By Sarah Weddle, Vice President
Blogs may be ubiquitous in today’s digital landscape, but blogging in its current form is quite different than it was when it was first introduced (and referred to as a “weblog”). So, it’s understandable that many people are still confused about the medium and unaware of how valuable of a marketing tool it can be. In fact, one of the top questions we receive from clients is, “What is a blog?”
We’ll start with the answer because it’s simple, really: A blog is an online publication.
That’s all there is to it – although how a blog is executed can vary widely. For example, it can be part of your website or it can be a standalone website. It can be personal (more like a diary) or it can be professional. But ultimately, it’s a place where you publish content that is of interest to your readers.
When it comes to business – B2B and B2C – blogging is a powerful tactic to attract leads. However, you should never start a blog with the intent of generating sales (that is the quickest way to fail). Rather, a blog should be a resource for your customers, providing them with information and positioning your place in the market.
Mistakes to Avoid
This type of content generation is not the right approach for every company – don’t let someone try to convince you otherwise. Ideally, blogging should be just one piece of your marketing strategy. So, determine how it supports the other tactics you have in place and go from there. Consider the following:
Honestly, there is no “right” way to blog. While your posts should be high quality and thoughtful, if you get too hung up on the details, you will be doing a disservice to your customers and your company. At the end of the day, consistency is what’s really important. If you blog with regular frequency and maintain a consistent voice, your blog is more likely to become a highlight of your site.
In terms of your posting schedule, quality is always better than quantity. If your posts are well-written and useful, you will attract a larger audience – and your SEO will improve, as will your leads. The best way to provide value for your readers is to write for them, not to serve the interests of your company. Consider the questions you receive most often and the pain points your customers experience and then address them in writing.
We also recommend that as you develop your blog, you keep a “Blogging Style Guide,” so that there is uniformity among all of your posts in terms of formatting, word choice, and tone.
The Real Value of Blogging
Not convinced? Here are just some of the reasons you should consider a blog for your company website:
Time to Get Started
You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to blogging. We can help you develop and execute a blogging strategy that will support your company’s goals and attract new leads. We can also work with your team to craft and publish blog posts that match the tone and brand that your company wants to portray.
If you’re interested in launching a blog or improving the strategy behind your existing blog, we can help. Contact us for an honest evaluation of what blogging can do for your company.
By: Addison Ingraham, GMP Design Associate
Graphic design is an exciting career path that I have been lucky enough to pursue. For as long as I can remember growing up, I have always loved learning about and creating art. Although I didn’t take any graphic design classes until my senior year of high school, my graphic design “career” began as a child, spending hours creating new backgrounds in Microsoft Paint for our computer at home. In fact, my whole family still talks about them!
I love graphic design because while it is a form of art, it has become a practical career. As a graphic designer, I can work doing what I love and not have to live as a starving artist. That said, graphic design does come with its own set of challenges.
Being Under Valued
Designing is not always easy! A lot of times, clients underappreciate the value that design brings to a project or their company as a whole. It’s important for clients the role that design plays in communicating a brand. It may seem easy, but there are a number of best practices inherent in the process, making it more pleasing to the eye.
Underestimating Time to Get the Job Done
It’s easy to forget that designers can be working on multiple ongoing projects for different clients (or departments) at once. Clients may wish that a small project be finished or tweaked immediately, yet realistically, I have many other projects on my plate. Altogether, the design process takes a lot of time from research and prep work to the actual artistic design. If you don’t know designer personally, it’s challenging to understand the amount of time that goes into each creation. Because of this, clients tend to undervalue the cost associated with their design and can expect unreasonable turnaround times.
It’s not a bad thing to be picky when it comes to your company’s design, but it can make the whole experience a bit more difficult. Oftentimes, clients may be particular about what they don’t want their design to look like, but have trouble articulating what they do want. In the end, I want a client to get exactly what they’re looking for, but this process can take more time than normally allotted, leading to increased cost.
Being Full of Ideas
Having a lot of ideas is a great starting point when it comes to a design, but it’s helpful to narrow down your ideas a bit before making any next steps with a designer. It becomes much more complicated when a client wants to try a plethora of different ideas when the project timeline only permits time to develop one or two. For example, if you go to a restaurant with a 12-page menu, you’ll probably end up very confused about what you want to eat. With a shorter menu, it’s much simpler to decide on a meal you’ll enjoy. It’s the same with design. Too many options will lead to much confusion.
Overall, these few things have never deterred me from my job as a designer. Like with any job, there are certain projects that make your work week a little more interesting! At Graham Media Partners, our team provides customized design for all of our clients, whether that be through digital content creation or developing print promotion. If you need help with your company’s branding, contact our team today! I look forward to working with you.
