Internal Marketing – The Newsletter

Organizations of all sizes often have some form of “internal marketing”. Product/service training, sell sheets, and newsletters are all examples. Even speeches and presentations by co-workers and supervisors are internal marketing.

All internal marketing is important, but I am going to focus on newsletters.

News Print

Most literature on the subject that I have read (most recently, Public Relations Writing by Bivins, T.H.) tells the same story. Newsletters are a piece of internal communication that mixes “hard” (monthly sales figures, product updates, etc) and “soft” (employee X had a child, look at this picture of your co-workers being silly, etc) news. Hard news delivers important facts while soft news implies what behaviour is acceptable in the office and what kind of values are part of the company’s internal culture.

When I began working at a medium-sized (100-200 employees) company, through nobody’s fault, I did not receive a copy of the company’s internal newsletter for the first month and a half. When I began to receive the newsletter, I noticed that it was easier to interact with co-workers and assess my work.

The Inside Track

Have you ever been conversing with two or more other people when an inside joke between those other people is brought up? I find that alienating, and it is even more so if the conversation diverts to follow the thread of that inside joke.

The same feeling crept up on me while I was not receiving the company’s newsletter. I heard references to specific events and images in the newsletter, and I had no idea what was going on. I felt like a temporary consultant rather than an employee on payroll.

My work was also impacted. Most of my work is writing that must represent the company’s culture. That work was stressful – more so than I had experienced with any writing I have ever done. My stress-level dropped after I received the company newsletter regularly: the bar by which I could assess my writing had been set.

Resolution

Newsletters are a simple and effective way to share news relevant to employees (key word: relevant), and they can also communicate the company’s culture. I think there are other issues in my own situation (I was sick for a couple weeks and my previous supervisor left the company), but I am certain the newsletter had a profound effect on me.

Over to You…

Do you have any experience with newsletters or any other internal marketing? Leave a comment and share your story.

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Sunday Roundup – March 2, 2014

I have five stories for you lads and ladies this week. Other than the Harvard Business Review article, most of the articles focus on values – yes, even the article about Comcast.

So, without further adieu; feast your eyes on my Sunday Roundup:

Feminism is having a wardrobe malfunction.

This makes an important point about values that can be applied to individuals or businesses. We all have our own sets of values, and the organizations we operate and/or are employed by have sets of values. No matter how good we think our values are, they are ours alone. We can and do believe any number of things, but none of those things are necessarily the “right way”, they’re just “our way”.

Erika Linder is Him and Her in Mesmerizing Campaign for Crocker Jeans.

Androgyny for the win! Gender, as usual, is irrelevant. First of all, I’m impressed at how well Ms. Linder acts the male part – some of her gender swap is makeup, but some of it appears to be how she moves the muscles in her face.

How does this relate to values? Not all genders are considered equal in North American society, whether that gender is the result of good acting and make up, genetics, or bring transgendered. It is well past time to reconsider the value we place on gender.

Human2Human: Jargon or an Old a that Still Matters?

How much value to we place on being “businesslike”? How much to we place on human interaction and conversation?

Employees, customers, and anyone else directly or indirectly involved in a business are human beings before they chose to involve themselves with a business. Even the C-suite of a company is a human being by birth.

From my perspective as a marketer, it is easier to be human. Having a real, honest conversation with a prospective client is far more engaging than acting like a machine. After all, I was born human, too.

How To Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To.

I don’t always agree with what comes out of Harvard, but I would not accuse them of being poor workers – they seem to get a lot done. How do they do it? Perhaps they do not use the tips in the following article, but I like to think they do.

Comcast doesn’t give a f*ck.

Of course they don’t. By owning almost all of the cable networks in the United States, they don’t have to care about competition or what customers want. Customers have no choices other than Comcast owned services, so Comcast has no incentive to be anything other than self-serving, and there are no competitors offering better prices or service or anything else that I customer would want from their cable network. So do we value our cable television enough to stand up against Comcast buying cable providers? I do, at least I would if I lived in the United States.

Over to You…

What did you read this week? Did I miss something important? Do you have a question? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Self Leadership and Me Incorporated

Hello everyone!  This post is going to be a conceptual one.  I tried to wrap it up in a metaphor and to provide analogies, but my mind was not cooperating.  I know you’re all smart people, so if you have any metaphors or analogies, share them in the comment section!

Onwards!

Last fall, a professor introduced me to the concept of self-leadership.  He said that that a person cannot lead and organization or group if that person cannot lead their own life.

The same professor also introduced me to the concept of Me Incorporated.  As a person, you are the owner, operator, marketer, R&D department, front-line staff, and product of a company called “me”.

Those two concepts are permanently entwined until the end of life.  Without leadership, Me Inc. will operate inefficiently, market itself poorly, develop unsellable products, and hire the wrong staff.

Today, I am going to focus on the concept of marketing Me Inc.

The Lifelong Marketing Campaign

People already do this every day.  We prepare ourselves for the showcase of the world; we perform rituals for that showroom shine (shower, brushing teeth, etc), and present ourselves in the package we want others to see (wearing clothes, shoes, etc).

We bring our values, personality, and attitudes wherever we go.  There are things we can do better than the next person in line.  We interact with others, and they interact with us.

Leading Self and Branding

This is where self leadership begins; think of it as a marketing decision.  What are your values?  What is the image/brand that you want to project?  What do you do better than the other guy?  How will your personality traits affect how people see you?  How do you interact with people?

Punk rockers do this very well.  Black denim, metal studs, mohawks, piercings, and attitude combine into an image that stands out amid the everyday and average.

The most important point to consider is “If I market myself this way, will it help me reach my goals?”

