COM 0014 Blog#7 – Personal Reflection

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I think that this may have been the most important exercise of the course. By reflecting on everything I learned, I revisited the challenges I faced with each assignment and will continually be reminded of those challenges going forward with my digital communication. How does that saying go… “What doesn’t kill you, only make you stronger”.

In an era that lives on the World Wide Web it is increasingly harder to be heard and to break down the noise barrier. Changing the way I write is the biggest lesson learned in this course. I don’t think that I was going about it the wrong way… I have just learned a better way. Altering the way I write to tell a story will speak louder and break down that noise barrier.

Working in a very specialized industry I lost sight of really understanding the target audience. I wasn’t digging deep enough in to their demographics and psychographics. By taking a step back to re-evaluate the target audience will help me to better connect with the target audience and encourage more interaction with readers.

I could break down each lesson and reflect on what I have learned and how each lesson has helped me grow as a writer and improve my digital communication skills, there were so many lessons learned but I will highlight just one. A point in lesson seven that will stick with me is great stories get shared. Creating meaningful content that an idea or lesson can be taken away will encourage sharing and through sharing there will be increased exposure. At the end of the day this is my end goal and how I measure my digital communication success.

*image source http://www.dashe.com/blog/elearning/role-reflection-learning/

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COM 0014 Blog Post#6 – Do People Know Your Story?

What is your industry’s greatest flaw?

The insurance industry’s greatest flaw is price. You would be hard pressed to come by someone who hasn’t complained about the price of their insurance policy whether it is personal or business. Some may even say that premiums continue to go up while coverage goes down. For an insurance company it is a continual battle with the competition on price and coverage. It is a balancing act for an insurance company to retain business and gain new business all while trying to maintain the bottom line. What some may not understand is the dollars associated with even the smallest of claims.

Does loyalty no longer exist with insurance companies? The answer is not black and white. Sure there are still many people that are loyal to their insurance company whether it is because of the service provided, the rewards associated with continued business or perhaps there it is time and energy factor and a client isn’t particularly loyal but don’t have the ambition to “shop around”. But at the end of the day you would be hard press to find someone that would say no to paying less money for the same product of service.

So what does that mean for insurance companies? Service, service, service. If the competition is continually beating on price, service is what can win back a client. By adding best-in-class services that clients will benefit from, the ability to retain clients and gain new business will increase.
An example of a service that is trending in the personal insurance sector is accident forgiveness – a client won’t pay a deductible with their first at fault accident. This is feature that clients who make their first claim will benefit from. You will continue to see value-added services added to the menu of services offered by an insurance company and maybe these services will make you think twice about shopping around.

Will the insurance industry ever overcome the stigma on price?

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*image source http://blog.quibids.com/6-quibidsbuy-now-prices-that-are-currently-lower-than-amazons/

COM 0014 Blog Post#5 – Personal Brand

HelloMyNameIsLeahHello, my name is Leah. And this is my story.

My experience is a collaboration of photography, marketing, advertising and graphic design and for over 10 years I have been using these mediums to translating my vision into a reality. Everything I do as a designer and photographer is fueled by the world around me, taking inspirations from everything I do and see.

When I asked my clients and peers to describe me, I was continually told my creative and enthusiastic personality compliments my versatility as a designer, photographer and marketing professional.

It is a very competitive world and difficult to differentiating yourself especially as a designer. I don’t claim that I can do it all but I am confident in my strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and focus on my wide range of skills. I take pride in my ability to look at any initiative from both sides of the fence, a creative perspective and a business standpoint, giving me the vantage point I need to create eye-catching design while effectively supporting business objectives.

My strategy is to evoke and amplify emotions with my designs and make a connection that will cause someone to do something.

My tactic is understanding a client’s need and taking their vision to the next level. I am always looking for ways to change the boundaries of the box.

There are always challenges, limited resources to overcome. There is always going to be something working against me. There are also opportunities for me to embrace, sources to leverage and new ideas to expand on. Without ignoring those challenges, I focus on those opportunities. And this will give me success in my career.

COM 0014 Blog Post 4 – B2C Case Study

Engaging customers via social media has opened the doors for many small, locally owned businesses, giving them the opportunity to reach their customers on a shoe string budget. Offering special sales, contests and product education can really get your customers talking and more importantly through the door. Skindeep Eco Spa is a locally owned business in the heart of Paris Ontario and they have done just that!

Actively involved with their customers, they have just over 900 followers combined on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. To put that number into perspective, Paris Ontario has a population of approximately 10,000 and for a specialized business, such as a spa, to have close to 1% of that population following, they have definitely captured the attention they are after.

