Words Matter: Putting People First

Why do words matter? It’s about putting people first.

A note from Pat: When I was six, I had scoliosis. The treatment: a “Milwaukee brace” (that’s what the girl wore in “16 Candles” who couldn’t quite drink from the drinking fountain … or as seen in “Romi & Michelle”) and physical therapy at “Crossroads Rehabilitation Center” aka, now known as Easterseals Crossroads. While this was more of a minor inconvenience in light of the serious challenges some kids conquer, it did open my eyes to something significant. At that time (back in the dark ages), there wasn’t such a thing as the “ADA” or accommodations. In my hometown (Indianapolis), there was one school to which all the students who had any sort of physical, emotional or intellectual disability were funneled. I know. Let it sink it. It was suggested I’d be “better off” at this school when my mom asked for a special desk so i could read without holding a book above my head. I’ll spare you the details of “the day my mama socked it to … ,” but suffice it to say, that didn’t occur. That said, it made me painfully aware of all those kids who WERE there. And labeled as so very different. Fast forward light years, I get to work with Easterseals as a client early in my PR career, and learn about “People First Language.” And jump another decade, and the hubs is deeply involved with Special Olympics Indiana. And they, too, encourage “People First Language.”

I wanted to take the opportunity this spring — this spring as we emerge from a global pandemic and are eyes might be a little more open to social justice — to remind everyone why People First Language is important. It’s not a “politically correct” thing. It’s ensuring inclusion of all, without labels that put appearance, mobility, intellect, any physical attribute before the fact they are an equal human in this world. We’ve created a little diagram that perhaps is helpful and some explanation below. If I never need to write another note to a reporter or editor again about why they shouldn’t have a headline, “Handicapped Students Participate in Blah-Blah,” my work is done.

We have written a lot on the P&A blog about marketing trends and what they mean for all types of businesses. Now that 2021 is upon us, we can’t help but see another trend taking shape: People First Language. Have you noticed that the importance of words is being taken into consideration now more than ever? With a movement toward equity for marginalized peoples gaining momentum, it is up to trend setters and businesses to jump into a more forward-thinking state of mind.

One marginalized group that suffers from identity-first language is people with both physical and mental differences or illnesses. The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) states that, “Rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language conveys respect by emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost just that—people.” In other words, we need to stop using someone’s disability to define them in conversations or workplace environments.

An example of identity-first language would be calling someone handicapped. Many of us grew up using or hearing this word, along with others like retarded, mentally disabled, deaf and dumb, wheelchair bound, stricken, crippled … you get the picture. Instead of labeling someone based on what afflicts them, recognize with language that they are a person first and foremost. Use language like person with a disability, person who is deaf, person with epilepsy. Literally putting the person first makes much more sense. We don’t walk around saying blonde hair person, but rather a person with blonde hair.

We know this may have you wondering what wording you are supposed to use in the many situations you are likely to encounter, and it can be tricky and difficult to know exactly what to say sometimes. In order to help everyone in a business situation or social media post feel included and respected, you may just have to ask difficult questions. In fact, since there are no hard and fast rules regarding how we are to refer to each other, the most logical solution may be to simply ask. If asking a person how they would like to be spoken of isn’t possible, the logical next step would be to consult the community of marginalized peoples in order to find how the majority feels about a specific piece of language.

Yes, this will take work and, yes, it will also take time. In our world today we are used to things being streamlined and automated. Perhaps the fact that language is forcing us to stop and re-connect on a personal level means that we are all meant to slow down and notice one another as living and breathing human beings. Automation can make us all feel like machines, when, in fact, we are all people who just want to be seen and understood. People with disabilities are no different.

Hyper-Personalization through Artificial Intelligence

The last few years, we’ve seen hyper-personalization take the marketing world by storm. When we detailed customer experience (CX) in a previous blog, we learned that consumers today are looking for an all-encompassing experience with the brands they love. Hyper-personalization goes a step further in guaranteeing that each consumer will remember their experience with your business.

Employing hyper-personalization as a marketing strategy utilizes artificial intelligence (or AI) and real-time data to provide users with more relevant content, product, and service information. Businesses like Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks have already begun using this method to engage consumers and win over their attention.

How Does AI Work?

For example, Amazon tracks what products consumers are viewing and makes recommendations accordingly. Those unique and customer-specific recommendations show up in email form to the customers inbox or at the landing page of their Website. Netflix has a similar strategy and recommends shows and movies based on a customer’s previous views. Starbucks employs personalization through their app interface, creating a personalized experience for each customer.

