Forget Hacking Algorithms! Do This ONE Thing & Your Content Will Stand-Out Every Time You Post

I’m Old(ish). Lately I can’t seem to muster the oomph I need to get to the gym 3 x weekly like I used to. Long runs have turned into ambling walks where I look at flowers & other assorted flora. And, though it’s difficult to admit, the pre-internet-era was a time that existed in my lifetime.

Seriously, Team. I’m old enough to remember what it was like to live without phones in our pockets & screens in front of our faces 24/7/365.

Some argue that pre-technological revolution times were simpler. Less complex. Some would even say that we had longer attention spans (that’s right, goldfish, we used to be able to look at something for more than 3 seconds before growing abjectly bored by it).

I’ve also heard it said many times that, before tech became interwoven into our every waking (& some sleeping) moments, that we made more meaningful connections with others than we do today.

In our tech-drenched modern world, the beep-beep-boop of algorithms rule our world. Seriously, they RULE it. Whether you’re hyper-aware of it or not, computer learning & AI-driven platforms are behind almost everything we see, do, eat, buy, & decide.

Everything? Every. Damn. Thing.

And, while I love a nice spicy hit of hyperbole just as much as the next person to help start off an article for me, the truth of the matter is this: The machines aren’t taking over – they already have.

I’d wager big bucks (if I had them) that you’re reading this right now on some sort of device that’s connected to the internet. Desktop, tablet, mobile phone, old-school projector on a wall… whatever your poison. You’re online, aren’t you? If you’re not, let us all take a minute & send a big shout out your way for being hardcore enough to have printed this out on actual paper. Whoa, throwback city.

Beyond the fact that I’m typing this on a laptop & you’re reading it online, I’d also put more cash that I don’t have on the fact that us sharing this moment right now is due to an algorithmic equation. Somewhere along the line a mixture of our browsing history, engagement metrics, keywords, & shared sass levels, a mathematical equation brought us together.

With a plethora of predilections when it comes to the kind of content we consume, the algorithm goddesses that rule our digital universe have matched us up today. Nawww… my heart’s a bit warm & gooey thinking about it.

I’d like you to think about your day – how it begins, what you do in your waking hours, & how it ends.

I bet you the morning looks something like this:

  • Wake up & groggily grab your phone
  • Squint to check the time (Gah! Time to start getting moving already?!)
  • Check a newsfeed on autopilot (probably Facebook)
  • Check another newsfeed – less autopilot (though denial grows at wanting to get out of bed)
  • Browse your Insta (#YassssssFeedTheFeed)
  • Click through to watch something inane on YouTube
  • Check emails – click through the interesting ones, bin the boring ones without clicking

Sound familiar?

I can’t pinpoint when my waking moments (those unencumbered, quiet times when we all move from dream-land to waking reality) became heavily laden with the white noise of over-information & buzzy technology.

All I know is that this is my new reality. A new reality for most of us. A shared experience determined by machines with built-in biases. Biases that aren’t our own, but that have become so by default.

The freaky part? We can’t escape them. They hunt us down. Those AI, key-word, audience vertical, & segment driven content proliferators. Those tricky little red notifications that pop up on my phone, Mac, & watch send our dopamine receptors into outer-space.

Sweetly named cookies consume us instead of the other way around. Sugary-sweet promises of relevance are promised in their name alone. Tracking pixels know us better than we know ourselves. And, the algorithmic super-sleuths of search find us.

They all work in unison with one goal in mind…

They want us to consume more.
Click more.
Read more.
Watch more.
Share more.
Create more.
Buy more!

Which, if you’re in the business of reaching people, puts us digital/social/new-age marketers in a funny spot.

We spend so much time & effort trying to gather data (the kind of data that means something) so that we can then creatively extract true insight. And we go to lengths hiring on ‘experts’ who charge exorbitant rates to expensively dig their way to the bottom of the ever elusive consumer purchase funnel.

There has to be a better way? A more cost-effective way of achieving both reach & relevance. Because, as it stands, we’re drowning in a sea of over-information – without a lifejacket to keep us afloat. And as much as “purists” out there don’t like to admit it… we need to invest in reach to then have deep engagement metrics eventuate off of the back of exposure.

Which leaves us with quite the conundrum.

In an ever-changing & very very busy marketplace how do we find a North Star by which to find our way home?

Easy (kinda): we face the truth.

The truth:
We’re all being punked by algorithms on the daily.