At GMP, we believe that all work and no play leads to poor results. We place a high priority on our company culture and on engaging with one another in a variety of fun activities – away from our desks! We were recently trying to select a team-building exercise and we kept coming back to the idea of an Escape Room. This is a pretty popular activity these days (in fact, Addison, our Design Associate, had participated in two different rooms prior to this!), so we wanted to see if we were up to the challenge.
If you haven’t been to an Escape Room, it’s a pretty straightforward experience. Your group picks a room to escape from – each room has a different theme and level of difficulty. Then, you have one hour to solve a series of puzzles using your problem-solving skills and logic. If you solve them all, you escape!
Of course, when we tackle something at GMP, we go all in. We went right for the hardest room at Expedition Escape in King of Prussia. The themed room we chose was Bank Heist. We had to work quickly to escape the room before the cops arrived!
Were we nervous? Yes. Were we skeptical that we’d get out of the room by the end of the hour? Yes. But we weren’t going to let that stop us from trying.
Spoiler alert: We successfully escaped (with a few minutes to spare)!
It was a true team effort. Five members of the GMP team participated, and we all had a role in solving the different puzzles. Each one required a different way of thinking, so while four of us may have been convinced of a particular solution, one person approached the problem differently and got us to the next clue. Other times, we were all actively participating to complete a puzzle as quickly as possible – the more eyes the better. Rarely was there a moment when we weren’t all involved in the process.
It was so much fun! And we were shocked to find out that only 15 percent of the teams escape from that room. We attribute our success to our teamwork. We listened to each other, we helped each other, and we used our unique skillsets. This is the same way we function in the workplace. At GMP, we’re a true team. We all have different strengths (and weaknesses), and our value is in our ability to work together to find the right solution for our clients’ needs.
We had a great time at Expedition Escape and highly recommend the experience as a team-building exercise.
By: Sarah Weddle
If you’re an office worker, you’ve probably heard time and time again about how sitting at a desk all day is going to kill you. I’d wager at least half of you reading this post are wearing a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or some other device in an attempt to track your steps or make sure that you’re at least a little bit active every day.
In full disclosure, I am one of those (annoying?) people who actually enjoy working out. It keeps me sane, lowers my stress level, and feels good! I have always been a big fan of exercise, playing on sports teams from my youth right up through college. But, as I transitioned into the professional world, I had to figure out how to fit in exercise around a full-time job. We all know the challenges that that presents, but I’ve managed to make it work, with an average of 4 workouts (sometimes more, sometimes less) every week.
Everyone’s situation is unique, with different commutes, job flexibility, family circumstances, finances – there are a lot of variables that can make or break a workout. I am not married. I don’t have kids. This means I have free time that other people don’t have! But, regardless of how busy my life gets, I always make time to exercise. This is especially true when I feel overloaded or stressed at work. Squeezing in a workout – even a small one – can reset my frame of mind (and my mood).
Below are my suggestions for finding a way to work hard and workout hard.
Make it a Priority
This is the ultimate secret to my success when it comes to staying active. Getting a workout in is absolutely one of my top priorities. No matter what else is going on in my life, I will find the time to exercise. If I’m particularly busy with work or have a lot of social obligations, I may not make every single workout, but I will try to fit in as many as I can. Sometimes this means that I wake up early and workout before work because I have dinner plans at night with friends (my preference is an evening workout); sometimes this means I squeeze in an abbreviated workout over lunch because it’s the only free time I have; sometimes this means I just go for a quick walk outside.
This is similar to the first suggestion, but if you schedule your workout like an appointment, you’re more likely to stick to it. This isn’t always possible – things do come up – but a schedule helps. I recommend sitting down on a Sunday, deciding how many workouts you’d like to do that week, and then figuring out how you can fit them in around your other obligations. Then, put them on your calendar and plan for them.
In all honesty, this tip doesn’t actually work for me, but as a marketer, I know the power of social media. So, if you plan to work out, share it on social media. This will make you feel more obligated to actually do it. If you don’t want to publicize it, tell your coworkers about your exercise plans. They’ll likely follow up with you the next day about it, which will, again, make you feel more obligated to do it.
Set a Goal
If you are burnt out or just unmotivated to exercise, setting a goal can help. For me, this typically means signing up for a road race or a triathlon. For someone else, it may mean setting a goal to hit a certain number of workouts in a month or improving a timed exercise.
Find a Workout You Love
Listen, if you don’t enjoy working out, you probably need to try a different type of exercise. There are so many options out there, so figure out what works for you! I love to run. Most people do not. But, there is something out there for everyone, so keep trying new things!