Consumers enjoy the employment of AI by these larger companies because it creates a convenient way to utilize that brand or service. Customers feel cared for when they feel that a company has taken measures to ensure their experience goes smoothly. Personalization has come a long way since the simple algorithm that changes the greeting of an email to be the customer’s name.

Three Key Elements to Consider When it Comes to Hyper-Personalization

If you feel that your brand can benefit from hyper-personalization by adding it to your marketing strategy, you should know that there are three key elements to consider:

  1. Hyper-personalization can result in three to four times more engagement between your brand and consumers.
  2. It is highly important that you use AI to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
  3. Build trust through good customer reviews and assure new customers that their experience with you will be pleasant. Read more here.

Hyper-personalization will be a must for brands wanting to capture the attention of their audience in 2020. If you would like to add this strategy to your marketing plan, be sure to contact the professionals at Pickett and Associates. We can help you implement a plan to reach new customers and ensure retention of your loyal customer base!

Streamlined Marketing Through Website Interface

Earlier this year, we wrote about the importance of Customer Experience, or CX, as a marketing strategy for 2020. Now, we will go one step further by looking into the streamlining of your business’s marketing strategy as another way to gain new customers and grow your brand this year.

Between social media and other outlets, you have the power to capture the attention of a large audience. It is really important to make sure you are able to streamline the information customers are receiving about your brand. If you have a well-built Website where consumers can land to gather a consolidated version of the information you would like to share, then you are on your way to success in marketing!

So, you may be wondering, what are some of the identifying traits of a well-built Website? While most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time with search engine optimization (stay tuned for that article!), here is a simplified list that should get you going on the basics:

Brand Identity 

Hone your brand’s marketing objectives and strategy as well as your mission and goals. Keep these as the backbone of everything you do in order to streamline your message to the consumer. This can help with customer retention and loyalty and will also create a predictable environment for your customers.


Keep content simple, fresh and well-written. Again, streamline what message your content is bringing to the consumer. Update your site regularly and hire someone who knows how to write clearly and directly.

User Friendly

Consumers these days are looking for quick download speeds and a dynamic Website. You can improve your Website speed and load times by keeping images smaller and avoiding placing videos on your landing page. Hire a professional to help you organize your content so that your site loads efficiently, as customers generally favor load times around three seconds or less.

Pleasing to the Eye

Your Website should be aesthetically pleasing so that you can capture and maintain your customers’ attention. Again, streamline your branding, messaging, and the look of your product with the overall appearance of your Website. If you don’t feel like you possess enough skill in the area of Website development to create something powerful enough to draw in new and existing customers, it is a really great investment to hire a professional for the job.

The team at Pickett and Associates can help you if you are looking to build, maintain, or enhance your Website as a platform of engagement. A good Website will help your brand to maintain a streamlined message so that customers from all over the Internet are able to gather the same information. In this way, you can also achieve the alignment of your business and message with marketing goals and objectives. Contact us today if you would like to add a great Web site to your marketing strategy!

Crisis Communication Plan is Essential for All Organizations

If we’ve learned anything in the last four months, it is that a “crisis communication PLAN” is vital to organizations. Much like a Dicken’s novel, the last four months have been “the best of times, the worst of times.”

When I first addressed this topic in an article a few years back, I noted a number of “PR crises.”  Remember Carnival Cruselines bout with the Norovirus, Paula Deen stepping in her pound cake (so to speak) and the challenged Healthcare.gov website launch? Ah the good old days … we were so innocent.

Add 2020’s pandemic, racial unrest, and a teetering economy and you’ve got a full-blown you-know-what storm.

Plan Today for Tomorrow’s Crisis (Even though You Can’t Imagine Anything Worse than This)

The state of current affairs (June 2020) may makes the future problems your company might face seem minuscule, but don’t be fooled. It doesn’t take a crisis of epic proportions to cripple a business. Incidents that become “crisis mode” aren’t always avoidable. You can do some proactively planning to reduce the potential negative impact to your business.

A “crisis” is defined by business leaders as, “Any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of your company, usually brought on by adverse or negative media attention.” These situations can be any kind of legal dispute, theft, accident, fire, flood or manmade disaster that could be attributed to your company or impact your ability to operate. It can also be a situation in which the public perceives your company did not react in the appropriate manner.