What do I mean when I say we’re getting punked by algorithms? Simply put, I believe we’re being distracted. By the new & the shiny. And, by jargon. We’re all so busy talking around solutions & looking for ‘innovation’ that we forget the basics.

I truly believe the basics are the basics for a reason. To change hearts & minds you need to be seen & heard. To grow, you must know how to scale.

But before worrying about any of this, there’s something every single marketer or advertising bod worth their weight in salt (or organic tea leaves) needs to remember.

After 15 years working as a leader in digital & social media marketing I can say, hand-on-heart, that you only need to do this one thing to create impactful, successful & memorable campaigns:

Tell a good story well.

If you do this, the algorithms will sort themselves out. Promise.

It’s that simple & that complicated.

The hard part is the empty page staring back at you when you start.

You can’t just magic up a good story. You need data, then you need to find a true golden-nugget of insight to build a story upon. There’s no shortcut to creating amazing work, either. Creating a GREAT story, takes time, skill, & a truly human connection.

Remember, always remember, that humans are at the other end of your communications. Not clicks. Not CPM. Not any other digital metric – human eyes, human hearts, human minds.

I promise you, if you invest in the people you’re looking to influence, & spend the required time & effort on your story & your brand, you’ll be so far ahead of the competition that you’ll never have to worry about algorithm changes or channel shifts again.

Channels come & go – they always have & always will.

The basics are the basics for a reason. Humans have been telling stories since time immortal. Learn how to weave a quilt of mixed experiences, prerogatives, & emotions into a your narrative.

Thread your needle carefully, thoughtfully.
Welcome people into the fold.
Have a reason for being – & always aim to add more value than you’ll ever ask in return.

If you do that & if you include your audience in your narrative then your story becomes their story.

And, when your story is built upon shared ownership, others will share it for you freely. There’s literally no app, website, or social channel that could track, re-target, or plan for that.

Keen to beat the AI newsfeed?

Dig deep.
Be real.
And have fun doing it.

And, if you’re keen to learn how to build your brand & campaign stories to ensure impact & success, drop me a line. I’m happy to help you do this.

Click here for more information on storytelling for business, & to get in touch!

The Case For Writing (And Investing In) Your Brand Story

What’s your story?

No, really. What is it?

Humour me for a minute – let’s try an exercise together.

I want you to think about how you might answer the above question. Try to formulate a storyboard in your mind about your story. While thinking through it, allow your mind to wander. Allow your biases, for just this exercise, to fall by the wayside for a brief moment in time.

This is your story. You get to write it.

First things first. Where would you start? Would it be at the beginning (birth), or would you choose a different beginning that’s not your literal ‘start?’ If you default to a starting point where work becomes a focus – you wouldn’t be the first. We so often live our lives in the context of meeting each other and asking ‘What do you do?’ Swapping corporate titles like social currency. Park the titles & the jobs. This is about your STORY. Start at your beginning…but make it about you. Not society.

From there, head into the gritty, gusty, beautiful middle of your narrative. How do you, in your own mind, segue from the beginning to the middle of your narrative? Was there a big shift in geography, in relationships, in maturity?

Think through the moments that you see as definitive to you & your journey.

You know the moments already. They’re at the front of your mind often. They are those moments that you look back on often, laugh about with people who knew you when, & even the ones that might cause your eyes to leak just a little bit – emotion still just beyond the surface.

Those are your personal narrrative building blocks. They offer depth, authenticity, growth, & change to occur. They are little pieces of stardust.

From your defining stories, it’s time to lead into a wrap-up of sorts. Your story, as yet unfinished, still needs to end somewhere. As humans, our minds need a finite lesson, or stopping point. But, your story continues.

Do you it end now, in front of your computer screen wit a pithy qupte? Or, do you pick a recent moment that allows you an open end?A hope, a dream, a goal.

However you chose to close your story – you’ve just created yourself another starting point. And therein lies the power of storytelling.

The power of storytelling in life & in business is the power of new beginnings.

For me, for you, for all of us – starting over & over again allows us so much beautiful space to fill empty pages of time to come. By going through the above exercise, you as an individual have a story now. A unique voice. A singular journey.

It can be shared, re-told by others, & written into cultural folklore even!

To ensure continual growth in business – whether as marketers, brand strategists, social media OGs, or CEO’s – you need to understand your brand’s story in-depth. Because when a brand stands for something authentic, human, & unique it’ll always rise faster than those businesses without stories.

