Much to blog about.

The white paper isn't dead

Why the white paper isn’t dead (hint: it’s just changing!)

July 24, 2014 | by Lauren Cascio

With the rise of content marketing and the evolution of the online experience, many companies have started to wonder if white papers remain a strategic form of content. It’s a topic that’s hotly debated in the public relations industry today.

Some have declared the white paper dead, saying that more versatile mediums such as slide decks and infographics can convey the same messages in a more approachable, visual format. Others assert the white paper remains relevant and won’t be disappearing any time soon.

The great news is there’s actually a middle ground where we can all get along.

First and foremost, the white paper remains a helpful, strategic tool for most organizations. A well-written white paper allows executive leadership the opportunity to generate leads by tackling important topics in the context of emerging research, traditional mindsets and changing trends. In fact, white papers are extremely valuable to companies trying to raise their profiles in a target vertical or key market.

However, it’s important to realize that white papers are evolving outside the traditional format. This is simply because the online reading experience has radically evolved.

Today, more than 2/3 of the global online population visit and participate in social networks or blogs. This means a majority of online users are comfortable with, and even expect, information relayed in a concise, visual and personalized manner. So, the standard 20-page white paper with stilted graphs and unapproachable industry jargon is likely to miss its mark amongst this new online audience.

Incorporating visual elements while keeping copy to the point can transform an antiquated white paper into a dynamic piece of content for your online library. Many companies have taken this a step further by offering bundled content to accompany white paper downloads, such as related infographics and quick, “Tweetable” takeaways.

No matter what side of the debate you land on, it’s important to keep an open mind when evaluating what form of content will work best for your organization. Careful industry research can help determine what kind of content, such as e-books, webinars, slide decks or white papers, will resonate the most with your target audiences.

Where does your company land on the white paper debate?

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Using this Fourth to Celebrate the First

July 4, 2014 | by Matthew Van Scoik

This week contains the anniversary of the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in separation from England, the most powerful empire of the day. The determination of the newly named United States of America to be free from oppression and extortion is well known, although there are some subtleties to the story that I would like to relay in light of the forthcoming holiday. Pun intended.

With the increasing literacy of the artisan classes, the ability to write pamphlets and letters was instrumental to the airing of grievances against England and rallying the colonists to fight for independence. In fact, one could look at Thomas Paine’s series of pamphlets, the most well known being the “Rights of Man,” to be one of the very first public relations campaigns.

The founders called America “the great experiment” because it would be the first time in history that a nation was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment: free expression and unfettered inquiry.

I am a soldier and have friends that have given their lives in defense of the principles mentioned above. There is a certain group that pickets the funerals of soldiers, making notoriety for themselves and sometimes money through lawsuits when they feel their First Amendment rights have been violated.

These individuals, with their nasty messages, use the First Amendment to attack people who protect their very right to dissent. I find their slogans to be much more than unsettling, but it makes me glad that they are not arrested for what they say. Every time I see their placards on the news, it is evidence that we live in a free society.

It is the non-existence of a legal “do not cross” line that makes me know I’m safe to speak my mind. The freedom of someone to express his or her opinion about controversial topics is the absolute most essential thing to a free society. When there are limits on statements of opinion and self-expression, there is a certain danger of those limits being applied inconsistently and eventually abused.

There is no one who is qualified to determine what you should be allowed to hear or consider. By denying someone the right to express themselves, you are also denying yourself the opportunity to be exposed to new information and arguments. Always remember, if you ever find yourself in favor of putting bars on free speech: only time will tell which side of the cage you were on when the bars seemed necessary.

Therefore, it makes me extremely happy to find myself working with so many people who give their time to write books to inform and persuade people on a wide range of subjects. From topics as innocuous as pet-care to very controversial arguments about religion and politics, I am extremely proud to live in a country where I can not only make a living helping authors get their messages out, but also improve and enrich my life when learning from their points of view.

4 tips for good habits, motivation and success

June 26, 2014 | by Muriel Cross

Do you ever wonder what skills and attributes help make a PR professional successful? According to experts in social science, achievement can largely be attributed to motivation and habit.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg explores what makes us do the things we do every day – sometimes subconsciously. The concept applies to business too. Duhigg argues, “The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.”

So what makes a habit and how can we make sure that we have the good ones instead of the bad?

Tip 1: To cultivate good habits, Duhigg says identifying cues (what comes right before the bad habit) and then consciously substituting a desired action in for the negative one will produce good habits.

