Friday, July 29, 2011

How important is your blog?

I continue to have some difficulties with clients who do not understand that their blog is more important than their web site and that said blog should be the hub of all their social media activity.

The San Francisco blogger who landed on the front page of the Financial Times would probably not have received that distinction, no matter how badly her house had been vandalized, if it had not been for the fact that she named the private home rental company in a post about her horrible experience. It so happened that the company is in the middle of attracting millions in new investment and search engines being what they are . . ., the blogger’s post popped up!

That’s where you need to be, dear client! No, not with a vandalized home and not even necessarily in the Financial Times (although one could do worse!), but on the first page of a Google search. Your blog is far more likely to get you there than your web site.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturdays Are For Art

At least that’s what it’s beginning to look like.

Much of last Saturday was spent at Lakemont Village (Lakemont Gallery and the Libby Matthews Gallery), followed by a brief stop at Mark of the Potter.

Today – and I’m still a bit dizzy of the experience – I was at Galleree Shirlee, where Lisa Frank not only showed a friend and me much of her late mother’s collection, but also gave us a tour of her garden. It’s hard to say which is more impressive. I have never before seen such a collection of plants (for the most part deep-shade) in a private garden. The art’s advantage over the garden is that it is for sale.

The web address is being given with some hesitation, as I have already picked out my “favorites” and would regret to find out they are all sold before I have a chance to go back and make my own purchase.

I hope Shirlee Frank had a happy, fulfilling life. She certainly has left a legacy that will give pleasure to many she never met.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LinkedIn

I’ve been invited to a luncheon discussion of “Does LinkedIn Have Any Value?” and I’m not going. The answer is a resounding “yes”, and I have proof! Of the people whose LinkedIn profiles I have written the past few months, two recent graduates immediately got their dream jobs in high-profile multi-national companies (the clients are multi-lingual and had international internship experiences), a third got a fabulous opportunity abroad (she and her family are moving this summer), and a fourth got the promotion he had hoped for (and is also moving overseas).

Bottom line: An optimal LinkedIn profile may not get you the job you want, but having an inadequate profile can be an obstacle. And, “international” is an important component of a career path, from entry-level to the C-Suite.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Of Debts and Budgets

Bob Schieffer, an old journalist from the days when journalists were still objective, had an excellent comment today on Face the Nation. Since members of Congress need to raise millions of dollars to enter and stay in office, consuming nearly all their time, it’s logical that those who seek to become our representatives are good at raising money (and making promises to those who give them that money). Are they also good at negotiating, compromising, governing, being true public servants? Not so much, it seems. All that requires a different skill set.

The Congress of the United States needs to de-couple two issues the Republicans seem to be coming close to persuading the public belong together.

One issue is raising the debt ceiling. It must be done. And soon. Very, very soon! The idea that this country could become the next Greece two weeks from now is shocking beyond belief.

The other is adjusting the budget. There is no doubt that this country is spending too much money. Two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) and another military undertaking (Libya)? Subsidies to farmers who grow corn or raise pigs? Wealthy industries that drill for oil or shave tops off mountains? American companies that do not pay taxes on extra-border earnings? It’s all too revolting to contemplate. But it must be dealt with and the sooner the better – after the debt ceiling has been raised and we can – at least for a little while again – stop living on the sharp point of the needle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Infomercials and Advertorials – a Purist’s Nightmare.

I remember the days when Publishing and Editorial had a firewall between them. A publication had a “publisher”, the guy (not often a woman, right?), who looked after the revenue and made sure the income was greater than the outgo, and an “editor” (more frequently a woman), whose job it was to hire great writers who delivered great content (often for very little money). And the twain were never supposed to meet.

Those were “the olden days” of the publishing world and I miss them.

Today, I am reading the August 2011 issue of Vanity Fair – good writing, interesting topics, and beautiful ads. Somewhere in the first half of the 150 pages starts an article about Groupon. Right in the middle of it is “a supplement from Vanity Fair and W I R E D”, a splendid piece about Facebook by Henry Alford. That is introduced, flanked and followed (all within 6 pages) by a gadget ad.

So, what is a purist to make of this? An ad accompanying an opinion piece that forms the heart of a – what? Maybe it’s all best described by Groupon CEO Andrew Mason: “We want to become weirder.” I think the future has already arrived; it does not need to be poked.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ideal Clients

Do you have an image of your ideal client? And do you, in fact, have such a client in your portfolio now?

I’ve got to confess that I have two ideal clients at the moment (one for over a decade and the other for several years) + a plethora of occasional clients, all very dear, especially those who ask me to help them write their biographies and optimize their LinkedIn profiles. You do have a LinkedIn profile, don’t you? If “professional” is a description of you, you not only need that LI profile, but you also have to use it. LinkedIn did not create this platform just for fun and games. Happy to help, if assistance is needed!

But let me get back to that ideal client. There is one such client missing in my portfolio at this point in time and I am thus reaching out to you to help me find him (it is almost certainly going to be a “him”, although a “her” would be welcomed with equal enthusiasm).

My additional ideal client is . . . .

A landscaper.
A landscape architect or designer.
Someone who owns a horticulture business.
A plantsman/woman – grower, wholesaler, nursery owner.
Someone who cares about the environment.
A person who honors the land.
An environmentalist.
Someone who writes garden books, gives talks about gardening or the environment, or wants to.
A community garden advocate.
The guy who cuts your grass every week.

Well, you’ve got the idea! If it’s got to do with plants, the environment and sustainable land use, I’m in! Will I hear back from you?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The “Best of the Blogs” – Really?

So, I knew, when I saw this title, that I had an “industry focus” (commercial real estate) newspaper section in my hands and I was thus not expecting blogs about teacups, South African safaris, kale farming, Norwegian fjords or peanut butter sandwiches.

But, come on now – this is what the top commercial real estate professionals in Atlanta blog about?

First of all, there is only one woman among the top 10. And her post is a promo for Publix supermarkets. No problem with Publix – I shop there all the time – but couldn’t it have been more topical (curbside shopping) and less commercial?

The bottom of the “top ten” – that very last number ten – had had the most page views (2,084, after its April 4, 2011 posting) and was the only one that interested me: “How Atlanta looks to the world”. But I immediately disagreed with a major premise: “Visionary leadership that has planned and prepared the area for growth” . . . Really? Any day now, when I look in the dictionary for a definition of “sprawl”, I expect to see “Atlanta” and little else.

Seriously, when I was more interested and involved in “international” than I am today, my global interlocutors who were weighing Atlanta as a site for their U.S. headquarters and ended up on the negative side uniformly cited two problems they saw: traffic and education. Traffic (read: “sprawl”), in the past two decades, has not improved. And education? Well, we now have that debacle in black and white also.

Anyone remember Atlanta’s plans for the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? Traffic and education killed that dream.

Getting back to blogs – if they don’t inform, entertain and engage, who needs them? Industry focus or not.

When you blog . . . (three cardinal rules):

Your readers will have to become convinced that you know what you’re talking about (or they won’t come back for more).

Your readers will have to become convinced that your motives are pure, that you want to inform (a new tomato sauce recipe, review of a new tech gadget you have tried and like), entertain (make them laugh, or at least smile and nod their heads), and engage (your readers become aware that you truly care about them and want to hear back from them); if your motivation is to sell . . ., you’re losing readers!

Write clearly and with conviction, with proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax and without hype, jargon, self-promotion, clich├ęs or verbosity.

That’s all! See how easy it is?