Acknowledge the Season of Your Life
It is unlikely that you will be able to maintain the same level of exercise forever. If you recently had a child, it’s okay to scale back. If you work in accounting and it’s tax season, it’s okay to scale back. Remind yourself that this is just one chapter of your life and it will eventually pass, and then set reasonable expectations for the season you’re in.
Join a Group
For the most part, I enjoy working out by myself – especially when it comes to running. I love to mentally check out and spend time with my own thoughts (or a podcast or TV show). But, when I started training for triathlons, I found that I needed a little motivation to stay committed. First, I joined a swim group at my YMCA. We meet every week for an hour and do a set workout from a coach. I feel like I’m part of a team, and on those days where I don’t feel like getting in the pool (most days, to be honest), I remember that I paid for the class and that people expect me to show up (and will text me if I don’t). I need similar motivation to get on my bike, but as a member of a local triathlon club, West Chester Women’s Multisport, I can always find someone to ride with me, which helps me to stay committed and focused.
If you love what you do, sitting at a desk all day doesn’t seem like the worst thing. At GMP, we work really hard to serve our clients and to deliver results – but we also really value time away from our desks. Prioritizing your health will only serve to make you a better employee (and probably a happier person too). I hope these tips help. If you’re ever looking for race recommendations or a workout buddy, let me know!
While Graham Media Partners has an internal design team, we often partner with CWP Design Studio for larger projects. Corey Pontz, the owner of CWP, and her team produce high quality, engaging work that really helps our clients realize their full branding potential. GMP and CWP function as sister companies, and over the past several years, we’ve established a great working relationship so that our clients have access to a comprehensive marketing resource supported by both agencies serving as one team. As a result, we can’t say enough about the work that CWP has completed for organizations both locally and nationwide.
CWP completed the design work (print, web, signage) for The Chestnut Hill Hotel, Fareway, and Market at the Fareway. Recently, the Fareway decided to add a brewery and wood-fired pizza space, The Chestnut Hill Brewing Company. Since CWP had an existing relationship with the Fareway, it was a natural fit for the CWP team to design the branding for the new restaurant. The inspiration for the design actually came from the husband and wife owners’ Newfoundland dogs, which became the company mascot!
We love hearing the background behind CWP’s designs – you never know where you’ll find inspiration! If you are in the Chestnut Hill area, be sure to check out the new restaurant. More information can be found on their website.
With the rise in influencer marketing on social media platforms, it’s important that consumers are not being misled by what they are exposed to online. To manage this, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has created (and continuously updates) a set of endorsement guidelines for consumer protection. Following the guidelines, disclosure of affiliations must be clearly shared across all social media platforms.
When used appropriately, there should be no question if a post is an influencer’s personal review or if it is a paid ad or sponsorship. It’s the responsibility of both brands and influencers to make sure that they are following the guidelines. To help, we’ve created a list of Dos and Don’ts that you can reference before publishing any post!
As seen above, there are many ways that you can disclose endorsement information in a social media post. Although it may seem daunting, the guidelines are similar across all platforms. If you have any questions about influencer marketing or the FTC guidelines, let us know. To learn more, visit FTC.gov!
If you think social media marketing is simply a supplement to traditional advertising, think again! With the increased prominence of social networking platforms over the past decade, companies who aren’t investing in this crucial area are missing out.
Both tactics are valuable – when used appropriately – but in order for them to be effective, you need to first understand the key differences between them:
Depending on your priorities, you may want to consider incorporating social media marketing into your overall communications plan. Check out the benefits below and decide if they align with your organization’s current goals.
Social media is an opportunity to foster brand awareness with consumers. The more consumers see and become familiar with your brand, the more they will come to trust you – and the more likely they are to use your services.
But, with brands running to social media, it’s important to be strategic and creative to stand out from the competition. Stay consistent with your brand, but try to embody your company’s unique culture so that consumers stay engaged!
These days, social media platforms have robust analytics tools that allow you to track performance and make adjustments on an ongoing basis. As long as you clearly identify your goals before getting started, you can prove the return on investment for your activities, sharing that information with key stakeholders in your organization.
Beyond the Numbers
Two-way communication through social media marketing allows companies to connect with consumers on a more personal level than traditional advertising. This humanization between brand and consumer helps to build brand loyalty, but it can be tricky to execute. Make sure you have a style guide and social media guidelines in place so that those speaking on behalf of the company are appropriately representing your culture and ideals.
While traditional advertising is still very much alive, social media marketing has taken strides to advance businesses of every size in recent years. If you need assistance to ensure that your social media tactics best support your overall strategy, let our team at GMP help!
