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10 Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Your Photography

Besides the ability to write well the demand for photography and video skills are rising, given that nearly everyone owns a photography studio in the form of a smartphone. The question is how to do you take better pictures?


We gathered a few tips from photographers on how to perfect your shots:


  1. Get closer.

It’s hard to capture detail from afar. Move in a bit closer for a photo that displays what you’re trying to convey.


  1. Set the scene with your shots.

Shoot from far away, medium distance and close up. This is essential with video but also matters in still photography.

Example: Shoot a high-level overview of a farmers market, a person at a booth in said farmers market and a detail such as a close-up of a child getting her face painted. With these three shots in mind you can really capture emotion in an event with just a few photos.


  1. Fill the frame.

You know those photos where your subject is standing what seems to be miles away surrounded by extraneous space? Don’t do that. When photographing a person, use the whole frame. Try not to put the head at the center of the frame.


  1. Apply the rule of thirds.

Photographers consider this a basic tip, but many beginners don’t know it. Start with your subject a third of the way from either the left or the right side of your frame.


  1. Look for the light.


The most important tip for amateur photographers is always look for the light. You should move your subject near the light. More light means less noise, truer colors and sharper photos. The best light is usually near a window. When taking a photo, put the window at your back, and move the subject close, but not into direct sunlight.


  1. Get down and dirty.

Try different angles, which may require you to get a little dirty. If you kneel or lie on the ground, buildings will appear taller and more majestic. If you’re worried about messing up your outfit, bring a small blanket or scarf, she says.

Group shots are also better if you stand above — say, on a staircase — and shoot down.This allows you to avoid unflattering squatting poses.


  1. Crop and filter.

Instagram brings good news and bad news: It raises the bar for professional photography, but lowers it for what will pass as a useable photo, Johansen says. With Instagram, anyone can learn how to compose images and have them look good without spending weeks and tons of money on film.

Crop and filter before posting. It’s not always possible to get a great shot, so take some time to remove extraneous bits and run it through a filter or twoGet comfortable with a photo editing app on your phone, such as Enlight or VSCO Cam, so you can rescue any photo mishaps immediately on deadline.


  1. Treat images like headlines.

Hiring a pro is the best idea, but it’s important for writers to think about photos the way they do headlines and leads.


  1. Watch the background.

Be hyperconscious about visual junk behind the subject. Visual junk is anything that distracts the eye — and therefore the viewer’s attention — from the actual subject.


  1. Use drones, Steadicams or tripods.

Shots in motion make video look professional and cinematic. Shaky shots look cheap and unprofessional. Drones and Steadicam help you produce stunning shots. If all that is beyond your skill level, at least get a tripod to steady your shots.

3 Tips on How to Make Your Facebook Posts Stand Out to Consumers

When it comes to social media, Facebook no doubt reigns supreme.

Roughly 79 percent of internet users in the U.S. use the platform—and most use Facebook more than any other social media site or app. That presents a huge opportunity, and challenge, for marketers.

What makes a Facebook post get more likes, shares and comments?


Here are three elements of Facebook posts that can help win over consumers:


  1. Short is sweet.

Long posts aren’t always best: Facebook posts which generated the most engagement had fewer than 50 words. Additionally, posts that shared links earned higher interaction when those links led to posts with only 1,000 to 3,000 words. Less is more when posting on Facebook.


  1. Time your “likes.”

The best time to post on Facebook is during off-hours, when there is less competition to be seen in users’ news feeds. By posting on Facebook during off-peak hours, your posts have a greater chance of being seen, read and shared—setting you on the right track for greater engagement.


  1. Share videos to captivate.

With so many Facebook posts dying to be seen and shared, grab readers’ attention through videos. They’re shared on Facebook more often than other types of content. Visual content is the most shared content, with videos being king.


Below are more surprising findings:

  • Be Brief: the most engaging posts were less than 50 characters. Interactions dropped sharply when posts were longer.
  • Link to long articles: Posts sharing links got more engagement if the links were to posts of 1000-3000 words
  • 79 percent of Americans online use Facebook
  • Questions got more likes than all other post types

4 Rules to Live by for a Successful Blog

It’s no secret that blogging has become vital for perpetuating the success of businesses, organizations and individuals.

They increase search engine traffic, build authority in competitive industries, generate more leads and improve conversion rates.

Small businesses employing blogs report a 126 percent increase in leads, search engines index 434 percent more pages for websites with blogs, and companies that blog receive 97 percent more inbound traffic from outside links.


The following are four reasons why those blogs win and why so many others fail:

  1. Content

Blogs should provide information about trends and developments in trades that will benefit visitors. They should spotlight your proprietary knowledge and expert wisdom, not spew sales pitches.

Blogs attract visitors when they profit from your expertise, so bloggers should write with those visitors in mind. The lack of a defined voice and specific niche represents the downfall of many blogs.


