Archive for ‘productivity’:

Confession of a Social Media Consultant

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

By Brad Wester

secret-1142327_960_720 I’ve been a freelance social media consultant for several years, and I have a confession to make.

The power of social media is a myth.

You know that great idea you have for your next Facebook post? It’s probably worthless. I’m not trying to be harsh, and I’m not saying you have terrible ideas, but take a moment to think about it. How many people are going to see that post? Hint: not enough.

In 2015, Facebook organic reach dropped from an average of 12% to under 6%. This trend has continued in 2016. Facebook’s organic reach is low and continues to drop. Reaching less than 6% of your audience isn’t powerful. It’s time to stop posting and hoping for the best. It’s time for a plan.

The power of social media has always been a myth. The true power is in the planning – it’s in the development of a social media strategy.

Posting on social media without a strategy means your posts may be missing your targeting audience. You may be posting at the wrong times, creating the wrong content and using the wrong call to actions. You could be using improper tracking methods or relying on the wrong metrics to show success. Without a social media strategy, you’re at risk of wasting time and energy that could be spent more effectively on other parts of your business. You may even be hurting the future success of your Facebook page due to poor performance now.

Having a fully developed social media strategy is essential and should include the ability to track and analyze data in each step. Tracking data will allow you to determine what social networks you should focus on, what type of content is most effective, if it’s more effective to create a wide variety of content, simply promote high performing content to a larger audience and even how much you can afford to spend on promoting your high-performing content.

More social networks, including Instagram and Snapchat, are creating algorithms to determine what content to show users. These algorithms will continue to decrease organic reach and increase competition, driving up the cost of effective social media marketing. Developing a social media strategy will help you rise above your competition.

It’s time to stop posting and start planning.



Brad Wester is a freelance digital marketing consultant specializing in helping small businesses create engaging online experiences that generate leads and drive sales. Follow Brad on Twitter: @wester_brad.

How to Re-Engage With Your Work

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Engage Work productivity press clipping media monitoring public relationsWe took a few opportunities this summer to remind you about the importance of unplugging and taking a break or vacation. It’s summer – that’s what it’s for. But the quickly dwindling days of August mean that summer is just about over, and that means it’s time to re-engage with your work.

Why re-engage?

It’s sure tempting to stay in summer mode all year long, but let’s face reality: you’re going to be at your job for a number of hours each day. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their work, and only 36 percent of white collar workers in a survey said their work had a level of meaning and significance.

Engaging in your job not only helps you excel professionally, but can also make your personal life richer. A healthy work-life balance makes people more satisfied in their jobs and encourages professional motivation and productivity.

And even if you feel you’re not in the best place in your career, approaching projects with a more ambitious positive attitude can help you build your portfolio and ignite passions for your current work..

Take breaks

To re-engage, you need to be more focused. To be more focused, you need to take breaks. That may sound counter-intuitive, but those who take a break every 90 minutes report levels of focus 30 percent higher than those who don’t take breaks, and also report a greater capability to think creatively.

Shorten meetings

If you’re in the position to change the length and structure of meetings, you should (and if you’re not in that position, consider making a few thoughtful recommendations to your manager). Most meetings are a waste of time. Good meetings need a specific purpose and a hard time limit. I used to work at an office where planning meetings were limited to 30 minutes; while they could have easily gone on for 45 or 60, awareness of the limit meant we often finished in 25. That meant everyone knew meetings would be quick, and we wouldn’t walk into the room dreading a giant time suck.

Fred Kofman suggests holding meetings only “to decide and commit” to something. No meetings for reviews, updates, evaluations, or reports. Those things can be done in ways other than meetings. While it may seem strange to go from lots of meetings to only the occasional meeting, doing so frees up a lot of time for you and colleagues to think creatively and get things done.

Recognize your talents and utilize them

Feeling underused makes it easy to disengage from work, but if your strong points aren’t part of your work, it’s up to you to make them part of your work. First thing is to identify your strong points, and that doesn’t necessarily mean your task-driven talents; strong points can be how you think or solve problems. Then, identify a challenge you’ve had in your life or observed in others that you want to help others solve. Putting your strong points and challenges together can help you find more fulfillment in all your work.

If this means taking the reins and reworking your job description, do it, but start small. You can’t change everything overnight. Start with taking on extra projects that speak to your sensibilities, then grow them and find more opportunities to help your colleagues, your manager, and your company grow.

Be willing to break your non-engaged habit

Think of your non-engagement as a bad habit that needs breaking. While you might have to continue working on projects that don’t challenge you, find a way to make them better and more rewarding leveraging your strengths. Taking that approach will raise your profile and the awareness of your profile and other teams to want to use you in a more diverse way.

Remember that being engaged at work is a habit and a skill. And once you get engaged with your work, don’t forget to take a vacation or digital holiday. It can only help you be more engaged.

How do you get engaged with your work?


Tips for Type A Personalities to Bring Life Into Balance

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Tips Type A Personalities Life Balance Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Lynn Ingrid Nelson Lin PR Media Relations

Lynn Ingrid Nelson at PRSA Midwest Conference. Photo by Tressa Robbins

Many of us in the communications fields refer to ourselves as being “Type A” or having “Type A” personalities. The term has become a catchphrase for those of us who tend to be high-energy, driven, ambitious, goal-oriented, competitive perfectionists with a sense of urgency in nearly everything we do.

