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Tips on how to create content for PR with Trevor Young

  • Become your own media channel as the starting point and then build everything else on top. Build a base of communications with your audience as you grow your audience.
  • Create long-form content, a big article or a video presentation that you’ve done. Then chop them up into cascading content.
  • Have a culture to create content and that means within your workplace you see things, stories, you’re always taking behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.
  • A good starting point to create content is frequently asked questions that we hear about over and over again. What are the questions people are asking frequently that you can help them with? And then how deep can you go on those?
  • We need more interesting stories; we need more good thought-provoking pieces, we need more voices, genuine voices out there on topics and issues, whether they’re business or social issues.

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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Doug: Well, welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today we’re going to talk about building your own channel, your own media channel and creating a culture of content within your organization. The guest I’ve got joining me in studio today is Trevor Young. He is a digital citizen and he is an experienced PR practitioner, author, blogger, and social broadcaster. Trevor has been listed on brand Courtney’s 50 marketing thought leaders over 50 and he was named by Sydney Morning Herald as one of eight heroes of Australian content marketing and listed by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s top business thinkers. I think you’ll enjoy our conversations, we’ll talk about traditional PR, what it is, what it isn’t, and how he explains how to earn trust, grow your influence and build recognition to enhance your reputation. So I’d like to welcome Trevor Young to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Well, Hey Trevor, welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today.

Trevor Young: Thank you Doug. Great to be here.

Doug: Super excited to talk about you or talk to you and talk with you, have a conversation. I’ve looked through your websites and your social and I really loved your style. So for those who don’t know you well, do you want to give just a real high-level overview of what it is you do and how you help your clients kind of move their business, move the sales dial?

Trevor Young: Yeah, thanks Doug. Well, my background is very much traditional PR for quite a number of years but all that changed in 2007 when I started blogging and that opened my eyes to all sorts of things. I was on Twitter in that year and actually on LinkedIn in 2005 when, if you invited someone to connect with you, they’ve probably thought you were a stalker but then that whole notion changed the ball game. And in those days I was just experimenting and was very curious and wanted to see how blogging and then a few years later, podcasting and the onset of video in YouTube, how can people use that through a PR lens, how can they use all of these tools and try and make sense of everything to build, what I like to call, and this is what I think PR is deep in the level of connection you have with the people who matter most to the success of your business or your cause or your issue if you’re a nonprofit. 

So anything that does that deepens those relationships and that connection is PR. And of course, we now have a plethora of tools. So my role now is more kind of, I have an agency, but I do a lot of sort of strategy and almost mentoring and advisory, mainly with fast-growing entrepreneurial companies where I get to deal with the head between 50 and 150 staff and also emerging thought leaders, people who have got a story to tell, they’ve got a message out to get out there and they’re just confused about how to do it. And there are ways to do it strategically today.

I think you’ve got to be both strategic and creative in how to do that, and my whole thing is to become your own media channel as the starting point and then you build everything else on top. So you build that base of communications with your audience as you grow your audience. That’s a 365 days of the year and how you’re building assets to build your profile and your reputation in the marketplace. So I help people to do that through speaking advisory, workshops, consulting. 

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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Doug: That’s really cool. I mean, it’s funny how it’s changed. I mean, years ago I went to an event in New York and it was called the Innovation Summit and it was interesting who some of the speakers were and they had somebody there from… Maybe I won’t mention the name, one of the biggest newspapers in New York and basically they still at that point hadn’t clued in that because we talked a little bit off here what PR is and isn’t that it doesn’t have to be talking with a reporter, you can become your own media source. And at that point, I was actually someone from the journal. They hadn’t acknowledged that people can actually create their own PR channel without having to go talk to one of their reporters. 

Trevor Young: Yeah. And I think the thing with the media is, the media only see people talking to them. They don’t see what other people in the public relations industry do. And most of the time maybe they deal with publicists and publicists are very good at what they do and they’re very media focused. When it comes to PR, the media tends to be one part of a broader strategic comms program without getting too heavy about it. But I guess when a journal gets angry with a PR person who’s pitched them and they rant and rave, then just putting out their biases into the world but I’ve seen so many stats and research that everything, anything up to 60 to 80% of content or articles that come through the media and news, traditional media have been not generated, but instigated by a PR person. 

So they’d be in a world of pain, particularly today with newsrooms cutting back without help from the PR and publicity fraternity. So they do rant a bit sometimes, but the good ones work with the PR people and it’s a very collaborative space now. But of course, that’s the pitching side of things, Doug, and that’s probably what I spend a lot of my career doing. But now it’s about building that profile, building that authority, that credibility so the media come to you, you can still pitch and you can still approach and build relationships with key journalists in your space.

But it’s about attracting them to you and don’t forget you are the media as well. Even bloggers or getting on lists, we call it the phrase I’ll use is owned a media. Any sort of media way, you’ve earned the right to be there. Now that’s whether someone’s agreed to do interview you on a radio station, someone’s put you on a top blogs list, someone’s talking about you or quoting you in a podcast or in a presentation on the stage. The stage is media as well. So if you earned the right for that to happen there’s a bit of work that goes in that just doesn’t happen by itself.

