Get real: In a world of fake news, authentic content is king

If you’ve been reading the news recently, you know that the news itself has been making headlines—specifically so-called “fake” news sites and their effect on the election.fake-news

Google has been called out for algorithms that allow fake sites to rise to the top in results, and Facebook has been called out for its part in allowing fake stories to spread via the social network. Both have responded by tweaking algorithms and updating ad policies to make it more difficult for fake news to gain traction.

What it all really speaks to is that the general public is becoming more attuned to what is authentic content and what is not. And that discerning attitude can mean big things for your business—namely that capturing true content is becoming a highly valued commodity.

At Wellons Communications, we specialize in generating authentic content that tells your story. We work hard to get your news out to trusted, professional journalistic sources, to create genuine social content and to build relationships with trusted influencers. The result is news stories, blogs, and social profiles you can take pride in—because they’re accurate and honest.

So if you’re tired of faking it, give us a call today at 407-339-0879, or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com. And do it now. Because as the communications landscape changes and your audience looks at everything with a skeptical eye, real content will become increasingly important. And that’s something you can’t afford to miss out on.

Are you asking yourself “What changes do I need to make for 2017?”

With 2016 rapidly running out of days, it’s that time of year when one starts asking “How well is my business doing?” and “What kinds of changes should I be considering?”nov-18-change

You may want to start by asking yourself these tough questions:

• Am I retaining my customer base?
• Am I attracting new business?
• What customers have I lost? Why?
• Am I meeting my financial goals? Why? Or why not?
What do I need to change for 2017?

Take a close look at that last question—and consider what kinds of changes you might need to make.

If you don’t think you need to change anything, think again. Jack Welch, recognized as one of America’s great businessmen, espoused the notion “You have to change, preferably before you have to.”

You have to change to keep up with the changes.

Nothing in business remains static. New products come. Old products go. New attitudes emerge. Old beliefs drop by the wayside.

Even if you believe everything is going great and you don’t need to change anything, consider this: changes outside of your business will necessitate that you make changes to adjust to an ever-changing business environment.

Need some examples? Ask companies like Kodak, Sears, Blockbuster, Pan-Am, and Borders how they fared when they failed to adjust to changing business environments.

Start change by examining your communications strategy.

Change can begin with something as simple as auditing your communications strategy. Ask, and answer, questions like:

• Is my message still relevant to my target audience?
• Am I using the right tools to reach my target audience?
• How does my target audience perceive my message?
• Am I reaching the correct target audience?
• How has my audience changed?

While you are revising your communications strategy, ask yourself one more important question:

Am I using the correct resources to craft and implement my overall communications approach?

That’s where we can help. We provide an objective and fresh look at how and what you are communicating and how it might need to change.

Our approach: We don’t just look for changes. We look for opportunities.

Our firm lives in a communications-centric world, and we know and understand how to create strategies and execute tactical programs that use the right message to reach the right audience at the right time. We know how to change your communications approach to make a meaningful, positive change in the upcoming year.

Before 2016 runs out, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com. Talk with me about taking a look at your communications approach and how we might be able to help you change for the better.

Are your communications really getting through?

In the history of communications, there has never been so much competition for the attention of consumers.

communicationThe onset of the Internet, along with the explosion of e-mail, tweets, text messages, along with new ways to connect, like Skype and GoToMeeting, has turned basic communications into the Wild West.

There are so many messages…and so little time to listen to them, let alone contemplate what the messages mean.

The net result? Communications overload, which places a premium on getting your message right the first time, every time.

Author Jocelyn K. Glei, on 99U, an online magazine for creative types, addresses the communications overload in detail in a thoughtful article:

http://99u.com/articles/7002/stop-the-insanity-how-to-crush-communication-overload

In particular, Ms. Glei thoughtfully addresses organizing communications and establishing protocols that rank what’s important…and what’s not.

Public relations communications should help you sell

At Wellons Communications, our service is public relations, which we interpret as helping you sell your product or service.

Sales begin with clear, simple statements that identify the needs of your target audience and how you can help them resolve that need.

Because of communications overload, your target audience has less time than ever to absorb what you are saying. You owe it to them (and yourself) to present your thoughts clearly, concisely, and consistently.

Clear, simple, direct communications will cut through the clutter. They make it easy for your target to understand that you recognize their needs and why you are the best resource for resolving them.

We recognize that the only reason you want public relations assistance is to help you sell something. In that same spirit, we are knowledgeable, experienced, and well-prepared to help you create effective ways and means of cutting through the “white noise” that exists in today’s marketing environment.