In an increasing litigious society in which information is shared with the masses as fast as a “280-character Tweet,” a proactive crisis communication plan should be an essential document for every business. I firmly believe a proactive crisis communication plan – performed long before a TV news crew is standing on your doorstep – is an essential piece of an overall communications strategy for organizations.

The First Step: Crisis Scenario Audit

The first step in this plan is performing an audit of the business to determine potential scenarios. This includes consideration of its number of employees, its vulnerability in terms of potential exposure and risk and its standing as a private entity, public company or government agency. Some things to consider:

  • Do your employees interact with the public, particularly minors?
  • Does your company provide a service on which the population depends?
  • Does your workplace have potentially dangerous equipment or products?
  • Do your employees operate a vehicle as part of their jobs?
  • Does your company have written policies regarding inclusion, diversity and transparency?

These questions are fairly obvious and can prompt a long list of “worst case scenarios.”  And rest assured, just when you close your eyes for sleep, you’ll probably think of one more.  That’s okay – that’s why you’re going through this exercise: So you can rest easy.

Step Two: Identify Common Themes, Audiences & Message Delivery

The next step is to take this long list and cull them down to about one dozen – you’ll find some of them have common themes like “traumatic incidents of a personal nature that profoundly impact workforce” (which would include an employee’s death, suicide or being the victim of a violent crime, non-work related) to “incidents of disaster that impact both the facility and business” (tornado, fire, etc.).

Once identified, decide your core message points for each of these scenarios (and put them in writing!) as well as to whom and how you will be responding. Do you issue a news release? Do you wait for the media to contact you? (Is it a proactive or reactive response?) Is the message the same for stakeholders as it is for customers and clients? These variables make the difference between a well-executed response and a botched attempt from which a company might never recover.

Step Three: Who Does the Talking?

Likewise, identify who should be notified of the crisis and when as well as who will be doing the talking to the previously identified audiences. These respondents should not only include the company president and management, but appropriate advisors like legal counsel and a public relations professional. This “phone tree” should include cell numbers, home numbers, email addresses, etc.

Step Four: Do Not Use Your Crisis Plan for a Coaster

Oh, we’ve seen it happen. You go through this whole, big exercise and then when a crisis occurs, no one can find the plan. Alas, it’s under a pile of papers on the desk or gathering dust on the shelf. Obviously, it doesn’t do you any good if it’s in your desk drawer at 3 a.m. In today’s “mobile” society, save a copy on your smart phone, on an external server, on thumb drives for the entire team and a few hardcopy notebooks distributed around “just in case.”

A crisis never happens at a convenient time, exactly as you have planned and most often, not between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. … just another reason why it’s “a crisis.” But you can take some control of the situation by proactive preparation. If you remember nothing else, remember this mantra of crisis communication: The most important thing to remember in a crisis is tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth. If you do this, you have done all you can to minimize the situation.

Why “Family Friendly” is Good for Business

I have been the major breadwinner for my family since 1991. And (holy shXX) that is almost three decades. To paraphrase that insurance commercial, I have seen some things.

From those years of experience …

  • My daughters were both born in the ’80s … and aside from fabulous shoulder pads, nothing good was happening in the workplace. I literally had a news director pat me on the head and assure me I couldn’t possibly be serious about working in the Indianapolis radio market as a new mom.
  • When your kid has an allergic reaction to Penicillin, and you run out of the office to get them to the emergency room – as instructed by her pediatrician – it can have substantial blow back with your boss, including the phrase, “You can’t just leave.”
  • I was the primary caregiver for my mother her last five years on this earth … 4.5 of which were spent in my house. Numerous doctor appointments and hospital stays, for which I was responsible for transport … and I felt the need to be there. Trying to hit the hospital before work, but wait for the doctor to come by, which sometimes was 9 or 9:30 … well past the time I was expected to be at my desk, billing hours.
  • The last six weeks of my mother’s life were with (amazing) hospice caregivers. She went to in-facility hospice for two weeks, outlived Medicare’s payment and came home for in-home care. When I approached my boss about this, she informed me, “You need to bill 40 hours a week.” And, when I emailed my work team (where I had been for almost five years) that my mother was in her final hours and I wouldn’t be available on a Monday, I was still called with the “Monday art meeting.” I reported in to work the day after my mother’s passing … somehow hoping to prove that I was “loyal” to a company.
  • Since that time, I’ve had five grandchildren. I want to be able to attend “grandparent’s day” at school, see their school musical performances, baseball games and Tai Kwon Do testing and whatever they think “Woo” would like to see or do. And sometimes, that is within the 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, of a traditional workday.
  • I am now remarried to a retirement-age person who is creating a bucket list of which he should not be denied. Thank heavens I have moved to a new model!

