Tag Archives: freelance writer

How Thought Leadership and Social Media is Unlocking Belt and Road Opportunities

Thought leadership initiatives promoted by social media are helping companies, consulting firms and professional services firms unlock opportunities along China’s vast Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative.

As the Economist and the World Bank have detailed, China’s Belt and Road initiative was launched in 2013 and is aimed at strengthening infrastructure, trade and investment links between Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  71 other countries have joined the initiative, which collectively accounts for over 30% of global GDP, and 62% of the world’s population.  And as the Guardian has detailed, China is spending approximately $150 billion dollars per year on a range of Belt and Road projects.

Belt and Road’s economic impact and opportunity for the private sector is made clear in a report last year from Reuters detailing that China has now become Germany’s largest trading partner, overtaking the United States.  Notably, German government and trade association officials say they plan to continue efforts to expand trade with the greater Asia-Pacific region. And Belt and Road, of which Germany is an original member — is cited among the catalysts for this bilateral trade expansion.

Conversely, as a Nielsen report details, high-growth markets along the Belt and Road are now seen as “showing significant opportunity for Chinese brands looking to expand their operations overseas”.

Emerging Belt and Road Thought Leadership

The Belt and Road is geographically vast, and the power of the internet is already being harnessed by many to capitalize upon its’ opportunities far afield.  Notably, China’s Foreign Office has written to encourage media cooperation along the Belt and Road to foster and promote the initiative’s success.  In response, some accounting, legal, trade and investment firms have established sophisticated thought leadership positions as a means by which to attract new clients and increase their brand awareness along the Belt and Road.

Notably, all of the Big4 accounting firms have begun to write extensively on Belt and Road, including Ernst & Young (EY)DeloittePricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG.  Asia-Pacific region accounting firm Dezan Shira has established Silk Road Briefing. And international law firms Norton Rose Fulbright and King & Wood Mallesons have also established a growing body of work devoted to Belt and Road subjects. And Belt and Road Advisory, a consulting firm focused on Belt and Road opportunities, maintains the Belt and Road Blog which “encourage[s] a plurality of views on the BRI and…invite[s] guest contributors.”

Perhaps the most significant hub of information on Belt and Road to date comes from the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC).  And PwC’s initiative is a unique standout as it now publishes the PwC B&R Watch —  a “review of capital project and deal activity in the countries that fall under the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R)”.

Too, leading think tanks, multinational organizations and news publications are publishing about Belt and Road in increasing frequency, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, The Diplomat and the Economist. And conferences about Belt and Road, often with substantial social media promotion, are occurring at increasing frequency.  Some of these conferences have been conducted by the Milken Institute, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Cavendish Group International, ATWORK, Innovation Angel Funds, and INNO Innovation Space and the World Transportation Conference.

Create a Belt and Road Thought Leadership Initiative

It remains early days for Belt and Road thought leadership.  And firms that might wish to become an early adopter thought leader on Belt and Road still have time to do so.

Well-planned and carefully cultivated — thought leadership initiatives benefit those organizations that undertake them.  McKinsey Quarterly is perhaps the most high-profile example of this success.  And the World Economic Forum’s blog and social media channels are a superb example of thought leadership and social media promotion combined to promote international trade and investment.

Well designed to appeal uniquely to key Belt and Road audiences, a sophisticated thought leadership position staked out now will likely yield more Belt and Road-related publicity, clientele and revenue for firms that take up the challenge.  Given the substantial opportunity Belt and Road offers, it would be wise for any company or organization seeking to generate revenue, brand awareness and expand their network in Belt and Road regions, to establish a Belt and Road-focused thought leadership position as a key organizational priority.

For more information about creating content or managing social media focused on Belt and Road?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Thought Leadership: Worth the Challenge to Achieve It

Thought leadership is worth it – but it’s hard to achieve, explains Aden Andruswriting in Disrupting Advertising.  He explains that thought leadership is much more than simply social shares or backlinks.  “True thought leadership”, he details, “makes people want to work with you and [it] has a huge impact on your bottom line.” “People respond best”, he explains, “when you create real value for them.”

