is “a formal statement testifying to someone’s character and qualifications.” In the realm of marketing, that usually comes from clients, colleagues, or peers who have benefitted from or experienced success as a result of the work you did for them.

But effective testimonials go beyond a simple quote that proclaims your greatness. They need to resonate with your targeted audience, and the people who could also potentially benefit from the work you do in the future. That’s why great testimonials also tell a story — one that inspires and motivates the people reading it.

What does that look like in practice? Check out the examples below to find your own inspiration, to help you start building a great testimonial page today.

9 Examples of Awesome Testimonial Pages

1) Codecademy

Codecademy has nailed down the testimonials section of their website, which they call “Codecademy Stories.” They’ve even included a few customer quotes (along with pictures, names, and locations) right on their homepage above a link to the testimonial page.

We love the approachable format and the fact that they chose to feature customers that users can really relate to. When you click into any story, you can read the whole case study in a Q&A format. 

2) BlueBeam

Many companies struggle to grab people’s attention using their testimonial pages, but BlueBeam does a great job of catching your eye as soon as you arrive on the page. While it’s technically called a Case Studies page, the first thing you see is a set of project examples in the form of large, bold images that rotate on a carousel. Scroll down and you can also click on video case studies, as well as view customer panels.

3) ChowNow

ChowNow does a lot right on its testimonial page, but the bread and butter is its collection of production-quality “client stories” videos. There’s a handful of these awesome, 2–3-minute videos that cover everything from the clients’ life before and after ChowNow, to how easy the platform is to use. The videos feature some great footage of the clients, their offices, and their food.

4) Decadent Cakes

There are times when you’re leaving an online review and, for whatever reason, just don’t want to include photos with it — like when it’s for something kind of personal, like your son’s birthday party.

Decadent Cakes knew that and wanted to respect its customers’ privacy, while also highlighting their positive feedback. To solve for that, the bakery showcases its customer testimonials on a whimsically designed webpage along with names, locations, and sometimes pictures of the cakes made for those people. We love that that customers are referred to as “friends,” too.

decadent-cakes-testimonials-page.png

5) mHelpDesk

Visit mHelpDesk’s testimonial page, and the first thing you’ll see is powerful header text set over a large, faded graphic showing where in the world its customers are located — a great way to show it’s a global brand. Below the header text and call-to-action for a trial, they offer videos and text testimonials equipped with pictures.

The testimonial videos aren’t production quality, but they get the message across and cover useful and relevant information — which goes to show you don’t need to invest thousands in production to get some testimonial videos up. Finally, in the theme of earning trust, we love that mHelpDesk closes out its testimonial page with awards and badges of recognition.

6) Clear Slide

One of the first things we noticed about Clear Slide’s testimonial page is how creatively it’s named — “What They’re Saying.” It includes a smattering of quotes from customers, topped with client logos from big names like The Economist and Starwood. If you have users that are celebrities or influencers within their community, be sure to include and even highlight their testimonials on your page.

7) FreeAgent

The folks at FreeAgent did a great job formatting its testimonial page with emphasized text quotations along with pictures, names, and companies to add credibility. But what we really love about it is the “Twitter love” banner on the right-hand side of the page.

Social media is a great source of real-time proof of customer satisfaction — after all, that’s why it’s called “social proof” — and many customers turn to places like Twitter and Facebook to informally review businesses they buy from. Be sure to monitor your social media presence regularly to find tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and so on that positively reflect your brand, and see where you can embed them on your website.

8) Focus Lab

Focus Lab took a unique and very cool-looking design approach to its testimonial page — which is fitting, seeing as its trade is in creating visual branding systems. Again, it’s technically a visual catalog of both previous projects and works-in-progress, but instead of just listing out client quotes, the page opts for a card-like design with interactive, rectangular elements you can click on to see the full case study — with quotes occasionally appearing in-between.

What’s even cooler is what’s included in each individual case study. Not only does FocusLab cover the challenges faced by clients and how FocusLab helped solve them, but the case studies also include some of the steps in the design process between conception and final product. In some instances, they included the evolution of the logo during the design process.

Finally, we love the aforementioned view of works in progress section below the case studies. These cards aren’t clickable, but they give viewers a glimpse into the firm’s current projects.

9) 99designs

99designs takes a bit of an unconventional approach to its testimonial page. Using a star-rating system not usually seen in the B2B sector (read: Yelp and TripAdvisor), the page is headlined with an eye-catching video, with customer reviews below it. Plus, it gives users the ability to sort through customer reviews by category so they can read the ones most relevant to them.

Spread the Love

Once you’ve created a testimonial page, don’t forget to promote it. Send it to the customer(s) you featured, your sales staff, and even to your other customers if you think they’d be interested. And don’t forget to add a link to your testimonial page on your homepage, in your “About Us” page, or as part of your overall navigation.

22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Brand Taglines

Keep it simple, stupid.

We don’t mean to offend you — this is just an example of a great slogan that also bears the truth of the power of succinctness in advertising.

It’s incredibly difficult to be succinct, and it’s especially difficult to express a complex emotional concept in just a couple of words — which is exactly what a slogan does.

That’s why we have a lot of respect for the brands that have done it right. The ones that have figured out how to convey their value proposition to their buyer persona in just one, short sentence — and a quippy one, at that.

So if you’re looking to get a little slogan inspiration of your own, take a look at some of our favorite company slogans from both past and present. But before we get into specific examples, let’s quickly go over what a slogan is and what makes one stand out.

What Is a Slogan?

In business, a slogan or tagline is “a catchphrase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company,” according to Entrepreneur.com’s small business encyclopedia.

In many ways, they’re like mini-mission statements.

Companies have slogans for the same reason they have logos: advertising. While logos are visual representations of a brand, slogans are audible representations of a brand. Both formats grab consumers’ attention more readily than the name a company or product might. Plus, they’re simpler to understand and remember.

The goal? To leave a key brand message in consumers’ minds so that, if they remember nothing else from an advertisement, they’ll remember the slogan.

What Makes a Great Slogan?

According to HowStuffWorks, a great slogan has most or all of the following characteristics:

It’s memorable.

Is the slogan quickly recognizable? Will people only have to spend a second or two thinking about it? A brief, catchy few words can go a long way in advertisements, videos, posters, business cards, swag, and other places. 

It includes a key benefit.

Ever heard the marketing advice, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”? It means sell the benefits, not the features — which applies perfectly to slogans. A great slogan makes a company or product’s benefits clear to the audience.

It differentiates the brand.

Does your light beer have the fullest flavor? Or maybe the fewest calories? What is it about your product or brand that sets it apart from competitors? (Check out our essential branding guide here.)

It imparts positive feelings about the brand.

The best taglines use words that are positive and upbeat. For example, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ slogan, “Two great tastes that taste great together,” gives the audience good feelings about Reese’s, whereas a slogan like Lea & Perrins’, “Steak sauce only a cow could hate,” uses negative words. The former leaves a better impression on the audience.

Now that we’ve covered what a slogan is and what makes one great, here are examples of some of the best brand slogans of all time. (Note: We’ve updated this post with several ideas folks previously shared with us in the comments.)

22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Taglines

1) Nike: “Just Do It”

It didn’t take long for Nike’s message to resonate. The brand became more than just athletic apparel — it began to embody a state of mind. It encourages you to think that you don’t have to be an athlete to be in shape or tackle an obstacle. If you want to do it, just do it. That’s all it takes.

But it’s unlikely Kennedy + Weiden, the agency behind this tagline, knew from the start that Nike would brand itself in this way. In fact, Nike’s product used to cater almost exclusively to marathon runners, which are among the most hardcore athletes out there. The “Just Do It” campaign widened the funnel, and it’s proof positive that some brands need to take their time coming up with a slogan that reflects their message and resonates with their target audience

nike-just-do-it-2.jpg

Source: brandchannel

2) Apple: “Think Different”

This slogan was first released in the Apple commercial called “Here’s to the Crazy Ones, Think Different” — a tribute to all the time-honored visionaries who challenged the status quo and changed the world. The phrase itself is a bold nod to IBM’s campaign “Think IBM,” which was used at the time to advertise its ThinkPad.

Soon after, the slogan “Think Different” accompanied Apple advertisements all over the place, even though Apple hadn’t released any significant new products at the time. All of a sudden, people began to realize that Apple wasn’t just any old computer; it was so powerful and so simple to use that it made the average computer user feel innovative and tech-savvy.