In 2010, an awesome and terrifying thing happened. I was downsized as the agency for which I worked continued to lose clients. For the first time, let go from a position … before I had the chance to flee, knowing it wasn’t the right place for me. July 3, 2010 was my unofficial independence day. I was mad, scared to death, and unsure of what the future held. I was single and responsible for my own damned self. When Monday rolled around, I decided “why not?” and launched Pickett & Associates … with a business model that included TWO measurable objectives:

  1. Paying my mortgage
  2. Making my car payment.

By the end of the first week, I had one client … by the end of the month, I had two. And the little engine that could … I think I can, I think I can … plodded along. I got up every morning, wrote a blog (nope, no website until 12 months later) and posted it to my LinkedIn account.

Fast forward …. a decade down the road.

I’m writing this beach side, as the sea gulls swoon and cranes pose like ridiculous emperors of the beach. I’ve got my feet up on a beach wall. Back in (sub-freezing) Indianapolis, a team of highly skilled professionals are managing accounts, doing their thing, getting work done … all on their own time. And we are killing it.

And all those professionals are women who are tired of the bullshit. They are tired of people telling them to “punch a clock.” Tired of being mansplained. Tired of agism. Tired of having to explain to someone that when a pediatrician tells them that they have to get their kid to ER, it’s no time to dicker around about, “Is it okay to leave?”

We support each other. We’ve all gone through a lot. Aging parents. Sick kids. Chronic illness. Financial hardship. Professionally, we strive to lift each other up, not cut each other down … Everyone is stronger if everyone is informed and empowered.

And (business model alert), it’s why we are successfully competing with large agencies in Central Indiana. We are straight-shooting entrepreneurs who come together with the client’s needs and best practice communications strategies and tactics in our tool kit.

It’s not rocket science … we’re doing the right thing, because we can. No overhead, benefits or quotas to fill. We work with the clients in whom we believe and respectfully decline the others. You don’t like what we’re doing? Let us switch up project managers, tacticians … and see what we can do. Still not working? Let me help find you a replacement! Because after 30+ years in the market, I know who’s real … and who is a Velveteen Rabbit poser. (read the book).

The bottom line? A business built on mutually respectful terms is going to succeed. You need to ask your employees what they want and need. And, a mutually respectful business is going to create CRAZY loyalty … treating people like responsible adults will make them act like responsible adults. And if it doesn’t, then you know they’re not the right person for your organization.

Super simple? Yes. But it works.

Cheers to you in 2020.

A Closer Look at the Importance of CX

The other day, I visited IKEA to buy furniture for a new home. I had the usual experience, a lot of pushing too-heavy carts and fumbling my way through their warehouse vortex. As I was leaving the store, I noticed a little pedestal next to the exit that had four faces on it with four buttons below and one simple question, “How was your experience today?”  The faces showed varying degrees of emotion, from contentment to disappointment to anger. I tapped the smiling one because I was happy with my experience that day and most of my frustrations just had to do with the sheer amount of stuff I had to purchase.

In pressing that button, I participated in IKEA’s drive to create a memorable customer experience by capturing immediate customer feedback. Customer Experience (or CX) should not be confused with customer service. According to Steven MacDonald from SuperOffice.com*, customer service is comprised of the single interactions with a brand, while CX includes both customer service and “impacts feelings and emotion and encompasses the entire customer journey.”  IKEA was interested in creating a customer experience and they wanted to make sure that they had delivered. If my kids had been with me, I may have pressed the exhausted mother button, which makes this a very brave thing to have at the exit of any store, but consumer opinion is nonetheless important.

CX is built on the idea of creating relational experiences more than just transactional ones. Giving your consumers a personalized experience of ease and consistency with your brand can lead to an overall increase in customer loyalty. Businesses that want to be successful in 2020 by maintaining their customer base must combine the efficiency of big business with the personalization of a small business.

Furthermore, customers are even more likely to spend money on a product with a higher price tag if it means a higher quality CX in the long term. This alone should get businesses thinking. If consumers are willing to part with their hard-earned cash, then we know that these personalized ad meaningful interactions must be really important to them.

