Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Tag Archives: public relations

The future of ryanwelton.com, aka: Using data to decide what to blog about

0

Anybody who knows me knows that I love the digital game. I love the process of creating content, promoting it and growing something from nothing to a lot. In this post, I want to talk about my current efforts and the notion of going wide versus deep.

First, I’ve been posting pretty much everything I do to ryanwelton.com. I have been posting sports columns and recipes, travel photos and personal essays. This is what’s known as going wide, touching many bases in hopes of growing as broad of an audience as possible. This strategy looks for quantity of audience and not necessarily quality. Where that can be valuable is when your business is judged by quantity of people, such as in TV. Sure, there are some demographics that are preferred to others, but at the end of the day, Station A wants to have more people watching than Station B.

The problem with this strategy is that you get a whole bunch of people one day and a whole bunch of people the next, and it’s possible that the first audience and the second are completely different. The people who sampled your product on the first day didn’t come back the second. In my case, the people who read by Oklahoma Sooners blog posts probably didn’t come back when I posted my potato soup recipe — and vice-versa.

At the point where you want to turn visitors into repeat content customers, you have to go deep.

In the news world, that might mean delving deep into a topic such as education, health or politics. Many local TV news stations have a “consumer beat” where the reporter works to right wrongs in the community. That type of deeper coverage can prompt a consumer to come back night after night. In the blog world, this strategy is all about the niche — and niche content and niche marketing are super powerful these days because people have proven to be willing to come back time after time when a topic interests them.

I’m also a YouTuber (http://www.youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic), and creators who teach YouTube channel growth are pretty adamant about only going deep. I heard one self-proclaimed expert say that there are no “variety shows” on YouTube.

Go deep or go home.

Going deep means longer posts. Higher-quality information. Varied types of content, e.g., written word, video and audio.

However, you have to be satisfied with having a smaller audience, reminding yourself that what you really have is the “right audience.” If you’re doing anything like Ad Sense or Amazon Associates affiliate marketing, a niche audience has a higher likelihood of moving the needle than a broad audience.

Why? Because you’re dependent upon each and every blog to convert.

Going deep allows you to suck the user into a rabbit hole of sorts, which translates into an appreciation from the reader and a higher chance of conversion.

Believe it or not, many content trends in 2018 are headed back to 2008. Take email for example: Gathering emails from your readers is probably the most important thing you can do from a marketing perspective because, if they opt-in to receiving a newsletter, you can use that to induce all sorts of sales opportunities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never solicited email addresses because that’s not ever been my style. It makes me uneasy to do that. However, I should if I ever want to turn a blog into something that makes money.

And let’s talk about that for a second because the reality is you have to be selling something that is super-high-dollar or creating your own product to expect to make much of anything. I’m a musician; perhaps I could move some Korg keyboards through my site.

Not likely.

If I had just kept my original ryanwelton.com around from the early 2000s, who knows where I could have taken it. I used to write about American Idol and Big Brother and other reality shows, and I was getting terrific traffic.

ryanwelton-2008

Since restarting my site, the growth has been slow although it really jumped right about the time Mom died and I penned the tribute to her. That gave me some momentum, and you need that. Here’s a look at my stats for this year so far per month:

blog-stats-2018

However, what that chart doesn’t show you is that I only get decent engagement when I write about certain topics such as food, travel and health. My posts about the Oklahoma Sooners or Cleveland Browns only get consumed; nobody follows, comments or reacts.

This is key.

People are much more willing to follow a blog if it’s about a single topic of interest to them. Although food, travel and health are different topics, they do fall generally under lifestyle — and when the information comes from a certain demo, such as a man approaching 50, it has the potential to attract a certain audience.