Doug: Well, what I find often with all this stuff that we’ve seen, especially in the US over the last election, is that most people I talk to don’t realize that the news is not a public service. It is a business and they have to sell advertising and they have to get readers and followers and listeners. So they mistake that, hey, this is a not for profit here to serve the public. It’s like, no, they’re not a not for profit, they’re a business and they have to have, like you said, good content, a good relationship with good people who produce stories and headlines that people will click on and read for them to keep their doors open.

Trevor Young: And what we’re finding now is there’s a swing back to really good journalism because we don’t necessarily trust everything else out there obviously with all the Facebook issues and things like that. The New York times is going like gangbusters at the moment and here in Australia we’re seeing the same sort of thing, people are flocking to the media. They might not get all their news and information from the media, traditional media, might not necessarily believe everything that they read or hear or see but they will still go there for verification often.

Doug: Were talking on that particular channel, what steps do the media normally take to vet somebody as their, like you said, you’re trying to build yourself as a thought leader with a good reputation. What are they going to do? What are they going to look at and how are they going to search you to find out are you a good source? Can I trust you? And I guess at the end of the day will you make me look good versus look bad if I feature you or interview you?

Trevor Young: Yeah. Well, the number one thing is trust. They want to trust you as a source of information and so you might pitch them but I think nowadays they’re proactive and looking for stories, they might have an idea and then they are looking for spokespeople around it, that side of things. And so if you’re [inaudible 00:07:57] their networks. Journalists particularly are big on Twitter. And I’ll ask the ad networks now if your name pops up and a lot of people get besotted by big mainstream media and stuff like that. But let’s be real often it’s better to be looking more narrow in your vertical markets, whatever those markets might be and start a bit smaller with blogs and industry publications and that sort of thing but they’re all out there doing their homework, looking for stuff.

If you come up on their radar, see if people are talking about you, that’s when you pop up on their radar. So I’ve been on the other side so I was the one pitching and then when I started blogging in 2007 or on Twitter and raising my profile that way, which eventually led to a book deal, but I was being on radio and TV and I always being asked to do that. And I was just a nobody PR person, but because I’ve built my profile and people would talk about me, the media that on this is the national networks they found me. And so I’m seeing this again and again with the people I work with who I advise that their thought leaders out there doing their thing but a lot of friends in this space if they’re out there building that profile the media will come across them.

And don’t forget, as you said earlier, Doug, the media want to make sure that you’re not going to make them look silly and so they’ll check you out. And I think a lot of times when we talk content, we don’t talk about the validation now, whether it’s a client, a customer or a potential partner or an employee or a potential employee or a journalist, a blog or a podcast or whatever, they’ll check out your body of work on social media, on your blog or your podcast or videos or whatever to see if you’ve got the chops that you know what you’re talking about and are indeed an expert in your space. So that validation point, if you’ve got no website, no coverage on social, no profile, but they’ve heard about you, they still might drop off you because there’s nothing there to say that you are an expert only that you might tell people you’re an expert.

Doug: Yeah. It’s funny because often you’ll look at all the plants come that want to do marketing and the first thing I’ll do is look at all their social, go online, do a Google search to see if there’s anything that looks out of place or in some cases there’s some bad PR and that stuff shows up. So what’s your starting point? Because lots of times you get a business owner that’s saying, “Okay, I’d like to do PR.” So whether it’s traditional, where they’re pitching them, or like you said, trying to build yourself as an expert, a validated expert. So where do you start with your clients to help them walk down that path?

Trevor Young: Yeah, so I’m a content first man. So my philosophy is to build your own media channel now, whether that’s blogging, YouTubing, being even active on LinkedIn, writing articles on LinkedIn, that sort of thing. I think anything like that is super important because that’s your base. It takes a lot of time to do, and think of a pyramid. So it’s at the base of the pyramid you’re owned and social media, whenever I talk owned, you’re talking social anyway because they go together, that’s where your content is as well as being distributed. So let’s just put owned and social at the bottom of the pyramid and the next layer up is your earned media. So they work really beautifully together. So I wouldn’t really be pitching unless I was out there and being active, doesn’t mean you can’t, but I personally wouldn’t because there’s a lot of effort going into pitching that’s not just sending a note to someone say, I’ve got a great idea. 

The journalists will tell you they get hundreds of emails a day and they gravitate to the ones know how to pitch for starters or they know their name. So it’s a grind to do PR people who are professionals or publicists, that’s what they used to do that. So you’ve got to understand what the news hook is. So I’d be very keen on just having that blog or your platform, whatever that is, YouTube videos just start making an effort in that. So when you’ve done the effort to get to the journalists, if they do check you out, then they’re validating it, and they will check you out. So there’s no point doing a lot of pitching if they come back to you and say, “It’s a good idea, but who are you again?” And I think in today’s connected world you’ve got to be visible and consistent.

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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Doug: We talked a little bit earlier before we started our episode just really around kind of starting where you are with what you’ve got solely. I think your point was if you’re not a writer and you hate writing, then maybe writing a blog isn’t a way to do it. I know there’s somebody in your neck of the woods, James Schramko, who doesn’t like writing and so he goes, “I just dictate all my stuff and I sent it to a writer to clean it up.”