Give me a call at 407-339-0879 or e-mail me at will@wellonscommunications.com and let’s talk about how we can simplify your communications and make it easier for your marketing to work harder on your behalf.

Communicate your Benefits in “Plain Speak”

george-bernard-shawSuccessful communication is not about doing more. It’s about maximizing what you are already doing.

Here’s an example:

Take a look at your website and your brochure.

Ask yourself “Will readers immediately understand what I do?” and “Does my website clearly state the benefits I deliver?”

If the answers to these questions are unclear, it might be time to rethink what you are telling people.

The three C’s

There are three C’s in communication that can strengthen what you say about your business and your services:

  • Be clear: Say exactly what you mean. Write like you speak. Avoid jargon.
  • Be concise: President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to start his Cabinet meetings with “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” Good advice for wordy politicians and also good advice for business communicators.
  • Be consistent: You may become bored saying the same thing over and over again, but your audience needs to hear the same message as many as seven times before it registers.

Get to the point

Today’s fast-paced, Internet-based communications allow you only a few seconds to get your point across.

The average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words during the course of a 24-hour period. Most people only remember about 17 to 25 percent of the things to which they listen.[1] [2]

According to research conducted by productivity software developer

Boomerang, emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50 percent. Short and direct emails resonated best with prospects and earned a response. The same study also showed emails written at a third-grade reading level had the highest response rate.

Do those findings strike a familiar chord? Simple. Short. Consistent.

We practice what we preach

At Wellons Communications, we follow the same principles we preach.

We keep our communications simple. We keep messages short enough to easily remember. And we place a premium on maintaining a consistent message.

If your communications are becoming too wordy, too complex, or inconsistent, it may be time to step back and get some help in shaping exactly what you want to say about yourself.

Impartial third-party communications assistance is an important component of our services. In the spirit of what marketing is all about, we help you sell things.

When you are ready to start selling more things, give me a call at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com. We are ready to get to work on helping you be yourself…only better.

[1] Listening Statistics: 23 Facts You Need to Hear, Rebecca Lake, Creditdonkey.com
[2] International Listening Association, www.listen.org

How to get more love out of your social media marketing

Chances are you’ve seen a celebrity or public figure singing the praises of a certain product, only to be followed by a #sp or #spon. The rise in popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have changed the way brands market themselves and their products, making sponsored posts all the more common.Marketers and Influencers

But though working with people who have social media pull can have many benefits, it can also pose challenges that marketers are just starting to navigate.

A recent Digiday article goes so far as to call it a “love-hate relationship.”

First, there’s the love. Marketing through influencers can be a great thing for a brand or business. If you have a product related to fitness, for instance, an influencer who has popular fitness-related posts opens the door for your product to be seen by many followers who are into fitness.

But then there’s the hate.

As Digiday points out, because influencers have a lot of power these days, they often charge a lot—and the more followers a person has, the more money they are able to charge. Prices can even reach into six-figures for a campaign across several platforms.

You also might not be sure you’re getting anything for your investment. Linking likes, shares and views to the number of sales they caused is tricky.

Finally, as many marketers have found out recently, brands can’t always control what influencers say or post. This recently came to light with both Scott Disick and Naomi Campbell. Disick accidentally posted part of the instructions for his promoted post for Bootea, and Campbell did nearly the same with her post for Adidas. While both of these gaffes brought in huge attention, such posts take the focus off the product and take away from the authenticity of the influencer and their posts.

So how can you take advantage of the best that influencers offer while avoiding risks? For one, it is extremely important to do research before you reach out to influencers. Find out the demographics of their followers, how many likes and shares their posts receive, and what the influencer will post for the price. While you can never know 100 percent what an influencer will do, doing the legwork and having the information goes a long way to taking advantage of the latest places consumers are going for information.

At Wellons Communications, we deal with influencers on a daily basis. We have the knowledge and resources to properly vet them, and we can help share your product and get results. Call us today at 407-339-0879 to see how we can help you.

Social media lessons from The Bachelorette

Whether you love it, or love to hate it, The Bachelorette is one of the most successful reality series on TV. But perhaps the only thing more entertaining than the on-screen drama is the social media drama that seems to follow contestants. As season 12 of The Bachelorette winds down, we thought it would be interesting to reflect back on lessons learned. No, not love lessons, but rather lessons you can use to build your social media following.

