Articles by Year: 2016
As you finalize your content strategy for 2017, it’s important to recognize the value and importance of earned media in your plan. According to BullDogReporter.com, earned media placements “are regarded as the most influential sources of news and information when it comes to driving consumer opinions about brands and products and when driving sharing across social media and other platforms.”
So what is earned media? Brandwatch defines it as “the content and conversation around your brand or product that has been created by somebody else and published somewhere other than your owned channels.”
A white paper from Outsell, Inc. shows that “pull” methods are the most effective marketing methods, resulting in a shift away from intrusive tactics (“push” methods) to user-initiated behavior (“pull” methods).
Telling your story and explaining your ‘why’ is important, but having an influencer advocating for your brand builds credibility. Content published about your brand and secured media coverage give your brand third-party credibility. Earned media can also help your brand build trust with your community. When a consumer trusts a brand they are more likely to engage with it.
So how do you secure earned media? You need to go a step above sending out blanket press releases and media alerts. The first step is to do your research. Look at what your targeted influencers have covered in the past. What kind of stories have they published? What are they tweeting about?
Next, create a tailored pitch. Explain exactly why you think your brand or story idea will resonate with their audience. Then, build positive relationships with leaders in the industry. Ideally, by building a relationship with an influencer they will begin to reach out to you, making it easier for you to secure future coverage for your brand.
Leveraging earned content
So, you have valuable earned content. Now what? It’s important to consider how to leverage your earned content. After receiving permission to share, promote the earned content across all of your brand’s marketing channels to continue to increase the reach and impressions.
Focus on what happened after the earned media content was digested. Did readers to go the website? Like you on Facebook? Sign up for your newsletter? Make a purchase? Focus on engagement. You can also look at your share of voice. This will show you where you stand within your industry and against your competitors.
So what exactly does this all mean? Brands need to focus on content that engages their audience, and builds trust and credibility for their organization. Earned media has a proven track record of being able to do just that.
What role does earned media play in your strategy for the coming year?
We’re finally able to wrap our heads around the wealth information we obtained from the always amazing Content Marketing World conference, which was conveniently held in our hometown in September. Immersed in a sea of orange, top content marketing minds from around the world shared with us the latest trends for delivering valuable content – from sales to social media to metrics to messaging and more.
We learned more than we could properly process during the two-day conference, but with time to reflect we now bring to you our top five takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016.
- Document your content marketing strategy. One thing that was reiterated throughout the conference was the importance of documenting your content marketing strategy. Your content strategy should be accessible, detailed and easy enough to understand by anyone. When documenting your strategy, include the architecture of your content (like website navigation or pages), the end goal of the content and how your strategy will be governed. And don’t forget about measurement! Set specific goals that can be measured to determine your ROI.
- Emotive messaging connects your brand to the consumer. Developing content that speaks to consumers on an emotional level can create a special connection with your brand and your customers, differentiating you from your peers. When creating or searching for content, put the customer at the center of everything you do. Make your customers feel good about your brand, and they’ll want to share your content.
- Thought leadership takes content to another level. A buzzword desired by most but understood by few, we learned the true meaning of thought leadership. Thought leadership is the product of your brand’s chief storytellers or evangelists, who bring your content to life. Thought leadership goes beyond the status quo to provide consumers with content that identifies new opportunities or shares exclusive insights that relate to a pain or solution.
- Hug your haters. Haters are not the problem – ignoring them is. Instead of ignoring criticism and complaints from consumers, embrace the negative comments. Good customer service is rare and memorable. By being honest and providing answers to your customers, you are increasing transparency and ultimately building trust that will differentiate your brand from others.
- Find your why. Day two of the conference kicked off with a hilarious address from comedian Michael Jr. But behind the laughs and lightheartedness was a serious message any content marketer needs to hear: find your why. Michael Jr. expressed the importance of knowing your purpose and explained that knowing your “why” will help develop your “what” in content creation.
These words of wisdom only scratch the surface of what we learned at #CMWorld 2016. Thanks to the Content Marketing Institute, who puts together the largest content marketing event on the planet, we are armed and ready to create content that matters in 2017.
When you sit down to write, what is your first thought? Is it the topic you’re writing about? Your audience? How often do you think about your level of writing?
