When it comes to making a change in your district, the most powerful tool you have is your community. The ways in which you can mobilize your community has evolved with the introduction of the internet and social media, but many of the traditional methods still remain useful.
Chances are you or someone you know listens to or has listened to a podcast in the last month.
Years ago, podcasts were a lesser known player in the content world, with only 9% of the U.S. population tuning in per month to listen to podcast episodes. Now, jump ahead to 2019, and there is an estimated 32% of the U.S. population, or 90 million people, over the age of 12 tuning in each month to their favorite podcasts (Content Marketing Institute). There are over 550,000 podcasts available today in nearly every genre from history to content marketing. Brands have also found a way to use podcasts as a part of their marketing strategies to own their industries marketing space.
Why Make a Podcast?
Audio is the next big thing. Just think of how many people now use voice search either with Alexa, Siri, or Google Voice. Experts are expecting audio to make a big splash in the marketing world in the coming years. Podcasts have already risen to the level of prominence and continue to grow.
There are many things to consider when deciding whether a podcast is right for your brand. A few key questions you should ask are:
- Is there a need for a podcast for my industry?
- Is there an audience for my podcast?
- Do other brands in my industry have podcasts?
- Do we have the time and resources to dedicate to a quality podcast?
Creating a podcast for your industry can help you stand out among your competitors. This form of content builds a relationship between your brand and your audience, which will consist of existing and potential customers. With your podcast, you want to focus on creating thought leadership content that relates to your industry and avoid allowing your podcast to simply become a sales pitch. No one wants to listen to a 15 to 20-minute advertisement, so you have to be creative and come up with content that revolves around your industry and provide useful, entertaining, and interesting content to your listeners. The ultimate goals of creating a podcast are to increase brand awareness, brand engagement, site traffic, thought leadership, and revenue generation.
Planning is Key
Podcasts are not as quick to create and publish as a blog post or an email newsletter. There is a good bit of planning that is involved when you are creating your podcast. Your first question should be what your podcast will be about. Your goal is to find subject matter that meets both yours and your audience’s needs. As stated before, if you use your podcast as a 20-minute sales pitch, no one is going to listen, but if you talk about random topics, no one will be directed to your brand. The secret is finding that meeting point, and that will take planning. For this reason, it is important you create scripts for each episode so you can see where an episode is going. Your host and guests don’t have to stick to the script word for word, but it will keep things on track. Keep in mind, most people are listening to podcasts while they are doing other things like driving, exercising, or working so make sure you have content that is easy to follow and not too technical or confusing.
Speaking of your host, or hosts, it is imperative that you find a host that is relatable, knowledgeable, a good speaker, and personable. You want someone your audience feels they could have a conversation with, someone they enjoy listening to. If someone is shy, soft spoken, or not very good at public speaking, they may not be right for the hosting position. It is good to have a permanent host for the entirety of the podcast. This way, your audience can build the relationship and will want to come back for each new episode.
Call to Action
We have made it clear that your podcast should not be an advertisement, but this does not mean you can’t guide people to your blog, website, or store. Include a call to action at the end of each episode, or during the episode if it relates to what you are talking about. For example, if your podcast relates to a blog that you have published with more information on a topic, you can let listeners know that they can visit your blog to learn more. You can ask people to go and sign up for your email newsletter to get information on new episodes right when they are released. You definitely want to promote your brand, just don’t let it be the focus of your show.
Good Things Take Time
Just like with the production, your podcast will take time to work. Podcasts don’t shoot to the top of the charts overnight, especially if you are creating one for a specific industry that may not have a presence yet in this medium. This is why it is good to have an established content strategy prior to creating a podcast so you can use it to promote your new show. Newsletters, social media, and blog posts should all be used to point people towards your new podcast. If you have strong thought leadership content about your industry and you take time to create something that people will connect with, your audience will come. Podcasts are an excellent tool for your content strategy and, when done right, can really make a difference for your brand.