Promotion is everything

Robby better #TeamRoJo instagram

Brands use social media to promote their goods and services. Bachelorette contestants use social media to promote themselves. Robby Hayes is a perfect example. The Florida native has made it to tonight’s finale, in which he will either propose to JoJo or be left heartbroken in Thailand. Robby’s motives have been called into question multiple times this season. Check out his Instagram and you’ll understand why. He broke up with a long-term girlfriend just before learning he’d be a contestant on the show, he has tried his hand at modeling, and he’s constantly working on improving his image. He’s even been rumored to have paid others to promote his brand using #TeamRoJo. And while we certainly don’t recommend being quite as smarmy as Robby, his tactics certainly keep people talking.

Give the people what they want – content

Providing your audience with newsworthy and authentic content is important in today’s social media-crazed world. No Bachelorette contestant has done that better than resident villain Chad Johnson. Despite being kicked off early in the season, Chad’s bad boy persona has grown immensely on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He has dated his fellow co-stars exes, he’s bought the domain names of other contestants and he’s created hashtags for his ridiculous insights (#Chadisms and #BadChad). His content might be crazy, but it’s exactly what people expect from the memorable contestant, and he provides it often.

Chad Twitter

Say yes to engagement

Wells Twitter

No, not the engagement we expect on tonight’s finale—the social media engagement! Responding to and interacting with followers is important to building a brand. Making them feel like part of a community is essential to growing that community. We can think of no two contestants that have been better at interacting with their fans than Wells Adams and James Taylor. Both adorable underdogs of the season utilize their social media to engage their followers. Whether it’s Wells’ drunken Snapchat stories as he watches The Bachelorette on Monday nights, or James Taylor’s hometown concert contest, they reach out to fans like no other. Any brand would do well to borrow from their tactics when connecting with followers.

James Taylor Insta - interaction with fans

We know we can’t wait to see who is “the one” for JoJo on tonight’s finale —and we can’t wait to put some of these social media strategies to the test.

Pokémon Go marketing lessons: You gotta catch ‘em all

Pokémon Go is less than a month old, and there’s almost no chance you haven’t heard about it.

The game became an overnight sensation, quickly topping Twitter’s daily users and grabbing at Facebook’s engagement. Some millennials have been calling it their “second childhood.”

Brands and companies haven’t been far behind, using the game as a point to launch themselves into the conversation. And it’s not surprising. The game is loaded with lessons for the PR and marketing worlds. Here are a few we see:

Don’t underestimate the power of pop culture.

We saw it with the dress. We’re seeing it with Pokémon Go now. We just can’t always predict what will capture the attention of the nation. If brands want to make the most of the opportunity, it’s important to act and act fast.

Many business have been doing just that with Pokémon Go, looking to see if they are a spot gamers will want to visit or taking matters into their own hands and setting up lures to get more Pokémon to come to them. There’s even a startup, LureDeals, dedicated to attracting gamers to businesses. Knowledge on pop culture phenomena is power, and in this case, money.

Have a little fun on social media.

Pokémon Go is a game, after all, and it should be fun. Social media is the perfect place to take advantage of that. Many brands have put up clever posts that tie into the game and promote their services or products.

Best Buy Pokemon

Even police departments are using Pokémon Go humor to talk about safety issues.

Pokemon police

See more examples at PR Week.

Don’t try to force it.

But while social media can be a fun place to tap into the craze, media pitches aren’t always the best way to do it. If your company has news related to the trend, sure. But don’t force it. Grasping at straws can have the opposite effect, angering journalists.

Know that new technology won’t be perfect at first.

You’ve probably already heard some of the concerns about Pokémon Go. Gamers have caused accidents driving while hunting for Pokémon. Girlfriends have broken up with boyfriends. People have targeted and robbed players.

There are probably other issues that will arise, as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use the game to help your business. All new technologies have some unexpected bugs. Just keep up to date with the news and use your judgement.

Be ready for more.

Pokémon Go is the first taste of what augmented reality can do in the gaming world, but with its meteoric rise, it won’t be the last. Brands and companies should be ready to use the lessons learned from Pokémon Go in the future. If the game proves anything, it’s that marketing and PR strategies are always evolving.

Using consistency to break through to your target audiences

When you communicate what you do and how you do it, how consistent is your messaging?

When you describe your business – and the benefits you provide your customers – do you say the same thing every time? Is your message loud and clear? Is what you say understandable at a glance?

The competition for attention

Pause for a moment and think, “What do I really remember from everything I have seen this morning?”megaphone-150254_1280

In all likelihood, what you recall is a jumble of images, headlines, and thoughts.