Stories are currency, you can bank them & trade them.

I’m going to go WAY out on a ledge right now & say that stories are the most valuable asset to a company after people. People first, always. But, as a close second, stories are the secret sauce that spices up a brand’s offerings & products. As such, they should be just as heavily invested in.

The more people understand why they’re buying what they’re buying – the more likely they are to remain loyal to a brand. Why? Because magic happens when our personal narratives & brand narratives become intertwined. It’s very, very hard to untangle stories once they’ve been melded together. Thus, you create camps of people who then tell your story for you.

Me? I’m an Apple girl. A lifelong Nike gym junkie. Someone who buys Coke over Pepsi. Someday I’ll own a Ford truck. When I shop, I take time to notice my biases. I physically stop myself from defaulting to my favourites… and often wonder what it is in the back of my mind that causes me to reach for one brand over another.

In every instance, I can follow my choices back to stories.

Unpacking memories, it’s the happy tickles at the back of my lizard brain that cause me to truly become invested in a brand. That part of my brain simply acts & reacts based on past experience. I can remember Nike ads from the early 80’s (I was a toddler!), & still am able to sing almost every jingle for breakfast cereals written in the USA from 1985-1999. I remember the Say ‘No’ To Drugs campaign with frying pans & smashed eggs as clear as day…

Stories. All of these marketing campaigns, in all of their channels and iterations, are based on stories. On human truths. On simple, succinct messages.

The moral of this blog’s story? Invest in your story. Invest the time, the emotion, & the cash.

Write it, live it, share it.

We can’t believe in things we don’t understand or know. Once you’ve invested in your story, your customers will invest in your story… and then tell it for you. Whether at the dinner table, whether by wearing your logo on their feet/shirt/jeans, whether through social media channels… advocates will share stories for you. This is how brands grow.

Fill that funnel, team! Tell stories. As for me, I’m a lucky one. Happily a dreamer, an author, & a believer in good when it comes to telling stories. In the world where I spend a lot of time, the world of brand marketing, I’ve been absolutely blessed to meet some amazing people. Yarn-spinners so prolific that they have me eating from their palms & yearning to be as magical as they are with words, pauses, imagery & beyond.

Crafting stories for brands is my favourite form of beautiful, creative geekery

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with such a wizard of woven narrative, the amazing Park Howell. Radiating kindness, creativity, purpose, & vision – Park & I hit it off from the word go. We talked about storytelling journeys, heroes that helped shape our own passions for becoming storytellers ourselves…and prolific lyrics from the Brown Dirt Cowboy himself, Bernie Taupin.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to find your own narrative, & if you’re up for a rollicking ride on the rollercoaster of passionate storytelling for brands to really super-charge growth & return, click here. I’m positive you’ll enjoy this podcast that Park & I did together.

The #KindnessRevolution starts here, with all of us.

 

The #MeToo Movement Matters, So Does Your Reaction To It

I hope you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and understandably upset while reading this.

Super uncomfortable, even. Uncomfortable enough to want to click away to something more jaunty, more on-the-surface. Less laden with hurt, and less truth-filled. But, fight the discomfort. Keep reading.

Why? Because I want you to change, even in the smallest way. I want you to quiet that voice in your head that automatically puts this blog into ‘another story of men treating women badly’ bucket. And, I want you to care enough by the time you reach the last word to actually do something about sexual predatory behavior against women.

I want you to feel uncomfortable as you read this for a litany reasons. So many reasons. And, if one thing comes of you reading or sharing a story like this, I hope that  you’re able to empathize with, or start to understand how I (and many women) feel in public when we leave the fortress of our own safe spaces – that is, if we’re among those who have safe spaces at all.

Put simply, when we’re out in the world full of rushing, commuting, hustling, working, moving people – we’re at risk. Constantly.

This is our world today.

A world where men still belittle, sexualise, harass, stifle, and expect women ‘just take it.’ Openly. Randomly. Continually. At work and at home – and beyond. And, before we start off with the ‘not all men’ argument, I’ll put this right up front: I know not all men objectify and harass women. Good men are all around, but most good men don’t speak out. Don’t act out. Don’t stand up against daily micromoments of sexual harassment. I, for one, have been lucky to have grown up with – and in adulthood been surrounded by – good, strong, kind men. I’m under no illusion that some men truly do work hard to ensure women are safe. Because of this, I love men as I love women. As equals. As friends. As colleagues. But, I’m also a realist. We’re not equals. Not by a country mile. Not yet.