Trade associations, like everyone else, have made the move to the digital world. Recruitment, education, events, donations, and industry news are all now shared online through their websites and social media accounts. Many members register through the association’s website and rely on this website for the latest news and updates regarding the association and the industry itself. With this being the case, it is vital for your trade association’s success that your website be secure, up to date, mobile first, and user friendly. Below we discuss the importance of each of these aspects, and what you can do to make sure your association’s website meets these criteria.
- Have a clean, up-to-date website
One of the first aspects that should be considered with your trade association’s website is if it is clean and representative of your association. Outdated websites look clunky and can be hard to navigate for users. If your site is not already on WordPress; we highly recommend making the switch over. Over 34% of the world’s websites are built using WordPress including major industries such as Disney, Sony, and The New York Times. WordPress is the best content management system on the market. It’s ease of use, functionality and affordability make it one of the best CMS systems in the world. A variety of themes, plug-ins, and design elements allow for your WordPress website to be created to your specifications. It is easy to make a site that is user friendly and simple to navigate. Websites built on WordPress look professional, clean, and go far in making sure your members have a positive user experience.
- Keep your website safe and secure
In the digital realm, security is of the utmost importance. Your members’ data as well as your reputation may be on the line if your website falls victim to hacking. There are many negative effects an attack on your website could cause. Identity theft, slow speed, having your account suspended, and a complete crash are a few of the big things that can happen; all of which can tarnish or even ruin your reputation. A lot of the time, for WordPress sites, these attacks take place when themes and plug-ins are not regularly updated. Updates are usually released to better the security of a theme or plug-in and leaving yours out of date leaves your website open to bad actors. An easy way to prevent this and stay updated is to have a maintenance plan, this is someone who regularly updates all of your plug-ins and themes, creates backups, and performs security scans. These plans are affordable; and save you time and money in the long run if something were to happen to your website.
- Having a Mobile-First Website
One of the most important aspects of your website is that it is mobile first. This simply means that it is optimized to be viewed on mobile devices without losing quality or functionality. Most people view websites now on their smartphones and mobile devices and your website needs to show up looking just as good as it does on a desktop. Not having a mobile first website will not only effect how your visitors see your website on their devices, but also how Google will rank your website. This, in turn, affects where your site falls on the search engine result page (SERP) which is the page you see when you search for your association or related industry key terms on Google. If you are unsure if your website is mobile friendly, simply attempt to look at it on your phone. Make sure to test all of the menus and features to make sure they work and load quickly. You can also run a mobile test with Google here.
- Strong, Timely, Thoughtful Content
When you have a secure, mobile first website that looks amazing, you need to fill it with strong and engaging content that will bring visitors to your site and help drive your membership. Content can take a number of forms including blogs, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics, case studies, white pages, and reviews. It is suggested that you have thought-leadership content that relates to your association’s industry and will be of interest to your audience. Regularly releasing relevant content will not only keep people interested and visiting your site, it will also help your Google rankings. For associations, it is also good to continue to provide your members with good content, so they feel they are getting the value they deserve for their membership. It is even possible to make some content members only or paid content to add the additional value to members. A good content marketing strategy will keep your association’s website timely and relevant.
All of these aspects work together to make sure your association is well represented by your website and has a strong online presence. This helps your membership retention and recruitment, credibility, and overall value. Arc 3 Communications provides everything you need to build, operate, and maintain a professional association website. We also are able to create and put in motion a content marketing strategy that will work for your association including content calendars, content creation, and content program analysis. Our maintenance plans assure your website is safe and secure and all of your themes and plugins are updated. This also includes backups of your website and performance scans to make sure your website is running smoothly and quickly. For help optimizing your association’s website, contact us at email@example.com or call us at 678-348-6024.
For more information visit us at www.arc3communications.com.