PR practitioners are writers. As with many other authors, much of our focus is writing for our audience. So what reading level is optimal when writing?
How to assess your writing level
A variety of components go into measuring readability, including syllables, sentence length, and other proxies for vocabulary and concept complexity.
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula is one readability test that calculates a grade level based on sentence length and the amount of three-syllable words within a given text. Also, sites like Readability-Score.com are an easy tool you can use to measure the readability of your writing.
Readability or complexity?
Research says writing somewhere between a 4th to 8th grade level will allow you to reach the largest audience.
“Copy that’s 4th to 6th grade level is barrier-free and can be read quickly and comprehended well by all adult readers,” according to blogger Jeff Brooks.
For blogs, you can get away with writing at an 8th grade level.
Contently explains that by keeping your writing simple you have the opportunity for a larger reach. “The other lesson from this study is that we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible. We won’t lose credibility by doing so. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably.”
Writing for your audience
In addition to making sure you simplify your writing, it’s also important to consider your audience. If your goal is to reach a large, diverse audience, you should aim for a lower level. If you’re developing a newsletter that will be distributed to a highly-educated audience, your writing can be more sophisticated.
To sum it up, write simply and keep your target audience in mind while writing in order to communicate most effectively.
The History of Coffee
According to the National Coffee Association, coffee has a complex history with no clear understanding of its exact origin. An Ethiopian legend says that a goat herder named Kaldi first discovered the potential of coffee beans in the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. “By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.” This resulted in the creation of public coffee houses.
The Coffee House
Coffee houses were started as a space for collaboration and conversation. Originally called qahveh khaneh, coffee houses began to appear in cities across the Near East. “Coffee houses quickly became such an important center for the exchange of information that they were often referred to as ‘Schools of the Wise.’ Coffee houses were quickly becoming centers of social activity and communication in the major cities of England, Austria, France, Germany, and Holland.”
One of our favorite TED Talks, Steven Johnson’s “Where good ideas come from,” says that coffee houses were a place where people would gather to share and discuss ideas. Many great inventions have coffee houses to thank as the place of origin for some of their early ideas.
We at Prosper like to think of our office as a coffee house. It’s a place where we come every day to collaborate with one another, with our clients, and with others in the community. We share ideas, brainstorm solutions and invent creative strategies. Thus, we thought it was important to have our own stock of delicious, invigorating coffee.
Our Crafted Coffee
As deep as our devotion to coffee is, we recently realized we still have a few things to learn. Did you know that the lighter the coffee the stronger it is? A few weeks ago we had a coffee tasting at our office to sample all of Heartwood Coffee Roastery’s heavenly varieties. Co-Founder Nick Edmundson broke the news that our beloved dark coffee is nothing more than burnt beans that have been overly roasted. Lighter blends here we come!
We asked Heartwood to create a special Prosper blend for us and voilà – Purpose Fuel was born. Co-Founder Jim Sanders told us a few more details about our new coffee:
“The Prosper for Purpose coffee is a Single-Origin coffee, meaning it comes from one single country, from several really great farms in Colombia actually. Purpose Fuel is roasted a little darker to bring out some really nice chocolaty notes and a great smooth body. The coffee itself is from a small group of producers in the Tolima and Huila regions of Colombia and is selected because of each farmer’s commitment to high quality hand-picked coffee. It’s really cool to see that these producers get rewarded for their insistence on only the finest crops. We, of course, are the beneficiaries of their hard work!”
We invite you to stop by our coffee house any time! Conversation and coffee are our fuel and we’d love to share them with you.
Prosper for Purpose Launches 12 Months of Giving Program
Northeast Ohio Nonprofits Invited to Apply for Free Services
CLEVELAND (Oct. 19, 2016)—Prosper for Purpose, a Cleveland-based communications and development firm, today announced the launch of its new 12 Months of Giving campaign. The program focuses on providing local nonprofit organizations with in-kind donations, as well as marketing and public relations services at no cost to the organization.
Throughout 2017, Prosper for Purpose will select one Northeast Ohio nonprofit organization each month for which they will raise awareness and donations throughout that month. In addition, selected organizations will receive three hours of consulting from Prosper for Purpose free of charge.