So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, how do you choose a topic? You do keyword research, and my current favorite tool for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. What you want to do is import some keywords for topics you’re interested in and see what the monthly average search volume is like.

keywords-everywhere-2

Ideally, you want to blog about a topic that somebody searches for, and you don’t want it to be so competitive that you’d never be able to break through the noise. There is a sweet spot to be had, and a tool like Keywords Everywhere can help you feel it out. It’s a process that I’ve gone through the past couple of nights in fact in hopes of moving away from a ryanwelton.com blog that is about everything.

Because when your blog is truly about everything, then it’s about nothing.

Focus is needed.

I narrowed my search somewhat based on search volume and competition stats. Keywords Everywhere measures a keyword phrase on a scale of 0 to 1 based on how aggressively advertisers pursue it. You’ll notice here that for whatever reason, the term “Cleveland Browns” gets ridiculous search volume but is also wide-open competitively. Based on what I see here, a person could break through on that term.

keywords-everywhere-3

However, more goes into it than this. Do I really want to start and cultivate an entire blog about the Cleveland Browns? I mean, really, the reason all of us Okies are such fans of the team now is because of the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.

I’m truly all-in at this point, but it’s possible I get bored at some point down the road. Alas, the thing that makes us love Mayfield so much is that he was a great Sooner — and that’s why I’m reviving thenormanfiles.com, which was a hyper-local blog of sorts that I tried to get going back in 2013, soon after I left KOCO.

Take a look at these keyword stats below:

keywords-everywhere-4

That indicates to me that there is enough global search volume between the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma basketball, football and even the Oklahoma City Dodgers to make thenormanfiles.com a worthwhile-go as a sports-centric blog on topics that would be of interest to people in Oklahoma.

But what else?

I already have beamediacompany,com, where I write about digital communications, social media and trends in the industry as it relates to 21st Century public relations and corporate communications. A post like this one here would ideally go there.

I’ve also revived my 80s music blog, but with a new URL: http://www.1980s.blog. Before I solidified the dot-blog top-level domain, I did some Google SEO research to see how Mother Google felt about non-dot-coms as TLDs — and what I found is that they don’t really care.

It’s the content, stupid.

And my thought was that in a mobile world, it’s about URL length, so 1980s.blog as a domain name really appealed to me.

I also have outandaboutokc.com as a blog that Kristi and I have talked about working on together with a focus on what businesses have available for families, for example: play areas and kids menus, vegetarian options and parking situations.

Just tonight I created two more: bunnygap.com and crazyforcaps.com. The former is a reference to the phrase, “The Rabbit Hole,” except that on this blog, I’d take the reader simply down a li’l bunny gap, not the full-on rabbit hole. I’ll write about YouTube and audio, movies and TV. It’s basically a pop culture site.

The latter is a site that would capture my obsession with baseball caps, and not just caps from baseball teams but all kinds of caps and, really, hats. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis here:

keywords-everywhere-3

Notice that both the term “baseball cap” and cap(s) are scored as ‘1’s. There is decent search volume for both, but advertisers attack it hard, which means that a person would have to really stand out — and my thought is that I could do that by taking a “Uni-Watch” approach to headwear, especially as it pertains to sports teams.

Boy, that sounds like a lot of work, right?

Well, one does have to create opportunities for efficiencies, and I study the subject pretty religiously. Plus, I’ve always been one to let the data drive the bus, meaning that if one of the sites really took off, there I’d focus.

All of this serves as a scratch to the itch that is for me ‘mass communication’ through digital. Well before social media came along, I preferred the blog. As I develop each of these new ones and re-tinker with the old ones, I’m going to have to think long and hard about social amplification.

  • Do I need separate Facebook and Twitter sites for each of these?
  • Or do I use the blogs to build more of an audience for my own Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • This doesn’t even consider Linked In, where a post like this must definitely live!

The tactical strategy end of this should never trump the formula that will never steer you wrong, and that’s to serve an audience. If you’re going to write about 80s music, make sure it goes deep and appeals to the geekiest of the geeky 80s children. And if you’re going to write about digital strategy or ball caps, delve into as much detail as you can, either taking the consumer down the proverbial rabbit hole or giving them something they can take away and use for real.