In this day and age of information at our fingertips, 24/7 news updates, and social media, it is easy to get overwhelmed and loose track of what news is coming from where. This is when people begin to react with their emotions over their logic. Someone may see a headline that sparks a reaction in them, and they immediately share it on social media. Many times, they will not even read the article or check the source, they simply see a headline, react, and share. This often results in the spread of fake news, and many of these false stories even end up going viral.
Fake news is nothing new, it has always been around to mislead or sway people towards a certain belief or action. The difference is now, with the internet and social media, fake news can be spread quickly and reach millions in minutes. There are many reasons why people share fake news stories, and they aren’t always bad intentions. Many people will see a story that supports their views, opinions, or beliefs and without looking too much into it, will share it.
With most of the world getting their news online and through social media, fake news is never hard to come across. It comes in many forms; but will always have an eye-catching headline that tells a story without the reader needing to read the rest of the article. Even if a reader does decide to read the article, these stories are made to seem credible and true. They may even take a story that is real news and change important details to spin the story to the desired view.
This is why readers need to take time and do a little research to verify the news they are reading and sharing with others is, in fact, real news from a credible source. Below are a few steps you can take to make sure the news you are receiving and sending is reliable and true.
- Be sure your news is coming from a credible source.
Pay close attention to the source your story or information is coming from. Is this a credible source? One way to determine this is to look at the author of the piece. Many fake news stories tend to have “staff” or even no author listed. Once you find the author, do a quick search on that author and see what else they have published and if there are any complaints about them producing fake news.
Another big indicator is the domain name, as many websites have been made to mimic true news sources. Watch out for anything with a “.com.co” at the end of the URL, this can be done with well-known news source names to trick readers. A quick web search of the domain name can give you more insight into whether the site is a credible source for news.
One more thing you can do to determine a websites credibility is to check the rest of the website. Do they have sources cited on their stories? Do they have legitimate contact information? Are they well-known or lesser known? Have they covered well-known news stories or do all of their stories appear in a clickbait fashion? These determinates can help you discover whether the site you are reading news from is credible and dependable for future news.
- Read more than just the headline and sub-headline.
A big problem with the spread of fake news is that so many people will see a catchy or controversial headline and immediately share out of an emotional reaction. Others will click the link and maybe scan the article quickly, decide it appeals to their views, and share it without ever checking for credibility. This is where a major problem lies and how false stories get spread so quickly by so many.
Take time to go to the story and read through it carefully, maybe even more than once. Check the credibility of the author and website as laid out in the first step. Sometimes you may find the story behind the headline is something completely different from what it was made to sound like. Other red flags may be bad grammar or misspellings throughout the story, this could point to a fake story as credible pieces are proofed quite thoroughly. Check to see if any facts or quotes shared in the story are cited at the end of the article, and if so, are those sources credible as well. This may sound like a lot of work, but it will help to protect your character and credibility as well as make sure you are getting reliable and correct information.
- Is the information being reported by multiple sources?
When you find a news story of interest, check and see if it is being reported on by multiple news sources. Usually, if a story is true and timely, it will be covered by more than one news source. It is very rare that a story that is capable of making the news will only be reported by one publication. If it is a national or international story, check with trusted major news organizations to see if they have any mention or information on the story. If you are reading a local story, check with other local publications or get in contact with your local publication and see if they have heard anything about the story in question.
In addition to this, make sure the story you are looking at is timely. Sometimes an old news story will begin to circulate attempting to pass as a new story. There may also be an attempt to falsify this information, which is why it is always good to cross examine with other news sources.
- Check Your Story with a Fact Checking Website.
With so much information available the internet, it is not always possible to do in depth research for every story you come across. If there is a viral story you come across, there are fact checking websites that do this research for you. Websites such as www.snopes.com take viral news stories and let you know whether they are real or fake, and if they are real, if the facts presented in the story are accurate. There are many websites like this online, so it also wise to make sure you are using one that is credible and non-biased to get accurate information.