“We are a purpose-built organization devoted to doing well by doing good. And there’s no better place to make a difference than in our own backyard,” said Founder and CEO Lorraine Schuchart. “We want to elevate awareness of charities and organizations in the Cleveland area because when they prosper our communities succeed.”
Initiating the 12 Months of Giving campaign is yet another way Prosper for Purpose honors its commitment to using business as a force for good. In early 2016, Prosper for Purpose became the first marketing and communications agency in Greater Cleveland, and the first nonprofit consulting and fundraising agency in Ohio, to receive B Corp certification. More recently, Prosper for Purpose became a member of 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment and to help the organization recruit new members.
Northeast Ohio nonprofits are encouraged to apply for the 12 Months of Giving program online at prosperforpurpose.com/12-months-giving. The deadline to apply is December 9.
About Prosper for Purpose
Prosper for Purpose is a strategic public relations firm that helps purpose-driven organizations maximize their impact by building mutually beneficial relationships with their publics. The agency develops brands and optimizes relationships for growth and positive social impact. Prosper for Purpose is proud to be a Certified B Corporation, meeting the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. For more information, visit www.prosperforpurpose.com.
Over the past three weeks, I’ve explained the Prosper for Purpose approach to business. I have written about the first three components of our quadruple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity. This week, I conclude our four-part blog series discussing how we #measurewhatmatters by focusing on purpose.
“Why did you start your own company?” is the question I’m most often asked. “What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?” is a close second. You would think by now I would have a simple answer to those different ways of asking the same essential question: “What was the motivation that created Prosper for Purpose?” As I approach the end of my company’s fourth year, I think I can finally answer that question. But the answer is not so simple.
I didn’t become an entrepreneur because I wanted to start a business. I became an entrepreneur because I want to make positive impact, and believed starting my own business could be my pathway.
Throughout my career, I had chosen positions in the nonprofit sector, followed by the for-profit sector and then back again. The missions and (most of the time) the cultures of the nonprofits resonated with me, while the ability to quickly put ideas into action in the corporate world also appealed to me.
And then, one day, my daughter asked, “Why don’t you start the company you want to work for?” It was the right time for that question. I was extremely unhappy in my job. For the first time in my 25-year career, I had neither a healthy culture nor the ability to put ideas into action. And I wondered, “What if I could have both?”
I spent two months planning Prosper for Purpose before it launched. I had never really been interested in becoming an entrepreneur, and I certainly didn’t know how to run a business. But I did have a purpose. I wanted to do well by doing good. And by naming my company Prosper for Purpose, I made a declaration.
I consider myself an activist at heart. I care about social justice and human rights; preserving our planet and protecting animals; securing various types of sustainability. Those concerns were top of mind when I started my company.
Siiri Morley, a founding partner of Prosperity Candle, wrote about achieving ‘social good’ impact. She said that “Business can create this type of impact, but it doesn’t do so naturally. Businesses need to be purposefully designed to consider their social and environmental impact as a key priority.” That is what I sought to do, and what I and the other members of #TeamProsper commit to continue.
In 2012, when I was planning Prosper for Purpose, there wasn’t a lot of public discussion about purpose. Now the word seems to be everywhere. And while I certainly encourage and applaud those who authentically pursue the principles of purpose, I wanted to take extra steps to differentiate my company from the others who might see purpose as nothing more than the latest trend to grab onto.
In January, Prosper became a Certified B Corporation. Last month, we joined One Percent for the Planet. We’re proud to make these commitments to be both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Joining these organizations not only helps validate our claims of prioritizing people, planet and prosperity, but it connects us to communities of like-minded business leaders. A community committed to using business as a force for good.
Running a business that measures impact in these ways is not easy. But it is important. And that is why we #measurewhatmatters.
So why did I start Prosper for Purpose? To build a company that could do well by doing good. Perhaps the answer is simple after all.
How we help our people, our clients and our company prosper
Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing how we #measurewhatmatters at Prosper for Purpose. I’ve referenced our quadruple bottom line as people, planet, prosperity and purpose. This week, I write about prosperity.
I chose the word prosperity rather than profit, the term used by most other organizations, because profit is only one part of prosperity. At Prosper, we view the notion of prosperity as inclusive of health, happiness and economic stability—in other words, general well-being. Why? Because an economic-focused view of prosperity will inevitably compete with health and happiness.