According to Forbes, Apple’s stock price tripled within a year of the commercial’s release. Although the slogan has been since retired, many Apple users still feel a sense of entitlement for being among those who “think different.”

apple-slogan.jpg

Source: Blue Fin Group

3) Dollar Shave Club: “Shave Time. Shave Money.”

The folks at Dollar Shave Club have made their way onto quite a few of our lists here on the blog, and it’s safe to say that when it comes to marketing and advertising, this brand’s team knows what it’s doing. And its slogan — “Shave Time. Shave Money.” — is an excellent reflection of their expertise.

This little quip cleverly incorporates two of the service’s benefits: cost and convenience. It’s punny, to the point, and it perfectly represents the overall tone of the brand.

Dollar-Shave-Club-Slogan.jpg

Source: TheStephenHarvey.com

4) L’Oréal: “Because You’re Worth It”

Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re worth it? The folks at L’Oréal worked with the theory that women wear makeup in order to make themselves appear “beautiful” so they feel desirable, wanted, and worth it. The tagline isn’t about the product — it’s about the image the product can get you. This message allowed L’Oréal to push its brand further than just utility so as to give the entire concept of makeup a much more powerful message.

loreal-slogan.jpg

Source: Farah Khan

5) California Milk Processor Board: “Got Milk?”

While most people are familiar with the “Got Milk?” campaign, not everyone remembers that it was launched by the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB). What’s interesting about this campaign is that it was initially launched to combat the rapid increase in fast food and soft beverages: The CMPB wanted people to revert to milk as their drink of choice in order to sustain a healthier life. The campaign was meant to bring some life to a “boring” product, ad executives told TIME Magazine.

The simple words “Got Milk?” scribbled above celebrities, animals, and children with milk mustaches, which ran from 2003 until 2014 — making this campaign one of the longest-lasting ever. The CMPB wasn’t determined to make its brand known with this one — it was determined to infiltrate the idea of drinking milk across the nation. And these two simple words sure as heck did.

got-milk-slogan.jpg

Source: Broward Palm Beach News Times

6) MasterCard: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”

MasterCard’s two-sentence slogan was created in 1997 as a part of an award-winning advertising campaign that ran in 98 countries and in 46 languages. The very first iteration of the campaign was a TV commercial that aired in 1997: “A dad takes his son to a baseball game and pays for a hot dog and a drink, but the conversation between the two is priceless,” writes Avi Dan for Forbes. “In a sense, ‘Priceless’ became a viral, social campaign years before there was a social media.”

One key to this campaign’s success? Each commercial elicits an emotional response from the audience. That first TV commercial might remind you of sports games you went to with your dad, for example. Each advertisement attempted to trigger a different memory or feeling. “You have to create a cultural phenomenon and then constantly nurture it to keep it fresh,” MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar told Dan. And nostalgia marketing like that can be a powerful tool.

7) BMW: “Designed for Driving Pleasure”

BMW sells cars all over the world, but in North America, it was known for a long time by its slogan: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” This slogan was created in the 1970s by a relatively unknown ad agency named Ammirati & Puris and was, according to BMW’s blog, directed at Baby Boomers who were “out of college, making money and ready to spend their hard earned dollars. What better way to reflect your success than on a premium automobile?”

The newer slogan, “Designed for Driving Pleasure,” is intended to reinforce the message that its cars’ biggest selling point is that they are performance vehicles that are thrilling to drive. That message is an emotional one, and one that consumers can buy into to pay the high price point.

bmw-designed-for-driving-pleasure-2.jpg

Source: Brandingmag

8) Tesco: “Every Little Helps”

“Every little helps” is the kind of catchy tagline that can make sense in many different contexts — and it’s flexible enough to fit in with any one of Tesco’s messages. It can refer to value, quality, service, and even environmental responsibility — which the company practices by addressing the impacts of their operations and supply chain.

It’s also, as Naresh Ramchandani wrote for The Guardian, “perhaps the most ingeniously modest slogan ever written.” Tesco markets itself as a brand for the people, and a flexible, modest far-reaching slogan like this one reflects that beautifully.

tesco-slogan.jpg

Source: The Drum

9) M&M: “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands”

Here’s one brand that didn’t need much time before realizing its core value proposition. At the end of the day, chocolate is chocolate. How can one piece of chocolate truly stand out from another? By bringing in the convenience factor, of course. This particular example highlights the importance of finding something that makes your brand different from the others — in this case, the hard shell that keeps chocolate from melting all over you.

10) Bounty: “The Quicker Picker Upper”

Bounty paper towels, made by Procter & Gamble, has used its catchy slogan “The Quicker Picker Upper” for almost 50 years now. If it sounds like one of those sing-songy play on words you learned as a kid, that’s because it is one: The slogan uses what’s called consonance — a poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession (think: “pitter patter”).

Over the years, Bounty has moved away from this slogan in full, replacing “Quicker” with other adjectives, depending on the brand’s current marketing campaign — like “The Quilted Picker Upper” and “The Clean Picker Upper.” At the same time, the brand’s main web address went from quickerpickerupper.com to bountytowels.com. But although the brand is branching out into other campaigns, they’ve kept the theme of their original, catchy slogan.

Bounty_Paper_Towels_Slogan.png

Source: Bounty

11) De Beers: “A Diamond is Forever”

Diamonds aren’t worth much inherently. In fact, a diamond is worth at least 50% less than you paid for it the moment you left the jewelry store. So how did they become the symbol of wealth, power, and romance they are in America today? It was all because of a brilliant, multifaceted marketing strategy designed and executed by ad agency N.W. Ayer in the early 1900s for their client, De Beers.

The four, iconic words “A Diamond is Forever” have appeared in every single De Beers advertisement since 1948, and AdAge named it the best slogan of the century in 1999. It perfectly captures the sentiment De Beers was going for: that a diamond, like your relationship, is eternal. It also helped discourage people from ever reselling their diamonds. (Mass re-selling would disrupt the market and reveal the alarmingly low intrinsic value of the stones themselves.) Brilliant.

de-beers-slogan.jpg

de-beers-slogan-old.jpg

Source: Sydney Merritt

12) Lay’s: “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One”

Seriously, who here has ever had just one chip? While this tagline might stand true for other snack companies, Lay’s was clever to pick up on it straight away. The company tapped into our truly human incapability to ignore crispy, salty goodness when it’s staring us in the face. Carbs, what a tangled web you weave.

But seriously, notice how the emphasis isn’t on the taste of the product. There are plenty of other delicious chips out there. But what Lay’s was able to bring forth with its tagline is that totally human, uncontrollable nature of snacking until the cows come home.

lays-slogan.jpg

Source: Amazon

13) Audi: “Vorsprung durch technik” (“Advancement Through Technology”)

“Vorsprung durch technik” has been Audi’s main slogan everywhere in the world since 1971 (except for the United States, where the slogan is “Truth in Engineering”). While the phrase has been translated in several ways, the online dictionary LEO translates “Vorsprung” as “advance” or “lead” as in “distance, amount by which someone is ahead in a competition.” Audi roughly translates it as: “Advancement through technology.”

The first-generation Audio 80 (B1 series) was launched a year after the slogan in 1972, and the new car was a brilliant reflection of that slogan with many impressive new technical features. It was throughout the 1970s that the Audi brand established itself as an innovative car manufacturer, such as with the five-cylinder engine (1976), turbocharging (1979), and the quattro four-wheel drive (1980). This is still reflective of the Audi brand today.

audi-slogan.jpg

Source: Cars and Coffee Chat

14) Dunkin’ Donuts: “America Runs on Dunkin”

In April 2006, Dunkin’ Donuts launched the most significant repositioning effort in the company’s history by unveiling a brand new, multi-million dollar advertising campaign under the slogan “America Runs on Dunkin.” The campaign revolves around Dunkin’ Donuts coffee keeping busy Americans fueled while they are on the go.

“The new campaign is a fun and often quirky celebration of life, showing Americans embracing their work, their play and everything in between — accompanied every step of the way by Dunkin’ Donuts,” read the official press release from the campaign’s official launch.

Ten years later, what the folks at Dunkin Donuts’ realized they were missing was their celebration of and honoring their actual customers. That’s why, in 2016, they launched the “Keep On” campaign, which they call their modern interpretation of the ten-year slogan.

“It’s the idea that we’re your partner in crime, or we’re like your wingman, your buddy in your daily struggle and we give you the positive energy through both food and beverage but also emotionally, we believe in you and we believe in the consumer,” said Chris D’Amico, SVP and Group Creative Director at Hill Holiday.

dunkin-donuts-slogan.gif

Source: Lane Printing & Advertising

(Fun fact: Dunkin’ Donuts is testing out rebranding — and renaming itself. One store in Pasadena, California will be called, simply, Dunkin’.)