You might get a reaction, a comment or a new follower.

And that’s when going deep can help you build that big audience to which you can communicate wide. If any of these blogs in particular will be of interest to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Appreciate you reading!

The 3 basics of 21st Century digital public relations

0

The biggest purpose of this blog post is to help small businesses that have zero idea on how to navigate a communications or public relations strategy. Sure, you could hire a firm, but cash flow is king. You might prefer to try to do it yourself.

And you can.

It isn’t easy.

But it’s not rocket science.

This is your guide to 21st Century digital public relations with a focus on what will help those of you who own or manage small businesses.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to learn the media landscape of your community or city. Start liking, following, getting to know your local reporters. Be active on media sites so that stations and reporters know who you are. Establish yourself as being friendly to the grand media complex, and provide value when you can.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that name recognition and respect is your first step in capturing attention with media entities. That can backfire, too, especially if what you eventually submit to a newspaper or TV station isn’t regularly on point.

Your action items: Create a list of all your local TV stations, newspapers, influential blogs, etc. Go like them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be a regular commenter with quality takes or value-added information.

The second thing to do is to learn how to craft a press release. Many marketers will tell you that content marketing is king in 2018, and it’s definitely important — but your first and best opportunity to capture the attention of reporters, editors and producers is to know how to put together a killer press release.

What makes a great press release? I’d say the most important thing is to be sure that your press release isn’t merely a collection of words. It needs to have a quality hi-res photo and other multimedia, such as a link to video or b-roll that the newspaper or station can use. First, a high-quality photo captures the attention of newsroom folks who have to sift through hundreds of emails. Second, multimedia provides a station or paper with art they can use in their story. You’re doing them a solid, and it’s appreciated.

Ultimately, your press release has to communicate newsworthy information that goes beyond promoting your business. Aside from the grand opening or your restaurant or store, there aren’t many promotions that are strictly one-way that will truly capture the interest of folks in the Fourth Estate.

Don’t take it from me. Heed the advice of one of the most respected folks in the industry, Serena Erlich. I got to know her during my time in corporate communications with Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. She always has top-notch advice, and she’s a staunch defender of the press release, as am I. If you’re going to “be a media company,” you have to know how to capture the attention of newsies.

There’s no better way than to master the basics of a 21st Century press release.

Your action items: If you don’t have the cash to spend on a quality public relations firm with pros who have their APR, then learn the basics of writing a press release. Brush up on your photography skills, and learn how to create and edit video. I’ll put together a blog on the basics of writing a press release soon. However, there are also a ton of resources out there.

The third thing to do is to not depend on the press to amplify your message. Let’s say you create that press release, and you get no traction. You need to know how to amplify it yourself through social media, social advertising and content marketing.

That doesn’t mean posting your press release to Facebook and expecting magic to happen. That means crafting some verbiage in concert with an appealing image or images or video and styling it to work with Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is nice with its 300M users, but if it’s me, you’d be focused on Facebook and Instagram with a combined 2.8B users.

Your action items: After you send that press release to your media list, re-create that same message in the form of social posts, blogs, you name it and amplify using organic and paid mechanisms. Spread the word yourself.

Those are the three basics of 21st Century digital public relations. However, I’d add this: Any given story or event or promotion has a life cycle unto itself. There is pre-promotion. There is the event. There is post-mortem. Creating a press release and sending it to your media peeps with a little bit of amplification on your own ahead of the event and then calling it a day is a recipe for disappointment. You need to master the press release, but you can’t stop there.

Ideally, you’re seeking the help of media to cover your business. However, you’re prepared to do it yourself — and you start well before and end well after, making your piece of news feel less like a one-time thing and more like an event that demanded attention throughout because it was so compelling.