  1. Consistency

It helps to say, when posting new material, “This blog is updated every Thursday at 9:30 am,” or, “Check here for new content on the second Friday of every month,” so readers know when to return. They might visit every so often without a calendar, but they will move on if they don’t see new content consistently. Vagueness in timing for the sake of attracting a few additional page views is counterproductive.

Many bloggers fail because they begin with an overly ambitious mindset. They blast out of the gate, publishing three times a day with writing that engenders a fury and zeal for their subject.

A consistent post schedule is the key to attracting regular readers.


  1. Promotion

Visitors won’t read your blog solely because it exists. The internet is too vast to expect that readers will somehow discover it themselves and then remember to return. Bloggers often spend too much time on content without a corresponding amount of effort pitching it digitally.

You need to promote whatever content you write. Using multiple social media platforms, email marketing, online advertising, giveaways and partnerships with larger brands to create a core following that can expand.


  1. Money and prestige

Most blogs fail because their writers set out to earn riches and gain celebrity overnight. They set incredibly ambitious goals of pulling in lots of advertising dollars and attracting millions of followers. It rarely works.

Successful bloggers are passionate about their vocation and informing their audience. They offer a rare perspective on their industry and commit to weekly or even daily updates, in addition to marketing themselves aggressively.

8 Tips for More Engaging Content

With an infinite amount of content posted and uploaded to the internet every minute, there’s very little chance that it’s all great.

So how do we create a content strategy that cuts through the noise? How do we generate content that excites and inspires our audience? Most important, how do we use that content to generate sales, revenue and customers?

Here’s our tips on how to create the most effective content:


  1. Start by asking why.

Before you even start typing, ask yourself why you’re writing.

Too much content is produced without consideration for its purpose. What will this piece of content achieve? Why is this content so important?

By answering these questions, you’ll give your content purpose and focus. That means you’ll create better content.


  1. Tell a story.

You don’t have to come up with the next best-selling novel, but try weaving stories into your content. Stories are infectious. They keep us reading; they intrigue us. A story gives your brand a human side, making it more relatable.


  1. Start recycling.

Good content should take hours or even days to create. Don’t waste it with just a blog post

Use the scraps for a podcast or a video. Take the key bits of data, and turn them into an infographic. Host a webinar or a live chat. Recycling content gives you multiple chances to use your research and insights.


  1. Go live.

Live streaming is too important to ignore in this day and age. Facebook has altered its algorithm to prioritize live streams, and Snapchat and Twitter have made live, instant video a core part of their platforms.


If you’re not coming up with live streaming ideas for your business, you’re missing out on the fastest growing content element of 2017.


  1. Deliver it faster.

It’s easy to get creative with content ideas. However, don’t forget about the tech aspects.

Speed matters when it comes to showing off your content. If you’re curious about how fast your website server responds, check out the speed checker at Bitcatcha. You might want to prioritize speed after seeing your results.


  1. Embrace native advertising.

For the uninitiated, native advertising is advertising that blends into the content you produce. For example, National Geographic might publish a piece about the Canadian Rockies, but it’s paid for (and sponsored by) the Canada tourism board.

It’s neater and less intrusive than banner ads or popups, and it generates direct income from content.


  1. Start using data and analytics.

It may be a bit boring but it will help you see your content strategy much more clearly.Look at which content is working. What generates the most clicks? What content is shared most often? Which stories generated the longest time on site? Which drove conversions to your products?

Identify what’s working, and do more of it. Ditch the ideas that don’t hit the mark.

Next, get deep into your audience analytics. Who are your readers? Determine their location, demographics and interests. You can mine all this data through Google Analytics and social media metrics. Find this information, and use it to create better content.


  1. Double your promotional time and efforts.

Too many content marketers are still focusing on quantity over quality. Pumping out hundreds of blog posts is not a content strategy. Generating engagement is.


Why Visual Content Should Be Your Top Priority

Strong visual content is vital in crafting a successful organization in today’s communications world whether it’s social media, email marketing or content creation.
Building strong visual content doesn’t always prove to be so easy. Nearly half of all businesses only have one person in their organization working on content marketing. Also, 75% of marketers say they don’t have an effective creative collaboration process.
Here are a few statistics as to why visual content is such a challenge:
49% of businesses have small (or 1-person) content marketing teams serving the entire organization
Content creation challenges are one of the top three issues cited by struggling marketing organizations
85% of marketers do not use content collaboration or workflow software
75% of marketers say they don’t have an effective creative collaboration process
So, how are these organizations supposed to create visual content that entices consumers to view it?
Even though it can be a difficult task for brand managers, visual content is everywhere. The majority of marketers say they already deliver content consistently and most B2C marketers (73 percent) say they plan to increase the amount of content they produce next year.
Here’s more on how marketers are sharing content every day:

• Top 4 content marketing tactics used by B2C marketers:
o Social media
o Blog posts
o Email newsletters
o Video
87% of the most successful content marketers deliver content consistently
73% of B2C marketers plan to boost the amount of content creation next year
76% of companies think of content marketing as an ongoing business project, not a campaign

When viewing how successful content marketing with strong visuals can be, it makes sense why marketers would share it online daily. When content contains visuals, it receives 94 percent more views than when there are no images.

