04 Dec Ask the Influencer: Monica Mayk, FedPulse
Monica Mayk is a marketing and client outreach maven for Market Connections. She wears a variety of hats: overseeing promotional communications, public relations, events and content marketing, which includes executive editorship of the FedPulse™ blog.
She was kind enough to participate in our Q&A and share some insights on what goes into making FedPulse tick. Enjoy!
Can you give us some background on FedPulse and how it came to be the force it is today?
In 2011, while working on the Social Media in the Public Sector study, we were inspired to pay some much-needed attention to our blogging and social media efforts. Our friends at Strategic Communications Group helped us see how we could use a content marketing and social media strategy to connect with some of the right prospects and clients in the marketplace. We had had a corporate blog for many years, and we were sitting on a treasure-trove of great research and knowledgeable thought leaders. But our research team members were overburdened by trying to write insightful posts in addition to their primary work, and our blog lacked direction and purpose. We decided to retool our efforts with a better strategy and outside help.
In 2012, a week prior to our annual Federal Media and Marketing Study release event, we launched the retooled blog and used that first big research study as a testing ground for content development. With a dedicated editor manning the ship — Matt Langan of L&R Communications — not only were we posting on time and on relevant topics, but we were paying attention to the amount and quality of traffic each post generated, and we used that information to help drive the strategy of our editorial calendar.
We designed the blog as a separate news site from our primary website, and we established a formula for our editorial calendar that includes Q&As with executives, winning government contractor features, hot topics in the government market and of course research highlights.
The Weekly News Kickoff, which we added at the end of 2012, provides a forum to highlight customer and prospect news and stay relevant through coverage of top issues and trends like cybersecurity and (at the time) sequestration. We work hard to make sure the content we’re providing is relevant and insightful. Plus, we want to make sure it ties back to what we do and drives business for the company.
In 2013, we added PulsePolls™ as a way to better leverage our core capability – market research – and to keep the information we provide on our blog current and relevant. We launch a short poll about once a quarter, so we always have fresh, relevant survey data to work with. This has actually driven more than just blog traffic for us. As a result of our PulsePolls, we’ve garnered a good amount of media coverage, and now we often have media outlets and clients asking FedPulse to cover their news and events. PulsePolls have become a great way for us to stay relevant to reporters and clients in between our two big annual studies. We also offer our clients thought leadership coverage on FedPulse, such as Q&As with executives, which helps to increase the value of their investments into thought leadership research with Market Connections.
Is your job solely focused on blogging and blog strategy, or are you responsible for other things? If so, what things?
I oversee our content marketing strategy, among other things. This means I oversee the blog editorial, but I don’t handle all the writing, interviewing and day-to-day management by myself. I am very fortunate to have Susan Rose, an independent writer/editor, who manages the day-to-day for us and produces much of the content. I also drive the PulsePolls and other thought leadership research efforts, but our research team is just as instrumental in making those research projects successful. I’m also responsible for some business development, and I work with clients on thought leadership strategy and implementation through research and promotional communications.
I would recommend to anyone starting or revamping a content marketing strategy to hire an outside editor/writer or firm, or to employ a dedicated in-house staff member. Not only does this take the onus off of your staff to feel inspired about producing content and meeting deadlines, but it really helps to have someone whose main responsibility it is to make sure the content gets written, looks and sounds good, and meets your objectives day-to-day.
What are a few of your blog goals? How do these align with corporate goals? How often do you review and refresh your goals?
We have two primary objectives: to showcase Market Connections’ thought leadership and expertise, and to drive business. Before we really dedicated ourselves to this content marketing effort, I felt we had a lot of market knowledge, but we were not doing a good job of showcasing it or leveraging it to increase awareness of the company and understanding of our expertise. Our research directors, who are very knowledgeable and experienced individuals, sometimes felt they didn’t have anything new to say about topics that are second-nature to them because they are involved in research and market data every day. With a writer/editor involved, we are able to come up with new and different angles that showcase our researchers’ knowledge and expertise, and allow them to share their insights more easily than if they have to generate all the unique content themselves, in addition to their primary responsibilities.
In the past, when we released our two large studies each year, I always received positive comments from clients and prospects. They often said, “You should do this more often!” So the content marketing strategy was one of the ways in which we listened to our audience and worked to provide fresh, relevant insights and valuable information to help them do their jobs.
We reevaluate our blog strategy and tactics quarterly, and we are constantly making tweaks to help our strategy and our content evolve. We’re in a very good groove right now with respect to content generation, and we’ve done a good job in the past year of both improving our tracking capabilities (thanks to marketing automation!) and driving more traffic to our corporate website. My next big effort will be to increase traffic. We’re getting ready for our end-of-year review now.
How do you promote new content?
Each person here belongs to, and is responsible for promotion within, different groups on LinkedIn. We all use LinkedIn pretty heavily company-wide, so it makes sense for us to leverage those existing relationships to promote our content. Every day that we post, we promote the content via LinkedIn. And our editor makes it very easy for everyone on the team to copy, paste and post daily.
We also promote our content on Twitter and re-tweet other influencers, clients, publications and partners in the industry. It has become a great awareness driver for us. I’m also personally a fan of Tweet-pics, because we produce a lot of infographics, and they are so easy to share.
FedPulse straddles the line between media outlet and business blog. Do you ever receive pitches from PR folks? How do you handle those?
We do receive pitches, and typically they are on-target or are touting customer news, so we cover whatever we can fit into the calendar that is relevant to our market or supports our clients. We also receive interest from reporters who’d like us to help promote events or content, and again if it’s relevant, we will publish it. One of the keys here is partnership and content curation. We have no qualms about sharing or re-publishing content from other outlets, partners or clients as long as it’s relevant and of good quality. We work with a lot of organizations that have great integrity and produce quality content, so I am more than happy to augment what FedPulse provides with other outlets’ content.
Any major “lessons learned” over the years that you can share with our readers?
As I said earlier, I think working with an outside writer/editor, firm, or dedicated in-house writer/editor is one key to a successful content marketing strategy. For us, making thought leadership research an integral part of content development has also been a smart and successful strategy. I do not believe thought leadership research has been successful just because we are a market research firm; our clients have experienced increased media attention and better resonance in the marketplace when they have leveraged research in their communications and marketing as well. The market values unbiased data and craves real insights in the content we consume.
Finally, I would recommend ensuring that your content marketing strategy ties back to your company’s goals and always helps to connect your readers with your company’s core capabilities and expertise. The content should not be an end in and of itself; it should be the means to an end, whether that objective is elevating brand awareness, deepening understanding of who you are and what you do, or driving more traffic to your website’s products or services. I’m not suggesting your content should be a sales pitch, just that you find relevant ways to tie back to who you are and what you do as an organization.