HISTORY: The term “Type A” originated in the 1950s when Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman observed that those most likely to suffer a cardiac event also tended to have more driven, impatient, high-stress personalities, and the term propagated after their 1974 best-selling book, Type A Behavior And Your Heart, was published.

At the recent PRSA Midwest District Conference, one of the sessions I attended was with Lynn Ingrid Nelson, principal at Lin PR, and author of the book Getting Your Life into Balance. She talked about PR pros often running around with their “hair on fire” due to the urgent nature of our work, and that learning ways to handle this constant state of urgency improves our well-being and our effectiveness. In public relations specifically, our stressors tend to be clients, bosses, continual deadlines, round-the-clock demands, cranky journalists, and constant multitasking. This session was interesting to me as I have been the epitome of “work hard, play hard” most of my adult life, but in recent years found it not working quite so well for me anymore.

Not sure if you need to bring your life into balance? Nelson suggests you begin with asking yourself these questions:

  • Does anxiety, workaholism and/or a sense of over-responsibility get in the way of getting what you want out of your life?
  • Do you stay busy to appease your restlessness?
  • Are you obsessive compulsive about work and other areas of your life?
  • Do you do more than your fair share at home, at work, in volunteer activities?

Still not sure? Check out this Huffington Post article, 16 Signs You’re A Little (Or A Lot) Type A.

If you answered yes to many but aren’t sure just WHY you should focus on life balance, Nelson suggests you’ll have more compassion and better understanding of others, more energy for activities (less drudgery), more creativity/play, more intimacy, possibly better health, and more overall satisfaction.

Nelson suggests creating a sort of journal she called an “intentional time diet” where you record how you spend your time now (anyone who’s worked in a PR agency should be familiar with this drill), and then distinguish between discretionary and required time.

She spoke about clarifying your intentions by asking yourself things like: what are your three most important goals, what do you want to do less/more of, and are you willing to make the changes that would be required to meet those goals. Estimate much time are you willing to spend on what. Then, determine what you can do now to shift toward better balance. “Find your own shade of gray,” Nelson challenged.

Through her own struggle, she shared many things she’s learned. A few of the ones that really resonated with me were:

1. Going out of your way for everyone does not lead to good balance.

2. There is little upside to being the most responsible person in the group.

3. “Muscling” through tough situations is less of an option as we age. Intentional is a much better solution.

While I already had some things set in motion to simplify my life and make me more productive and less stressed, this session validated that I’m moving in the right direction.

What are you doing to find your shade of gray?


Dealing With the Before, During, and After of Vacation Time

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Before During After Vacation BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas  Ellis Friedman Public Relations PR Media Monitoring

Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ellis Friedman

On Tuesday night, I returned from a two-week vacation to Ireland and Scotland. Since it’s vacation season, I bet a lot of professionals are going through – or are about to – things similar to what I experienced, before, during and after the vacation.


For some reason, American workers only use about half of their allotted vacation time. Some companies make it hard to do otherwise, but if you can take your vacation, you absolutely should. Even if you can’t take off two weeks at a time, take some time. Being on vacation (or just away from work) helps decrease stress and is good for your health. Plus, time off makes life more fun.

Before you head out of the office, leave yourself a list of what you were working on. You might think you’ll remember, and chances are you eventually will, but between the logistics of travel and the unfortunate realities of returning to the real world, there’s a good chance things will slip through the cracks. Take the last ten minutes of the day before your vacation to write down who you’re emailing with, the projects you’re still working on (even if they’re not due for weeks), and the first things to do when you get back. It will make your transition back a lot smoother – trust.


When you leave, unplug as much as you can. I brought my phone, no laptop, but I’ll admit, I scrolled through and posted on social media once or twice a day. (Funny thing: my parents were on social media way more than my husband and I were. Who says Millennials are the most connected?)

Isn’t it ridiculous to travel around the world – or go through the hassle of making vacation plans – just to sit at the breakfast table and realize everyone is on their phone? Yes, this happened. My husband, who wisely left his phone off, sat through a few breakfasts where we were all on Facebook. After that, I made an effort to only check social media at the beginning or end of the day and not at the table, but as I’m sure he’d tell you, I didn’t have a perfect record. Just put the phones down. It will be OK.

Finally, try not to work. I scrolled through my work email maybe three times, mostly because I was curious to see if anything was happening, but I didn’t open any emails. About 60 percent of people who do take time off do actual work on that time off. Please don’t work. Work makes a vacation cease to be a vacation.

Things will be fine. The work world will go on, but your vacation won’t.


It’s almost guaranteed that re-entry is going to be difficult. After walking five to 10 miles a day (sometimes more), being outside, and having no responsibilities, sitting in front of a computer and writing this is not the easiest or most amazing thing I’ve done recently. And after two weeks on my phone, I can hardly remember how to type.

Regardless, I feel pretty good, but not everyone does; the post-vacation blues are a real thing. Make sure you give yourself time to readjust. Even if you’re back at work the next morning, go easy on yourself. This doesn’t mean slacking, but do things to make your life easier, like simpler dinners, triaging chores, or just hiring someone to clean the house this once. But make sure to get right back into healthy habits like exercising and hobbies – it’s amazing how fast life’s stress comes back.