Here are even more statistics on how powerful visuals can make your content strategies:
• Visuals are processes 60,000x faster than text
94% more views when content has relevant images
52% of marketers say video gives the best ROI
• Conversion rates when using custom visual content are 7x higher

7 Tips for an Eye-Catching Subject Line

An email’s subject line is just as important as the actual content, acting as its own mini-marketing campaign.

47 percent of recipients open emails based on the subject line.

Coming up with the perfect email subject line is as much science as it is art. Here are seven approaches that work:

  1. Ask a question. Pique your audience’s curiosity.

Example: “How can you increase e-commerce revenue in 2017?”

  1. Imply that the recipient isn’t good enough.

By suggesting the reader is flawed, you’re likely to induce them to open the email. Proceed with caution, though; there’s a fine line between grabbing people’s attention and insulting them.

Example: “Don’t make these 7 email subject line mistakes.”

  1. Identify with your audience. Get your recipient to identify immediately, saying, “Oh that’s me!” and open it.

Example: “Poor college student’s guide to healthy shopping!”

  1. Use a “cliffhanger.” People feel driven to resolve a conflict. If half the subject line is readableand it’s followed by an ellipsis, a recipient will feel compelled to open it to feel satisfied.

Example: “The secret to streamlining your workday is …”

  1. Be direct. Make a promisein the subject line, and deliver a solution in the body copy. Be concise and specific.

Example: “Increase your web traffic by 40 percent.”

  1. Get personal. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent likelierto be opened. To a human being, nothing sounds sweeter than his or her name.


  1. Employ emojis. 56 percent of brands using an emoji had a higher unique open rate.


The effect of specific words will depend on your industry, goals, and calls to action.
What not to do:

Just as some words can be opening triggers in subject lines, others spur recipients to send it straight to spam. Avoid these:

  • Phrases like “Winner!” “100 percent Free!” “Free Money!”
  • Special characters
  • Excessive punctuation
  • Spelling errors

4 Phrases to Remove from Your PR Vocabulary

Every industry has buzzwords and jargon we wish people would stop using.

The most tired and frustrated things to hear in the PR industry by far are why a public relations program can’t or won’t work.

Below are some of the worst phrases a PR professional can use, along with how we can replace them:


  1. “It’s hard to measure that.”


It might be hard, but it’s not impossible. Stop talking about how hard it is to define success. Instead, craft measurable, sustainable programs that garner results. The first step is to ensure you’re set up for success by defining goals and objectives. Your goals must be tangible and not broad. PR is not defined by earned media anymore. Because so many of the ways we promote our clients are digital, we have tools and resources to track our results beyond vanity metrics.

Start saying, “Here’s how we can measure this.” Set goals and implement the systems to measure them.


  1. “Nothing is ever guaranteed.”

This is probably the single most harmful sentence for the PR industry. It implies: “You can pay us, but we might not deliver.” Clients hire PR agencies for creative ideas, relationships with members of the news media, and for industry knowledge. A PR agency should never use “earned media is never guaranteed” as an excuse for failing to deliver against its goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). The better option is to start out with an inkling of what will work and what won’t before sending the pitch.

Instead, tell clients: “If this doesn’t resonate with our media contacts, here is plan B.”


  1. “That idea probably won’t work.”

Stop telling clients “no” when they come to you with a perfectly good idea.

When a client or boss suggests a PR pitch or program, you immediately figure it’s a long shot. It’s called covering yourself, and we all do it. What it communicates to clients, however unintended, is that you’re uninterested or uninspired by their business.


Instead of having an awkward conversation about whether something warrants media attention, think creatively.

Instead say, “This might not garner much earned media attention. However, we can do a Facebook Live post from our next trade show. Then, we could invite three major industry influencers to run bylined guest blog posts the following week.”


  1. “There’s no news here.”

One of the most frustrating moments as a PR pro is when a new PR agency pitches you a great plan and proposal full of fresh ideas then says, “There’s no new news,” when you don’t see any earned media placements.

The first thought is “Why did you sign our business? You didn’t seem to think that was an issue in your proposal.” Followed by, “Isn’t it part of your job to create news?”

Some organizations have obvious stories to tell, but it’s part of a PR practitioner’s job to anticipate journalists’ needs and sniff out the real story so we can be successful in generating media placements.

