Category Archives: Public Relations

Welcome to Content Academy

Welcome to Content Academy

Eleven years ago, broadcast TV news was king, newspaper companies were trying to attract young readers by creating “fun” easy-to-read newspapers and the internet rage was this new thing called social media.

I was just entering the public relations business at that time, and I can safely say it was also the dawn of a paradigm shift in the business. Today, and few jobs titles later, I still consider myself a public relations practitioner but I admit that my job is different today. Website content development and management, online community building and conversion optimization are some of the strategies that run through my brain these days. Not that I pivoted out of PR business, but the entire marketing and communications industry changed.

The evolution of the web, combined with social media has completely reimagined many marketing, advertising and public relations strategies. Today, web-based tactics such as community building and search engine optimization are commanding large portions of marketing budgets and they are all essentially fueled by one key tactic: content.

Call it blogging, content marketing or brand journalism, the need for highly skilled content creators is on the rise. Over the years, I realized these skills are not just for the niche blogger and the DIY business owner, but marketing agencies and corporate businesses are seeking a workforce with these specific skills. I also realized that career changers, business owners, entrepreneurs and bloggers need a way to gain insight and experience in the digital world.

Enter Content Academy.

Content Academy: A Platform for Learning & Collaborating

Content Academy™ is a community of professionals who believe in the power of sharing knowledge and experience to develop the next level of content strategy, blogging and content marketing thought leaders through career training, continuous learning and collaboration.

How We Began

In October 2015, I reached out to my Chicago Copywriting and Content Marketing Meetup community to find anyone interested in teaching content strategy. Almost immediately, I received a response from Rebecca Steurer, a highly skilled content strategist who has over 16 years of experience in the content strategy field, and a passion for teaching and sharing ideas.

Learn more about Rebecca>

It was clear to me that I needed to work with Rebecca because she has amazing insight into content strategy beyond my skills.

Our Experienced and Credible Instructors

Today, Content Academy is a joint effort between Rebecca and me, but we’re not doing it alone. We’ve handpicked amazing instructors who are respected practitioners in their fields. We’re only looking for instructors who are passionate about digital experiences, have been around the block and who can share credible working knowledge to students during their sessions.

What We Offer

Classes & Workshops

We’ve spent quite a bit of time deliberating on how to structure Content Academy’s instruction to provide valuable and useful information to help participants advance their digital marketing knowledge.

Content Academy is geared toward working professionals at various levels of their career and entrepreneurs, so scheduling evening classes and workshops was a logical decision. We then asked how we would provide the right learning opportunities for career-minded individuals vs. entrepreneurs. Our solution, eight-week training classes for career builders and continuous learning workshops for self-starters.

Career Training Classes

Our eight-week in-person career training classes teach the hard and soft skills employers look for to fill their skills gap while providing learn-by-doing experiences. It also allows participants to build a portfolio to use for future job interviews. Our current career training class is:

Applied Content Strategy

Continuous Learning Workshops

Our two-hour in-person workshops deepen your digital knowledge and skills to master your career or business goals. Our initial workshop series are in the areas of Digital Marketing, Blogging and WordPress. These are important core set of skills for the modern marketer. We plan to add additional workshop series – in the areas of e-Commerce and video marketing. Stay tuned!

Mentorship

Sometimes you need one-on-one support to help you focus and find the path that’s right for you. We provide you with personalized training, support and mentorship to help you get to where you want to be faster. Learn more about our mentorship offerings.

Events

Network, connect and continue to learn about the latest and greatest digital marketing trends by joining our content community of marketing professionals, bloggers and WordPress developers at Copywriting & Content Marketers and WordPress Bloggers Meetup groups.

Content Academy Membership

Content Academy will provide a continued learning infrastructure and networking opportunities through a private online community for students/alumni to connect and converse with fellow students/alumni and stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends.

The future is bright.

We’re on a mission to build a community of professionals who 
share our knowledge to develop 
the next thought leaders 
in the digital world. We hope you can become a part of by lending your story to this journey. I look forward to looking back on this year as the beginning of something great!

Info Sessions

To learn more about Content Academy, we invite you to attend an Information Session, held monthly at 2 N. LaSalle, 14th Floor. Register for a day that works for you.

Stay Connected With Us

Please signup for our monthly newsletter to stay in the know for upcoming workshop, events and online community information. If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a line at hello@contentacademy.com.