There are fact checking websites run by non-profits, educational centers, and libraries. These are usually the most reliable ones to gather information from.
When gathering your news from social media and online sources, your critical thinking and attention to detail will go far in detecting fake news. Often fake news stories are made to drive emotional responses and are written in such a way to do just that. Practice taking the time to check sources, research the story, and use fact checking sites to weed out the fake news from the real news. With time, you will begin to see a trend in how fake news presents itself and will be well equipped to avoid it. By following these simple steps, you can help prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation and help your credibility in the process. In a time of unlimited information, make sure the news you are getting is credible and dependable.
Content Marketing Internship – Spring 2020
Arc 3 is looking for an intern that would like to further their experience in content marketing in the trade association, public affairs and government space. Desired skills include knowledge of content creation, social media management and analytics tools, as well as strong writing skills. Knowledge of design tools such as Photoshop, Canva and Google Drawings is a plus. Internship would be part-time or full time; virtually or at our office.
Applicants must be a current college undergraduate or graduate student. Academic credit can be arranged for internship.
We are a startup with a bold vision. If you are looking to gain professional experience in politics and public affairs while learning content marketing strategies, please contact our Founder, Patrick Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org
For decades, people have used news monitoring to track issues that affect them, their business, their association, or their cause. In the past, this was done with a process called “clipping” which was scanning local and national newspapers for stories related to these categories and cutting them out to keep a tab on issues at hand. This form of news scanning was an essential practice in nearly every aspect of life, from politics to business to advocacy. It allowed one to keep up with new developments in a campaign, on an issue, with a market, or with a competitor. In today’s online world, this process still exists; it has simply gone to the online world and covers a much larger scale. This can be overwhelming, and it can seem impossible to keep up to date with the 24/7 news cycle and nearly immediate news updates. There are many tools and strategies you can use to help make this process easier while increasing effectiveness.
Google is a search engine that grants people quick access to information. It can be quite time consuming to search each term or phrase that relates to your issue and try to sift through countless stories and websites trying to find the most recent developments. This is where Google Alerts can be used to help save time and increase the efficiency of your news scanning.
Google Alerts is a free-to-use service in which you can add all of your key terms and phrases to a list and Google will send you email alerts whenever a news story or update is released that relates to that term or phrase. You can schedule a set time that all of your alerts come into your email. You can choose morning, afternoon, or evening or even multiple times throughout the day, if you have an issue that needs constant monitoring.
It is also good practice to add a Google Alert for your name. Doing this will allow you to be alerted anytime your name appears in a story or somewhere online. Also, if you own a business or brand, you should have an alert set up for these as well for the same reasons.
Feedly is a news aggregator application for your web browser that allows you to bookmark and organize all of the websites you regularly check for updates. You can categorize these based on your needs so you can keep track of different sites for different topics. The feed allows you to scan RSS feeds, news and updates from your tracked sites by date and popularity all in one place. Having all of your news sources together saves you the time of having to go to each site separately looking for updates.
Feedly is a free-to-use platform which includes most of its features, but also has a paid pro option that will allow you to incorporate your Google Alerts into your Feedly feed as well as give you access to unlimited feeds, sources, and premium customer service.
Following Social Media
Much important news is shared these days through social media. A good practice to have is to make sure you follow your news sources on social media platforms such as Twitter and activate notifications for any that you need to track closely. This way, when something new is posted or updated you can be in the loop. Sometimes news and updates will be posted to social media before they are released on news sites; this way, you can keep on top of important issues that affect you and your business or association.
Following specific hashtags is also a great way to keep up on trending news related to your cause or industry. You should do research and find if there are any highly-used hashtags that fit to your needs and follow them as they tend to lead you to updates and news quickly as well. Though social media can get quite noisy at times, it is still a great source of updates for news, causes, and events if you can develop a system for aggregating the news important to you through notifications and hashtags.