Trevor Young: Yeah, that’s a really smart way to do it and it’s good to get words on the page, obviously. I guess that’s the challenge we all face is some people like the video to consume. Some like videos, some like audio increasingly like audio podcasts like this but a lot of people still like to read as well. But yes, if you don’t like writing it’s not about knocking out a blog post every day, you need to be on it and consistent, but you don’t need to be just in the older days it was, let’s blog every day and we’ll build a profile that way and it works but it doesn’t work today. So it’s qualities is [inaudible 00:13:41] king and queen and putting out articles and pieces that are going to further your cause. So you need to be a little bit strategic about it, you can’t just put out anything. But I think that that idea of recording it and putting it out there is quite a sound idea.

Doug: Well, it works well for me because when this episode is transcribed, it’ll be a good natural conversation around content marketing and PR and transcribe it will be five or 6,000 words that I didn’t put pen to paper, we had a conversation. Like you said, it was audio for the audience but it also becomes a blog post, which is good for people to read. It’s good for SEO and it starts to build authority because people go, “Hey, look at these types of conversations so he has some expertise in these areas.”

Trevor Young: Correct. And the beautiful thing now and what we’re seeing and what I work with clients on and a lot of your listeners will be doing this, is that you might do a long like this is long-form content. So a long-form content, big article a video presentation that you’ve done maybe and then you can chop them up cascading content, I call. You chop them up into little pieces that can then be shared. Out of this conversation, you might be able to get two or three blog posts but smaller blog posts, for example. You might get some quotes, social tiles, audio snippets that can be turned into a video so you can upload them to social media. So what it is, is that it’s getting that narrative out there across multiple channels in multiple ways.

I’ve got one client and I know others that have they’ve got a keynote presentation for the stage and they’re now starting to break that up and use that in different ways across all the social channels and blog about it and that sort of thing. So I’d certainly recommend to listeners that they think a little bit more expansively about the content that they create and not every time, but what are the big chunky cornerstone things, topics and issues, and angles and hooks that they want to focus on, but do that however they want to create that content, but then break that content into other things for social media and other formats where it makes sense to do so.

Doug: Yeah, I like that particular model where like you said, you create your long-form content and then from the long-form content can come smaller blog posts and then a whole series of social. I know when we promote the podcast, we’ll go through your episode and we’ll pull out probably a dozen snippets from our conversation and that will become the message in social that will link back. So here’s the hot point. Here’s something that Trevor said that was really cool so let’s make sure we include that. So that’s our hook and this is not a clickbait like you we talked about earlier. It’s real and they’re going to find that content when they listen or they read.

Trevor Young: And often those little social bits and the quotes and the things that are interesting, they’re digital breadcrumbs so they’d lead people back to the biggest chunkiest stuff. For one of our clients, we do a monthly live Q and A on Facebook and I’m not just sitting there holding a phone. In fact, I’m not even there anymore, I live tweet it and we have people turning up now because we’re seven episodes in, but we’ve got a three to four camera, I think it’s a three camera setup now we’re settled on. We’ve got three on the panel and these are only phones and one’s an iPad. So one takes the three shot, one takes the two shot and one takes a one shot and we can make it exactly like a TV panel show.

The quality is just as good and I’m lucky that my clients are exceptionally good in front of the camera and they’ve got a great rapport with each other, but now we’re starting to get new guests in and new ideas and that lives on forever now. That’s really great content, it really goes well. We put it on YouTube and they’re hour long and people are hanging around for a little while to watch it, which is terrific. Then we break little sections of it up little videos and then we do also little quotes and things from it as well so that’s a live stream. Not that many people look at the live stream at the time, but the updraft that you do get is the interactivity and the updraft is lighter down the track when people jump onto it.

Doug: Well, it’s like you said, now you’re repurposing just so even if you’re speaking at a live event, there’s an opportunity to take that content the audio and the video and use that and again, repurpose it over and over again. So you might’ve spent 20 minutes on stage and you might get hours worth of content that you can break that into and repurpose and reuse.

Trevor Young: Yeah, and I’m not saying this is easy to do and I’m not saying you have to do it all yourself but if you want to break through the noise, which let’s face it today, strategic visibility in the marketplace is tremendously hard to do. Then we just need to be a little smarter about it and people say, “Well, we haven’t got time to do that.” Well, what are you doing in marketing that’s probably not working these days? And why don’t you stop putting a little bit of effort into this? I talk a lot about having a culture of content and that means within your space, within your workplace the culture of content is that this is a good story, yeah, you see things, you’re always on the go, you’re always taking behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

With the understanding that you’re out there building an audience, connecting with your customers and what I call your village of support, there’s not everyone’s going to be a customer. You’ve got a lot of friends of your firm or you or whatever, and they’re happy to promote you if you give them a reason to do so. This is the humanization, I guess in smaller businesses are in a better position than large companies in this regard. But we do business with people we know that. So how can we get people out there and show the behind the scenes and make our businesses and our organizations more relatable? We always note, we talk at nauseum about being a brand that people know, like, and trust, but there’s two others on top of that and one is to be top of mind and the other is to be talked about positively. If we can tick those boxes we are in a heck of a better position from a marketing and PR perspective. 