In the case of his own efforts to generate a thought leadership position for his client company – excellent content produced significantly higher organic traffic and 32 times more organic lead volume – over a two-year period of committed thought leadership efforts.

He explains, however, that “any good blog editor knows that more organic ‘leads’ is not the same thing as more organic sales.”  Two years after his thought leadership efforts began, he noted, his company generated 64 times more revenue

“So, does thought leadership generate meaningful business results?”, he asks. “Absolutely. In fact, if you do it right, becoming a thought leader in your industry is one of the most effective ways to build your business.”

Practical Advice on How to Achieve Thought Leadership Status

Julie Schwartz writes in ITSMA blog that “marketing can’t do thought leadership alone… if it does, the output will be promotion, not thought leadership.” Marketing, she explains, “must get the buy-in, support, and commitment of executives and subject matter experts to become part of the idea-generating and dissemination process.”  She further notes that the success of any thought leadership effort “requires a deep commitment not just from marketing but from the entire company”.

Schwartz details 4 key elements for any organization to successfully achieve thought leadership status:

  1. Thought leadership efforts must connect deeply with target audiences need and goals
  2. Fact-based research is essential to establishing a more credible thought leadership
  3. Organizations must develop engines for idea development as well as dissemination (often, but not exclusively, social media based). “McKinsey and Bain have had these [initiatives] for decades, [and] more mainstream B2B companies are now making the same kind of thought leadership marketing transformation”, she noted.
  4. Concrete metrics used to judge success are required, and they are: Reputation Relationships and Revenue.

Further Considerations if You’re Contemplating Thought Leadership 

Julie Schwartz and Aden Andrus explain with precision the reasons why thought leadership works to increase revenue and can be achieved via specific steps taken by an organization (not only marketing).  They both also cite the need to measure the effort as against revenue.  I’d note that when considering who might be appointed to undertake responsibility for the editorial process of such an effort – consider appointing someone who understands the intersection of business development and content marketing.  Too, that this person has deep experience in researching and writing thought leadership publications.  And finally, that this person also understands fully the mechanisms by which inbound marketing and content production fit in the mix between outbound sales and business development.

Thought leadership, as is explained above – is not easy to achieve.  It takes time, patience, and the work of both marketing professionals, writers and subject matter experts.  Working together, however, these professionals can help an organization achieve substantial revenue growth.  Which begs the question:  If you’re not focused on building a thought leadership effort – shouldn’t you be considering it?

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

 

Harold Evans explains “why writing well matters”

Former editor of Britain’s Sunday Times and Editor at Large for Reuters Sir Harold Evans explained why he’s driven crazy by a lot of the “increasingly incomprehensible” business language today in a recent interview with Charlie Rose.  “What Orwell predicted would happen has happened” he told Rose, in introducing his recent book entitled “Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters.”  The book is now a New York Times Bestseller which The Financial Times calls: “practical advice for those seeking to improve their writing skills.”

Evans explained the increasing incomprehensibility, citing the example of a friend who got a call from someone who wanted to help him sell a company.  The caller, Evans detailed, identified the sale as a “liquidation event” instead of referring to it in more simple terms.

He says he wrote the book “because euphemisms are used more than they should be” — and that  “with the arrival of digital – the velocity of information is speeding up.  To find the real message [it] takes longer than it should ‘because there’s so much verbiage’”.

