Tag Archives: hashtag

Want blogging tips? Don’t go to Google

26 Nov

Punch into Google ‘blogging tips’ and it throws back oodles of articles. So, where’s a budding blogger meant to start? By talking to one.

There’s some great ideas out there, courtesy of PR Daily and The Wall. But, the truth is that half of these articles won’t make sense without practical examples. And, that comes from experience.

So, with my blog now in its ‘terrible twos’, I’m putting thumb to iPhone to share my golden nuggets. Tongue twister alert:

Prime Time‘s top 10 tips for taking your blog to the next level

1) Are you talking to me?
Know your audience. Assume a level of knowledge and don’t patronise.

2) Develop a style and stick to it
The only reason you’d need to be corporate is if you were ghostwriting for your CEO. In all other circumstances, lighten up! It’s likely your blog will be read in people’s spare time, so cut them some slack and deliver informal, light-hearted and punchy content.

3) Write to be read
If you’re finding a post hard to write, then it’s probably going to be hard for your readers to digest. Before writing I identify an interesting news hook. But, if I can’t think of at least three things to add value to the conversation, I scrap it.

It’s also important to have an opinion. However niche your blog sets out to be, you will have competition. So, keep in mind why people should be reading yours instead of the blog next door.

4) Be on time
It doesn’t matter if it’s once a month or once a week, find a pattern and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than finding a blog and realising it’s not been updated for six months or shut up shop. What a waste of cyberspace!

5) Create a content calendar
To avoid hunting for stories every week, why not jot down key dates in advance? Whether it’s conferences and events or film launches and X Factor results, it’ll come in handy.

6) Tag!
Tag each post not only with key words you’ve included, but also those that link to the subject. It’ll help direct more people to your blog.

7) You don’t have to be in PR to promote your blog
Make the most of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You don’t have to do them all, but do the ones you can, well.

Why not set a reminder on your phone to promote each post you write, in a variety of ways, for the next 30 days to ensure it’s being read?

In addition to this, make sure you’re capitalising on #TBT and #FBF (for going through the archive and bringing early posts up to par) and #FF (for connecting with influencers) – they’re quick wins for getting noticed.

8) Maximising channels
Did you know you can publish direct from LinkedIn? It looks hot, so take advantage and stand out among your network.

Also consider using Twitter to feed into relevant conversations and plug your content e.g:

 

Looking forward to the @PaddingtonMovie? Then you’ll probably hate my blog on the Peruvian bear! Check it out > http://wp.me/p2sMct-2dE

This could help your content to snowball outside of your network – which is the key to success.

9) You may have the penmanship of Shakespeare, but that’s no excuse for shoddy images
Headers and images will be scanned before people start reading your blog in detail. Make sure they stand out and are engaging.

10) Have an ‘About You’ page
I’ve never been overly keen on blogs that use the first few posts as introductions. I’m going to say it like it is: it looks a little very amateur. Put your background on a separate page and use your first post to get straight to the point.

What do you think? Feeling inspired?

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Halloween 2014 is sponsored by…

21 Oct

20140430-231008.jpgIn a dark room in a chilling office, set among a black backdrop of skyscrapers gracing the city’s skyline, shone a single glimmer of light. John stayed silent as he moved the cursor around his overworked computer screen.

The window had been left open to curb the stench of late-night pizza. The draft surrounded John and he systematically shivered. Pressing print, he moved slowly to collect his paperwork – marking the end of a 12-hour working day. As John turned his chair a glass smashed on the floor.

‘That’s strange,’ thought John. ‘I’ve not used a glass today.’

A rush of adrenaline shot through his veins, followed by a sense of calm. He even had time to momentarily wonder if they were his last thoughts. It felt like a lifetime, but in reality the person, or thing, who’d smashed the glass had acted quickly. As he hit the thick wooden floors, he turned ever so slightly to see who had attacked him. But, the remained silent.

With no time to feel scared he didn’t even try. Instead he opted to give his body in to the pain and then… nothing.