15) Meow Mix: “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It by Name”

Meow meow meow meow … who remembers this catchy tune sung by cats, for cats, in Meow Mix’s television commercials? The brand released a simple but telling tagline: “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask For It By Name.”

This slogan plays off the fact that every time a cat meows, s/he is actually asking for Meow Mix. It was not only clever, but it also successfully planted Meow Mix as a standout brand in a cluttered market.

meow-mix-slogan.jpg

Source: Walgreens

16) McDonald’s: “I’m Lovin’ It”

The “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign was launched way back in 2003 and still stands strong today. This is a great example of a slogan that resonates with the brand’s target audience. McDonald’s food might not be your healthiest choice, but being healthy isn’t the benefit McDonald’s is promising — it’s that you’ll love the taste and the convenience.

(Fun fact: The jingle’s infamous hook — “ba da ba ba ba” — was originally sung by Justin Timberlake.)

mcdonalds-slogan.gif

Source: McDonald’s

17) The New York Times: “All the News That’s Fit to Print”

This one is my personal favorite. The tagline was created in the late 1890s as a movement of opposition against other news publications printing lurid journalism. The New York Times didn’t stand for sensationalism. Instead, it focused on important facts and stories that would educate its audience. It literally deemed its content all the real “news fit to print.”

This helped the paper become more than just a news outlet, but a company that paved the way for credible news. The company didn’t force a tagline upon people when it first was founded, but rather, it created one in a time where it was needed most.

new-york-times-slogan.jpg

Source: 4th St8 Blog

18) General Electric: “Imagination at Work”

You may remember General Electric’s former slogan, “We Bring Good Things to Life,” which was initiated in 1979. Although this tagline was well-known and well-received, the new slogan — “Imagination at Work” — shows how a company’s internal culture can revolutionize how they see their own brand.

“‘Imagination at Work’ began as an internal theme at GE,” recalled Tim McCleary, GE’s manager of corporate identity. When Jeff Immelt became CEO of GE in 2001, he announced that his goal was to reconnect with GE’s roots as a company defined by innovation.

This culture and theme resulted in a rebranding with the new tagline “Imagination at Work,” which embodies the idea that imagination inspires the human initiative to thrive at what we do.

19) Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good.”

Here’s another brand that took its time coming up with something that truly resonated with its audience. This tagline was created in 2002 under the umbrella of, “We never stop working for you.”

While Verizon was founded in 1983, it continued to battle against various phone companies like AT&T and T-Mobile, still two of its strongest competitors. But what makes Verizon stand out? No matter where you are, you have service. You may not have the greatest texting options, or the best cellphone options, but you will always have service.

(Fun fact: The actor behind this campaign — Paul Marcarelli — now appears in competing advertisements for Sprint.)

verizon-slogan.jpg

Source: MS Lumia Blog

20) State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”

The insurance company State Farm has a number of slogans, including “Get to a better State” and “No one serves you better than State Farm.” But its most famous one is the jingle “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” which you’re likely familiar with if you live in the United States and watch television.

These words emphasize State Farm’s “community-first” value proposition — which sets it apart from the huge, bureaucratic feel of most insurance companies. And it quickly establishes a close relationship with the consumer.

Often, customers need insurance when they least expect it — and in those situations, State Farm is responding in friendly, neighborly language.

StateFarm_Logo.png

Source: StateFarm

21) Maybelline: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Can you sing this jingle in your head? Maybelline’s former slogan, created in the 1990s, is one of the most famous in the world. It makes you think of glossy magazine pages featuring strong, beautiful women with long lashes staring straight down the lens. It’s that confidence that Maybelline’s makeup brand is all about — specifically, the transformation into a confident woman through makeup.

Maybelline changed its slogan to “Make IT Happen” in February 2016, inspiring women to “express their beauty in their own way.” Despite this change, the former slogan remains powerful and ubiquitous, especially among the many generations that grew up with it.

maybelline-slogan.jpg

Source: FunnyJunk

22) The U.S. Marine Corps: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

The U.S. Marine Corps has had a handful of top-notch recruiting slogans over the decades, from “First to fight” starting in World War I, to “We’re looking for a few good men” from the 1980s. However, we’d argue that “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” is among the best organization slogans out there.

This slogan “underscores the high caliber of those who join and serve their country as Marines,” said Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, former commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command. In 2007, it even earned a spot on Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame.

US_Marine_Corps_Slogan.png

Source: Marines.com

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What is an ISMS and 9 reasons why you should implement one

At IT Governance we often talk about the benefits of ISO 27001 certification but we don’t always expand on the more immediate benefits associated with implementing an information security management system (ISMS).

Below are nine concise points that explain what an ISMS is and nine reasons why you should implement one.

What is an ISMS?

  1. A centrally managed framework for keeping an organisation’s information safe.
  2. A set of policies, procedures, technical and physical controls to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of information.
  3. Either applied to the entire organisation or only a specific area where the information it seeks to protect is segmented.
  4. Includes not only technical controls but also controls to treat additional, more common risks related to people, resources, assets and processes.
  5. Based on a risk assessment across the organisation. This means all risks are assessed, analysed and evaluated against a set of predetermined criteria before risk treatments (controls) are applied.
  6. A framework that helps you make appropriate decisions about the risks that are specific to your business environment.
  7. Dependent on support and involvement from the entire business – not just the IT department – from the cleaner right up to the CEO.
  8. Not an IT function but a business management process.
  9. An ISMS can be certified to the international best-practice information security standard ISO 27001. Achieving accredited certification to the Standard demonstrates to your clients, customers, regulators and stakeholders that your organisation is following information security best practice and your data is sufficiently protected.

Why implement an ISMS?

  1. It helps manage information in all its forms, including digital, paper-based, intellectual property, company secrets, data on devices and in the Cloud, hard copies and personal information.
  2. It helps the company defend itself from technology-based risks and other, more common threats such as poorly informed staff or ineffective procedures.
  3. It reduces costs spent on indiscriminately adding layers of additional technology that might not work, due to the risk assessment and analysis approach.
  4. It constantly adapts to changes both in the environment and inside the organisation to reduce the threat of continually evolving risks.
  5. It makes sure that information security is entrenched in the business, improving the organisational culture and making processes efficient.
  6. It focuses on the integrity and availability of data as well as confidentiality. If the data is available but in a format that is not usable because of a system disruption, then the integrity of that data has been compromised; if the data is protected but inaccessible to those who need to use it as part of their job, then the availability of that data has been compromised.
  7. It protects the availability of information and critical business processes from the effects of major disasters to ensure their timely resumption.
  8. It enables businesses to be significantly more resilient to cyber attacks.
  9. Continual improvement, monitoring, internal audits and corrective actions make sure that the controls remain up to date and work properly.

To find out how to get started with implementing an ISMS aligned to ISO 27001, download our free guide: ISO 27001: The Facts >>>, and read more about implementing ISO 27001 >>>.

Find out how you can get started with an ISO 27001 career by attending an ISO 27001 training course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Write a Blog Post: A Bookmarkable Formula + 5 Free Blog Post Templates

You’ve probably heard how paramount blogging is to the success of your marketing. Without it, your SEO will tank, you’ll have nothing to promote in social media, you’ll have no clout with your leads and customers, and you’ll have fewer pages to put those valuable calls-to-action that generate inbound leads. Need I say more?

So why, oh why, does almost every marketer I talk to have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t consistently blog? Maybe because, unless you’re one of the few people who actually like writing, business blogging kind of stinks. You have to find words, string them together into sentences, and ughhh where do you even start?

Click here to download our free guide on how to double your blog traffic and leads.

Well my friend, the time for excuses is over.

After you read this post, there will be absolutely no reason you can’t blog every single day — and do it quickly. Not only am I about to provide you with a simple blogging formula to follow, but I’m also going to give you free templates for creating five different types of blog posts:

  • The How-To Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The Curated Collection Post
  • The SlideShare Presentation Post
  • The Newsjacking Post

With all this blogging how-to, literally anyone can blog as long as they truly know the subject matter they’re writing about. And since you’re an expert in your industry, there’s no longer any reason you can’t sit down every day and hammer out an excellent blog post.

How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow

Step 1: Understand your audience.

Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your target audience. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? This is where creating your buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.

For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start their own business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down. You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their approach to social media from a more casual, personal one to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach. That kind of tweak is what separates you from blogging about generic stuff to the stuff your audience really wants (and needs) to hear.

Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:

MakeMyPersona_Tool.png

Step 2: Start with a topic and working title.

Before you even write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with. For example, if you’re a plumber, you might start out thinking you want to write about leaky faucets. Then you might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations or different ways of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing. For example, you might decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.

Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.” Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably simply “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, check out this blog post from my colleague Ginny Soskey. In this post, Soskey walks through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” example above, she suggests that you “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.” This can be done by:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Adjusting the time frame
  • Choosing a new audience
  • Taking a positive/negative approach
  • Introducing a new format

Step 3: Write an intro (and make it captivating).

We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post, “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then describe the purpose of the post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. This will give the reader a reason to keep reading and give them a connection to how it will help them improve their work/lives. Here’s an example of a post that we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:

Step 4: Organize your content.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info so readers are not intimidated by the length or amount of content. The organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips, whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.“There is a lot of content in this post, so we broke it into a few different sections using the following headers: How to Setup Your Snapchat Account, Snaps vs. Stories: What’s the Difference?, and How to Use Snapchat for Business. These sections are then separated into sub-sections that to go into more detail and also make the content easier to read.

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. That way, before you start writing, you know which points you want to cover, and the best order in which to do it. To make things even easier, you can also download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for five of the most common blog post types. Just fill in the blanks!

Step 5: Write!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We couldn’t forget about that, of course.

Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and be sure to expand on all of your points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. Need help finding accurate and compelling data to use in your post? Check out this roundup of sources — from Pew Research to Google Trends.

If you find you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be really challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a ton of alternative word choices from a community of writers.
  • ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” that’s designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.
  • Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.

For a complete list of tools for improving your writing skills, check out this post. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:

Step 6: Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it. Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copy, edit, and proofread your post, and consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist. And if you’re looking to brush up on your own self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:

When you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the following advice in mind …

Featured Image

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 4.51.41 PM.png

Make sure you choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are now more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content in social media. In fact, it’s been shown that content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without relevant images.

For help selecting an image for your post, read “How to Select the Perfect Image for Your Next Blog Post” — and pay close attention to the section about copyright law.

Visual Appearance

No one likes an ugly blog post. And it’s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.

In a properly formatted and visually appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

header-and-sub-headers-blog-posts.png

Also, screenshots should always have a similar, defined border (see screenshot above for example) so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space. And that style should stay consistent from post to post.

Maintaining this consistency makes your content (and your brand) look more professional, and makes it easier on the eyes.

Topics/Tags

Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a tagging strategy. Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.

Step 7: Insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end.

At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next — subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc. Typically, you think about the CTA being beneficial for the marketer. Your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading.

In the blog post, “What to Post on Instagram: 18 Photo & Video Ideas to Spark Inspiration,” for instance, readers are given actionable ideas for creating valuable Instagram content. At the end of the post is a CTA referring readers to download a comprehensive guide on how to use Instagram for business:

Instagram_for_Business_CTA

See how that’s a win-win for everyone? Readers who want to learn more have the opportunity to do so, and the business receives a lead they can nurture … who may even become a customer! Learn more about how to choose the right CTA for every blog post in this article. And check out this collection of clever CTAs to inspire your own efforts.

Step 8: Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize your post for search.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!

Here’s a little reminder of what you can and should look for:

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are the descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.” While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they do give searchers a snapshot of what they will get by reading the post and can help improve your clickthrough rate from search.

Page Title and Headers

Most blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords/phrases your target audience is interested in. Don’t over-complicate your title by trying to fit keywords where they don’t naturally belong. That said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you’re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in search engine results.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site, because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.

It’s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking to pages that you want to rank well for that keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page, and that ain’t small potatoes.

Mobile Optimization

With mobile devices now accounting for nearly 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online, having a website that is responsive or designed for mobile has become more and more critical. In addition to making sure your website’s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.

Back in 2015, Google made a change to its algorithm that now penalizes sites that aren’t mobile optimized. This month (May 2016), Google rolled out their second version of the mobile-friendly algorithm update — creating a sense of urgency for the folks that have yet to update their websites. To make sure your site is getting the maximum SEO benefit possible, check out this free guide: How to Make a Mobile-Friendly Website: SEO Tips for a Post-“Mobilegeddon” World.

Step 9: Pick a catchy title.

Last but not least, it’s time to spruce up that working title of yours. Luckily, we have a simple formula for writing catchy titles that will grab the attention of your reader. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Start with your working title.
  2. As you start to edit your title, keep in mind that it’s important to keep the title accurate and clear.
  3. Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.
  4. If you can, optimize for SEO by sneaking some keywords in there (only if it’s natural, though!).
  5. Finally, see if you can shorten it at all. No one likes a long, overwhelming title — and remember, Google prefers 65 characters or fewer before it truncates it on its search engine results pages.

If you’ve mastered the steps above, learn about some way to take your blog posts to the next level in this post. What other steps do you take to refine your blog posts? Don’t forget to download your five free blog post templates right here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Free Download Historical Blog SEO Optimization

  New Call-to-action

How to Create the Best Powerpoint Presentations, With Examples

Some presentations are better than others. Some have gorgeous designs. Some have insanely actionable takeaways. Some just give down-to-earth advice. But the best presentations represent all three.

And if you’re looking to get started making your own presentation, why not learn from the best of the best?

To help you kick your own presentations up a notch, we’ve curated 24 awesome PowerPoint and SlideShare decks below. 

Since you're already interested in PowerPoints – click here for our free guide on delivering a great presentation.

When you’re clicking through the presentations below, notice how they weave an interesting story through the format, design their slides, and make their presentations interactive with features exclusive to the platform on which they were created. These are all crucial elements to making an awesome presentation — ones that you can certainly adapt and apply them to your own, with the right approach.

Even better … you may just learn a thing or two about marketing while you’re at it.

How to Create the Best PowerPoint Presentations

1) Less is more.

Here’s the thing — SlideShare exists for a reason. It allows users to view information in a presentation format without having to go somewhere else to see it presented. When you, a human being, deliver a presentation, chances are that that’s part of the reason why people are tuning in. They care about the topic, but they also are curious about the person speaking on it.

That’s why it can be valuable to keep your slides simple when delivering a presentation to an audience in-person. You want the focus to be on the message, rather than just the slides themselves. Keep the slides on-topic, but simple enough that people can still pay attention to what you’re saying, using the visual presentation to support your message.

2) Keep text to a minimum.

One way to accomplish the aforementioned simplicity is to reduce the amount of text in your presentation. People recall information better when images are paired with it (as opposed to text), so to help your message resonate with the audience, focus on visual content when you create your slides — we’ll cover more on that in a bit.

You certainly won’t be alone — even Google CEO Sundar Pichai practices the reduction of text in his presentations. “Since stories are best told with pictures,” he reportedly remarked at Google I/O 2017, “bullet points and text-heavy slides are increasingly avoided at Google.”

3) Rethink visuals.

When you reduce the amount of text in your slides, you’ll need compelling visuals to support the message you’re delivering to your audience. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw some nice-looking photos onto your deck and move on. Like any other content strategy, the visual elements of your presentation need to be strategic and relevant.

Templates

While PowerPoint templates have come a long way since the program was first unveiled to the world, chances are, they’re still commonly used. To help make your presentation unique, choose a theme that your audience hasn’t seen dozens of times before — one that matches your brand and complements the topic you’re speaking about.

Sometimes, it pays to look beyond to other presentation platforms other than PowerPoint to find unique templates, like Prezi. There are also many visual content design sites that offer customizable templates that you can adapt for your own brand and topic, like Canva. In fact, in addition to templates, Canva also offers its very own platform for building presentations from scratch, which you can check out here.

Charts and Graphs

One of the best ways to support the message you’re delivering in your presentation is by including data and statistics — and the good news is that they, too, can be represented visually, rather than bulleted out in text.

That’s where charts and graphs come in: They provide a colorful and engaging way to present the details that support your point. That said, make sure they fit in with the rest of your presentation’s visual theme — otherwise, it’ll distract the audience from what you’re talking about, rather than enhancing it. 

Color Themes

There’s been some research around the way color can influence our emotions, especially when used in marketing — in some cases, changing the color of a CTA button boosted conversions by 21%.

And while the goal of your presentation may not necessarily be to make a sale, you might be trying to invoke certain feelings or impressions, which a strategic use of color can help you do. Check out Coschedule’s guide on the psychology of color in marketing, which highlights the ways different tones, shades, and combinations can influence purchasing decisions.