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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Doug: So is there a client or an example that you want to share with our audience of somebody that you helped move from a kind of where they were to follow your process in terms of having the culture of content and starting to create some long-form content and videos and start to produce that and share that?

Trevor Young: Yeah, we’re working with a couple of clients. One is a company in Melbourne called OpenCorp and they’re a very entrepreneurial, fast-growing business in the property investment space. So they take people for the journey of you want to invest in property, they work with you from going to work, but they’re bid things about education. So they give away all their knowledge, they give away their processes, they give it away, all that. In an industry where there’s not much trust property, they’ve taken the tack that we’re going to give it away, and we’re going to take you behind the scenes, and we’re going to lift the lid, and we’re going to tell you the stories of what we stuffed up and where we’re thinking now and things like that. One of the founders of the company, a guy called Ken McClellan, early days, he wrote the book on this.

So he’s done the hard yards first. As we know, writing a book is pretty tough. Usually, the book comes after five or six years for blogging but he wrote the book first and then we turned that book into a lot of content, and we broke it out from there, but they do these, they call them wealth wards workout of the day. So they’re sort of three to seven-minute videos, pretty raw and they take a topic and I think they’re up to about 290 at the moment. So that’s a big commitment, 290 videos and that’s not the only videos. They’re the guys that do the live stream. 

Video is their big thing, but then they break the book down into booklets, little more bite-sized chunks like E-books and stuff and they still print them, which I think is good as well. You can either have them as a PDF or some people want the physical copies, so they send it out to them if people are interested. So from an education, credibility, all of that point of view, they’ve got a culture of content because you’ve got the directors who will drop everything to do the video because it’s important. 

Doug: Wow, that’s really cool. And I was at the CrossFit box today and I think the seven to nine-minute video wad sounds a little bit easier than what we did today. 

Trevor Young: Yes, that’s batch production. I’m a big believer in batch production because these people are busy. 

Doug: Sure.

Trevor Young: So they’ll get in for half an hour[inaudible 00:22:55] an hour and change T-shirts and change shirts all the time but we’ll probably knock out six to eight of them. The good thing with batch production, Doug, of a video particularly is that you start seeing the narrative. If you just keep doing one-off, we’re going to knock out a video today, you’re going to sometimes struggle with unless you’ve got it all written out, but your topics might become a little bit looser and I think that when you batch produced them, you say, well, we do it in this order and in aggregate, these videos will tell a story and what you’re trying to do is create what I call a sub branded property content property. So the wealth wads are one, the live Q and A is another, these sorts of things where people that might a podcast, for example, is a sub branded property where it’s got its own name and over the period of time people get to know that and that’s their doorway into your world.

You know, not everyone will read your blogs necessarily, but they might listen to your podcasts. So I like this idea of batch production is one, but also building a sub branded property, particularly for video or podcasting can be a very powerful or an interview series. A friend of mine, he did about 180 interviews under a particular heading and they were blog interviews. That’s a sub branded property off the back of the blog. 

Doug: Well and I think that the bath production really, I mean I batch all my podcasts on one afternoon than one full day. But I mean that’s the same thing as writing a long-form article. That’s why I like that approach better because you get maybe a five to 8,000-word document and from there you break into little pieces. So it tells a congruent story opposed to, hey, I’m going to write a post today about this and tomorrow something else hits me so I write a post with something else so they’re kind of disjointed. So that makes sense that batching your video, you’d accomplish the same goal you get on a particular topic or path and you’d lead people through in bite-size pieces down that path. 

Trevor Young: Yeah, absolutely. Another company that I think does extremely well, they are in, I think in Richmond, Virginia called the Goulet Pen Company. Gouletpens.com and startup husband and wife selling fountain pens online and yes, the irony is quite delicious. They’re selling old fountain pens and ink and wax seals online and they’re up to about 42 staff now. And when I interviewed Brian Goulet one of the co-founders of the business, he said that they’ve got seven out of the 42 who are committed to creating content that’s not including him and his wife. So seven full-time staff create out 42 creating content and they do it better than probably anyone I’ve ever seen in terms of everything they do. Everything they do is terrific. 

Doug: Well I’m going to go check that out. I’m a fan of fountain pens, I’ve bought a number over the years and received some as guests. So it’s interesting, like you said, the irony of selling fountain pens online.

Trevor Young: It’s terrific, but just check them out from the point of view of the content that they do and the consistency. And Brian has a Q and A as well every week and he’s up there at 200 and something 260 maybe episodes every week. It’s an hour-long and it’s just him answering people’s questions that they’ve sent in so it’s not live and just terrific. The production values have improved over the years and of course, his presence and presentation skills have improved. It wasn’t always so polished, but he hasn’t lost his heart and he’s authenticity. 