Let’s get real.

Men objectify women constantly – even when they don’t know they’re doing it. It happens in small moments, in big moments, and in the moments in between where a long glance, a throw-away statement, or a slight unwarranted touch still go unmentioned or unnoticed. It’s in-built into even the most liberal of societies that masculinity, at its core, is synonymous with being somehow bigger, brawnier, and entitled than women. And these traits transcend physical size (Believe me, I know. I’m a big woman.)

As you read this, and as you read article after article about Trump, Weinstein, and other depraved men, I want you to feel lots of things, but mostly gross. Gross because my story is average. In the great bell-curve of humanity, my experience and existence is akin to that of most other women. Right in the middle – but to both ends of the extreme curve, too – we have similar stories to tell. That in itself is gross. I also want you to feel as gross as I did when an old man on public transport in Rome thought that dry-humping me in public was okay. As gross as I do every time a man puts his body in my personal space and touches me without consent. As gross as I do every time I speak, type, post, or otherwise communicate while having to wonder ‘will this be read as flirting?’

I want you to feel the fear of walking alone after dark. And the intense anger I have to internalize when I walk to work in the morning while men in trucks lean out of their windows shouting degrading, disgusting words in my direction. You want to see my tits? That’s too bad. It ain’t happening, asshole. There’s a reason I’m wearing three layers on a hot day. You like my legs? Well I’d like it if you kept that to yourself. I’d rather you, Mr Catcaller (and all of your friends who laugh & think that public harassment is okay), knew just how intrusive your jeering looks, non-consensual touching, and degrading words make me feel.

I also want the other guys in said trucks to shut their friends up. To make everyday sexual harassment taboo. If you don’t speak up, out, or against – you’re part of the problem.

If you’re still here, keep reading.

If you’re online at all, I’m sure you’ve noticed the #MeToo posts across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter this week. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps, by now, millions) of women are using this succinct, powerful hashtag to show just how prevalent sexual harassment and abuse is against women. It’s disheartening. It’s scary. It’s banal in that we need to keep coming up with impactful ways to show just how widespread the mistreatment of women and girls in EVERY DAY LIFE is. Last night I thought about the #MeToo hashtag. I thought about my mother, my daughter, my fiancee, my friends, my colleagues, my heroes… and I realized that I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have a story about male predatory behavior.

Not. A. Single. Woman.

In thinking long and hard on the subject, and in trying to find ways to make meaningful discourse commonplace across the world – I retreated to the place I always retreat when I’m feeling ponderous. My own head. I started writing this blog before every putting pen to paper, and hands to keyboard. I thought about the innumerable times I’ve been harassed, felt unsafe, and been talked down to because of my gender. The unwanted gropes in rugby clubs. The unwarranted catcalls and professional moments of being called Sweetie while being talked over by men. I hoped beyond hope that my own daughter would suffer less vile behavior over the course of her lifetime. I hope.

It’s fair to say that I don’t know how to force a change in male behavior or shift the narrative around poison views of masculinity that drive such behavior. But, I have some ideas on where to start.

What follows are a few things we can all do to stop the normalization of sexual harassment. Hopefully, together, we’ll not see another generation of #MeToo posts. But, the cynic in me, sadly, thinks we will.

1. (Dudes) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

In the world we’re living in today, masculinity is judged in thousands of different ways – and most of them all lead back to sexual conquest. In fact, potentially all of them do. That means that even the idea of standing up for equality for women, and in treating them as equals goes against everything society says makes a man. My take is simple. Get uncomfortable in your own skin. Actively challenge how you measure your own worth as a man – and as a human. Dig into learning about what bothers/scares/worries/belittles women in interactions at work, in public, at home. Read blogs by women who have been raped, assaulted, or harassed. Don’t click away. Feel anger on the behalf of those who’ve been hurt, yet see their words as harrowing. Also, know that painful memories are shared with in hopes of stopping similar behavior in others. The truth of the matter is this: women feel uncomfortable almost all of the time. Those who say they don’t are either magical unicorns who never leave the house, or are absolutely drinking the proverbial Kool Aid of patriarchy. Here’s a quick win, don’t get all up in my grill. Don’t think it’s okay to put your body in my space without express consent. Don’t exacerbate the problem at work and come up to my desk, or any woman’s desk, and put your foot up on my chair so that your crotch is in my face. Don’t. Do. This. I’ll call you out on it. Loudly. It’s gross. It’s in appropriate.