Causal effects between economic prosperity, health and happiness have been studied and documented. One famous study that advances the holistic definition of prosperity to which we at Prosper subscribe is the Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual ranking of 142 countries, developed by the Legatum Institute. The ranking is based on a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth, education, health, personal well-being, and quality of life.
Surveys have shown that increases in income do not lead to increases in happiness.
For example, moving up the corporate ladder may lead to an increase in economic prosperity, but the longer hours spent working may encroach upon time formerly devoted to exercise and family. In this way, economic prosperity is potentially achieved at the expense of health and happiness. That is not the kind of prosperity we want (does anyone?).
To ensure Prosper supports our team’s prosperity, each employee completed a personal development plan (PDP) this summer. The leadership team then reviewed the PDPs with each employee and made a commitment and a plan to move them forward.
Because we also care about the prosperity of our clients, we measure that too. From our kick-off session through planning, ideation and implementation, we tie our milestones and measurables to the overarching goals of the organization. In other words, we’re not happy unless our clients are successful. We work by choice with purpose-driven clients in both the business and nonprofit sectors. This means that when our clients do well, their communities prosper.
Finally, we care about the prosperity of our company. We do well by doing good. And the more we prosper, the more good we can do.
Want to help us #domoregood? Then tell your favorite Northeast Ohio charity about our new program, the 12 Months of Giving.
Prosper for Purpose Announces Membership with 1% for the Planet
CLEVELAND (September 20, 2016) – Prosper for Purpose, a Cleveland-based public relations firm, joined 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment.
"Our member companies have donated more than $145 million to our environmental nonprofit partners to date. Currently, only 3% of total philanthropy goes to the environment and, only 3% of that comes from businesses. The planet needs bigger support than this, and our growing network of member businesses is doing its valuable part to increase giving and support on the ground outcomes. Our members lead with purpose and commitment, characteristics that consumers support. We're excited to welcome Prosper for Purpose to our global network," says Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet.
“Joining the 1% for the Planet networks allows us to further commit to our mission of doing well and doing good. After recently becoming a certified b corporation, this partnership will allow us to amplify our positive environmental impact,” says Lorraine Schuchart, Founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose. Schuchart explains that she decided to join 1% after meeting with Williams and members of her staff.
Members of 1% for the Planet contribute one percent of annual sales directly to any of the approved nonprofit environmental organizations in the network. Nonprofits are approved based on referrals, track record and environmental focus. Over 4000 nonprofits worldwide are currently approved.
About 1% for the Planet
1% for the Planet is a global organization, leading a network of businesses, nonprofits, and individuals working together for a healthy planet. Launched in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, former owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, our network consists of more than 1,100 member companies and thousands of approved nonprofit partners in more than 40 countries. Brands whose products and services feature the 1% for the Planet logo give 1% of sales annually to nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting the environment. Our members have given more than $145 million back to the planet since 2002. Look for our logo and visit www.onepercentfortheplanet.org to learn more.
About Prosper for Purpose
Prosper for Purpose is a public relations firm that helps purpose-driven organizations maximize their impact by building mutually beneficial relationships with their publics. The agency develops brands and optimizes relationships for growth and positive social impact. Prosper for Purpose is proud to be a Certified B Corporation, meeting the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. For more information, visit www.prosperforpurpose.com.
In last week’s post, we talked about a disruptive approach to business; one that embraces social and environmental factors along with economic ones.
Why do we measure these things? Because at Prosper for Purpose, we are all about impact. Impact that enables us to do well by doing good. We measure impact in four areas: people, planet, prosperity and purpose. We call it our quadruple bottom line.
This week, we look at planet.
Walk into our office and the first thing you may notice is the absence of trash containers. No wastebaskets under desks. In fact, there is only one wastebasket in the entire office and it’s at our print and coffee station. We fill and empty it only once a week. How? Well, we work towards a goal of being a paperless office. We share and store our files online. We print contracts for signatures and documents for meetings and that is, essentially, it for printing.
But that’s not all. Here are some other things we do to measure our impact on, and stewardship of, our planet.