A year ago, as I was sitting in a public relations course at Villanova University, I received an email from the Communications Department with a summer internship opportunity for Graham Media Partners. As I began reading the company description and intern responsibilities, I knew I had come across an opportunity that would allow me to grow and polish my skillset. I also knew that it would be a hot commodity. As I looked down the row of laptops, I saw almost every other student open the same email. Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity and was excited to be selected for the position.
Fast-forward a few weeks and I started my first day at the office. While I knew I would learn a lot at GMP, I didn’t fully realize how much I would enjoy the experience. From day one, I was given a wide range of client responsibility – and the GMP leadership team was there to answer every question I had as I continued to learn the ropes of not only the marketing industry but of GMP and its values.
As summer came to an end, I wasn’t ready to leave. I continued to work for GMP throughout my first semester of senior year, not because I had a ton of free time – I was overloading in order to graduate early and heavily involved with campus activities – but because I knew there was so much more to gain from the experience. After I graduated, I continued on for the spring as well. From writing blog posts to creating content calendars to compiling analytics for our clients, my day-to-day tasks always kept me on my toes.
What makes Graham Media Partners unique is how close you are able to get with not only your team but your clients as well. As a small agency focusing on small- to mid-size businesses, everyone on the team has a sense of investment in every project and campaign. When interviewing for internships, this was definitely something that stood out amongst the dozens of other large marketing agencies in the area. I have so much respect for Steve and Lisa who started this company with the hopes of creating an inclusive, productive environment. At GMP, you aren’t just “another intern,” you’re a part of a team that values relationships and takes pride in the work produced for each and every client.
I cannot thank the entire GMP team enough for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to seeing their continued success in the future!
In our latest blog, we discussed the importance (and benefits) of spring cleaning your company’s social media accounts. Now that you have that taken care of, you should turn your focus to your personal profiles – especially if these are linked to your business pages.
It can be easy to neglect your profiles, but given that they represent your personal brand, you want to make sure that your information is up-to-date and, depending on the social networking site, professional. It’s also a good time to check out the newest features on each platform and consider if they are useful to you.
Check out our tips below to get started.
Take a scroll through your past Facebook profile pictures. If you see a progression of photos from your pre-teen years all the way to present day, you may want to do something about it. While these can be funny reminders of the past, they may no longer be appropriate or convey who you are today. The same may be true of past photos or videos you’ve shared (or been tagged in).
If you don’t want to delete these photos from your profile, you can go into your privacy settings and hide certain individuals – co-workers, friends of friends, etc. from being able to see them. Keep in mind that your current profile picture can be seen by everyone, including those who you are not friends with on Facebook (this is true on all social channels).
For social media channels that only allow one profile photo, choose a high-quality image that you’re comfortable with your followers viewing and potentially commenting on. On different platforms, you may have a different type of audience, so consider that before making a selection.
While we don’t advise that you share every last detail about yourself on social media, identifying your educational background, current city, and a few other personal details can increase your networking opportunities on channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. On platforms with shorter character counts for profile sections (like Twitter and Instagram), try to insert some personality into your description. Remember, you may not often read your own profile information, but other people likely read it on a regular basis.
When it comes to LinkedIn specifically, we recommend updating your profile more frequently, especially the sections regarding experience, education, and accomplishments – you never know when someone is looking for an individual with your skillset.
This is also a good time to review who you’re following on your profiles – people, groups, and pages. Quickly evaluate who you’re following and add/delete people as you see fit. This will help curate what you see in your feeds on a daily basis – and maybe you’ve recently made some new connections in real life that you need to carry over to the digital world.
Liking and following groups and pages is a good way to share your interests, while being kept in the loop about your favorite organizations. But, you may have followed groups/pages in the past that are no longer relevant to your interests. Go through any groups/pages you’re following and consider if they are still worth your time.
Once you’ve sharpened up the basics of your social profiles, take a look at your past content – is there anything that is no longer on-brand? Now is the perfect time to delete anything offensive or, again, unfollow pages that no longer align with your interests and values.
Keep in mind that as you add more friends or create a larger following, more people will be able to see your content. While a personal profile should speak to who you are as an individual, you should be smart about what you’re posting.
Social networks are always adding new features, including new privacy options. During your clean-up, give your privacy settings a thorough check. Rather than letting everyone on the social networking site see your information, you may want to give access strictly to friends or “friends of friends.”
Millions of individuals use social networking channels, but the key to protecting your personal brand lies in investing the time necessary to maintain quality profiles on each of those channels. Share the best version of yourself with regularly updated information and content that reflects your interests and values, and take the time to evaluate and use new features and functions that will help you more successfully use the platform and protect your brand.