Evans identifies 10 ways to make writing clearer:

  1. Get moving – use the active voice.  Passive voice creates more words and is harder to understand.
  2. Be specific – all great writing focuses on simple, concrete terms – not abstractions
  3. Ration adjectives and raise adverbs
  4. Cut the fat – check the figures
  5. Organize for clarity — sentences should be short because they’re easier to understand and speak
  6. Be positive – sentences should assert a positive instead of a negative
  7. Don’t be a bore
  8. Put people first. Using a healthcare example, Evans advises: use a name — not a case number
  9. Propositions are pesky and can confuse who’s doing what
  10. Down with monologophobia — don’t be afraid of using the same word twice

Evans’ life and career

Evans love of journalism began in World War 2 – where he encountered a soldier who’d died of tuberculosis at 27.  Evans explained how he became “obsessed by many bad things that were hidden” in Britain’s railways and coal mines.  He made his name in helping investigative teams for the UK’s Sunday Times – in particular his work on exposing the treatment of babies impacted by thalidomide — as well as the Kim Philby spy case.  He later worked for US News and World Report and Conde Nast. He explained the difference between British and US journalism:  In American journalism news and opinion are separate.  In the UK, he explained, opinion-editorial and news were fused during his career.

Evans went on to detail how he first fell in love with the writing of Tina Brown, then a writer for the Times and later Tatler, Vanity Fair and the Daily Beast. He later fell in love with Brown herself and they’ve been married ever since.  “Long may you flourish as the Great interpreter of American life”, he told Rose to end the interview.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

How a blog can help your business generate more publicity

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase

Competition for available media coverage continues to increase amid a sea of press releases and publicity efforts, according to an article by Ian Felton in SEO Chat.  As a result of this competition, Felton details, it`s “harder than ever for a business to gain much needed publicity.”

“Getting someone to hear the message is half the battle”, Felton explains. “Having the members of the media consider it newsworthy is the other half. Somewhere, there must be another vehicle that can gain the attention of an already swamped news editor. Help for the publicity seeking business person has arrived in the form of the blog.”

And global public relations consultancy Burson-Marsteller has explained the increased importance of blogs to generating news stories:  “Traditional and Social media are being used in increasingly sophisticated ways to draw attention to issues and mobilize opinion; anyone can now broadcast their views instantly and broadly using the panoply of tools freely available. And with journalists and other opinion-formers using blogs, micro-blogs and other web-based media as core tools to track news and trends, seemingly anodyne issues can be amplified instantly.”

Unique features that make blogs useful for public relations efforts

Felton identifies 4 key elements of blog technology that help make it uniquely useful for amplifying your organization’s messages

  1. A blog can provide an instant pipeline directly to interested news media outlets when combined with an RSS news feed, which employs the same technology as stock market and weather forecasts.
  2. A blog is a search engine optimization vehicle requiring minimal additional effort. The regular addition of relevant and keyword rich content provides a powerful boost to your business in the search engines.
  3. Other blogs and blog-based news sites will often link to content they source for information – which increases your exposure.
  4. High-ranking sites send a message of importance to reporters.  Hence, you may well be regularly called upon as a source as a result.

Consistent, sophisticated content will make a blog a regular source of news stories

Making your blog a source of consistent, well-informed opinion will help it grow to be regarded by journalists as a must-read source of expert opinion on your industry and specializations.  But reaching that pinnacle takes very hard work — which organizations must understand and genuinely commit to before embarking upon any blogging effort with such a lofty ambition.

Felton sums up the blog`s importance with a message about authenticity:  “Blogging as a public opinion medium [leaves ‘spin’ behind] and [instead] presents a message in a conversation with the reader…In that sense…blog[s] cultivate public opinion…with increasing transparency.”

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Long form content leads to high search engine rankings

In a crowded, competitive market for the attention of customers and clients online, long-form content has become a key differentiator for the strategically sophisticated business, as a number of industry experts have detailed. In particular:

Long form content leads to higher search engine rankings, according to a recent article by Robert Mening (@RobMening) in Search Engine Watch.  Kissmetrics Blog details how long form content creates “more proof of your authority and industry expertise”.  And Jayson DeMers (@jaysondemers) explains in Forbes how long form content is helping businesses “stand out in an ever-more-saturated and competitive market”.  