Got your attention? Don’t worry, John’s Halloween pitch made it to the client. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many brands making the most of this American holiday as I have this this year. And poor PRs like John are risking their lives by working overtime to deliver standout campaigns.

Maybe it’s because it falls on a weekend, and entertainment and lifestyle companies want to use this as an opportunity to boost sales and strengthen its position for Christmas.

Whatever the reason, it’s working. I’ve seen some cracking campaigns and here’s my top five:

Waterstones’ blogger mystery
No, it’s not locking in more tourists and keeping them there overnight to turn them into social media sensations. Waterstones is launching an online murder mystery with five bloggers who will communicate clues for fans, via their blogs and Twitter (where was my invite guys?), to work out ‘whodunit’. Those who crack the case will find themselves £50 richer (vouchers, darling).

Nice use of social and great blogger engagement, coupled with subtle branding, means that Waterstones is getting down from the shelf and making itself the go-to destination for books. Tick!

Walking Dead staggers to PR success
To celebrate the launch of the fifth series of the Walking Dead, Now TV made former MIC star Millie Mackintosh into a zombie to support its online campaign. In addition to this, it created a buzz on social media by sending personalised popcorn holders with ‘bloodstained’ snacks inside which was sent to celebrities and journalists.

To give customers a chance to join in the fun, it’s also using Twitter to give wary special edition Walking Dead Now TV equipment, zombie makeup and the exclusive popcorn holder. The competition hashtag is hardly memorable – #TWDNOWTV – but in two days it’s generated over 150 re-tweets and is steadily seeing its follower count rise.

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Spooky Speaker app shouts out
To promote its Halloween costume range, superpower supermarket Sainsbury’s has launched a voice app to inspire children to ‘transform’ into their scary characters using its voice distortion functions. The voices – such as Frankenstein, Witches, Vampires and Skeletons – match the costume designs available in store and online.

It’s a good attempt, reminding parents and children that Sainsbury’s is their one-stop shop for Halloween goodies, but can the interactive app outdo Asda’s inflatable wings which are being supported with TV advertising? Time will tell.

Chupa Chups’ chomping campaign
It’s great that brands are starting to scratch beneath the surface to see the value of Instagram – and Chupa Chups is no exception. It’s using this social network to create an online game, encouraging users to free a trapped lolly before it gets a licking. Age is certainly no barrier here. With contemporary references to current culture, the youth brand has made this Halloween-themed relevant to all groups.

Do you dare trust the National Trust?
Not strictly Halloween themed, but the National Trust has extended its successful ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4‘ campaign by creating a direct mail around number 40: night walks. This glow in the dark pack targets existing members and encourages people to essentially see more than they bargain for by trudging down a natural trail at night.

This stunt might come with a parental advisory warning (i.e. kids – please don’t walk alone), but not only has the National Trust found a novel way to reach out to an engaged audience raising brand awareness, but it’s hit gold with timing this during half term. Expect to see families up and town the country on night walks next weekend.

With just over a week to go we’re bound to see more stunts slip out of the woodwork. But, whether they’re bold enough to make the top five is yet to be seen.

What do you think? Are brands going for ghoul this Halloween?

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The top five charity hashtag trends you love to hate

8 Oct

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I’m going to let you into a secret. I wasn’t brave enough to take part in #NoMakeUpSelfie, I was nominated for the #IceBucketChallenge twice and I didn’t dunk myself in cold water and although I’ve laughed at CLIC Sargent’s #JokeAppeal campaign, I’ve not donated.

So, there you have it. I’m a bad person.

But, while I’ve not successfully completed the call-to-actions, I do think their social media-driven campaigns are brilliant at raising awareness of very important causes. Transforming the way young people engage with the third sector, these hashtag trends are snowballing and I just can’t keep up.

As a result, I’ve become fed up of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram timelines constantly getting clogged up with pictures and videos that I feel obliged to like. Because, let’s face it, once you’ve congratulated one person on throwing water on themselves, you really have to do it for everyone. So, people like me, who were once in awe of these great PR and marketing stunts, are now just ‘meh’.

