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Does ‘brand journalism’ have a part to play in your digital marketing strategy?

We often get approached by clients to write articles or blog posts for them that they can share in ezines or on social media.

Having an original piece of material to share that’s hosted on your blog, resources or news section that’s of interest to your target audience is a great way to bring people back to your site. Read more

Being smart about smartphones

Phone Stalls at Broadway and 34th Street. 05/1973

Do you hand onto your old phones long after everybody else has moved on? Photographer: Calonius, Erik

Call me a hoarder if you wish, but I’ve never been one to easily part with a mobile phone. Sure, I love getting new ones… The problem is more to do with ditching the old phone.

And I don’t think I’m the only one! A few years ago a colleague brought a Jack & Jill Foundation collection box into work, but only a handful of phones were collected despite the best intentions of the 30-strong workforce.

In November, I heard (possibly mis-heard!) that there would be 1.2 million smartphones in Ireland at Christmas 2010. According to mobile research findings released by Return2Sender in October 2010, over 600,000 Irish adults already own a smartphone, with the potential to grow the market to over a million users by next spring. Ownership, it says, “is heavily skewed towards males, 16-34 year olds, and those from professional and white collar worker backgrounds.”

With Christmas having just passed, there’s bound to be many, many abandoned phones around Ireland.  So what can you do with them? I put the question to Twitter: “Can anyone tell me of any charities they know of that accept phones for recycling?” The response was almost unanimous: the Jack & Jill Foundation. However, from what I can see that seems to be a recycling initiative via schools only. Fine if you’ve kids in a school involved, not so straightforward if you don’t. The carrot at the end of the stick for schools to get involved is that they can get school equipment in exchange for a certain amount of phones collected.

There are plenty of other options on the island of Ireland, and I thought there would be no harm in sharing information on where you can offload your old phone, while at the same time giving something back.

First off, I have to mention that you can donate an old iPhone or iPod Touch so that children with autism can use the Grace App to communicate exactly what they want. Go straight to GraceApp.com or the I Want My iPhone for  Autism page on MyCharity.ie to find out about donating your old iPhone/iPod Touch.

Bee for Battens is a charity that I became aware of through their tweets during the Content is King conference in Dublin in November and they’re active and friendly on Twitter if you’d like to get to know them better. You can send phones to Bee for Battens using Freepost (all the details are on BeeforBattens.org). If you’ve difficulty getting the phone into an envelope and the envelope from your desk to the post office, just collect together more than 10 phones and the charity will arrange collection.

In late 2010, Trócaire launched a programme that targets the recycling of 500,000 mobile phones over three years. This is with Kavanagh Environmental, a company specialising in fundraising through recycling. Apparently, ‘Mobile Phone Appeal’ bags have been distributed to every household in the country.

Another charity that I’m told accepts donations of mobile phones is the Hope Foundation.

The thing to remember of course is that just because you switch a sim card or removable memory card into your fancy new phone, doesn’t mean the phone is ready to recycle straight away. Take the time to delete your personal data – your text messages, your contacts and any photos or videos remaining on the memory, and that’s even if you’re recycling it by passing on your old handset to a friend.

Friends aside, a further search online found that there seems to be three ways of recycling used mobile phones. These are:

  1. Donating the phones to charities, in order to raise funds. Most charities seem to accept donations.
  2. Raising funds for school facilities through recycling collections in schools.
  3. Making some cash for yourself by sending a phone to a company who will give you money in return.

Please add a comment if you’d like to include details of a mobile phone recycling scheme that deserves to be highlighted.

Quote unquote: case studies

What do you think of testimonials? What do you think of recommendations on LinkedIn?

Sometimes you don't get the full message

Sometimes you don't get the full message

When buying a book or a DVD is the few words of praise from a well know writer, journalist or publication enough to make your mind up and hand your money over to the cashier? Or will you have made up your mind based on in-depth reviews or interviews with cast/crew/authors?

When it comes to choosing a service will you rely on testimonials on a company’s website or brochure to make up your mind? If they were available would you make up your mind based on in-depth features, articles or case studies on the company/service?

When it comes to your own business, do you think potential customers or clients might make a positive buying decision if they knew the full story of how you can help, how great your customer service is, etc?

If you think that’s a possibility, have you ever thought about useful and informative articles on your website, written in a journalistic style? Why not just ditch the boring About page and replace it with text written in article style, quotes and all telling readers about the company/organisation/product? How about a profile with quotes and background info from each staff member that would normally have appeared on the ‘Our Team’ page?

And when it comes to testimonials, do you think they give enough of a picture to a potential client about how you provide a solution to their problem? Why not tell a story?Tell a story with details of your client’s business, their problem, your solution and how you used this to solve their problem. Written in a journalistic style, with background information and direct quotes, it’s bound to help them more than a sentence or two on how great and wonderful you are.

Get attention, get content, inform, get more than a pat on the back, get people interested.

Who do you write for?

Ask a journalist who do they write for and they’ll probably ream off a list of magazines or newspaper.

Ask a web copywriter who they write for and they may list of a load of clients. But really when you’re asking that of a web copywriter that’s not necessarily the answer you’re seeking. The first on their list should be the reader. Of course you do some writing for the client and of course if you’re including keywords and key phrases in the text to help with SEO, well you’re writing for the search engines and their algorithms and systems.

Dealing with inadequate content

Some people to seem to think that a Google patent in relation to ‘inadequate content’ means that keyword stuffed, uninteresting and useless content will be filtered out of results. That’s great for search engine users so – they’ll probably get the useful information they came to the internet for in the first place. It’s a great theory – but there are other things at play…

According to the Financial Times “Google obtained a patent this year for a system that would help it identify “inadequate content” on the web, based on comparisons of what people search for and what they find.” This information could be sold to online publishers or given away.

The SEO by the Sea blog raises the question as to whether people would start writing content on areas because Google suggests there’s a lack of content on that topic? He also says that sometimes people blame the search engine as opposed to content creators when they get search engine results they aren’t happy with.  He adds: “It’s possible that there may be information on that query or topic that isn’t in a very search engine friendly format, which couldn’t be indexed by the search engine. It’s also possible that there just aren’t very many quality pages that might provide results on those topics.”

Referencing the Financial Times article on TechCentral.ie they’re saying “If true this could lead to a paradigm shift in how companies handle copywriting to become more reader- over system-oriented.”

So how ready are you for whatever Google is going to next throw at us? Do you have quality content? Do you think it matters? Are you writing for the reader?