So many people when they start building a profile, start getting really slick with all their production, particularly in video and they lose the authenticity of what made it nice and worked in the first place. So they’re a really great example of it and their blogs and everything they do is first-class but when a lot of brands say, Oh, we building community, blah, blah, wait till you see the community that these guys have built. And if you couldn’t do an hour-long Q and A every week with questions from people across all the channels, that’s when you’ve got a really terrific engaged and interactive community. 

Doug: So based on your experience of helping people do this, what is the fear that’s running through our listeners head now as they’re listening to this thinking, okay, that makes sense, I may have heard this before. So what’s the, but for most people?

Trevor Young: There are two buts. One is, I don’t really know what I want to talk about and that’s a fair enough call. Because you don’t want to be just creating content for the sake of it and adding to the noise because far too many people do that and they just wasting their time and wasting everyone else’s time around. They just being blocked and that sort of thing. Another mistake that people make is that they talk about themselves and their products and the services too much, they don’t talk about the audience and what’s in it for them.

And the second part is that it is overwhelming. It truly is overwhelming and that’s why I try and help people navigate through it and sometimes people think they have to do it all internally as we’ve discussed, but you don’t have to, you can be in control of certain things, but then forget freelancers or local suppliers or partners and I think this hybrid model of you do X amount but then you get other people to do the other work and you don’t have to do everything. I think there’s a school of thought, I need to be on every channel. I think just start and master and work out what’s going to work for you. Is it a blog and Twitter and LinkedIn, they might be your triple threat but do them really, really well.

And then over time, you might say, you know what? Podcasting is really cool, I’ve got a great idea for it, it’s going to add value to what I do. I know you know how it will pan out and let’s just have a crack at it. The good thing is you can try things and it doesn’t cost the earth. I think that’s the power today that anyone can do this and it’s terrific. But the problem is when anyone can do it, a lot of people just do stuff and they clog the world out there, the online environment, there’s a lot of junk out there. And I think just sometimes we need to take a step back and say, is this going to add value?

A good starting point is those frequently asked questions, which we hear about over and over again. What are the questions people are asking frequently that you can help them with? And then how deep can you go on those?  Do a video on a way you explain it and let your knowledge and your passion shine through. I also talk about leadership content and that’s if you want to take a leadership positioning in the marketplace, it’s not answering people’s questions. You’ve probably heard a Seth Godin. I like to use, Seth Godin is a great example of leadership content. He’s not out there solving your problems, he’s got courses and everything for that. But he builds his audience by being provocative and trying to change the, you think about topics and issues.

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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That’s where it starts moving more into content marketing for PR, which is what my book is about. It’s looking at those areas that take people beyond just the frequently asked questions as important as they are and that’s a great starting point into how can you now start building a moat around your brand and differentiating your brand in the marketplace, which again, is quite hard in a sea of sameness. 

Doug: Well, and to not gloss over one of the points you made. And that was that when they started this process of producing these videos that the wide as an example, they got better over time. So for listeners that are thinking, Hey, I have to be good versus, no, you need to, like you said, have a message that adds value and start and over time you will get better. Don’t spend three years practicing, instead start producing content today and then like you said, bringing in some people that have more experience that can give you some offline critique so you get better over time. 

Trevor Young: 100%, Doug. And I think the thing we’ve got to be careful of there is you could do some videos that you think might suck so you don’t put them up. We’ve all done that, we’ve all looked back and said, “Well, that’s just a miss.” But I’ve also seen people put stuff on LinkedIn and it’s really… I’m a bit nervous about this and all the things you’re not supposed to do. And people jump in and support say, “This is terrific, it’s a good story. It’s a good message or whatever.”

And it takes time. Carl, I was going to say Carl added to that or aligned to that thought is that it takes time to find your voice. So yes, the skill of presentation. Same with speaking on stage, same with being on a video, same with writing and same with podcasting. It takes time to master it but at the end of the day is if you’ve got a good story and you’ve got great content, people will listen. And I think the key is you’ve also got to find your voice. I look back at my first blogs and they’re still up there from 2007 absolutely appalling and probably did me more harm than good. But often for jokes, I do put them up online and say, “Look how bad this was.” But I found my voice, I was probably a lot more meek and mild in the early days but you find your voice over a period of time and you work out, Doug, you’ll attest to this, there is nothing more sobering than pressing publish on a blog post. Do I really believe in this?

This is out there. Can I fight the good fight on this topic or this issue? And that’s when you find your voice. I mean, there’s a school of thought that unless you’re feeling quite sick, you haven’t gone hard enough but I don’t subscribe to that at all. It should be an enjoyable experience that shouldn’t be making you sick. That said, a friend of mine recently did a guest post for an online business publication in Australia and that guest posting and op-eds as they call them is a really good way of writing content for others under your own name. She rang me and said, “This is coming out in an hour and I feel absolutely sick about this.” And she walked me through it and I said, “Well, it’s a pretty tough article when you’ve taken a pretty hard stance, but you believe in this, I know you do.”