5 Tips from a PR Pro for Crafting Brilliant Email Pitches

5 Tips from a PR Pro for Crafting Brilliant Email Pitches

email-pitching

So you’re looking to gain more visibility for your content, and you’ve got a great blog post idea for a blog with a good following. Or your favorite publication is looking for contributions and you can’t wait to share your writing with their audience.

How do you get your content accepted?

By writing a brilliant pitch email.

As a public relations professional, I’ve spent hours perfecting my pitch email game for editors and reporters. They want relevant, newsworthy story ideas delivered as concisely as possible, and I consider it my job to be helpful by providing just that in their inboxes.

So when I started pitching my blogging ideas to other bloggers and editors, I took what I learned from my PR experience and used it to compose many successful blogging pitch emails. In a rough estimate, I’d say four out of every five pitches I’ve sent have become published blog posts or articles.

A few tips borrowed from the PR world that helped me:

Start with an original idea.

In PR, I think critically about every story I’m prompted to pitch: Does this idea have a unique angle? Is it newsworthy? Does it carry relevance? If it doesn’t, it’s probably not going to be of interest to the media, so it’s not worth pitching.

Likewise in blogging, there’s a lot of content out there, and most ideas have been done before. That’s fine—you can recycle ideas, but you need to present them with a new hook that makes your content unique and valuable. Make sure you know how your idea is different, and show that in your pitch email.

Write a short, explanatory subject line that will grab the recipient’s attention.

A good subject line is the difference between an email that gets opened and an email that disappears into inbox oblivion.

To grab the reader’s attention with the subject line, you don’t have to be clever or witty (though sometimes that can help). And you definitely don’t (and should never) use All Caps!

Write a straightforward subject line that provides just enough information to be interesting. Think again about what makes your idea original and relevant, and use that angle to write a subject line that entices.

Be concise.

As a PR professional, I’m accustomed to a busy audience of editors and reporters. I know that every email I send must compete with deadlines and the numerous other pitches that appear in a journalist’s inbox, so my email needs to get to the point and provide value right away.

It’s helpful to briefly introduce yourself when reaching out to a new contact. Don’t write a full bio, but one or two sentences explaining who you are, why you’re reaching out and how you’re qualified is usually appreciated.

Then get to the meat of it. Show them a fully developed idea with a suggested headline, introductory paragraph and a thoughtful summary of the blog post you’d like to write.

Be helpful.

Email pitching a good idea is about more than money and exposure—it’s also about being helpful to someone who is always dealing with the question, “What am I going to do next for content?”

Try to anticipate their needs. When I’m pitching journalists, I make sure I’m sending a relevant, original idea, and I try not to stop there. Photos and the availability of subject-matter experts often make a journalist’s job easier, so I send those resources along with my pitch whenever possible.

If you’re pitching a blog post, what helpful extras can you include? Why not a link to your website or portfolio so they can get a feel for your work? Or maybe an infographic would enhance your idea. Why not create a mock-up to include with your pitch?

Personalize your message.

I always make an effort to check out the work of reporters I want to pitch in order to familiarize myself with their beats and the stories that interest them. By crafting a carefully-tailored pitch that shows I really have that specific reporter’s needs in mind, I build trust and have a better shot at establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

If you could copy and paste your pitch to a dozen others, you’re not tailoring your message well enough. Try to familiarize yourself with the type of content the person you want to reach out to typically deals with, and see if you can identify any preferences, biases or needs. Better yet if you can identify a content-related problem that person is facing. For example, their blog is about X, and they are having trouble coming up with enough fresh ideas for content about Subtopic Y. (Frame it in a way that is helpful rather than critical. Think, “I know you’re always looking for [insert topic] content ideas…” instead of “I noticed your blog doesn’t have enough content about [insert relevant topic].”)

Here’s a template to get you started:

Hi [Name],

I am a [What do you do?] specializing in [What’s your area of expertise?] who [How do you help? What unique perspective do you bring to the table?]

I know you’re always looking for [What do they need? (New writers, great personal finance story ideas, etc.)], and I wanted to offer my help. I have an idea that would be perfect for your readers:

[Explain your content idea here, including a suggested headline, a brief introduction and a summary of the rest of the blog post you’d like to write.]

If you’d like, you can check out a few of my writing samples at the link below. Please let me know if I can provide any additional information for you, or if I can be of service!

Best,

Kara

A great pitch email is itself a piece of content, so there’s an art to crafting it well. Keep it concise, show how your idea is original and relevant, and make an effort to be helpful to open up new opportunities for your content.

Do you have any email pitching tips to share?  Leave a comment below: 

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