If we don’t think we can do that, we must ask more questions during the proposal process, or decline the business altogether. If we realize we are in over our heads and the news hook isn’t obvious, it’s our job to find a legitimate news hook.

Next time try, “In order for our media contacts to go for this, we will need access to XYZ. Is that something we can have? And if not, what else is in the pipeline?”



5 Tactics to Live by for a Successful Social Media Presence

To keep up in today’s digital age it is vital to have a savvy social media presence that captures an engaging following.

With every brand being completely different, it’s more important than ever for every social media marketing campaign be just as unique.

There are countless strategies that help guide you to a successful social media presence, but we’ve rounded up the tactics we believe are the most efficient for garnering a large and active following.


1. Brand development and consistency. 

Branding is one of the most valuable components of a company. Branding is responsible for public perception of a company’s philosophy, tone, character, values and commitment to customer service.

Without a solid, well-defined brand, customers will have a hard time understanding what you’re about, and you won’t carry much appeal with your specific target audience.

2. A/B testing. A/B testing entails executing and comparing two similar yet distinct experimental conditions. When you start out in social media marketing, you won’t have a reliable idea of which strategies work and which ones don’t; you may have an inkling based on your prior experience, but you don’t have any hard data. Over time, A/B testing can help you find the best of the best strategies to use.

3. Social media monitoring. Sprout Social says this entails “tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.” It’s a way of learning what your customers are talking about and what’s important to them. With that information, you can build a better all-around strategy, sculpting your content to appeal to people in those demographics.

4. Follower engagement. It’s not enough to create and upload posts; you also must help your followers realize that they’re an active and recognized part of your community.

You can do this through follower engagement, which can be as simple as responding to a user comment or as complex as having an ongoing conversation with your followers.

Doing this makes each individual feel more engaged, and it’s attractive to prospective followers who see how your brand responds to vocal followers. If your followers feel unheard, they’re going to unfollow you, so this strategy is crucial to success.

5. Measurement and analysis. In addition to A/B testing, you should be measuring multiple metrics related to your campaign: “likes,” shares, comments, post popularity, and click-throughs and traffic patterns to your site.

Without this objective information, you’ll be flying blind, unable to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign. You should also be able to tie these metrics to a return on investment (ROI) figure, so keep track of how much you’re spending on your campaign.


Say Hello to our Summer Intern, Alexis!

Alexis Evans-Bendel, a senior at San Diego State University, has joined Heying & Associates as an intern account coordinator.


Graduating from SDSU in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in French, Alexis will assist clients with writing and editing press releases and media advisories, client research, and special event planning.

How to write a successful blog post

Blogs provide tremendous opportunities for companies in almost any industry to expand and thrive through the relevant posts they make. Sharing expertise, establishing credibility, and identifying the unique factors of the company, blogging can serve as a manifesting branding technique. However, it is imperative that one doesn’t jump into blogging without having done prior research. Before you start, here are a few suggestions to consider even before the first draft of a blog post:

  1. Plan

Research, Research, Research! The stronger grasp you have on the topic will likely translate to the quality of your writing. Observing other blogs within that industry or ones that provide inspiration from company leaders can be helpful to get the ball rolling. The enjoyment of writing and networking with others can often provide the inspiration necessary to discuss a controversial issue or the future of the industry.

  1. What’s the point?

Depending on the industry and the overarching goal of the company, blog posts can be distinguished in several directions. Here are a few types of posts to look out for:

  • How to posts– These are considered educational posts that offer special insight on a topic, task, or an issue.
  • Case studies– By analyzing the industry, these type of posts add knowledge to individual situations and generate a profound view of those within that field
  • Problem-Solution– Developing a problematic situation that may face the audience and discovering potential solutions to take advantage of make for excellent and beneficial posts.


  1. Schedule

One of the largest components of blogging isn’t necessarily the part involving the writing, but planning when to post it. Creating a schedule for when certain blog posts will be published by is an excellent tool to stay focused. Extending this further to a calendar will also give you a visual time frame to assess how busy your work days are. Planning for the future will also assist in the development of the blog and allows for manipulation of the content. Lastly, blocking out a time of the day to work on these posts is highly beneficial and is the best option to avoid procrastination.

  1. What to write?

One aspect great writers have a grasp on is their adaptability. Most blog posts are written online, and people often struggle modifying their writing style to be suitable for the online format. For example, if a post exceeds 700 words then it might be too much text for its readability. Using a subheading can be useful to lead the reader in the right direction. There is a lot to account for, but keeping a thorough understanding of the audience and who will see the post through which platform will determine the success of the post.

  1. Network

Blog posts are only beneficial if people read them, and by diversifying the audience then there is an opportunity to increase the number of readers. Making a stronger effort to extend the audience takes a lot of online work. Sharing the posts to other social media sites, commenting on other blog posts, and making your blog post shareable are all effective techniques to gain more readers.

Now that you have the tools, go write a post!