Long form content helps small businesses compete

Mening explained when smaller companies are seeking to compete with larger, more well-funded competitors – blogging can be an equalizer.  He explained how Google prefers “rich and informative content” — which gives the blogger an advantage over a product or service website page.  

Longer content is vital

Longer content of above 1,000 words ranks better as a means by which to capture higher search engine rankings.  Mening cites a study by serpIQ which details how content comprising a minimum of 2,000 words is required to rank in the top 10 positions in Google search.

What is evergreen content – and why is it important?

Companies that blog need more than just lengthy content – they also need comprehensive evergreen content to most effectively impact search engine rankings.  As Mening explains, evergreen content “works over a longer period of time…deliver[ing] traffic, leads, social shares, and can occupy valuable positions in the search rankings for months or even years after [it’s] publish[ed]”.  

Well-written content is key

Mening emphasized that in order to be relevant to users, content must be well written and address the needs of its intended audience.  Kissmetrics blog also explained the importance of excellent writing to the success of long form content:  “Whether you do it in-house or hire a freelancer, quality will make your content shine. That top quality might come at a high price….but readable, expert content is the difference between content that flies and content that flops.”

Higher rankings, more traffic and more social shares

The benefits to publishing longer, more comprehensive content include higher rankings on Google, more traffic, more social shares and links — and a higher recognition as a trusted authority in your niche.  Businesses seeking an advantage in a crowded market would, therefore, be wise to integrate long-form content into their online marketing strategy.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.

Essentials of Content Marketing Part #1: Strategy

The ascendance of content marketing

More and more companies are now utilizing the internet as a means by which to communicate with key audiences.  And this communication is commonly referred to as content marketing.  Content marketing utilizes a variety of forms of communication — including written, audio and video — often published on a range of social media channels.

Alexander Jutkowitz, vice chairman and chief global strategist at Hill+Knowlton has written about this trend, noting the “historic transformation for brands and companies” centered around content.  In particular, Jutkowitz has detailed how “nine out of ten organizations are now marketing with content”.  “The succes of content marketing”, he explains, “has radicalized the way companies communicate…mark[ing] an important new chapter in the history of business communications: the era of corporate enlightenment.”

With the importance of content’s role in modern marketing, those who might utilize it should first be aware of its’ essentials.  This post is the first in a series dedicated to the Essentials of Content Marketing.  It’s about getting the overall strategy right — before beginning any content marketing effort.

Content strategy tailors consistent messages to specific audiences

British public relations consultants Mackman Group have ably detailed the essentials of content strategy on their website.  As they explain, a content strategy permits an organization to align their business objectives with meeting the needs of their customers via online engagement.  Well thought-out content, as they explain, will be shared and more easily relevant in internet searches.  This amplifies those key messages and ultimately leads to more interest and more customers.  

The first step of a content strategy is research — which allows an organization to understand their key audiences.  Once understood, content can then be consistently crafted to meet the ongoing needs of an audience.  Too, companies should utilize platforms best suited to reaching and engaging with the audience that specific content is created for.  In particular: “[Content] output must be consistently good…regular, original and varied, [while] in keeping with the brand’s overall style.”  This is essential for building and maintaining an audience.  And well planned social media is required to properly promote content and engage with an audience.

Importantly, “customers are not the only audience content engages… members of the media community – [including bloggers and writers] — should not be overlooked”.

A well-planned content strategy will lead to measurable results

Mackman Group concluded that a “clearly set out strategy” means content is easy to implement and measure.  They recommend setting specific objectives which can be analyzed by using social media feedback and analytics from web traffic.  This author would also note that content marketing, properly integrated into outbound business development initiatives, can be credited with a percentage of the sales proceeds firms generate from this unified effort.

While much more is available online about content marketing strategy, this post provides a basic overview of the central importance of strategy to content marketing. More of those elements will be detailed in this series in the future.

Need help with creating content or managing social media?  Click here for more information or to arrange a discussion.