Leaders can promote good habit substitution by identifying what action they would like to take place and initiating processes that help employees complete these steps.

Motivation also plays a role in developing good habits, especially in the workplace. How do some professionals constantly have productive workdays and always keep their ducks in a row? Based on his TED Talk on motivation, Daniel Pink would say there are intrinsic motivators rather than incentives that influence them to do so.

Tip 2: Eliminate contingent motivators: “If you do this, then you get that.” Most work, especially PR, requires creativity and there is no single action or obvious answer.

Instead of narrowing application with specific tasks and rewards, foster creativity and problem solving by focusing on contribution and idea creation.

Pink explains why we need to rethink how we run our businesses, and how leaders can motivate more effectively. So what can these thought leaders teach PR pros about success?

Tip 3: Examine your company’s processes to see if changes can be made. As Daniel Pink says, rely on what science says, not what business does.

To be successful, rely on the human resources within the company and what contributions can be made.

Tip 4: Foster and encourage autonomy, which Pink defines as the urge to direct our own lives.
Employee autonomy can start small, such as one day to where employees are free to work on whatever they want or small task forces to tackle issues and ideas within the office.

If you are interested in more thought provoking presentations, check out these TED Talks that Mashable says will change your life.

Also, comment and let us know – what influences your company’s success?

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Drive public perception with a unified voice

June 5, 2014 | by Andrew Hayenga

A few clicks and I find out that, according to Dictionary.com, the definition of team is a number of persons unified in some joint action.

Unified is the word that jumps out at me, because unity is crucial to team success, to reaching desired outcomes and achieving goals.

I believe this to be especially true in communications.

Fostering the desired public perception of your organization is directly tied to a unified voice, or the consistency of your organization’s messages from all sources.

For nonprofits, pursuing a unified voice is a formidable undertaking. These organizations often rely on many actors with widely variable levels of personal investment (think soup-kitchen volunteer who puts in 20 hours a week versus a runner who registers for one charity 5K race).

What nonprofits must understand is that even the actor with the lowest level of engagement (the 5K racer) informs public perception.

To achieve a unified voice, make sure every actor engaged with your organization knows your key messages. Here are some steps you can take to make it happen:

Identify your organization’s preferred minimum knowledge base. Is this your organization name and target clientele, or is it your mission statement? If a staff member or volunteer could say just one thing about you, what would you want it be?

Assess the knowledge of each of your organization’s actors. Take a poll, conduct a focus group, use whatever tool(s) you need to understand what your staff and volunteers know and what they may not. This understanding is vital to success in the next step.

Commit to a unified voice. You’ve identified what it is you want people at all levels of engagement with your organization to know. You understand where knowledge deficiencies may exist. Now, it’s time to educate your actors. Create talking points or use other appropriate tools to get everyone speaking to the public on your behalf with a unified voice

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Pencil in those summer plans

May 22, 2014 | by Jessica Redden

The Bohlsen Group Entertainment + Events division is always busy helping spread the word about all the great Indianapolis events, and Memorial Day weekend means summer is right around the corner. (After this winter, we deserve it). From summer concerts to acrobats and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, here’s a glance at what’s going on over here this summer.

We celebrate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the month of May, but great events and opportunities for the whole family exist all summer long. The inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational kicks off June 6-8, showcasing more than 500 of the world’s most historic racecars competing on the recently reconfigured road course. Tickets are on sale now at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

For most of us, summer means live music, and July marks the return of the Bunbury Music Festival July 11-13 and the launch of the inaugural Buckle Up Music Festival July 18-20, both at Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove. Three days of huge lineups featuring 80 bands across six stages include headliners such as Empire of the Sun, The Flaming Lips, Fall Out Boy and Paramore at Bunbury, and Eli Young Band, The Band Perry, Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss at Buckle Up, among many more. One-day passes and weekend packages are available now at www.buckleupfestival.com and www.bunburyfestival.com.

Also in July, explore the extraordinary world of Varekai hidden deep within a forest at the summit of a volcano where anything is possible. Cirque du Soleil brings the impressive Varekai to Indy with six performances July 24-27 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And keep your eyes peeled for some exciting surprises around town in June! Tickets are on sale now at www.cirquedesoleil.com/varekai.

Wind down your summer by rocking out with Jesus – Jesus Christ Superstar: The Arena Spectacular comes to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday, August 2 featuring a rock star cast and unforgettable vocals. Tickets are sale now at Ticketmaster.com.

Now that we’ve filled your calendar, what else are you looking forward to this summer? We hope to see you at a few events!