Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ready to Blog?

We recently ran a post on the complexities of juggling social media and cited three key reasons that many flounder, even fail – 1) lack of time, 2) lack of focus and 3) lack of content. It’s a hot topic, so if you want to blog or blaze a social media presence, here are some key questions to ask before you take the plunge:

Lack of time

Either you have it or you don’t. If you want to create and maintain a social media presence, you’ll have to carve out time – and consistently. Social media is all about making connections and building a rapport. Like all relationships, it takes give-and-take over time. Some key questions to ask before diving in feet first to engage in social media are:

        1)     Do you have the time?
2)      How much time can you dedicate daily, weekly, monthly?
3)      When will you undertake your social media outreach? First thing in the morning, mid-day, late afternoon, nights, every other day, four times daily, etc.?
4)      If you don’t have the time now will you have it later?
5)      If you truly lack time to make a commitment now but want to make the investment, can you delegate the task to someone else?
6)      If you have the time – and the desire - but don’t feel up to speed with the rapidly changing pace of social media, where can you find the information to get started and the confidence to do it right?
The answers to these questions will help determine your readiness to embark on a social media push. And, the more specific your answers, the more realistic you are in your vision and understanding of the process and your commitment to the work that it entails.

Lack of focus

Perhaps you’ve committed to the idea of wanting to tip your toes into the social media mix. Some key questions are:

1)      Who are you trying to reach and what are you hoping to achieve?
2)      Which mediums will you utilize? Start with? And focus your energies on?
3)      Which mediums are the ones your audience utilizes most?
4)      What do you most want to share with your audience(s)
5)      Do you have a short-term plan? A long-term plan?
The answers to the above will help you clarify your goals and purpose; understand and articulate your unique strengths, selling points and features; and better identify and target your own target audience. It will bring clarity and confidence. It will produce something tangible that will help you navigate the waters early on and serve as a guide leading forward. It also can be revisited – and should be – because your goals and needs can change over time.

Lack of content

We’re fortunate in that writing is what we do. But, what if  that's not your strength? Maybe you’ve carved out time and have a blueprint that shows your commitment to online engagement. What then? Questions to ponder:
1)      Do you write or have a writer?
2)      Do you have a steady stream of ideas and are they on paper?
3)      Do you have content developed and available for now, moving forward, and as a backup?
4)      Do you know what your audience wants and responds to?
5)      Is your content clear, compelling, educational, informative, inspiring?
6)      Do you have a variety of formats – short Q&As, informative and educational articles, links to hot trendy resources?
7)      Have you thought about photos and other imagery?
The answers to these questions illustrate whether you’re on track in your approach, spotlight new things to try and show how intertwined and inter-relational your writing, content and focus will have to be. Presentation matters; quality counts, content rules. You can’t have an effective blog nor a quality social media presence without great stuff that others want.

If you're ready

We did an earlier post that covers some of the basics of social media, along with links to excellent resources that will help you plot, plan and deploy. There were also some time-saving tools, mind mapping tools and content creation resources.
Kosta Kostov
For bloggers, we’ve come across some interesting articles that specifically talk about the different kinds of blogs, how to engage your audience both to identify and develop content, and how to  read, mix and merge what’s already out there in an interesting, relevant and meaningful way.
The Power of Content Curation
Three Ways to Crowdsource New Content

We hope this will help you on your own social media journey.

We confessed in a previous post that our greatest obstacle was not lack of content but rather lack of focus. Once we actually mapped out our ideas, we had an over-abundance of material. And with that new-found focus, we then knew how to move forward and maximize our time, our effort and our resources. We also then knew we could better connect with our readers/followers/fans. And that is the point, isn’t it? 


Now make your social media shine - make it unique, make it yours, make it you.

First, determine what kind of presence you want/need, then engage with your audience to make it truly theirs. It’s an ongoing process that hopefully gets better with time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekly Round Up - Short & Sweet

Weekly Round Up – Things We Thought Were Interesting
Set your sights high &
Enjoy your summer!
Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR/Professional News
Pictures sell
Social Media – Who’s Using What, Right Now?
What do you want Social Media to do for you?
What to Expect of Your PR Agent

Just Interesting
Love Bites

Caught Looking Good
Robin Roberts – Strong & Inspiring
Women Inspiring Women – Professional, fun, real

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Social Media - Making It Work, For You

Are You On the Bandwagon?
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, blogging. Social media is all the rage. And, yes, it’s changing every day. The question is, are you on board? And can you keep up? Whether you’re just getting started, are ramping up your efforts, having the time of your life or are completely overwhelmed – you can comfortably and gracefully both enter the fray and stay above water.