So, how can you ensure that your customers are receiving not only high-quality customer service, but also an experience associated with your brand?  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Understand your target market and create an emotional connection with them. It is vital that you really understand the needs, wants, and expectations of your customer base before embarking on your marketing journey.
  2. Create a vision. Work with your marketing team to create an overall vision of your brand and be sure to consider how you want customers to feel about their experience with your business. If you don’t yet have a marketing team, the professionals at Pickett and Associates are available to help you with this important step!
  3. Capture feedback in real time. The simple survey at the exit after my IKEA visit is a great example of capturing feedback just as the consumer has completed their experience with your brand. Surveys that customers receive over the phone or in their email inbox after an interaction with the customer service team are effective as well. Listen to their feedback, don’t be afraid to hear criticism, make changes, and keep customers in the loop.
  4. Take into account employee feedback. Your employees are the face of your business, and if they have specific concerns or needs, make sure that you listen and act if necessary. Keeping employees happy is always a great way to ensure that your customers are receiving high quality service and therefore an excellent experience with your brand.

Ensure your company’s success this year by really paying attention to the journey each consumer may be having with your business. If you need advice or would like to increase your company’s marketing potential, please give the team at Pickett and Associates a call!

Top 10 Marketing Strategies for 2020

This year, Pickett and Associates is celebrating 10 years of serving the business community through public relations, communications, and marketing. We have helped businesses and organizations engage customers, clients and donors through implementing concise and effective marketing strategies. To celebrate both our 10-year landmark and the success of our clients, let’s identify the top 10 marketing strategies for 2020!

New technologies and social media platforms will have a huge impact on the landscape of marketing this year. Nothing new there. But 2020 will be the year of the customer who will become even more important in the implementation of these strategies. No longer can a business cast out a decent marketing plan like a fishing net and hope to reel in some customers. The consumers of today are wise to the pull of marketing, while also being aware of the power they hold in their wallets.

So, what are the best strategies to improve marketing practices for businesses in 2020?

Create a Customer Experience

Consumers in 2020 will crave rich experiences to keep them returning to your business or brand. The largest touch point for consumers is in your employees, who create the face of your business. Remember that, at the end of the day, your business is built on the interactions of human beings (your employees) with other human beings (your customers).

Streamlined Marketing

Between social media and other marketing outlets, you have the power to capture the attention of a large audience. It is really important to make sure you have one place to send everyone, where your brand and messaging are streamlined and consistent. A UX-rich (aka “user experience”) website is the perfect platform and provides a sense of your brand and mission.


Consumers are looking for a hyper-personalized experience in 2020, and it needs to go beyond using an algorithm to add their name to an email or newsletter. Successful businesses will forge real connections with real individuals.

Conversational Branding

Brands will need to create a continuous, trustworthy conversation with their customers in order to increase retention and loyalty. Social media influencers are making a large impact, especially those on the micro scale (influencers who are not celebrities but, instead have only thousands of followers and create more of a sense of community).

Voice Search

A.I. devices like Amazon’s Alexa and ECHO will be found in 55% of American households by the end of 2020. Businesses that want to be on the forefront of marketing technology will make use of voice searches and voice marketing to reach new customers and keep their branding relevant.

Video Searches and Video Marketing

Platforms like YouTube are making huge gains in popularity and have grown quickly as a marketing method for businesses both small and large. Successful businesses in 2020 will be brave in utilizing this new form of reaching out to their customer base.

Better Visuals

Consumers are on the lookout for outstanding visuals, and businesses will need to make use of that in order to capture the attention of their market. High quality photographs, visually appealing images, infographics, and ensuring that your images are linked to Google searches through SEO are all important.


These short, niche, radio-type recordings are really having an impact on the way consumers hear the branding of a business. Marketing can be achieved through having the podcast itself highlight your business in particular or through commercials aimed at your target market.


Creating a community surrounding your brand or business has always been a very effective strategy in gaining customer loyalty. Social media, word of mouth, the use of influencers, and giving customers an experience to remember are all ways to create a consumer community.


Marketers are already familiar with the importance of SEO, which will continue to be vital to the exposure of businesses through search engines. In 2020, however, SERPs, or Search Engine Result Pages, will become increasingly important. Businesses will be vying for the top spot on results pages, as this is where most consumers gravitate.

This was just a brief look into the top 10, but be on the lookout for a deeper dive into each of these strategies in the coming weeks.  If you feel that you would like to learn about implementing more of these strategies in your marketing plan, contact the team at Pickett and Associates to help you achieve a better reach into your community.


