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offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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Blogger with a Knack for Content Development and Innovative Marketing

Alex Steed of Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics.
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

A recent study by Vocus shows that bloggers rank highly with consumers for trust, popularity, and influence, and this week’s Monday Maine Maven is a blogger who has gained popularity in Maine for his quips, anecdotal humor and overall blunt approach to even the most controversial topics. Alex Steed is the man behind the Bangor Daily News Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. blog, where no topic is off-limits.

In a recent post, Steed took on the new Portland slogan, which sparked a Facebook frenzy of opinions and rants. You know it’s going to be great when he starts with a note: My bosses get bummed out if I don’t warn you when my posts contain swears, so there’s your warning.

In the article he states:

Speaking of Las Vegas, stop bringing up the Vegas slogan as an example of an awesome slogan….You know what else happens in Vegas and stays in Vegas more than anywhere else in the country? Suicide. Their rate is double the average, and that’s something that a snappy slogan just can’t solve because, again, slogans, good or bad, don’t really mean anything.”

Does Alex worry about scaring people off? No.  In fact, he embraces it saying, “A long time ago, because television shows were only shown on networks, the shows took fewer risks because they had to retain a large audience—as channels increased in number, shows were able to take more risks because they were reliant on a base of fewer viewers. For this reason, one of today’s most lauded television shows is about a meth kingpin who boils people in baths of acid.”

“Sometimes the posts write themselves in the forms of discussions or arguments. Then I go and write a sort of idealized version of my take on the argument, while trying as much as possible to illustrate the other side or sides.”
Image courtesy of his wife, Jaime Steed

No, Alex does not plan on using this method on anyone who disagrees with his opinions, but he has realized that he doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, and that understanding his audience and readers, and developing content that appeals to them, is the key to the success of his blog and business.

Steed says that what does worry him most is “do people see me as consistent, or willing to take risks, or bold, or thoughtful? I work hard, reading everything over and over to make sure that even the most questionable assertions can be backed up with facts. That way the only thing someone can disagree on is the point of view, and not with the content itself.”

Content is incredibly valuable and Alex says, “These days folks are expected to write for free—I think it’s important not to accept this. Good content creators bring traffic, and traffic equates to increased usage, or advertisers, or whatever the bottom line is for whoever is hosting the blogger.”

For Steed, it all began with curiosity. He says, “I was very excited about the prospect of seeing the world and I knew that I had a voice.” He encourages young writers to “Be open to being influenced and inspired—take in input at a significantly higher rate than you put out words, content or whatever you are creating. Live your life; read everything; watch everything; and learn how to listen, absorb and process.”

Alex adds that success comes from taking risks, and that “you have to be a consumer of content that is greater than what you are creating.”

” I love living in Maine, and I also love my peers in the creative community here. There is a lot of good work being done in Maine.”
Image courtesy of Zack Bowen, Knack-Factory

So what influences Alex’s work? Here’s his top 5 list:

Might & Main—“They do great work and are very cool without being pretentious. In a few short years, they have built an empire. Their impact on me and the work I do has been substantial.”

Change.org—“They’ve built a way of compounding digital influence and amplifying collective voices.”

The Feast—“I admire them because they’re working toward continuing conversations about how we approach business, culture and activism in a compelling way.”

Love + Radio—“It’s decidedly one of the most riveting and entertaining podcast series being produced today.”

POCKET BRUNCH—“They are blowing up the way we think of food, socializing, parties and everything in between…and they’re locals!”

To check out Alex’s work for yourself, you can read his latest posts at Bourbon. Portland. Beer. Politics. Like what you see? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out his podcast here.

How to Make the Most of your Blog

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Erika here, and I have a question for you. How many times have you visited a company’s website and thought: I want to know more? I know I feel this way a lot. Press and News pages are great, but if you are claiming to be an expert or giving advice as if you’re the best out there, then I want to know why. Why should I buy from you versus a competitor?

An easy answer: you have a killer blog. The entire team at NMC believes that the key to success is being someone your consumers “know, like and trust.” A blog lets people get to know you and like you, and as a result they trust you.

For me, writing about social media sites is fun and easy. I grew up in a generation that experienced the evolution of social media platforms firsthand. AOL, yeah, I had that and I had an AIM profile page complete with hearts and smiley faces that would later evolve into a customized MySpace page. Then, as soon as I was old enough to get a college email address, I was on Facebook and witnessed it become more public, to the point that the nine-year-old kid next door could have an account if he wanted.

Blogs are one thing that has stayed constant in this frenzy of change. They have existed in some way since the internet began, and while their role is changing, they aren’t going anywhere.

So how can you make the most of your blog? Let me share five best practices when it comes to influential blogging.

  • Create weekly features. If you want regular readers, then you must provide regular content.
  • Keep advertising to a minimum. Most people don’t mind ads down the sides of the content, in fact, we might not even notice it, but we do mind when we can’t scroll until we’ve watched a 30-second ad about something we don’t care about.
  • Engage your readers. Create contests, or link your posts to your social media pages or your business website. Your readers should feel like they are getting something out of reading your blog.
  • Link to previous posts. Not many readers are going to scroll back or search to find a previous post mentioned in a current article, so link to it for them. Keep your readership growing by making it easy for readers to find more relevant information.
  • Acknowledge other bloggers. Blogging is networking, and it isn’t necessarily a competition. Comment on other blogger’s posts and join the conversation. You will be surprised by who may reciprocate.

The key to a great blog is to develop a rapport with your readers and to offer them information that is relevant to what you can do for them. Now, I’m not saying that you should make it entirely about sales and the services you offer, but it should be about establishing yourself as a reputable source of information when it comes to the services you offer.

Finally, always remember that no matter what your topics include, blogging can be utilized as a fun way to enhance your brand.