Skindeep Eco Spa’s social media posts don’t include just promoting themselves and their spa services but they take the time to educate on the importance of skin care and the difference between organic products and the generic brands you find at the drug store. For many this education is one more step to a healthier lifestyle. Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? Not many people would think of their skin an organ. And how many of us pay as much attention to the health of our skin as we do our heart or our lungs? Skin 101 courtesy of Skindeep Eco Spa.

Of course a business cannot survive on just educating their customers but it certainly helps get them through the door. But that isn’t the only tactic that Skindeep Eco Spa has done to engage with their customers. They are continually offering special sales and contest and most recently with their location move, extended hours with the ability to book appointments via Twitter, Facebook and email. Convenience another bonus for the customer!

The quality of Skindeep Eco Spa’s social media presence has proven to be very successful and I truly believe that they are on the right track to continued business success through their social media channels.

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*image source http://www.skindeepecospa.ca

COM 0014 Blog#3 Target Audiences

target-audience-300x210Frank Cowan Company (FCC) is an insurance company specializing in municipal and specialty organizations making their target market very focused. With such a niche target market, demographics and psychographics aren’t used in the same way when determining the target audience and building their profile. The target audience is not broken down in to segments but types of organizations and those organizations are municipalities and public service, healthcare, education, community, children’s and social service organizations and insurance brokers that FCC partners with to insure these organizations.

We know our target market, now we need to communicate with them. High level it may appear that narrowing in on these organizations and communicating with them online maybe relatively simple, focus on a social media platform and target those using that platform. However, it isn’t that cut and dry. With the variety of target markets and the different types of social media platforms available, FCC needs to focus on multiple platforms to ensure the best reach. This switches the focus of using one platform for the majority of FCC’s communications to a very focused message and that focus is Risk Management. Risk Management is the key to preventing insurance claims and potentially saving an organization dollars spent on deductibles and premiums.

No matter what type of organization, managing risk is top of mind and when you are an organization that faces unique risks, specialized advice and offerings are important. FCC uses their knowledge and expertise and provided advice on these unique risk factors as a tool to build awareness, discussions and to connect with their target market.

Check out FCC’s Inspector Insights and Risk Management Insights posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

*image source http://www.startupmywebsite.com/how-do-i-reach-my-target-audience/

COM 0014 Blog Post#2 Communication Styles

Attention Bullhorn Megaphone Sends Warning MessageEvery storyteller wants to engage their reader or listener from beginning to end. This can prove to be difficult when communicating online, there is so much noise to break through and once you break through that noise if you don’t keep the reader captivated they will just get up and walk away or move on. Something that isn’t so easy to do when talking to someone face to face. So what is it that we need to do to keep our readers engaged? Exactly that. Ask a question, encourage a respond or to start a discussion. Don’t forget to make it easy for a reader to respond. Try DISQUS, a great tool that can easily be added to your website or blog and in just one click your readers can leave comments, start a discussion even share via Twitter and Facebook. Be prepared to acknowledge and respond to the comments.

We are all in a rush, I am just as guilty as the next jumping from here to there. Sometimes we don’t have the time or want to make the time to read a blog. This is where Twitter and Facebook can be a great tool to grab the attention of your readers, intrigue them with a snap-shot or high-level points about what you want them to read. Make it something they want to share!

Above all, you’ve got nothing if you don’t have meaningful content or useful information for your readers. Share a review or explain the features and benefits of your product, content that will take the reader from skimming the content to reading a little further. Know your target audience and give your readers what they want!

How do you get your readers engaged?

http://chrisbrogan.com/23-essential-elements-of-sharable-blog-posts/

*image source http://kickingsand.com/2011/10/hr-vs-pr-were-not-so-different/attention-bullhorn-megaphone-sends-warning-message/

COM 0014 Blog#1 What I Did on My Vacation

Oh how I have been dreaming for a vacation… Since it has been so long since I’ve been on a vacation, I am going to tell you about my dream vacation.

Up at the crack of dawn and off to the airport to catch a flight to Ireland. I am so full of excitement I can barely hold a thought in my head. Just a short (ha) seven hour flight and I am there. Fingers crossed there is no flight delays, problems at customs or lost luggage.

Finally! The fresh Irish air!

My week will be spent in the Dublin city centre, the architecture, the cobblestone street, the history and of course the pubs, more than a week’s worth of sites to see.

With my Lonely Planet travel guide in one hand and camera in the other, I set out to walk the streets and see the sights of Dublin. What a great way to see the city, as my own tour guide, but I will be hoping on the Dublin Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus and a taking a ride down the River Liffey to get my history lesson and of course to cram a few more sights.

The Book of Kells, now that is something to see, dubbed the oldest book in the world and one of Ireland’s treasures. Although I can’t read Latin, the intricate designs are illuminating. The Book of Kells isn’t the only thing drawing me in to Trinity College, I could spend the whole day there but I’m off to the next site… Temple Bar, yes the infamous pub but the area too. The narrow cobblestone walkways, the brick buildings, some painted vibrant colours, some with just a brightly painted door. Live traditional Celtic music and tourists from all around the globe filling the streets, definitely worth spending a night here!

I really wish I could go in to more detail but that will have to wait until I get to Ireland. One detail I won’t leave out is to end it all off, enjoying a Guinness while taking in a 360 degree view of the city at The Guinness Storehouse. What a vacation!

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*Image source http://www76.pair.com/keithlim/postcards/dublin.html

COM0011 Blog Post #6 Clean up your reputation.

Have you ever “Googled” you name? What did you discover? You may be surprised at what you find. Negative reviews, untrue comments and trolls are pushing their way up the ranks of the search engine and pushing the truth to the next page.

Have you ever thought of creating an online reputation strategy? I certainly hadn’t until reading 8 steps to clean up your reputation. This may not be something that you would need to do personally but what about for your company or organization? Taking the time to see what is being said about your company or organizations could save you time down the road trying to repair a damaged reputation.

So what do you do if you come across search results or post that could potentially damage your company or organization’s reputation? 8 steps to clean up your reputation has laid out great stepping stones to getting your reputation back on track. This process can take time and effort but you can’t run and hide. Addressing the situation is the only way to prevent irreversible damage.

All companies and organizations need to be proactive implementing best practices, policies and procedures that can be incorporated in to an overall social media strategy. With this you can build a strong online reputation. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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*Image source http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/16406.aspx

COM0011 Blog Post #5 – Keep Calm and Blog On

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As we finish up with this Intro to Social Media for those who may have never blogged before have posted you now have a handful under your belt and even though my first blog of this course wasn’t my first blog, each time I write a blog, I remember how typing those first sentences to your first blog can be intimidating. Who is going to read this? Who is even going to care what I have to say? Just go for it! If you are passionate about something than write about it. Chances are there is someone out there that is passionate about the same thing.

This course has helped me build my confidence when it comes to writing blogs. Now I know that I am no expert on blogging but what I do know there is much more to a blog that the words. John Egan posted a great blog 13 tips for starting a blog and keeping it going  that can get any beginner going and keep any expert going.

I wish that I could have read these tips months ago but just because this isn’t my first blog doesn’t mean that these tips aren’t a great reference point for all my blogs going forward. There is nothing wrong with referring back to the basis. The basisc can sometimes get lost the more seasoned we beomce.

I am looking forward to continuing my blogging in COM0012.

*Image source http://blog.canacad.ac.jp/wpmu/designtech/2014/02/04/ca-ms-blog-round-up-january-2014/

 

 

 

COM0011 Blog Post# 4 The ‘90s

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I remember the ‘90s quite clearly and fondly. It was a decade that had a lot on influence on me; toys, t.v. shows, movies, music, clothes, I could go on and on. Now I couldn’t tell you what the ‘90 taught me…I was just a kid and thought I knew everything. On second thought I did learn that there are certain hair and clothing styles that I personally wouldn’t repeat even if it is all the rage. Each decade is unique and certainly shapes the future. So what did the ’90 teach you?

As much as some would like to deny it, Kate Connors – Senior Account Manager and Social Media Strategist at Media & Communications Strategies is bang on in her blog What the ‘90s taught us about PR with how the Olsen twins, Pee-Wee Herman, O.J. Simpson and Tamagotchis taught PR professionals a few things.

Social media has created a whole new way for us to receive news and react to news. It has allowed us to communicate with the world quickly and on a broader scale. News travels fast and travels even faster via social media. It is a present form of communication and will continue to be. Social media has allowed us to personalize our brands and become more in touch with our target markets, we can use social media to react quickly to prevent reputational damage or quickly repair, we can address a crisis quickly by pushing the news out before someone can tear you to shreds.

So what will the 2010’s teach us. I guess we will have to wait to find out.

*Image source http://www.barikansessions.com/a-tribute-to-the-90s-rock-music-scene/