But, if the BBC can be impartial then Prime Time can at least be kind enough to write about them. Which is why, after reading about new ways charities are piggybacking off hashtag explosions, I’m going to rank my top five social media charity phenomenons:

#WakeUpCall

Established by Unicef, in aid of its Syria Emergency Fund, the #WakeUpCall campaign involves celebrities posting photos of themselves… you guessed it… having just woken up.

Kick-started by the charity’s ambassador Jemima Khan, Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman and QI’s Stephen Fry have also got involved to encourage people to open their eyes to the unstable situation in the Middle East affecting young children. And, with more than 3,000 tweets containing the all-important hashtag in the last 12 hours, it’s likely that this initiative will raise a lot of money.

A gallery on the Telegraph online doesn’t hurt either.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell wakes up like this for Unicef#FaceUp

Developed by Plan UK, Face Up is an app that aims to raise awareness of female genital mutilation, sexual violence and child marriage. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your smart phone you can upload an image which will be imprinted with the words ‘I’m putting girl rights where they can’t be ignored’ and share it in the app’s photo album.

Compared to Unicef’s efforts, this isn’t creating as much of a buzz online yet; tweets are currently in the hundreds – rather than the thousands. But, with PR coverage on The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail online, thanks to support from Game of Thrones stars Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey, it may not be far behind.

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer promotes women's rights

#LastSelfie

WWF Denmark and Turkey embraced Snapchat earlier this year and made the most of its self-destruct feature to explain the rate that endangered animals are disappearing.

From tigers and gorillas to pandas and orangutans,  the charity used the hashtag #LastSelfie to encourage people to share the image in order to ‘save’ the species. Persuasive, clever and easy to do, this worked well because the aim was to raise awareness rather than source donations.

Once people had bought into to the severity of the situation, a new call-to-action followed. By focusing on one objective at the time, WWF created an incredibly strong campaign.WWF's #LastSelfie used Snapchat to raise awareness

#FirstWorldProblems

If you’ve never used this hashtag before then I’d love to live your life. #FirstWorldProblems is a generic hashtag used by people when venting online about insignificant annoyances.

For example, I recently almost slipped on a rogue squashed tomato in the supermarket and if I’d known the couscous was down a different aisle I could have avoided the whole hullabaloo.

So, when Water for Life borrowed the phrase – which was used over 106,000 times in the last month alone – and turned it on its head for its emotive campaign, it grabbed people’s attention.

The only issue is that when you Google search the term, the first mention of the charity is on the fourth page and it’s not its official website. This emphasises the importance of ensuring all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed when linking up your website to generate top SEO rankings.

Water for Life adopted the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag to make a point

#Batkid

I’m a little late to the party on this as it’s a couple of years old now. But, thanks to Miles Scott, a five-year old leukemia survivor, his Make a Wish Foundation dream to become a superhero for a day went viral.

The charity transformed part of San-Fran into Gotham to recreate Batman’s city and kept people up to date via its website and a behind the scenes video ,which was picked up by Twitter users across the world. The hashtags #Batkid and #SFBatkid were used in more than 110 countries reaching 777m people on a cold November day in 2012. Not even I can argue with these figures.

Make a Wish launched #BatKid

Reading through my top five, I can see that there was definitely something special about the slightly older social media stunts employed by charities.

Perhaps I believe they have more charm because I think the brands would’ve shocked themselves at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories. Either way, the hashtag trends have exploded so quickly that as long as people get behind them, they’ll continue taking over timelines and securing national headlines for the foreseeable future.

The charities were shocked at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories.

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media opens up the floor to make charity PR a level playing field, especially for rarer causes or organisations with tighter budgets. I just don’t believe that if a trend launches in one country for a specific cause, that a different charity across the pond can adopt it as its own. Surely, the cause and challenge should translate wherever it’s used across the world?

Hashtag highjacking, particularly by the big boys, is not big or clever, and it’s certainly a box you don’t want me to open. Utilising the #TubeStrikes is one thing; stealing an entire campaign is another. Know who I’m talking about yet?

What do you think? Did your favourite hashtag trend make the list?

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