Fonts

When you do include text, you want it to be readable enough for your audience to fully consume and interpret it easily enough to avoid becoming distracted from your message. If you include text that’s too small or dense to easily read, they’ll become too focused on trying to decipher it to pay attention to what you’re saying.

That’s why the designers at Visage recommend choosing Sans Serif fonts that opt for “legibility over fun,” noting that text should not only be big enough for people in the back of the room to read it, but also, presented in the right color to maintain visibility over your background.

Image quality

Incorporating this fabulous visual content into your presentation will go to waste if the images are low-quality. Make sure your photos and other visual assets are high-resolution enough to be crisp and clear when displayed on a huge presentation screen.

4) Incorporate multimedia.

There’s a reason why we love examples. You can give out the best advice available, but sometimes, in order to believe it, people need to see it in practice.

Multimedia is one way to achieve that — in a manner that can also capture and maintain your audience’s attention. A simple Google search for “music in presentations” yields enough soundtrack results to suggests that it’s a unique way of engaging your audience, or at least create a welcoming atmosphere before and after you speak.

Within the presentation itself, video — as it is in so many other applications — serves as valuable visual content to keep your audience engaged. After all, 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers, often because it helps to illustrate and explain theories in practice in a way that the spoken word or photographs can’t do alone.

24 Great SlideShare & PowerPoint Presentation Examples for Marketers

1) “How to Produce Better Content Ideas,” Mark Johnstone

We all get writer’s block sometimes. You’ll stare at a screen, hoping for inspiration to strike — and for that idea to be amazing.

But that’s not actually the best way to think of ideas. In the presentation below, Mark Johnstone outlines a better way to brainstorm ideas that will help build your business.

2) “How Google Works,” Eric Schmidt

Ever wonder what it’s actually like to work at Google? The presentation below from Eric Schmidt (Alphabet, Inc.’s Executive Chairman and ex-CEO of Google) could clue you in — it outlines some of the top lessons he and his team have learned from running and hiring for one of the top companies in the world. Besides giving you a peek behind the scenes of a top company, it could inspire you to make changes to the way your business runs.

3) “Fix Your Really Bad PowerPoint,” Slide Comet

Okay, maybe your PowerPoint isn’t that bad, but this presentation has some awesome takeaways we all could learn from. Even if you’re following all the tips in this presentation, you can sure be inspired by its expert copy and design.

4) “KPCB 2017 Internet Trends,” Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Mary Meeker’s report on the latest internet trends is one of the most hotly anticipated data reports of the year. Even if you gave this presentation a gander when it first came out, it’s worth revisiting — the data’s fascinating, current, and relevant to marketers in any industry.

 

5) “Why Content Marketing Fails,” Rand Fishkin

Sometimes, the most helpful pieces of content tell you what not to do. Rand Fishkin’s presentation does just that. He takes an in-depth look at the most common reasons people fail at content marketing — and offers practical, original advice on fixing it.

6) “The What If Technique,” Motivate Design

Most marketers are looking to grow … but sometimes they can get stuck making incremental improvements. While these improvements are growth, larger, bigger growth jumps are what most people want. To help you get unstuck from incrementalism, Motivate Design outlined a process in the presentation below.

7) “Digital Strategy 101,” Bud Caddell

Even though this presentation is almost 100 slides long, its content is pure gold. Caddell answers some of the biggest FAQs about digital strategy in a very accessible way. The reason his slides are so straightforward is because of the way he’s laid them out. He’s really adept at making “animated” slides explain his story — something we all should learn how to do.

8) “10 Ways to Win the Internets,” Upworthy

Even though Upworthy’s got a bad rap for creating clickbait headlines, their lessons on going viral are incredibly interesting. Besides having great advice about going viral, Upworthy does a great job of making its presentation interactive using clickable links.

9) “Crap: The Content Marketing Deluge,” Velocity Partners

Even though this SlideShare is a few years old, it’s one every content marketer should flip through. The reason we love it so much is because the message — and delivery of that message — is pretty much flawless. Definitely take a second to flip through the presentation, as you’ll learn a great lesson while also soaking up a great piece of SlideShare content.

10) “What Would Steve Do? 10 Lessons from the World’s Most Captivating Presenters,” HubSpot

Not to toot our own horn, but this presentation has been one of our most successful ones, so we wanted to share it with you. I personally love how actionable tips are provided in a visual way. For example, in slides 47 through 49, the author explains the difference between “showing” and “telling” by putting the word “circle” next to a picture of a circle. Although showing, not telling, is a key storytelling technique in writing, it’s especially effective in presentations.

11) “How I Got 2.5 Million Views on SlideShare,” Nick Demey

Feeling inspired to create a SlideShare of your own? Make sure you flip through Nick Demey’s presentation first. He shares some tried-and-true tips for creating awesome presentations that rack up tons of views.

12) “10 Powerful Body Language Tips for Your Next Presentation,” Soap Presentations

This presentation is inspirational from a design perspective — we especially love the color scheme. Using complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) can be overwhelming at times, but because Soap Presentations uses them with lots of white space in the background, the colors draw your attention to the content of the slides.

13) “What 33 Successful Entrepreneurs Learned From Failure,” ReferralCandy

Learning from mistakes is a crucial part of growing in your professional and personal lives. But sometimes, it’s better to learn from others’ mistakes instead of making them yourself. This presentation outlines some core lessons successful entrepreneurs have learned by making mistakes. Read on so you don’t have to make the same ones.

14) “Displaying Data,” Bipul Deb Nath

We admire presentation for its exceptional display of data — now this post will explain how to do the same in your own presentations. I also love how this presentation is very concise and minimal, as it helps communicate a fairly advanced topic in an easy-to-understand way.

15) “Design Your Career 2017,” Slides That Rock

This presentation’s advice is applicable and its design admirable. The whole black-and-white color scheme really makes the salmon accent color pop — and the SlideShare creatively combines these elements for different slide layouts. Definitely bookmark this presentation as an example of a great SlideShare design.

16) “A-Z Culture Glossary 2017,” sparks & honey

The first time I heard the phrase “on fleek,” I had no idea what it meant. (Apparently, it’s a term that means “on point,” in case you were wondering.)

If you’re like me and feel like it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest cultural trends, spend time with the presentation below. It’ll outline the most popular trends you should know this year — most definitely worth a read.

 

17) “The History of SEO,” HubSpot

SEO’s changed a lot in the past two decades. Most of us are concerned with keeping up with the latest and greatest changes … but have you ever taken a minute to step back in time? The presentation below will walk you through SEO history from the very beginning — it’s been a fascinating ride.

18) “5 Killer Ways to Design the Same Slide,” Crispy Presentations

Once you start designing presentations, it’s easy to fall back on tried-and-true layouts, photos, fonts, and colors. While keeping everything consistent can be good for branding or for shipping a deck quickly, it can also prevent people from noticing the awesome new content you’ve put together. The quick presentation below shows you a few different ways you can design the same slide — all depending on what you want it to accomplish.

19) “The Seven Deadly Social Media Sins,” XPLAIN

Besides having some great takeaways for any inbound marketer, I love how this presentation successfully uses Creative Commons images in almost every slide. It’s pretty inspirational — even if you don’t have budget for stock photos, you can have an engaging presentation.

20) “The Minimum Lovable Product,” Spook Studio

When they’re first getting started, many startups and agile teams talk about creating a minimal viable product — using the smallest amount of resources to produce something that’s good enough to begin testing. After all, why pour tons of resources into something that you don’t know will work?

This presentation challenges the MVP concept in favor for creating something that people love. Check it out — it has lessons even for those of us who aren’t building technology every day.

21) “How to Teach Yourself HTML and CSS This Month,” Ryan Bonhardt

Lots of people have “learn to code” on their to-do list … but they never get to it. In marketing, knowing how to navigate code is becoming even more important to being successful. If you’ve been waiting to get started with coding, check out the presentation below.

22) “How People Really Hold and Touch (Their Phones),” Steven Hoober

When you hear the phrase “design for mobile” what do you think? Probably that you need to create a responsive website, and that’s about it.

But that’s not all you need to worry about. When you’re creating mobile-optimized content, you need to know how people actually use their phones — and the presentation below will you a great overview of consumer behavior.

23) “How to Really Get Into Marketing,” Inbound.org

If you’re graduating from school or making a career change and looking to get into marketing, it can feel tough to actually get started. It’s one of those “you need experience to get the job, but you have no experience” conundrums.