Who Has Your Social Media Password?

If you consider social media an important part of your marketing strategy — and you should — then consider organizing your social media passwords so they are accessible regardless of the succession of account managers that inevitably occurs.

Document Social Media Accounts and Ownership

OMG. Who has the password?

Whose email account is your social media attached to?

Did you change the password and not tell us?

What’s a verification code?

This has been a (painful) recurrent discussion we have had with numerous clients recently. So much so that it inspired this blog!

We realize that social media came into high demand with businesses at a rapid pace, and many business owners and managers said, “Someone, please create a social media account and post something!” Clearly, that’s not a “best practice” approach … and it’s certainly not how we — or any social media management professional — roll. In 2018, social media is an important “cog” in the marketing wheel and should be approached in a mindful, strategic manner (read more about Pickett&Associate’s approach here). Fortunately, management has a much better understanding of that now.

So, when they hire a professional team to come in and assist in mapping out a social media strategy and take over the implementation, they expect clear sailing ahead. But the one clog in the cog? Whoever set up those social media accounts is long gone, and no one knows the password or, worse yet, the email attached to them. Therefore, when the professionals try to “reset” the password, it goes to an obsolete email account. And then a colossal run around in a social media dark hole begins. Eventually, it gets worked out, but not without wasting time, money and effort in the process.

So, the following is a checklist/tip sheet to avoid these clogs in the cog and a frustrated social media team:

  • Use ONE email account that ANYONE in your organization can get to for ALL of the company’s social media accounts. We prefer a generic Gmail account like “YourCompanyName@gmail.com” or a vanilla company account like “sminfo@yourcompany.com.” When you set up this account, make sure the password is shared with management and lives in a document somewhere (NOT a sticky note on your desk that you spill coffee on and throw away three years later).
  • Conversely, the cyber security professionals recommend using different passwords for different accounts. Hence the increased importance of documentation. (I know, you think you’ll remember, but … you won’t.)
  • Keep a living, breathing document in Dropbox, Google Drive, wherever, of your social accounts, user names and passwords, and if you change a password (which you should do every three months or so for security purposes, especially if someone leaves the company who had access to said accounts) update that document immediately.
  • It is best to let a professional with SEO skills set up GoogleMyBusiness; the account will need to be “verified.” It is best to sit side by side with the business owner/manager for this in that the company phone number is the one used to verify the account. The alternative Google offers is to send a postcard. Our experience is the postcard is inadvertently thrown away OR sits in a pile of mail for three weeks when it’s no longer valid.
  • Work with your IT professional (if you have one) to ensure overall cyber security and avoid password reuse at all cost. Your IT person (or social media professional) may recommend a trusted password generator.

It’s never too late for a New Year’s Resolution when it comes to your social media passwords. You — or your next social media manager — will thank you!

The Art of Working with Influencers

Influencer marketing is becoming one of the most effective ways to attract new customers and clients. Indianapolis-based marketing and PR firm Pickett & Associates has been utilizing the power of influencer marketing for years now – for clients such as Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Main Event Entertainment, Piney Acres Farm and numerous others.

“In order to tap into our primary demographic – parents with young kiddos – for our Waterpark season, we tapped into local Mommy Bloggers. These individuals are very active within the social scene, both online and in person, and we didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity where they could help promote us. By providing them daily admission to experience our park and then have them write about it, we were able to see an increase in ROI. Mommy bloggers would do anything to provide their kids a positive experience and create a memory and we thought what better a place to do that than a fun, outdoor waterpark,” said Lindsay Labas Marketing Director with Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation.

What is an Influencer?

Influencers are local people who are highly active on social media and blogs. They have their ear to the ground, are brand advocates and niche promoters. When they post, tweet or go live, hundreds — and often thousands — of loyal followers take note and listen.

The bottom line is that consumers put value in recommendations from a trusted source more than any print ad, billboard or commercial. Think about if a friend tells you how phenomenal a new local restaurant is, aren’t you more likely to consider trying it out yourself? Well-connected influencers with loyal audiences are that “mutual friend” who can connect your brand with your target demographic, drive traffic to your site and increase your exposure.

Content, whether a blog or social posts, created around your brand by a local influencer is authentic and fuels conversations with their niche audience and often goes further into the audience’s individual network as they share and create their own conversations. An influencer’s recommendation alone can create social buzz.