The biggest barriers to social media success typically are lack of time, lack of focus, and lack of content. But with careful planning – and that’s hugely important - you can start strong and sail a successful course. Before jumping in with both feet, however, below are a few time-tested tips to help you make the most of social media and maximize your investment. For some, we’ve included an interesting link for further reading. We thought they were awesome and insightful!
1)      Ask a few key questions. The omission of this critical step is quite often the biggest mistake we make. We know you want to hit the ground running. But think for a moment. What’s your mission/purpose/goal? Who are you hoping to connect with? And why? The answers will serve as your starting point and as a compass for all future outreach. Think both short term and long term. Who are you approaching and what is it that you hope to gain/achieve/accomplish? Is it sales, connections, reviews, recognition, etc.? And, just as critically, what do you have to offer them? An honest assessment now will make all the hard work ahead easier and all the time invested more fruitful and more fun.

2)      Identify your target audience. Research where you’ll find them and how you’ll best connect. Go online, surf the web, talk to peers and colleagues, visit the different social media sites and get a feel for who goes where to find information, to engage, and to interact. For busy professionals, your prime outlet might be LinkedIn. For a fun-loving crowd, it might be Facebook. For a visual market, Pinterest tops the list and for those with information to share, blogs are the go-to resource. Who have you targeted and are you engaging?

3)      Map it out. Too often, we invest a ton of time and energy to the above and yes, it’s all in our head. At least for the moment. But write it down, put it on paper, maybe even make it visual with the latest mind mapping tools. A day from now, a week from now or a year from now – you won’t have the same vivid recollection.

4)      Prioritize. Your wish list undoubtedly has assorted prospects and mediums. Be realistic. You can’t do all at once. And that wouldn’t be the most effective approach anyway. Identify the outlet – or 1-3 - that best serve your needs, tap into your specific audience(s), showcase your strengths and spotlight you at your best. Start there and build.

5)      Start small. There are few who step into the spotlight and get an instantaneous, immediate deluge of followers, fans or favorites. We know you’re excited but be strategic and be patient. The whole purpose of social media, after all, is building relationships - which just naturally grow richer over time.  Don’t rush it. You might scare potential prospects, friends, and colleagues away.

6)      Be real. Let your personality shine. Be professional, be respectful, but be real. Revisit Step No. 1 for a moment and remember who you are, what sets you apart and why you’re embarking on your social media campaign in the first place. Let these answers consistently guide you.

7)      Make it meaningful. “They” come looking for “something.” They come in search of a product, a service, or expertise. They initially heard or saw something somewhere and are “testing” the waters. You either have what they’re looking for or - perhaps - you don’t. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Better to connect with those who want you, need you, and couldn’t live without you than to have 10x more followers but no real interaction, engagement or interest.

8)      Give them what they want.  Some want to have fun. Others want the latest news, tools, research, quotes, etc. You know your audience. And yours is different from everyone else’s. Give your audience what they want and take time to monitor what’s going on with colleagues and competitors - it’s the best gauge of what works, what’s tried and true, as well as what sets you apart and makes you unique. Play. Discover what works. Only time will time. Tip: Stats, by the way, do show that photos are a perennial crowd pleaser – look at any newspaper, magazine or billboard and see where your eyes are immediately drawn. And, as we noted in an earlier post, infographics mixing visuals and text are THE hot thing.  

9)      Revisit and reassess. What’s working and what’s not? Are you loving it? Do you need to do things differently? Are you ready to grow? Remember, there will be ups and downs. Enjoy the good times, savor the moments. And when you encounter problems, work to fix them, quickly. Hopefully, the good times outweigh the bad. If not, consider shaking up the way you’re doing things. Maybe you need more hands on board, or prefer to outsource. If you’re overextended or want to be more efficient, there are range of time-saving organizational tools to help manage multiple mediums, schedule posts in advance, later track results and also plan for the future.

10)   Relax and have fun. All relationships take work. But, in the end, they should be worth the time invested. Take a moment to celebrate your successes. Identify what works well. Look into new areas of opportunity. Most importantly, enjoy the process of connecting with your community. That’s what sent you on this chase anyway. Now, smooth sailing as you chart your own course!

Petr Kratochvil
Loving every minute of it
To truly be effective with your social media outreach, you have to have a specific plan and commit consistent time, resources, focus and attention week after week, day after day, word by word. Carve out a set amount of time, remember who you're trying to reach, what you're hoping to achieve and give them what they want. Like all good communication and all healthy relationships, it's a two-way exchange.