2. Be hyper-aware.

Be aware of your body. Your voice. Your aura. Your manspread. As women, we’re aware of all of this all of the time. We know how much space we’re allowed to take up. We know how much we’re supposed to say in meetings before being spoken over or not spoken to at all. Be hyper-aware of the fact that all women have, in one way or another, been objectified (if not worse) by a man.  And every time it happens, it hurts. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Treat all women like you’d treat The Rock. I mean, you wouldn’t inappropriately touch, fondle, catcall or speak down to (or over) Dwayne Johnson would you? Not if you valued your life and physical well-being you wouldn’t! Not only would The Rock immediately let you know of his displeasure, he’d probably go to great ends to make sure you never displeased him so again. Also, an important fact to be aware of is that most women really like most men. We do. But just because we laugh at a funny joke or smile at you, doesn’t mean we want to go to bed with you. Most often, we only want to interact as equals. Be aware.

3. Stand up, Act Up, Speak Up

If your friends are the idiots leaning out of car windows wolf-whistling and shouting obscene sexual profanities at women while they walk or jog in public, and you don’t shut them down or speak out – then you’re an active part of the problem. If you’re in meetings at work where women are spoken over, call others out on this and make space for female voices to be heard and acted upon. And, if you see someone who is uncomfortably close to a woman and feel her discomfort, help. Do something. Don’t just shrug and move on. To be better, you need to do better. Act better. Speak out more. Standing up for women is a great first step in bucking a centuries-long tradition of belittling them. We all have the ability to do this in moments both big and small, day in and day out. We’re all in charge of our actions and reactions. Take ownership. Even the smallest actions you take powerful ones.

While the above is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to changing how society views sexual harassment and equality, I think there are some good nuggets to chew through when it comes to making sure women are respected in daily life – not harassed.

Women, we need to speak up, too.

Loudly. I know it’s scary, and it’s hard being that b*tch who calls people out on their bullshit. But we need to do it. The onus falls on us to act in solidarity. This doesn’t mean we all need to go out and burn our bras (but oh, a life without bras!), it simply means we need to be vigilant. We need to actively speak about our consent or non-consent. We need to yell right back at the catcallers if that’s what it takes. If all we do is giggle at jokes that men in power tell (jokes that are meant to put us in a subservient, cliche, weak position),then we’re propagating the problems as much as our male counterparts are. We all need to work together on this one, Team. We need to read more, learn more, act more, speak more, do more. Be more.

I hope this made you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and understandably upset.

I felt that way writing it. I feel that way living it.

#MeToo

Changing How I View Change

The only constant in life, is change.

But, let’s face it, knowing that change is inevitable doesn’t make facing it particularly comfortable or easy. In fact, as a card carrying creature of habit myself, I’ll be straight up with you: change makes me shake in my proverbial (and literal) boots more often than not.

As a confident, capable human… why is that? Shouldn’t I be able to just roll with the punches and deal with the hand that I’m dealt without any speed wobbles?

Erm, nope. I can think of quite a few reasons why being nervous about change is good – and why my stomach still churns a bit at the thought of sudden, drastic, unexpected changes in life.

The first thing that makes me fear change is simply that I have grown-up responsibilities (like mortgages and bills and all of that adulting carry-on). To feel safe & supported, I need to have a firm foundation of stability across the main areas of my life. These areas include financial, emotional, spiritual & creative aspects of who I am and what I do. Should these foundations be rocked, moved, jiggled, or even hinted at being drastically altered – panic sets in.

Or at least tries to set in.

Without stability, and without a sense of being able to provide for my child, my fiancee, and myself – my world (and my sense of self worth) start to crumble. Having knowledge that our next meal, mortgage payment, hug, laugh, and moment together might not be safe all add to my feelings of worry in times of change. At the core of who we are intrinsically,  (where our basic, instinctual drives reside) we need more than anything to live in a state of comfort – which usually means habitual daily routines. When our routines are disrupted. So too are the supporting pillars of happiness and confidence.

Another reason change has always been a bit nerve-wracking for me is that I like being able to define who I am – on my own terms. We all do, right? And, to do that, I need to understand my place in the world and how my actions effect others – their well being, their health, their core values. To do this well, means I need to have (or at least feel that I have) some control over my own circumstances.