And it turned out to be one of her best articles and one of her most read and has got her a lot of talkability and led to other things. So there is merit in having that flag in the ground and standing for something and I don’t think we’re wired to do that unless we’re naturally combative people, but most people aren’t. So you’ve got the fine that voice and be willing, how far do you go? How hard do you hit if it’s on an issue that you believe in? Or how open are you? Or as some people say, how far do you open the kimono on personal issues or lessons learned in business over the journey. That’s the stuff that resonates. We’ve all been there and when someone comes out and stuffs something up and talks about it, we get more out of that probably than, hey, this was a brilliant success.

Doug: And I learned that with hiring copywriters, we were running some large ad campaigns in America and I was buying media and so we were testing two different writers. The writer that wrote just kind of a levelheaded piece that anybody could have read and understood versus the person who took a contrarian view. The contrarian guy generated way more leads. What we found by serving the audience was the first writer everybody was indifferent to [inaudible 00:34:45] they didn’t really hate him, they didn’t really love him. 

But the other guy, there’s a clear line in the sand. People either hated him or loved them and the people that loved them followed them and that moved the sales dial. So for me, that was my first witnessing, looking at the analytics on the back end, doing the same media, two different writers, same topic and this guy crushes it and this guy does all right. So there was nothing wrong with him taking a stance saying, “This is what I believe.” Opposed to, well, on one hand, we could go this way or on the other hand, we go that way. For me, I don’t find that helpful at all.

Trevor Young: And I think it’s got to be genuine too though. I mean, you don’t want to just be provocative and controversial for the sake of it because that pops through too. How many people are, you’ve heard them or maybe you’ve read their articles and on social they’re quite combative and provocative and then you meet them in real life and they’re meek and mild and do you know what I mean?

Doug: Yeah.

Trevor Young: The disconnect there, and that’s personal branding. 

Doug: Yeah, it is.

Trevor Young: You’re building a brand of being combative and standing your ground and all this. But then I see you and you don’t, you’re not that person and that consistency is very important. Sometimes we do need measured people to say, “Well, there’s this issue and on the other side there’s issues. This is what I believe.”

They don’t have to be controversial about it, but they’re showing a balanced view, looking at both sides, giving people the opportunity to look at that and say, “Well, this is what I believe here.” And you might have a different view. Again, finding our own tone of voice, our own styles, we need to do what’s comfortable for us, but sometimes we need to get a little uncomfortable as well because we know that that’s when the magic happens.

Doug: And there was a book I read a long time ago called, You Are The Message, and it was written by an author by the name of Roger Ailes and he sent a lot of consulting for various presidents and he basically just supported. What you had said was that when you’re speaking on the stage, you should be the same person on the stage, off the stage. If you’re speaking on the stage and you’re one persona and you get out and you meet people from that event or that seminar or you’re out for dinner with them, they shouldn’t be going, “Hey, you’re not the same person that was over there.” That was a whatever, that was an act, that was a show or that was trying to get attention and when I talked to you, so yeah, that was really about being authentic.

Trevor Young: I remember doing some work with an executive coach, he was a client many years back, and he worked with CEOs to help them shape their message, and their story needs. He said to me, “You’d be surprised at how many CEOs of bigger companies take acting lessons to become the person that they think the marketplace and their staff, etc, want to see.” And I thought, Oh my God, that’s just so hard. We know Alba Triana is a good actor, you’re not Alba Triana. Oh my gosh. And that’s where social media, when you see CEOs and business leaders and community leaders get out and talk about stuff that they believe in and have that point of view and listen to people and have empathy and all the things we like not just in a person, but in a leader particularly they get talked about, they get asked to write articles, they get asked things, and they get followings and that’s because we can relate to them, and we may agree with their point of view or whatever, and they expand on our worldview, or they reinforce their worldview. 

But the fact of the matter is when you see it, and there’s so few CEOs and business leaders on social media properly they might have someone put up a tweet or whatever, but they’re not on it talking to people. I liked John Legere, who’s the North American president or CEO, I think of T-Mobile. We haven’t got T-Mobile in Australia, but this is a guy who’s been around. He’s got long hair, he loves magenta, he does Facebook, I think it might be live every Sunday called Slow Cooker Sundays. He’s got millions of followers, just terrific, just really terrific. You have to look at Slow Cooker Sundays, and he’s probably got more following than T mobile, but of course, he’s connected to T-Mobile, and he’s a spokesperson for T mobile, he’s a great representative of the brand of T-Mobile. 

If someone has a crack at him on Twitter, he’ll just put up a gif that just dismisses them pretty quick. So he’s an interesting cat. But in New Zealand there’s the prime minister, Jasinda Ardern, is just terrific. She uses live Facebook all the time, and she might be out in the field or talking about something or just bringing people up to speed with what’s happened over the week or and sometimes she hasn’t got makeup on all she’s in the wind, and hair is blowing everywhere, and they’re rough and they roll, and they are terrific. Jasinda Ardern, if you want to see a leader at government, a public leader use social media, look at her Facebook page it is just terrific. And people warm to her because it’s who she is, and she talks to people on their own level.

Doug: In the real world, not in a studio with a green screen all the time?

Trevor Young: 100%. She might do some of those.

Doug: Not all the time.