Well, that’s where this presentation comes in. Hull growth marketer Ed Fry — once employee #1 at Inbound.org — gives real, actionable tips to help you get your foot in the door at your next marketing gig.

24) “Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing,” Velocity Partners

Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down and think you’re doing “just marketing.” You’re not operating on people and saving lives, right?

From the creators of “Crap: The Content Marketing Deluge” comes the following presentation. If you’re ever feeling down-in-the-dumps about marketing, I’d highly recommend reading it. It’s thoughtful, funny, and a great presentation to keep in your back pocket for a rainy day.

 
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Free Guide Presentation Skills

  Free Guide Presentation Skills

You could earn £64,000 a year with a CISM qualification

With the cyber security skills gap increasing worldwide, more people are looking to fill it by gaining relevant qualifications. The abundance of jobs makes a career in information security attractive, but it also offers a good salary and the opportunity for growth.

To advance your career, you’d benefit from gaining an ISACA® Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) qualification. It’s the globally accepted standard of achievement among information security, information systems audit and IT governance professionals. According to ITJobsWatch, people with this qualification earn £64,000 a year on average.

The average salary has grown by 2.4% in the past six months and by 6.25% in the past two years.

Our products, including a dedicated CISM training course, can help you gain a CISM qualification.

How will it help?

Our CISM course offers the perfect revision and preparation for the CISM exam. Over four days, you’ll learn from experts and take practice exams in a classroom training session.

The training programme has been designed to maximise efficiency and reduce the amount of time you spend away from the office. It has also been shown to be considerably more effective than self-study preparation, which require more time and commitment.

Of those who took our course, 86% passed the CISM exam at the first attempt.

The programme includes:

  • A professional training venue with lunch and refreshments
  • Comprehensive revision documentation (a digital copy is provided as a PDF file)
  • A certificate of attendance
  • Free attendance on a future course if unsuccessful in the exam

Our next training course will take place in London from 22–25 August 2017.

Find out more about out our CISM – Certified Information Security Manager Training Course >>

Exam preparation training - CISM, CISA, CISSP

The 5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

Remember only being able to send 1,000 texts each month?

My mom definitely remembers our phone bills when I doubled that amount every week in middle school.

Thankfully, companies created messaging apps to provide free and unlimited messaging, which was a refreshing solution for rigid text message limits and their lofty costs.

Click here to download a free, 5-part kit to help you grow your mobile audience.

But messaging apps refused to be just another form of text messaging. They kept innovating and evolved into apps for almost every digital interaction possible.

Now, within a single app, you can chat with your friends, communicate with brands, make calls, play games, consume content, buy products, and even call a cab.

These added functionalities make messaging apps sticky. They draw users to the app more often and keep them there for a longer time. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Most messaging apps also let businesses market to their massive, engaged user bases. Marketers can now use chatbots to provide customer service, send content to users, sell products, and advertise.

Naturally, different countries and age groups prefer some apps to others. Read on to learn how you can tailor your messaging app marketing for five different global messaging apps.

5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

1) WhatsApp

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.20.08 PM.png

Monthly active users:1.3 billion

Most Popular Regions: Latin America, Europe, The Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, Russia, and Africa

Age Group: 25-44

Marketing Features:

WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads, prohibits third-party bots, and limits its broadcast message feature and group chats to 256 people. How are marketers supposed to leverage the most popular messaging app in the world then?

Since WhatsApp isn’t conducive to large-scale content distribution, marketers must take advantage of its one-to-one messaging capabilities. And by interacting with WhatsApp users like a normal user would, marketers can execute hyper-targeted and personalized campaigns.

In 2014, Hellman’s Brazil created WhatsCook, a live recipe service that connected people to real chefs. This wasn’t a service that just recommended recipes, though. It created recipes with the ingredients users already had.

After signing up for the service on their website, users would send a picture of their refrigerator’s contents to WhatsCook. Then a chef would whip up a unique recipe using the person’s available ingredients and teach them how to cook it using pictures, videos, and other WhatsApp features.

Over 13,000 people people signed up for WhatsCook and each user spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with Hellman’s chefs. The service also received a 99.5% approval rating.

WhatsCook is a prime example of creative WhatsApp marketing. By attracting users with a helpful service, they engaged thousands of more people than they could by blasting content through a broadcast or group chat.

To start a service like WhatsCook, you just need users’ phone numbers or they can add your number to their contact list.

Fortunately, WhatsApp offers a click-to-chat link that you can embed in your website, email signature, or social profiles, allowing you to effectively promote your service.

2) Facebook Messenger

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.25.36 PM.png

Monthly active users: 1.2 billion

Most Popular Regions: North America, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa

Age group: 16-44

Marketing Features:

Facebook messenger offers brands a stockpile of marketing features.

For instance, you can serve destination ads in people’s newsfeed to drive them to your messenger and spark a conversation, send sponsored messages to people who’ve messaged you in the past, integrate messenger bots like Chatfuel and ManyChat to interact with customers, and more.

At HubSpot, we use chatbots to automate Facebook conversations with people. Whenever someone messages our Facebook account, our chatbot will message back with a menu of options.

People can then search and subscribe to our content, check out our software, look at job openings, ask for customer support, and manage their Facebook messenger blog subscription.

FB-Messenger.gif

 

3) WeChat

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.29.22 PM.png

Monthly active users: 938 million

Most popular regions: China

Age Group: 18-50

Marketing Features:

WeChat isn’t just a popular Chinese messaging app. Most Chinese citizens use it to run their entire lives.

In one app, they can:

  • Message friends
  • Post social updates in WeChat Moments
  • Read the news
  • Make in-store payments
  • Pay for bills
  • Transfer money
  • Shop online
  • Play games
  • Make voice and video calls
  • Book a taxi
  • And manage their personal finances

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app for a reason. And it also provides marketers a lot of opportunity to engage and delight users.

But if you want to market to users in China, or 90% of the user base, your business must be registered in Mainland China.

Businesses based in the United States, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand can only market to around 100 million of WeChat’s international users.

To establish a strong presence on WeChat, you should set up an official account for your business. This will allow you to create a company micro-site, publish content, and provide customer services all within the WeChat app.

There are two types of official accounts. Content publishers usually sign up for subscription accounts that let you broadcast one message per day to your subscribers in their subscription accounts folder.

Big retail chains usually sign up for service accounts that let you broadcast four messages per month to your subscribers in their friend session list.

Verified service accounts have access to 9 advanced APIs and WeChat payment. With access to these APIs, marketers can:

  • Leverage personalized content marketing, location-based marketing, influencer marketing, and QR code marketing
  • Open micro-stores
  • And run lotteries

All accounts also offer bots that can interact with users and deliver keyword-triggered content.

BuzzFeed uses these bots to send WeChat users instant, personalized content whenever they message them a certain keyword like “dogs”, “lol”, or “fail”.

BuzzFeed WeChat.png

 

4) Line

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.32.02 PM.png

Monthly active users: 217 million

Most popular regions: Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia

Age group: 10-49

Marketing Features:

Line is a free messaging app that offers a profile page, stickers, games, video calling, music streaming, ride-sharing, and about 30 other features. It dominates Japan’s messaging app market, where 94% of messaging app users use the app.

Line is chock full of opportunity for marketers. In its four most popular countries, 73% of monthly active users use the app every day. This abundance of user engagement allows brands to build huge followings and boost engagement rates.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal acquired 2 million Line followers in only 15 months, which is the fastest social channel growth they’ve ever seen. They also claim that 30% of its followers like, comment, and share all their posts.

When brands sign up for Line official accounts, they can:

  • Set up a profile page
  • Send chat messages to each of their subscribers
  • Post content on their subscribers’ timelines
  • Activate chatbots that deliver keyword-triggered responses and content
  • Optimize Line advertisements based on user demographics and interests
  • Distribute free branded stickers
  • And reward customers with stickers after they buy a product

For Paul McCartney, Line is actually the best way to reach fans. His 12.5 million Line followers are more than all his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers combined.

And since he can send private messages to each of his 12.5 million Line followers, he also engages with them a lot more than he can with his traditional social media following.

Paul McCartney.png

Photo Credit: TechCrunch

5) Slack

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.38.30 PM.png

Daily active users: 5 million

Most popular regions: United States

Age group: 25-54

Marketing Features:

Slack is the main internal communications platform for many businesses. In fact, 77% of Fortune 100 companies use it. If you work in B2B, Slack could be your most targeted marketing channel.