Let me elaborate more on change – and why it can break a person. Change takes away our sense of being in control of our lives & our destiny.  When I start to feel like I’ve lost all control, I take a step back, breathe deep & start to make decisions – even micro-decisions are a starting point to turn negatives into positives. I usually decide that I have in me the power to change, and that everything starts to balance itself out again. It may take some time, but my mind becomes clear, the weight on my shoulders lighter – and my confidence is restored in going through the mental steps of building positives out of perceived negatives.

I’d be telling a big ‘ol porky-pie if I said I haven’t given in to the depth of despair on more than one occasion. I’m not an automaton. I know the darkness of failure. I’ve tasted it, wallowed in it, & given in to self-doubt. But, not for long. In fact, as I get older, I am able to fall & fail fast. And then pop back to my feet, taller & stronger than before. As my ten-year-old told me yesterday, “Mom, you climbed a mountain, a really big one, and now you’re just going down the other side. The next mountain’s gonna be bigger Momma. I can tell!” (what a kid!) Having the love & support of people who continually remind you of your worth is hugely important to rolling with changes.

Is there anything good about change? I’m talking about a mushy, warm, happy-tickle good thing. YES! YES THERE IS AMAZING GOOD IN CHANGE!

If I’m honest, the good is in the slowing down and taking the time to think, reflect, and also getting super focused on planning, potential outcomes, and building resilience. By slowing down and counting my blessings, as well as looking at my achievements and skills to date (I’m talking personally & professionally), I’m able to really shine a light on the positive nature of uncertain times. The old cliches about the worst of times teaching us the best of lessons exists for a reason. That reason being that, for the most part, what doesn’t defeat us really does make us stronger. And stronger equals resilient equals a state of mind focused on success.

Because, if change is inevitable, and control is the key to feeling firm in your foundations – then giving into your own power of taking control of all situations and how you react to them means that you’re in charge of your story. Not happenstance. No other person holds the keys to how you view the world. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us.

Today I see change the same way I see life. Nothing is permanent. Even if the word “permanent” is a falsity when included as a binding part of a promise. Everything is in flux. Always. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is permanent. Each new day, each new experience, each new moment is a blessing and a moment to learn, to refocus, and to remember just how lucky we are to be above ground. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a process. A life-long one. So too, is change.

Embrace the process.
Ride the waves.
Be the change.
And, when you can, help others through moments where they’re feeling vulnerable. Kindness first. Smile much. And believe that, together, we can truly overcome anything.

I like you, you’re different

Always enchanted

I should probably start this off by stating that I am a person who finds other people enchanting. Whether you’re warm and open, cold and brooding, or somewhere else on the spectrum, I can always make a case for studying (and liking) my fellow humans.

I thrive on the high I get from deep conversation, the buzz I get from silly banter, and the feeling of connectedness I get from shared cultural memories. The people who are “different” to what I grew up with are just as welcome in my life as my beloved life-long friends and close family.

Getting to know an individual over time fills my heart, and the immediacy of people watching in a busy airport sets every cell in my body alight.

There’s just something so inherently human in connection. In wanting to connect. In thriving on those magical moments where eyes meet, lips part in genuine smiles, & stories are shared with a sense of purpose & passion.

We all have so much to give & it’s in the tiny cracks of light that sneak through our modern day facades that I find true joy. Learning about cultures, languages, zeitgeist moments that define us differently… what a trip!

Take a moment to breathe it all in, the beauty in difference

More often than not, when I’m in a crowd, I’ll stop to look around me – and find myself lost in thought. Lost in the wonderment of how so many strangers have been brought together in this place at this time. I also wonder, how many other people are thinking the same thing as me. And, what it all means to us as individuals – and as human beings.

It’s all such a perfectly imperfect magic that draws us together and pushes us apart. And that’s why I love differences in people.

At heart I’m shy. An introvert of epic proportions, I’ve learned to be boisterous when I need to be. I’ve also learned how to quiet a more loud-learned-nature to dig deep into the quiet spaces of others.

My need to know others & what it is that makes them tick keeps me smiling at strangers, starting up conversations with the person sitting next to me on the bus, and reaching out when I’d rather run away.

Differences. They’re fascinating. They’re what bring us together & what helps to change the world. They’re what we all fight for – inalienable rights are rights that celebrate individuality & the greater good. The foundation of which is empathy, understanding, & the belief in building stronger societies through a mixture of cultures.