For me, it boils down to two overlapping things; my personal image and my professional image (or brand; whichever you prefer).  I say overlapping because when (not if) an employer spots me on the street, I do not want my image to say something stupid before I even get an interview.  Conversely, when I am in professional attire, I do not want to hurt my chances of personal interaction.

So what is your image or brand?

Moving Forward

At the end of the day, you must lead yourself where you want to go.  It’s your life, after all.

Did this basic overview help you?  Did I completely miss the ball?  Tell me in the comment section; I’m always eager to hear your thoughts.

Being Mindful

Hello everyone!  Today isn’t going to be about marketing; there is a self-help technique that I would like to share instead.

There is a lot of talk on the internet about being mindful as a path to having better days and a better life.  I have been practicing it for the past nine-or-so months, and the results have been profound; I am happier, more energetic, and get more work done.  As such, I wanted to share one of the simple ways that I practice mindfulness that is also a great way to improve your writing skills.

Mindfulness and being mindful is the result of paying attention to your senses to the point of “not thinking”.  It relies on sensory input to be effective.

A Beautiful Space

My house is on a hill that overlooks the East coast of Vancouver Island.  Unfortunately, it is not high enough on the hill to be above the treeline.  However, there is a nearby trail that ends up at a bench that is well above the treeline.

It is at this spot where I am able to be mindful most easily.  I usually trek up to it in the evening, and there is so much sensory information that it is nearly impossible to think.   This is the view at about 7pm:

I can see rectangles of green and yellow farm fields in the valley between where I sit and Douglas Mountain.  I hear the surges of traffic on the highway, and the occasional siren of an emergency vehicle.  On these summer evenings, the breeze feels warm against my face and thick with the moisture given off by the swathes of trees between houses and roads (temperate rainforests are my favourite).

There are the blinking red and green lights of planes landing at YVR airport.  Red warning beacons pulse in the Strait of Georgia and a lighthouse on one of the islands swings its beam of light past at regular intervals.  I can see the orange glow of Seattle and Vancouver (especially when there is a layer of clouds), and I often catch glimpses of bats as they glides by my head, close enough that I can feel the air disturbed where they pass.  The lights illuminating Vancouver’s ski hills glimmer amid the haze of the city’s own lights.

Describe!

You can read what I did there.  I described what I could see, feel, and hear.

Description is one of the most important parts of good writing, and observation is one way to be mindful.  Marrying the two is the easy way to get better at both.

Make It Your Own (& a couple more suggestions)

I like to rely on an abundance of sensory input, but you don’t have to.   I know of some individuals who focus on a single sense, like the authoress of this article on Tiny Buddha, who explains how she practices mindfulness when kneading dough.  

I also practice mindfulness while walking.  It has become habit to pay attention to the sensation of each footfall; my joints flexing, my muscles contracting and relaxing, and even what the ground feels like.

However you do it, practice mindfulness.  Hopefully what I have written here can help you do just that.  

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!  You can use the comment section of this post, or email me (russell@rggraham.me).  

4 Twitter management tips

I like Twitter. I’ve already said this once. Nonetheless, it can turn into a gargantuan stream of Tweets that you will ignore like a bad book.

That’s why I decided to create this guide on a few simple tools to organize your Twitter feed.

Hashtags

Yup.  The hashtag.  Twitter’s ubiquitous symbol.

So what the hell is a hashtag, anyway?  Twitter itself defines the operator as this:

Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

I use them to refine who and what I want to follow, read, and talk about.  Some of my personal examples include #guitars, #marketing, and #music.  However, my actual use of hashtags is more refined than that.

The best part about hashtags is that they work like search terms, so it is easy to refine what you want by using multiple tags.  A more refined hashtag search (such as using #rock and #music instead of just using #music) will usually get more relevant results.

Saved Searches

Once you know what you want to watch and follow, you can use saved searches to find specific new content.  For example, you could save a search for #bacon or #driving or #shoes, or #drivingshoes or any combination of search terms (including those without hashtags).

Search terms can include users; however, I think that the following method is better for organizing Twitter users you follow.

Lists

Twitter lists are one of my favourite ways to find what I like and share what I like.  It’s easy to set them up while browsing Twitter and following users, but I find it’s easier to use Hootsuite or TweetDeck to display my lists (the next section will cover these platforms).

By using lists, I organize the users I follow into something like a text-based television channel.  For example, I created a list of the Twitter accounts associated to the CBC Radio shows that I listen to.  Other users can also create lists, and those lists can be followed.  I follow Alan Cross’ Music News-Biz list and Brian Thompson’s Music News list.

Publishing Platforms

If you find content online like I do over the course of the day and want to share it without posting 20 linked articles in the space of half an hour (or if you are using social media for your business), then platforms other than Twitter itself may be what you need.  Hootsuite and TweetDeck are well known and widely used for a reason.

Social publishing platforms like Hootsuite and TweetDeck allow for feeds of searched terms, lists, individual users, sent tweets, and every other action associated with the Twitter account.  They can also schedule posts for a later point in the day, week, month, or year.

I have used Hootsuite to manage all my social media accounts.  If all you need is a more organized Twitter feed, this is one place to start, though it does include functions that you may not find useful, such as link shortening and analytics.

I am still testing TweetDeck.  The interface is more straightforward than Hootsuite as it only covers one social network (Twitter).  It has more advanced functions like link tracking using bit.ly.  I will be testing TweetDeck over the next couple weeks and will report back with my findings. 

Does that cover everything you need to organize your Twitter feed?  Send me a tweet or use the comment box below if you would like help organizing your twitter account.  Happy Tweeting!