At HubSpot, we knew Slack could be an effective content delivery channel, so we decided to offer a Slack blog subscription. When users sign up for it, they add the HubSpot Blog app to their Slack profile, where they receive a weekly broadcast of content. They can also search for content in the app.

slack.gif

What messaging apps do you use for your marketing? Let us know on Twitter!

New Call-to-action

  Free Download Guide to Mobile

How to Create Compelling Content as an Amateur Writer: 7 Frameworks to Try

Just over a year ago, my business partner and I bet the future and success of our company on content marketing. We dismissed our sales team and put all our efforts into SEO and content.

As an engineer, I get the technical aspects of this process. I can use SEO tools to identify opportunities, I understand why links are important, and I can follow the link building process. But I’m not a professional writer and no one else on our team is either.

How were we going to create compelling content as a bunch of amateur writers?

Luckily, we discovered content frameworks.

What is a content framework?

A content framework is a basic system that guides you through the content creation process. It structures your article in a way that effectively presents your content’s insights.

Over the past year, we’ve explored seven different content frameworks. During this time, we’ve skyrocketed our organic traffic by more than 1,000% and ranked on the first page of Google for a lot of highly competitive search terms.

In this article, I’ll describe our experiences with each framework, the pros and cons of each one, my personal tips for success, and which frameworks worked best for us.

Let’s dive in.

1) Standard List Post

Everyone loves a good listicle. A standard list post will usually contain a short introduction, the list items, and finally a brief conclusion. The list elements will simply link to other sites or summarize the topic.

Positives

One of the biggest pros of a standard list post is that they’re easy to write. You don’t need to be a gifted wordsmith to put together a great listicle.

For us, listicles and the expanded-list post (covered below) have been some of our most successful pieces of content.

Negatives

If there are a lot of other listicles covering your topic, it may take some work (and time) for your list post to rise to the top of Google.

Pro Tip

Implement tactics like the Skyscraper Technique and Ego Bait in your list posts. If your list is longer, more comprehensive, and beautifully designed, it’ll overshadow all the other lists about your topic.

2) Expanded-List Post

The expanded-list post, coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, is an adaption of the standard list post. Like I mentioned before, there’s a ton of list posts on the web. How do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

Instead of listing a bunch of topics or links, the expanded-list post goes beyond a standard list post and take a deep dive into each item.

In the eyes of Google and your readers, these lists are rich with insights.

Positives

This has definitely been our most successful content framework. Our expanded list posts consistently rank on the first page of Google.

Expanded-list posts will usually be long-form content pieces, which Google prefers to show readers. Also, in comparison to competing list posts, the expanded-list post will be much more comprehensive, providing more value to your audience.

Negatives

Producing a stellar expanded-list post requires a significant amount of work.

For example, it took us multiple weeks just to collect the data for one of our posts about the best business apps.

It was worth it, though. Google ranks the post third or higher for number of competitive keywords.

Designing and organizing expanded-list posts may require more time too. You might need to group elements by category and provide jump links to different sections of the content. This will make your content more digestible.

Pro Tip

Similar to the Standard List Post pro tip, you want your article to be more in-depth and better than everyone else’s. So take your time when you design and organize the post. You need to make sure that your readers can easily find the information they’re looking for.

3) Go-to Guidebook

A Go-to Guidebook is a curated list of the top posts about a particular topic.

The biggest difference between this content framework and the list-type frameworks is that a go-to guidebook is normally organized like a book, with brief introductions to each sub-topic and links to the best content available around those topics.

Positives

This is one of the easiest types of content to produce. Even a complete amateur like myself can create a great go-to guidebook. You really don’t need to write that much.

It’s also a great way to re-purpose the best content that’s already available. All you have to do is source and organize the content.

Negatives

Since you’re promoting other people’s content with your go-to guidebook, the original authors should have an incentive to share and promote your piece. Unfortunately, they may not always care to promote it.

You also might have to curate content that isn’t fresh. We’ve managed to get posts in this style to rank, but it took a lot of research and work.

Pro Tip

Use graphics in your go-to guidebook to make it more visually appealing. The go-to guidebook consists of short paragraphs, so adding vivid pictures can make it feel like a real book.

4) How-to Guide

A how-to guide is a content framework where you explain how to use a product or perform a task. It’s much more focused than a go-to guidebook, so you have to rely on your own research or knowledge to create it.

Positives

Google generally loves it when your content can answer a question or solve a problem. And the how-to guide is a great way to provide value to your audience. So far, almost all our guides receive consistent organic traffic without us having to build a ton of backlinks.

If you can effectively optimize for search engines, Google might highlight your guide in the featured snippet, like the screenshot below.

By optimizing our “How to Post a Job on Craigslist Guide” to rank for the snippet, Google ranked it first. And we didn’t even have to build a single backlink.

how to post a job on craiglist.png

Negatives

How-to guides require significant time and subject matter expertise to produce. You’ll have to write more than you would for any other framework.

Pro-Tip

Clarify all of your guide’s takeaways. Even if it’s an obvious step or detail, just spell it out and make your content easy for people to understand. What is obvious to you might not be obvious to your audience.

5) Expert Roundup

An expert roundup is a collection of quotes or short interviews with influential people in your industry. You basically reach out to a bunch of experts, ask them specific questions, and compile their answers into an article.

To do this effectively, you’ll need to grasp a few nuances, but the great thing is that the experts you interview will write most of the content for you.

Positives

Once you’ve collected your experts’ responses, you can easily produce a really unique and great piece of long-form content.

Another big advantage of an expert roundup post is that your contributors will have an incentive to promote the article to their own audiences.

Our most successful roundup was about remote work. The article has over 100 backlinks, and most of the initial links came from the article’s contributors. This also helped us form relationships with a lot of industry experts, created other blogging opportunities, and piqued the interest of mainstream writers in our stance on remote work.

Negatives

While creating an expert round up post might not take much work, collecting your experts’ contact information and gathering their responses can be a handful, especially if it’s your first time doing it.

Your next roundups will be easier since you can interview some of the same experts again. But there will be a steep hill to climb during your first go-around.

Another significant con is that you’re depending on your influencers’ schedules to complete your piece. Compared to writing your own piece, you’ll definitely have less control over an expert roundup post’s production time.

Pro Tip

Take time to craft your questions because you’ll only have one shot to interview most experts. If your questions are clear and straightforward, they’ll be more likely to participate. 

6) Interview-Style Post

With this framework, you simply interview an expert on the topic you want to cover and turn the interview into an article. This is more of a journalistic approach to content creation.

Positives

After you conduct the interview, the article doesn’t require a lot of writing. The expert you interviewed can also potentially be asked to promote the article on their own social media channels and networks. And since you’re showing how an expert tackles a certain topic, your post will be unique and compelling.

Interviews provide an opportunity to produce content across multiple mediums. For example, we now interview small business owners and feature them in our podcast, our blog, and — down the road — in our own book.

An interview can be very insightful, so there’s a lot of opportunity for re-purposing it into multiple content formats.

Negatives

When we first tried this approach, we ran into a lot of issues scheduling the interviews. We also struggled to convince the experts to promote our content to their fans.

After our initial attempts, we actually thought the time investment wasn’t worth it anymore, but we tried out the approach again and have seen some success.

Pro Tip

Interview micro-influencers in the industry you’re covering. They’ll be more willing to promote your article, where a huge celebrity will have less of an incentive to help you out.

7) Infographics

Nowadays, infographics are very popular. They’re unique and engaging because they visualize data sets to tell a compelling stories.

Positives

According to Massplanner, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. You can easily spread awareness for your infographics by sharing them on Pinterest, Visual.ly, and the Infographic Directory.

You can also reach out to the sources you cited in your infographic and ask them to promote it.

Negatives

You’ll need some graphic design chops to craft a great infographic. Or you can pay someone to do it. Tools like Venngage can help you create your own infographic, but these tools’ capabilities are somewhat limited, so the graphic could look a little generic.

The infographic market is also over-saturated. There are some really great infographics out there, but there’s loads of them that don’t do anything except collect internet dust.

Our track record with infographics hasn’t been great. None of our infographics have ranked that well on Google.

In terms of social shares, our Snapchat marketing infographic has performed the best, with over 800 pins on Pinterest. Its search value is still low, though

Pro Tip

When you create your infographic, make sure to breakdown the graphic’s content in your introduction.

Google can’t crawl your graphic, so you need text to explain your piece’s premise. This is the only way Google can truly know what your article is about.

Final Thoughts

As amateur writers, we rely heavily on the structure of existing content frameworks. They help us efficiently produce quality content and massively boost our search presence.