Trevor Young: But we know that the bulk of it just is on the fly, which again, she might not get all of use at the time, but they’ll come later. 

Doug: So what’s one thing that you’re super excited about moving forward in your business? 

Trevor Young: The one thing is probably the thing that’s driven me for a long time. I still wake up like I’ve been in this space now, if every digital year is a doggy, 70 years, probably knocking on I don’t know, 77, 80 years. But I still wake up excited Doug, about the fact that we can become our own media channel now. However, that looks like and we’ve got the tools that are disposal, we’ve got everything we need at our disposal to get our story out there, to talk about our passions, to share our ideas and our insights and our stories with the world. We need more interesting stories, we need more good thought-provoking pieces, we need more voices, genuine voices out there on topics and issues, whether they’re business or social issues.

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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I think that every day we will see someone who’s popped up out of nowhere and build a massive audience and around all sorts of weird and wonderful topics. I just think that that’s really exciting. It’s a journey I’ve watched my first book was called MicroDomination in 2013 and it was identifying these trend and looking at the people who will be coming what are called micro mavens and just seeing that really explode. And of course, we’ve got the issues with influencers who are now trying to take the cash and hack the system. 

And everyone’s always trying to game the system and that whole influencer marketing stuff is a bit debatable at the moment. But I’m a purist and the purity of social media and online publishing technologies, etc, means that we can create a magazine, a radio show, a TV show in our living room and have a voice to the world. And as Richard Edelman, one of the famous PR people in America said, I’m sure I’m quoting him correctly. What’s the effect? Power has shifted from the hands of a few influencers, has shifted from the hands of a few to the fingertips of many. Given that I had to go through gatekeepers for many years as a PR consultant and now we can build our own audiences and communicate directly that’s a revelation. It’s still a revelation to date 12 years after starting my blog. 

Doug: Yeah, it’s really cool. I mean, I know we connected on social and I’ve had a lot of guests I connect on social because I’m looking for people who are authentic, putting out good content and it’s an easy channel to connect. So you don’t have to have some big huge strategy other than you just really need to be you and put your hands on the keyboard and have that conversation.

Trevor Young: I think we’ve lost that a little bit. Let’s face it, marketers and entrepreneurs and online marketers come in and wreck something that was working pretty well and I think we’re seeing a swing back to a little bit more humanity. A top marketing blogger called Mark Schieffer in the US, just a terrific writer. I’ve got a great book out called Marketing Rebellion and he’s talking a lot about humanity and the future of the company that wins will be the most human sort of thing. I think that there is a swing to that, we’re seeing a swing back to groups, private groups. We’re seeing a swing back to certain things that the signals are that we still want to be online we just want it to be a little bit more, maybe niche, private. We want to talk with people who are genuine and the businesses that can do that and the marketers that understand that and resist the temptation to hack the system and game everything. Then I think ultimately they’ll win and they’ll attract the right audience.

Doug: So, given that when you’re out swirling a glass of a good Australian Chardonnay. I’m not sure if you’re a wine guy. I didn’t see that in your profile.

Trevor Young: I am, but not Chardonnay.

Doug: Okay. So what’s the bad advice you hear as you’re out in the business community given what you do and the length of time, I mean, because as a veteran in the business, you’ve seen lots of stuff come and go. So what’s the bad advice that you think that people are hearing or receiving? 

Trevor Young: I don’t know if it’s bad advice but well, I think that they if you [inaudible 00:44:25] I can still say it in my head, but it’s not bad advice, but if you can growth hack your way to this or take this shortcut or whatever. And I think you need to be aware of things that you can do, if you’re doing social advertising on Facebook, etc, AB testing and being smart with data and everything, but don’t be a slave to data, don’t make data everything. There are two schools of thought, there’s the people that probably just love the stories and the human side and the ones that just love the data and probably never written a story in their life, but they’ll create something around data.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Again, coming from a purist, I think being a purist to who looks at data, but he’s not a slave to it, is where I like being. I think if people just say, “Oh the data, the data, look at all these data points.” Just go down this track if your heart is not in it, but you go and do it anyway, I don’t think that that’s the right advice.

Doug: That’s a good point. [crosstalk 00:45:29]

Trevor Young: It’s not incorrect to advise, by the way, but it might not be right for you as the entrepreneurs, the marketer or the business owner. I think you’ve got to stay true to yourself and don’t just blindly follow what the gurus are saying.

Doug: What’s trending on Twitter today, I’ll be that.

Trevor Young: Exactly. It doesn’t mean you can’t be curious about it and test some things offline or whatever but I think that jumping onto everything and just trying to, Oh, this is really happening, let’s just try and do this. Or I understand this is the best time to post, but if everyone posted that one time, well then it’s not the best time to post. So if your focus is on that and not the actual content, then I think that you’ll be in trouble a little bit.

Doug: And disappointed.

Trevor Young: Potentially or it might go really gangbusters for you and I might just like an idiot now. 

Doug: Well, I mean, AI has certainly come a long way in terms of looking at, there’s some of the tools that I’ll use that actually looks at when people engage with my content or when people open my email and in the system will send the email to them based on their habits. So the data I’m looking at is what’s best for that individual, not an aggregate that Tuesday mornings at 9:00 AM Eastern time is the best time to send an email. It might be, but it might not be if I’m serving a different marketplace. 