Flying far from home is magical & terrifying

Having moved away from my Californian home over 15 years ago, I’ve felt the wrath of people who boxed me in. They define me by who they think I am without ever taking the time to actually know me. To know my story. To know what drives me.

Being a stranger in a strange land has opened me (and countless others) up to both hurt & gorgeous beauty that natives who never leave home will never know.

How many times have I been misunderstood, how many cultural references missed, and how often has my homesick phone bill from calls home to my parents far too high? Too often. But, again, it’s the beauty in the difference of others that keeps me sane.

Petty judgement doesn’t bother me. Like I said, we’re all different. Not everyone likes difference, or deals well with it though. It’s scary. It’s unsettling. And, it forces us to face our own biases.

Growing older and (for the most part) wiser

So what does this all mean, anyway? Well, the older I get, the more I realise that it’s people who embrace difference in others that make me happy. People who get excited by hearing stories different to their own are my people. The status quo is only the status quo today… it’ll change. It always does.

In the end, we are all flesh and blood. And we are all storytellers, writing the narrative of our own journey in a patchwork style that includes the stories of others we pick up & make our own along the way.

As for me, today, I say let’s all raise a glass and celebrate weirdness, geekery, being different. Different is beautiful. We all are.

Hallelujah!

Traditional PR is dead, long live traditional PR!

PR trad

Before I jump into things with this post (and jump, I will), let me start by defining what I mean by “traditional PR” just to be clear.

To me, when I think about traditional PR, I picture old men in suits wooing journalists and shouting to mass media markets about how amazing their latest story is and why it’s important to everyone. Traditional PR engenders a push economy approach to communication. In today’s world, we often call one-way information “spin.” Because there’s nothing better than well produced prose, and there’s nothing worse than not being able to be heard, too, when it comes to feeding back.

Whether you call it PR, propaganda, or simply proselytizing, humans and corporations have always sought to grow the positive sentiment around themselves or their offerings. Born out of necessity – and out of simple, human communication and the desire to be liked and popular, PR, with the invent of new technologies and channels is changing. For the better.

PR professionals have traditionally spent a lot of time cultivating relationships with journalists and other members of the mass media. But this dynamic is changing. Fast.

In an age where the public have access to a wealth of information beyond comprehension, and the ability to create stories 24/7/365 – ABOUT ANYTHING & EVERYTHING (from brands to breaking news), it’s not the mass media that holds all of the power anymore over persuading the public one way or another. It’s the little guy with the smartphone who’s got a good idea and a strong opinion – not to mention a large group of engaged followers.

In fact, I assert that it’s actually niche thought leaders & digital natives who understand their audiences, and the channels in which they’re publishing who are truly are heard amongst the din of advertorial, advertising, and soft syrupy spin – AKA press releases that can be both exciting (for the company involved) and yawn-inducing (for the public) at the same time. Two-way conversations and multi-channel communication is the key to keeping people involved and engaged.

Today’s digital natives know where, when, and how to talk to their extremely targeted and already engaged audiences because, for the most part, they are already an integral part of the communities they are influencing. And we all know that we listen more intently to “one of us” over “one of them”.

Thus, most modern digital audiences don’t need convincing – or propaganda to make up their minds about something. They need businesses that understand them like a local, and engage with them where and how they want to engage. They’re willing to read more, to interact more, and to share the information they’ve found more because they have a genuine interest in what they’re reading or interacting with.PR after

I believe that today’s digital wizards are effecting the most change in society. Think about it, they inherently understand their audience so persuasion takes a backseat to passion. And people love passion. They’re moved by it, and they want to find it for themselves. So they follow those who seem genuine and interesting.

Journalists of big papers and media outlets the world over used to wait for a scoop. They’d be sent a press release and write a story in the paper about it. But in today’s world, the smart journalists trawl through social media, blogs, and content streams daily and often reach out to members of the public to source stories as they happen.

This, in turn, has created a new breed of accidental journalists and publishers. All with their own followers – and who now are known as influencers in their own right.

In a world which was once a one-sided “push” when it came to information, today’s two-sided, conversational digital world means that traditional PR is well, and truly, 6 feet under and pushing up daisies. It’s the new-age PR pros that will rise and succeed. And, brands that hire these new-age pros will be the ones who flourish.

So, while traditional publishers still have a say, they just don’t have the last word – or even the first anymore.

Traditional PR is dead, long live traditional PR.