We’ve experienced consistent success with expanded-list posts, how-to guides, and expert roundups. Each of these frameworks help us create rich pieces of long-form content that provide a lot of value to our readers.

For us, these three frameworks provide the most benefits relative to how long it takes to create them. You could experience differently depending on your skill set and industry.

How to Write a Press Release [Free 2017 Press Release Template + Example]

When it comes to content, sometimes old school can be a good thing (namely, when it comes to old school rap or Throwback Thursday on Instagram). But when it comes to your company’s public relations strategy, being old school isn’t advantageous for your business or your brand. 

Ten years ago, people still relied on morning papers for news. Today, the vast majority of your company’s customers and prospects scan headlines on Twitter or see what’s trending in their Facebook feed.Download our free press release template here to learn how to write a top-notch press release. 

People now have control over where, when, and how they consume information. As a result, public relations is no longer about feeding into a traditional news cycle; it’s about providing relevant content when, where, and how your prospects, influencers, and customers will consume it.

Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Wrong. While relationship-building still helps you get into popular publications, we now have the opportunity to quit playing the waiting game and generate our own buzz. By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare with your target audiences in the process.

One of the most crucial updates to make to your PR strategy is to think of press releases as an opportunity to connect to the audiences you care about — including, but not limited to, reporters. 

What is a Press Release / News Release?

A press release is an official announcement (written or recorded) that an organization issues to the news media and beyond. Whether we call it a “press release,” a “press statement,” a “news release,” or a “media release,” we’re always talking about the same basic thing.

Most press releases are succinct at just a page long. Two pages tops. Ultimately, companies want to provide enough information so that news outlets have sufficient material for publishing their own stories about whatever the company is announcing in the release.

And while it may be tempting to craft a press release that embellishes your company’s accomplishments or twists the facts to make a story sound more intriguing to the media, remember: Press releases live in the public domain, which means your customers and prospective customers can see them. So instead of thinking of a press release solely as a ticket to earning news coverage, you should also think of it as a valuable piece of marketing content.

How to Write a Press Release [With Example]

You’ve got your announcement in mind, and now it’s time to get it down in words to share with your community, industry, and followers.

Take Catbrella Inc., a fictitious ad agency, which just gained its 10th Twitter follower after two years of paid social media efforts. To announce its achievement, Catbrella could issue a press release like the one we’ve dissected below.*

Sample Press Release Format:

*Disclaimer: HubSpot is entirely responsible for the silliness of this faux announcement. 

press-release-example-hubspot.png

Rule 1: Make Your Headline Irresistible 

Just like writing the perfect blog post title, setting up your press release for success starts with your headline. You only have one line to work with, which can seem scary, but consider diction carefully to make your headline captivating.

Use action verbs, clear, understandable language, and keep your headline simple and short — fortune (and search engines) reward the brief, so keep your title to one line to clearly focus people’s attention on your topline message. 

Most importantly, make it interesting: Keep in mind that reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of releases each day, so invest the time to write a compelling headline. It’s worth the time and effort on your part. 

Rule 2: Don’t Play Hard to Get

For reporters, analysts, influencers, or followers to be inclined to share your announcement, you have to tell them upfront why they should care.

The first paragraph of your release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch, update, or development. Reporters don’t have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information — they just need the facts that’ll help them tell your story to someone else from a position of authority. 

There shouldn’t be any new, crucial information covered after this section that the reader could potentially miss. 

Rule 3: Offer a Tempting Quotable 

Once you’ve set the scene, it’s time to bring your details to life with a quote that reporters can use for context around your announcement and help paint a picture of how your news affects the given industry, customer base, and landscape.

Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the announcement. Don’t ask everyone in your office for a comment or feel compelled to quote all 25 people included in the acquisition — pick one or two critical spokespeople and focus the quotes around their unique perspective. 

Rule 4: Provide Valuable Background Information

In this last paragraph, keep in mind that the reader already has all of the vital details and information they need to file a story or spread the word.

It can be tempting to provide superfluous facts and tidbits about your company or the development of your announcement — we sometimes think a piece of writing is lacking if it isn’t drawn-out and just shy of being a novella. However, a press release needs to be helpful and concise.

Offer details here that strengthen your narrative, like creative or noteworthy ways your company developed the project or announcement at hand. Or, when applicable, comment on future implications of your announcement. 

Rule 5: Make the “Who” and “What” Obvious 

Twitter is chock-full of reporters lamenting press releases or pitches that don’t clearly explain what the company does or what the announcement is actually about, so instead of being the butt of a joke, make your release incredibly easy to reference. 

Describe what your company does in clear, plain English, include a link to your company’s homepage early on, and make your boilerplate succinct and straightforward. If you cite data, include a reference link for the data source, and make sure every name in the release has an associated title and company as well.

To keep yourself honest on this front, ask a friend or colleague to read the release without context and ask if they can easily and readily explain why the announcement matters, what your company does, and why the executives included are quoted. If the answer to any of those questions is no, get back to the drawing board. 

The key to keeping your PR strategy new school is forgetting preconceived notions of what public relations is and instead focusing on creating highly remarkable content. Traditional press releases can still be really valuable when executed well, so instead of ditching releases as a tactic, give them a modern makeover to make them more useful for your marketing. 

Think about how you’ve used inbound methods to transform your marketing strategies to be more personalized, approachable, and build relationships. Those same principles apply to your PR strategy: Create content to craft your own story and use tactful outreach to get reporters and analysts familiar with your brand.

When Should I Distribute a Press Release?

While there’s no cut-and-dried formula for when a press release should be written (and distributed), here’s a few reasons when it’s a good idea:

  • New product launches
  • Updates to existing products
  • Opening a new office
  • Introducing a new partnership
  • Rebranding
  • Promoting/hiring a new executive
  • Receiving an award

A regular cadence of (meaningful) news can help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time, so that’s where the press release (or news announcement) comes in. 

Press Releases Can Be a Viable Content Type

Many people think press releases have to be chock full of buzzwords and branded terms. Big data anyone? Five syllable words you have to look up on Thesaurus.com? Quotes from every executive on the planet that go on for pages? We’ve seen it all. Unfortunately, so have reporters — and they are not fans. 

So instead of stuffing your next release with jargon, take a page out of our book (okay, fine, ebook), The Newsworthy Guide to Inbound Public Relations, and brainstorm some creative approaches for your next announcement. Can you include new data? A remarkable graphic or video? A shareable SlideShare? If so, a creative angle will often help carry your content and increase the likelihood of social sharing. 

Even so, a press release can still be a really valuable medium for communicating news to your audiences. You just have to make it readable, relevant, and relatable.

We have crafted this comprehensive, easy-to-follow press release template complete with a promotional plan and considerations for your next announcement. We use these same guidelines when writing and formatting our releases here at HubSpot, and created a faux, sample release to illustrate what content goes where and why.

Tips for Publishing Press Releases

Writing a press release is really only half the battle. Once you’re finished with production, it’ll be time to focus on distribution.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the traditional distribution levers we can pull, which include publishing the press release on our website/blog, as well as sharing the press release with our followers/subscribers via social media and email. But for ensuring a press release gets the maximum amount of distribution possible, here are some tips you can follow.

1) Reach out to specific journalists.

Instead of blasting a press release out to every journalist you can find an email address for, focus on a few journalists who have experience covering your industry (and company, hopefully) and send them personalized messages. Connect the dots. Show why what you wrote connects to what they write.

2) Don’t be afraid to go offline.

Most journalists have mountains of emails (and press releases) to sort through. Try sending your release through snail mail or another offline channel to differentiate yourself.

3) Send the release to top journalists the day before.

Give journalists some time to craft a story around your press release by sending it to them — under embargo — the day before it officially goes live. (FYI “under embargo” just means they aren’t allowed to share the information in the press release until the time you specify.)

4) To avoid competition, don’t publish your release on the hour.

If you’re publishing your press release on a distribution service like PR Newswire or Business Wire, avoid publishing it on the hour (e.g., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m., or 5 p.m.). The reason? Most companies schedule their releases to go out on the hour, which means if your release goes out on the hour too, it’s more likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, try going with a more distinct time (e.g., 1:12 p.m., or 3:18 p.m., or 5:22 p.m.).

5) Share your media coverage.

If all goes according to plan, and your press release gets picked up by the media, your job still isn’t finished. To keep the buzz going, you can release a “second wave” of distribution by sharing the specific stories that news outlets write based on your press release.

What other best practices do you follow when writing press releases? Share your thoughts with us below, and don’t forget to download our free press release template here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

hubspot blogging assessment

  free press release template