That’s because from the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, you (and everyone else) are subjected to a never-ending barrage of emails, telephone calls, tweets, news reports, commercials, ads and face-to-face communications.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of aiming and distributing your message toward your target audience without the context of what surrounds your message.

The fact is that your message – what you say about yourself and your product or service – competes with everything else in the world, not just within a bracketed marketing segment.

The value of staying on message

We encourage simplicity in communications. And one manifestation of simplicity is remaining consistent.

We believe that you need to say the same thing over and over to gain attention and be understood. Simplicity helps to cut through the clutter. And consistency helps to make your message understandable.

What needs to be consistent in communications?

Everything.

What you say. How you say it. How you visualize it. When you time your communications. Where you place your message. How you place your message. What materials you employ to project your message.

Won’t my target audiences get tired of “same old, same old?”

You may get tired of saying the same thing over and over again, but you can bet that your target audiences will not. In a kaleidoscopic world in which communications overload has fragmented attention spans, your message, delivered consistently and in an easy to understand format, will seem like an old friend; comforting, reliable, and approachable.

We subscribe to the notion of establishing a unique “voice.” Once you establish it, keep using the same voice. Your customers will come to expect a consistent voice in every marketing communication piece you deliver.  And when you achieve that kind of relationship with your customer, you have successfully crossed that bridge that separates “noise” from effective communications.

So how do I develop a consistent and effective messaging?

That’s where Wellons Communications comes into the picture.

We provide an independent, marketing-minded point of view that examines and analyzes what you are currently communicating and provides candid, forthright feedback that positively identifies opportunities.

Allow Wellons Communications to respond with simple, consistent and affordable solutions that will help you cut through all the noise and positively impact sales.

In the spirit of simplicity and consistency, all you have to do is give me a call at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

The value of keeping it simple

It has never been more challenging to be a consumer than it is in 2016.

Today’s channels of communications are so numerous and pervasive that they have become annoying. Your content now competes with about 30 trillion other indexed pages on the Internet. Throw in e-mail, social media, robo-calls, and more cable channels than one can remember (all supported by more television commercials than one can absorb) and you get the picture.

The sheer volume of communications has reached point of communications overkill.KISS maze

Which brings us to simplicity.

KISS still works

We’ve all heard the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” rule throughout our business careers.

That we remember KISS is a direct reflection of its simplicity. In fact, it may work even better today because of the multiplicity of communications messages that bombard us daily.

It takes seven impressions before your message begins to stick

Marketing research studies underscore the importance of redundancy. A general rule of thumb is that it requires seven impressions before your message actually begins to make an impression on a consumer.

With that in mind, one of our tenets at Wellons Communications is “tell ’em what you are going to tell ’em … and tell ’em again and again.”

That’s not necessarily an original idea (there are scant few original ideas). It’s an idea borrowed from one of the pioneers of modern marketing, William Wrigley Jr., who built one of the most successful enterprises in American business history by adhering to the maxim “Tell ’em quick and tell ’em often.”

So, what happens when you combine simplicity with consistency?

When you keep your message simple and consistent, you can break through the clutter. It’s an approach that has been effective for our clients. And it’s a simple approach that can work for your business, as well.

How simple?

Simply give me a call at 407-339-0879 or e-mail me at will@wellonscommunications.com. Share what kind of marketing challenge you are facing and allow us to come up with an affordable, simple solution that can help you sell your product or service.

Online reading: Changing the way we think

In today’s society, it’s getting easier and easier to reach for our phones and tablets to read the latest news story, article or book. Businesses and classrooms are turning away from mail-outs and textbooks in favor of marketing emails and ebooks. But what does that mean for the way we take in information?

Digital reading Apparently, a lot. According to The Washington Post, your brain doesn’t comprehend the information you read online the same way it does in print. Digital screens seem to cause people to focus on the information they are reading at the time instead of how it fits in a broader context.

Researchers from Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon came up with different experiments that could compare the effects of reading on different platforms. In one experiment, a group of participants read a short story online and another group read a printout of the story. A pop quiz was given to the participants once they were done reading, and it revealed that the physical-copy readers scored better on questions requiring participants to make inferences, while digital-copy readers scored better on concrete questions about the text.

According to the researchers, the results of the experiments show that our reading comprehension is changing as it is becoming more typical to read information on a digital platform. Our thought processes may slowly be evolving so that we will have to make an effort to look at the bigger picture.

So what does that mean for PR? Even though communications professionals will likely still make use of digital tools, the study shows the key is to try and make digital audiences think more abstractly. When writing an article that is going to be consumed via screen, try to challenge yourself to put in context which will help readers think critically along with the facts of the story.