The Prosper for Purpose Planet Strategy:
- We recycle. Our single garbage can contains two bags: one for trash and one for recycling. Nearly every Friday, both are emptied, meaning our recycle to trash ratio is roughly 1:1. We’re working to improve that ratio.
- We use a programmable thermostat.
- We work at desks and tables made from reclaimed wood.
- Each desk has a high-end LED desk lamp that uses minuscule amounts of energy.
- Our main walls are made of glass, allowing for natural light throughout the day. Not only is natural daylight a free source of lighting for the office, it has been proven to improve worker productivity and satisfaction (as well as boost sales in retail settings).
- Our flexible environment helps minimize our carbon footprint.
- We’re working with B Corporation to incorporate an environmental management system.
- We became a member of 1% for the Planet!
Because we believe that health and wellness come from the environment, that business is responsible for positive change and that we can leave this big blue planet better than we found it, we joined an organization that is based on these beliefs. As a member of 1% for the Planet, we commit even more to our mission of doing well and doing good. After recently becoming a certified B corporation, this partnership will allow us to amplify our positive environmental impact.
Stay tuned as we share more about our work with B Corporation to create an environmental management system, and our developing relationship with 1% for the Planet.
Next week, we will look at prosperity.
In a business world that measures success by profit, a disruptive approach has slowly emerged. This approach embraces social and environmental factors along with economic ones. It is called a ‘triple bottom line’ and is built on a belief that I embraced when starting Prosper for Purpose–the belief that companies can do well and do good.
The triple bottom line philosophy holds that a company should combine traditional metrics of financial success with those that measure social and environmental impact. It is sometimes referred to as the 3P approach — People, Planet and Profit.
These three metrics are measurable and transparent; indeed, when our company became a Certified B Corporation earlier this year, we shared evidence of our metrics with B Lab, the company that provides the certification.
At Prosper for Purpose, we add a fourth component – Purpose. Less transparent and measurable than people, planet and profit, purpose is, for us, the thread that holds it all together.
Over the next four weeks, I will share how we approach our quadruple bottom line. This week, we look at People.
In addition to being the first component of our quadruple bottom line, People is Prosper’s very first value (you can see all our values here) because, as we say, if you’re not working with the right people, nothing else matters. This value is the lense through which we consider the clients and partners we work with and, perhaps most importantly, the people we invite to join #TeamProsper.
The first half of our mission statement is devoted to our team, “To grow a company dedicated to the development of our people.”
We look to hire incredibly talented people who also happen to be passionate about making a difference and believe that work is a great place to start. It’s that shared philosophy that inspires us to transcend traditional approaches, blending innovation into best practices and throwing in a generous dash of audacity.
This is our culture. Here are just a few of the programs it inspires:
The Prosper for Purpose Work/Life Integration Strategy:
- Our employees can work away from the office when they need to. This ‘need’ may arise from caring for children, travel, or needing a quiet space in which to write, plan or think.
- Team members stay home when they’re ill because sick time is given as needed. Those paid days off do not count against PTO.
- Speaking of PTO, ours starts at three weeks. We also throw in 10 holidays. All of this time out of office is paid for our full-timers.
Training and Personal Development: As a commitment to our value of lifelong learning, we provide ongoing training opportunities to all members of #TeamProsper. From association memberships to access to webinars and conferences, we are committed to the personal and professional growth of our team members.
Future Prosperity: We help employees save for their future through our Future Prosperity retirement program.
Parental Leave: A company that is truly committed to its employees must demonstrate commitment to their families. That is why we added a parental leave policy to our employee handbook earlier this year.
Purpose in Action: Prosper is committed to supporting activities that serve and enhance the communities in which we live and work. Therefore, employees are encouraged to become involved with local community service efforts. Each full-time employee is entitled to three days (24 hours) paid time off per year to volunteer their time to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Each part-time employee is entitled to 1 ½ days (12 hours) paid time off per year to volunteer.
In these ways and many others, Prosper fosters change that cultivates wellness and abundance through relationships rooted in shared vision.
I sought to create the company I wanted to work for. The result of that effort is the team of people I am grateful to work with.
In our next post we continue to #measurewhatmatters with Planet.
Think you might like to work at Prosper for Purpose? Go here for more information.