Stay in the Loop
There are many options for staying on top of news related to your specific needs. In today’s world of quick, shortened news cycles and instant 24/7 news updates, it can seem impossible to keep up with everything at once, but these tools help make it easier and less stressful. Of course, there is nothing wrong with reading the local newspapers or doing Google searches for news updates. These suggestions are simple tools that will make monitoring news much more productive while giving a broad scope of resources all at once in an organized way. Keeping on top of things is essential for many businesses, causes, and just day to day life, and with these tools, you’re all set.
Need More Help?
For more information, visit us at www.arc3communications.com or contact Patrick Burns at email@example.com. We look forward to working with you to acheive all of your content, digital, and advocacy goals.
Arc 3 Communications was recently featured in IgniteHQ’s monthly newsletter. The feature highlights our founder, Patrick Burns, and how he has built an innovative agency that embraces content, digital and advocacy together. Read more about Arc 3 Communications’ focus, customers, and growth here.
When it comes to making a change in your community, the most powerful tool you have is the community itself. How you can mobilize your community has evolved with the growth of social media, but many of the traditional methods still remain most useful. In fact, all of these tactics should be used together to bring awareness and organize your community to support your issue and gain the attention of your elected officials. This article will explore what is known as “slacktivism,” a form of social media engagement regarding a cause, and traditional tactics to bringing attention and action to an issue.
In our age of social media, many issues become viral social media campaigns resulting in shares, comments, likes, and views but most of the time, little else. This isn’t to say “slacktivism” is entirely useless, in fact, it does raise awareness of an issue and can even inform people and get people talking about the subject. The problem lies in that these campaigns alone rarely result in action being taken. People comment, like, and share or sign an online petition and feel accomplished, like they have done something to help the issue when, in fact, it takes much more effort than that. This is why the term is a combination of “slacker” and “activism” because not much effort goes into participating in these online interactions and involvement often ends there.
This does not mean that online advocacy is useless, as previously stated, it can work wonders in raising awareness and spreading a message further and faster than many traditional forms of information sharing. It becomes hindered when it ends with this social media step. When people hit share and feel they have done enough and then move on. In turn, if it goes on to spark action and mobilization in the non-digital world, then it can be measured as a useful tactic. Online advocacy should be viewed as a tool, and not a complete solution to driving your issue.
The traditional ways are still the most effective for mobilizing your community. Traditional methods are complemented and enhanced by the online and social media aspects we have in the digital age, but the tried and true forms of raising awareness and prompting action still hold strong. As stated before, engagement efforts must be utilized offline in the community itself to see real results. Writing letters and direct mail, volunteer phone banking, going door to door, and organizing local precinct level meetings are proven ways to reach the people of your area and really add voices to your cause. These tactics allow you to know that you are reaching the population you intend to reach and also allow you to form relationships that will benefit your cause in the long run. These traditional strategies combined with an online strategy will help mobilize your community. The effectiveness of your traditional and online strategies, however, hinges on a properly developed and crafted message. It is vital that your message informs and is credible and factual. You also want to be prepared to answer any tough questions that may be raised regarding your position and help alleviate any concerns among elected officials, the media and the public. Having a message that is factual and based on credible personal stories and sources goes a long way in building support.
When bringing attention to an issue, both new and traditional tactics can be used together to mobilize your community, gain support, and ultimately bring about desired policy and legislative changes. Digital advocacy and social media campaigns are persuasive and bring awareness, while traditional measures bring people to concrete action within the community. A balance of these different tactics will help result in successful campaigns. These strategies used with a strong message, grab people’s attention and provide them with enough facts to make an educated decision to act. A community mobilized behind an issue is an extremely effective force in getting a legislative or policy change. In fact, it’s near impossible to get things done otherwise.
Need more advice or help?
For more information, visit us at www.arc3communications.com or contact Patrick Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you to achieve your goals and help your voice be heard to bring positive changes to your community.