Did you know 86% of influencers also operate at least one blog?

Why is that important? A couple of reasons.

  • Authentic online stories and articles about your brand with links back to you. Think about how many people do research online before making buying decisions. Just another great way for them to find YOU through a source they trust!
  • Good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Yep, we want to fill the first few search results pages with you, so when individuals search for products or services that are in your wheelhouse the search engine results pages (SERP) are filled with your brand.
  • Influencers and bloggers love great visuals. They take great pictures and are often happy to use provided high res brand pictures as well. They are well-versed in tagging images correctly, which means photos of your brand will be sprinkled throughout image search results online.

Compensating Influencers

Yes, utilizing influencers and bloggers to spread your brand message is often less expensive than traditional advertising avenues, that doesn’t mean it’s free. The service they provide is skilled and worthy of compensation. You want your influencers to feel acknowledged, rewarded and appreciated. There are a couple ways to go about compensation.

  • Financially. See what the rates are for advertising on their sites. Create a budget for working with influencers. Sponsor a guide, a blog series or a social series. Make it a partnership.
  • Incentives and Trades. Give them free product to review. Offer event tickets and passes. Have them out for a VIP experience of your brand.

Commission. A percentage commission on sales brought your way directly by the influencer or blogger. Usually identified by a coupon checkout code for special URL link for tracking purposes.

Pick the Right Influencers for Your Brand

Pickett & Associates is a great start! We’ve been working with Central Indiana bloggers for nearly a decade – cultivating relationships, understanding their niches and actively joining their online conversations.

Finding the right influencer or blogger means keeping your ear to the ground, following hashtags, reading their content, researching their social statistics and targeting those that are a fit. Additionally, there are outreach tools that can make the process easier and quicker.

It’s important to select influencers who are passionate about your brand and brand believers. Authentic passion for a product or service shines through in content, no matter a blog, a photo or a video. If they are so-so about your brand, then they aren’t for you.

Bonus Influencer Engagement

You get the most bang for your influencer buck if your target influencers who are continually uploading photos and videos of themselves enjoying your brand, and their followers are liking and commenting away. Kick the action up by offering the influencers a giveaway promotion for their fans and readers. A giveaway that they can facilitate through their own site and randomly pick a winner to share the fun. Or offer a free trial or coupon code through the influencer to entice their readers to give you a try.

Moreover, when the influencer shares a blog, photos or a video about your brand on their social pages, like it, comment and share to your own social pages. This is a big one that clients often miss. A thank-you shout out for their work on your behalf goes a long way and helps to increase the traffic on that specific post as well. It’s a win-win.

Ready to build a few Indy Influencer relationships and increase the visibility of your brand? Let’s chat.

Four Tips: Social Media for Business

We were recently asked, “What are the best practices for using social media for business promotion?” The answer to that, of course, is fraught with a minefield of opinions. That said, if you’re just looking for a place to start, without getting “into the weeds,” here’s a brief list to consider. Four tips for social media for business:


A successful social media program begins with Strategy. Businesses need to RESEARCH their competition and industry and then create MEASURABLE OBJECTIVES. That doesn’t mean “we want to raise awareness” … that means, “We want to drive 25 percent of our website leads from social media in 12 months.” Take into consideration Google keywords as topics. From those measurable objectives, businesses need to create a “content calendar” — lots of templates out there. Much like your “to do” lists, if you identify topics and themes and write them down, you’re more likely to act on it and check it off as “Accomplished!”
Story Telling
No one ever built a huge social media following just promoting their product, organization or event. Social media is about engaging audiences with a “story” — whether that is a motivational meme or a video from the janitor. In telling the story, get away from “The Three Little Pigs” (We, we, we) and focus on solving a customer’s pain point.
Be Patient
It takes time to build an audience and see results. The term “It Went Viral” lures some to the false sense that this is a quick and inexpensive boost for marketing efforts. Be prepared for a long-term (12 months is realistic) commitment to the effort.
Don’t Hire Your Niece to Run Your Social Media
Most business owners hire professional accountants and attorneys to provide specialized work. But it’s surprising how many think social media is the perfect task for their niece or nephew home for summer holiday. While this generation is certainly knowledgable in navigating the various platforms, few have the discipline to provide the strategy necessary to make it worth your while. That said, with a content calendar and a mentor, it is a great opportunity for burgeoning journalists, public relations and marketing professionals to cut their teeth.