Again, I’ll take this manifesto of sorts and break it down over the coming weeks. But if you’re a small business owner or manager who intends on doing this yourself, this post gives you a sense of the scope of everything you’re about to undertake.

Photo credit:
Paolo Negri, link here:

 

Building your personal brand an ongoing, never-ending lesson

1

In my professional life, I’m a member of PRSA’s Oklahoma City chapter. During our monthly meeting today, I had the pleasure of meeting a director of placement from the University of Oklahoma and the OU student president of PRSSA.

We discussed a possible opportunity for me to speak on campus in late February, something I’d be honored to do — and I mentioned a possible topic.

Helping public relations professionals build their personal brands.

I believe it’s the most underdeveloped skill in the marketplace, and I’ve been passionate about it since my days in TV news. Frankly, it’s something I’m still learning how to do properly. However, after 22 years in the workplace, post-college, I have a good sense of what my online audience would say about me from consuming my content.

Ryan plays the piano and writes songs. He likes music. Digs jazz, smooth jazz and 80s pop. Loves the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Rangers and occasionally comments about other teams and sports. Loves the Oklahoma City Thunder. Loves Oklahoma in general. Loves Texas, too.

Loves all-things weather. Storms. Snow. Haboobs! (Not really haboobs.)

Ryan also shows pictures of his food. Constantly. Oh, he runs a lot, too, and will post photos of the occasional beer, just to let you know he knows how to relax.

But the question I find myself asking is: Are those the things that define my brand online? That’s what I’m talking about when I say that professionals need to craft a personal brand and cultivate it.

For example, the running: That’s good. I do try to live a healthful lifestyle. I might be better served by morphing some of my food posts into content documenting how I eat more healthfully or drink lots of water. The point is that living a healthful lifestyle is a characteristic I strongly value.

Take the music part of it. That’s also good. I do write and play and do both at more than just a hobby level some of the time. I want to be taken seriously as a musician, but I also don’t take myself too seriously. I just love music, know music and want that to be part of my brand.

And sports will always be part of my world albeit not as much as it once was. I don’t watch it all the time like I did when I was in my 20s and 30s. However, from a personal brand perspective, I’m not sure that I care for it to be too much a part of me. Oh, sure: I’m not so serious about this process that I’d recommend stopping hot sports tweets to maintain focus on a personal brand, but thinking about these things is a vital part of the process.

Super long story short: The personal brand I’m trying to create can be summed up with a handful of words: Healthful, music, some sports, weather, positive. In reference to the last word there, for as long as I can remember, I’ve made it a point to avoid at all costs online confrontation. I haven’t always been successful, but I go out of my way to not be provocative, controversial or ever purposefully unkind.

Alongside a personal branding effort, I recommend that professionals build an online professional brand through various professional organizations and platforms such as LinkedIn. Connect with everybody (esp. on LinkedIn) and create content establishing yourself as expert in your field. I do great with the connection and am only starting to excel at the content, sharing if not creation.

So, why is any of this important? Can’t you just do your job, keep your head down and be content with that? Why the extra work? Well, a resume can only say so much about a person. We all have a public face, and we all have an opportunity to demonstrate expertise and focus. The content speaks to the expertise, and the branding speaks to the focus.

I struggle with audience development. I only have 1,157 Twitter followers because I neither tweet enough nor do I have enough interesting to say. My Instagram audience is struggling because my photos are mostly about me eating or running (ryanwelton2013), and my Snapchat audience (soonerryan2000) is almost nada because I don’t keep up with it.

I have the theory down. Mastered even. I could explain it and the how-to all day long and will delve deeper into it as my blogging adventures continue.

But relative to an opportunity to speak at OU (maybe, fingers crossed) I wouldn’t only be speaking to a group of young professionals about why it’s important, I would be instructing and re-instructing myself about the how-tos of a process that never, ever, ever ends.

Image courtesy of EdgeThreeSixty TM. Link here.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: