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I'm in the midst of probably switching from using a large content company (basically the equivalent of an agency focused just on content) to a cadre of freelancers (to handle the con you mentioned on capacity.) I've been contemplating why I made this move (my predecessor picked the firm that we're probably not renewing the contract on, and yes, they know. If they happen to read this it won't come as a shock).
A few reasons we're making the switch:
* A solo person is more nimble with contracts, allowing me to pay on a per-project basis, such as doing an ebook and then a month-long break. The agency we're with locks you in, even when internally we need time to get copy through compliance etc.
* Content creation is a collaborative process. This means if I can work closely with one contractor who can really dig deep, that to me is much more effective than having a bunch of people hanging around the project.
* I'd argue the key ingredient when it comes to content however, is to have someone on staff who really understands content marketing, and then they can work as a mystro with outsourced teams - regardless of the kind of team you're working with.
2 months ago on What’s the best way to source content: In house vs. agency vs. freelance
Having bounced between both non-employee and employee positions. And now with a company that has some of what you talk about above in addition to compliance laws, I'll provide a little perspective.
On the one hand, you're absolutely right. Companies don't move fast. But honestly it's expensive and doesn't necessarily do much for them. Until they see how it is tangibly "hurting" them not to switch, I doubt there will be much change.
But here are my qualms with your piece:
1. A lot of times not only is the issue a matter of "here's a useful tool that will save us time." It's a cultural shift, and it has to balanced against the effort to switch potentially hundreds of thousands of people to some other platform, and train all those people.
2. You talk like the world revolves around marketing. Yes, it's important, but that's just one slice of this issue. Companies are looking at things from a much bigger perspective than whether marketing has the flexibility to post on a WordPress website.
3. Security. If your site gets hacked, it's a bummer. If a corporation's site gets hacked it's potentially mega bucks in lost revenue and people get fired.
4. Fines. If an insurance company publishes something out of compliance with the law it could be fined millions of dollars. Can the editorial process be shortened? Definitely, but that's a cultural shift, and is always being weighed against the remote chance of an awful fine.
5. "Dear companies: Make it EASIER for us to work with you–not harder. This will be table stakes in the years ahead." Really? Vendors have been complaining about these issues for years. When will it actually be "table stakes?" Unless large organization enmasse try to move faster because there is something in it for them, that day will never come. Vendors will always bend to the will of the companies paying the bills.
6. And as long as one major retailer after another keeps getting hacked (using typically more secure methods than what is available without "third-party" tools) don't expect a rush to make things easier and generally less secure for employees.
2 months, 1 week ago on How corporate IT is actually killing employee communications
Hi Arik, I've been at my new corporate job for a couple months now, and it's night and day vs. working for a small digital agency.
As far as making things better?
Companies need to invest more time into hiring good people, and then trusting them. I'd argue my boss does a nice job of handling it. Her staff has the flexibility to shift hours around as they see fit, as long as they put in the time that is required, and if there's a big project, they stay late to make things happen. It makes you want to work hard, when you have a boss that treats you like you're a human being.
Seems to me many companies rush the hiring process (or they ignore it for six months and then hire the first person on the stack of resumes because he or she happens to know someone in the company and they are desperate for a warm body) instead of seeing how effective the person is. I'll take someone who does tons in 30 hours a week over the person who works 50 but only does real, actual work for 10 of those hours. Those differences too often get overlooked.
I feel like if businesses did a better job setting realistic growth goals, then there wouldn't be quite as much stress either. The attitude in most places I've run across is do everything possible to make as much money as possible. Out of that naturally grows built-in conflict, because if you have no boundaries, you can always push people a little harder to do a little more.
4 months, 1 week ago on Are PR agencies setting new parents up to fail?
I found your piece on this fascinating, especially when you juxapose it with the war-like effort going on behind the scenes by a charter school system defending itself after an investigative series in the Detroit Free Press. http://www.eclectablog.com/2014/06/for-profit-charter-corporations-now-in-full-blown-panic-mode-over-detroit-free-press-investigative-reporting.html
Walmart's method to me seems much more effective, because it is so short and digestible. In my previous life as a journalist, I always noticed people who lie and don't have the truth on their sides seem obliged to go into much more depth explaining why they are correct.
Walmart essentially scribbles devastating stats (right or wrong) in the margins. That makes it look like an NYT hit piece, and makes me want to read the entire response.
This organization attacking the Detroit Free Press is writing private responses (which of course are leaked publicly) and they write pages and pages explaining why the newspaper is wrong, and ignoring what they can't explain away. Which tells me at the very least they can't defend everything in the articles, and makes me far more suspect of what they are saying.
Defend yourself with clean, simple, short, to-the-point arguments, if your goal is to convince others. At least to me, that's a much more convincing approach.
5 months, 4 weeks ago on Walmart takes on the New York Times with creative PR tactic
I totally agree with you Arik. Also irritates me when people say they want to take me out to lunch, but then expect me to pay for my lunch. That's happened to me a couple times. Maybe I'm cheap, but if you say you want to take me to lunch to pick my brain, I'd appreciate it if you actually picked up the tab!
8 months, 4 weeks ago on Why I’m completely revamping my coffee meet-up strategy
Great list Arik,
I'm putting together a free Instagram bus tour on Nov. 17 led by Instagrammers Tim Landis and http://instagrid.me/curious2119/ and Ben Madison @benjamin_Edward. We're going to take a Jefferson Lines bus around Minneapolis and St. Paul, stopping every so often at cool locations, so the group to do some Instagramming. Should be fun. Anyhow, once we have the details in place I'll post a link.
2 years, 1 month ago on 38 top Instagrammers in Minneapolis (from 6 of my favorite local IGers)
Ok Arik, you've convinced me to give it a shot.
3 years ago on What’s behind the Pinterest craze? 15 super-users share their thoughts
You've certainly given me a lot to think about DJ. I just got an iPad, so I was thinking I might just return to my old phone, since realistically I rarely need e-mail or anything else I have on my iPhone, now that I have an iPad nearby. I totally agree with you on the points above. While it feels more efficient to be able to check and send e-mail at a moment's notice, is it really? Not often.
3 years, 3 months ago on Why I Intentionally Deleted Email From My Phone
3 years, 3 months ago on Waldow Social: My Successful Social Media Experiment
I feel like Facebook is just doing to the social media world what Wal-Mart did to mom and pop stores across the country. Gobbling up all that is good in social media, not letting anyone else have a piece of the action.
3 years, 8 months ago on Facebook Questions Are Here
@ElenaVerlee Too kind! Thanks Elena. I've already learned a lot about how to use Twitter effectively, thanks to you!
3 years, 9 months ago on Fifteen Ways to Use Twitter to Build an Army of Adoring Journalists
@simplynonna Thanks for the note!
@tressalynne Thanks! Yes, I don't think reporters want to be pitched period. But my point is mainly that Twitter is the best way to build a relationship so you're not pitching a reporter. You're just passing along a good idea to a reporter who is alway on the lookout for good stories.
@3HatsComm Thanks for the comments. I agree that it's hard to actually pitch via Twitter. Frankly, it's hard to do anything on Twitter beyond launching a new relationship. Twitter is really the tool I use to follow and begin building relationships online, that build into DMs and E-mails and phone calls. I also agree on the dummy accounts. You have to click through to see how often they post, what they post, and whether they ever respond. But that's the kind of due diligence that I think most people would assume they'd have to do. I think the moral is if you want to connect with reporters, then get in the mix and actually connect via Twitter if possible. Social in general is the easiest way to go from zero to something. IMO.
@ginidietrich Seriously? So did I! Class of '98 (Man that sounds old). When did you graduate? Also lived in Chicago where I think you're at. Worked as a reporter for the Daily Herald. Many of my friends currently work for the Sun Times or Tribune.
@ginidietrich Thanks so much Gini! Glad to be able to provide an example. Also funny you should mention Omaha. That's my hometown! Yes, I think Twitter is terribly undervalued by people trying to get traditional media attention.
Long time reader, first time commenter. Love the blog!
Anyhow, I've struggled with this as well. Two things to add:
1. Often people will pay for something, just because it's sort of an unofficial promise they'll get a better version than what's free. For example, my friend charges for blog post ideas here http://needatopic.com/ he charges $7 a month for blog post topics that probably are about as valuable as what you get from free here http://bestbloggingtipsonline.com/ but people pay because they like my friend, or they believe it's better than what they can get for free. (In full disclosure he says he's doing really well with it, and I personally haven't seen the topics he gives. So perhaps they are much better than what other blogs provide for free. And there are other benefits for the money you pay.)
2. Another way I distinguish what I charge for, is we charge for the "how" and give away the what. So we might teach the mechanics of what goes into good blog content. But we'll charge for the granular information necessary to build a blog, launch it, get traffic to it, etc. Because in theory putting together a blog is easy. But learning the how of making a successful blog is much more challenging.
3 years, 9 months ago on Four Ways to Charge for Content