Reality: We were at a standstill until we tackled Step Number 1. After that, we've loved every minute. And our stumbling block wasn't too little copy or ideas, but rather an abundance. Once we mapped it out, it was perfectly attainable. Before, it was overwhelming.
Question: What has been your biggest social media struggle? Or secrets to success?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekly Round Up 6/8 - Things We Thought Were Interesting

A Quick Read
Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be very short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. We got this nifty idea from one of our favorite bloggers. So feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR Related
Your Email Could Be Killing You  
The Importance of Your Database
Word of Mouth Referrals
Facebook Users Aren’t Looking at Ads?
The Beauty – and Benefits - of Blogging
52 Cool Facts about Social Media
Our Favorite Infographic – Spark Your Creativity

Just Inspirational
Never Underestimate a Hungry 9-year-old
Runners are Competitive & Compassionate
The Eighty Dollar Champion  - Snowman, The Horse that Inspired a Nation

Do you know someone doing a phenomenal job? Spread the love! Send us a quick kudos and we might just spotlight them in a future Round Up. Touch base with and see you here, next week.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Milestones Moments - May 2012

We’re fortunate in that our job is to work with great groups doing great things. And, because you asked, this is our way of sharing what’s going on in our world - and theirs. We've selected three photos to spotlight three special events held in recent weeks. Take a look. And if you're doing something you'd like to shout about, touch base at We'd love to hear from you, learn from you and share with you!

This month at Milestones Communications

Joyce Lloyd

Twin Rose Lady Riders Motorcyle Club Honored

(Help for Oncology Problems & Emotional Support) on Thursday, May 10 hosted its seventh annual Voices for Hope awards event. This favorite local nonprofit helps cancer patients and their families and drew a crowd of more than 150 to recognize the Twin Rose Lady Riders and to hear inspirational author Marc Silver. The Ladies were honored for their efforts to heighten cancer awareness through an annual bike ride that’s led to more than $50,000 in donations to local, regional and national cancer advocacy groups. Marc is an editor at National Geographic whose wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. When he went looking for a book to help him – and his wife – he couldn’t find one that focused on the male’s perspective. So he wrote one himself (Breast Cancer Husband) and it’s since been honored as one of that year's top 10 consumer health books by Library Journal. To find out more about the award, click here. To find out more about the speaker, currently working on a book with his daughter that focuses on the cancer experience from the perspective of a teen, click here. The festivities were sponsored by AseraCare, among others. Our thanks to all who attended and supported H.O.P.E.

Together, we can make a difference.

Small boy, big heart

Karate Kids - Young & Older - Break Boards for a Great Cause

UTA Karate Shrewsbury & Delta on Saturday, May 12, did what they do best and all for a good cause. For the fourth year in a row, UTA students showed off their breath-taking skills as they broke blocks of wood and concrete before a packed house that included friends, families and with record-breaking pledges from loyal supporters, all to benefit H.O.P.E. This year, they raised $5,800 – their biggest contribution yet – to go to the local nonprofit that helps cancer patients and their families. Shrewsbury True Value donated all the wood for the big day; and Brown’s Orchards provided the lovely venue. Thanks to all for helping so many.

"With realization of one's own potential
and self-confidence in one's ability,
one can build a better world."
Dalai Lama

Laury Miller
Party Planning? YUM

Cake & Wedding Cottage is a family-owned business that this year celebrates its 35th year. That’s big news but they started off the year with a move to brand new quarters. To celebrate, they hosted a grand opening event on May 19-20 that drew more than 350 customers to its new digs at 7670 Belair Road in Fullerton, MD. Customers were greeted with chocolate-covered strawberries, enjoyed a variety of sweet treats and got to meet the shop’s talented instructors who demonstrated how to make decorative and colorful cake accents, popular cake pops and more. Six lucky customers won free gift baskets filled with all kinds of goodies and every customer enjoyed a day (or two) of discounts. A good time was had by all!

It was a sweet month for us, too. We revamped our website, kicked off our own blog and – all in all – just had a fabulous time!

We all have a story to tell. Are you telling yours?

We would love to hear of any special events you have coming up. Please, touch base with us at

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weekly Round Up

Things We Thought Were Interesting

Time is precious and a hot commodity. So, some of our blogs will be short and sweet – quick links to things we found interesting that we thought you might, too. Feel free to read, browse and share. Good stuff!

PR Related
Best – and worst - mascots
Five Reasons Businesses Fail with Social Media
Social media success stories
Tips for Facebook Success – Make it Personal
Tweet Tools
Infographics, everywhere
Email not working? Check out some that do!

Non PR – Just Inspirational
A New Man
Give it All You’ve Got

Lyme Awareness Month