Trevor Young: That’s the amazing stuff with the technology we’re getting now that that’s happening and some AI still needs a little bit of a kickoff on, I wouldn’t be putting all my trust in it, but as we know, it’s getting better and it’s getting better really quick and there’s got to be times when we give stuff to the robots to do, to free us up to do the content and the thing that matters is the relationship building, etc. When you just say, “I can send an email here or here different times than that.” And that’s the smart thing to do but then the double smart thing to do is make sure that that content going out to people is genuine and good and adds value. 

It’s that combination I think that’s good but if someone just says, I’ll put the newsletter out and don’t worry about what it is and just sell you stuff and people blindly following that and annoying people, then that’s not the good advice. So I think you’re doing it right is just how could you use the tools to be a better performer and get your stories, your insights and your generosity of ideas out and to the marketplace, to your audience?

Doug: So two questions and I’ll let you go back to making a difference in the world for your clients and one is, who’s one guest I absolutely have to have in my podcast?

Trevor Young: A client that I’ve followed for many years. I’m a good friend with him now he’s called Mark Masters. He lives on the Southern coast of England, a little place called Bournemouth. He’s got a business called the idGroup. He’s got this sort of great community happening called You Are The Media. And it started off as kind of like a blogger first and then the, You Are The Media, became a newsletter and he’s had this I think for six years, he’s put out a weekly newsletter and it’s chunky and then he ended a podcast and then lunch networking events and now he has a full-blown conference with speakers from around the world. 

And a great example of staying in one area, doing it well, moving to the next. He talks about owning your own space so you can build your audience similar to what I talk about but he’s out doing it in a different way. I’ve got a tremendous mindset to build a great community and so if you want to talk to someone about community and social and content and where everything fits, Mark Masters, You Are The Media, is your man. 

Doug: That’d be amazing. Maybe you can make an introduction for me via email.

Trevor Young: [crosstalk 00:49:15] I can do it or Twitter.

Doug: [crosstalk 00:49:18] It’s nice to talk to somebody else who’s still on Twitter. With everybody who’s rushing off to TikTok to talk to the 18-year-old audience, which is not my audience.

Trevor Young: It is not mine and it’s probably not theirs either, but it’s sexy so let’s do it. 

Doug: So the most important question is, how can people find out more about you, learn about you and connect with you is so their message resonates they can say, “Hey, this is really cool. I Love Trevor’s conversation, I need some help.”

Trevor Young: I’m lucky pretty easy to find just through being around for a long time. Trevor Young is quite a common name, but Trevoryoung.me is my personal website, PRwarrior.com is my blog, the long-running blog. And I’ve got a new book out, Content Marketing for PR and if you go to content marketing for pr.com, you will find a little bit more about the book. And I do chat with people on Twitter and I’m @Trevoryoung, so got in at a time when I could’ve got my own name, which was always a bonus. 

Doug: Yeah, that’s really cool. Well, good for you. Well, I want to say thanks so much for taking time and sharing with us today.

Trevor Young: Thank you, Doug, I enjoyed the conversation and there’s plenty out there in this space to work our way through.

Doug: Well, and what I really like because the world’s connected the way it is. I mean, I’ve probably interviewed more people from Australia than I’ve interviewed from Canada. So in terms of that, the world is flat, there’s smart people everywhere and you can reach out to work with guys like you on the other side of the world from us or I don’t know how that works, we’re apart. Been to your country, but we’re not close but through social and through the web, you can work with people all around the world to help you build your business so that’s really cool.

Trevor Young: Yeah, it’s a wonderful time to be alive and to be out there in business. 

Doug: Well, so thanks again, appreciate you so much for helping us today. I’ll make sure this log gets transcribed for our listeners. So thanks for tuning in listeners, I hope you found some nuggets here today. I would really suggest you go and have a look at Trevor’s website. I liked the way he’s laid out the content on his digital citizen website. He breaks it down to help you self identify kind of where you’re at and what describes you best. And we’ll make sure that the URL of the digital citizen.group is in the show notes. I’ll suggest that you go over there and have a read and then yeah, I mean, is your book on audio or is it print only?

Trevor Young: No, it’s print and E-book from Amazon and Apple iBooks and everywhere else. I’ve got to try and do the audio before the end of the year, but I’m fast running out of time. 

Doug: Well, there you go. Well, hey, it works well on a digital book. I mean, I’ve been all over the world and I’ve been sitting in reading and going, “Hey, what’s my next book?” And it’s easiest to go plug it into Amazon and download it on my Kindle or download it on my phone and have a read. So thanks for tuning in, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Don’t be shy make sure you reach out. Talk to Trevor, leave your comment on the bottom of the show notes. The show notes are out and I look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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Have a company culture to create content. Within your company you see stories, you take behind the scenes photos and content is part of the DNA of your business.

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"Innovation isn't just thinking outside the box; it's about setting the box on fire and building something extraordinary from the ashes."

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