Know Your Client’s Industry

Sales people know it. Lawyers know it. People in public relations know it, too. What is it? It’s knowing your client’s industry—not just who they are and what they do, but what goes on in the minds of the C-suite.

The first step in our proposal process always includes research. We learn as much about a prospect’s industry to understand the issues and challenges they may be facing, and to determine how we can best help. We look at a company’s website, annual report, social media pages and blog posts. Becoming familiar with their competitors also gives a better perspective.

We also like to know the major players in the industry – what trade associations, trade magazines and news sources are options. Research will often show emerging trends, clue us into industry jargon and catchwords. Knowing how clients talk about themselves helps us better tell their stories to the media and community. It also gives us the ability to help clients plan a communications or marketing campaign, or develop a strategic initiative. One question we like to ask of our clients is, “What keeps you up at night?”

At Bottom Line, we hold weekly traffic meetings where team leaders provide a summary of the work done that week for each of our clients. The Bottom Line team, from the office administrator to the president and CEO, are all up-to-speed on our clients. This gives us an opportunity to learn and share, as well as stay in the loop if we have to jump in to help each other out. Sharing information also gives us insight into each of our clients and helps us understand their industry. You could say we’re Jacks of all PR trades and masters of them too! That’s what makes our jobs interesting and exciting.

Summer Hours

The brainchild of one bright employee has become one of the most valuable benefits we offer at Bottom Line. 

About ten years ago at a regular Friday staff meeting, one bright employee asked if she could work an extra hour on Monday through Thursday so she could leave early on Friday to travel to a family wedding. She said it was really important to her, so we said yes, just make sure you get everything done that you need to get done for your clients. All went well at work. She came in 30 minutes earlier and stayed 30 minutes later for four days. She reported back on Monday that she had a great time and even made it to the rehearsal dinner on Friday a little early. No rush. No stress.

At the staff meeting a few weeks later, another bright employee suggested we expand on the idea. Why not give everyone the option to leave early on Friday during the summer by working an extra hour per day during the week? If you’re from Wisconsin, you know summer days are at a premium, and summer weekends are even more precious. Any chance to get an early start on the summer weekend is great.

We agreed to experiment with the idea for a year. That was ten years ago.

We have found that the flexible work schedule hasn’t affected productivity. The productive work they would have done on Friday afternoon now gets done earlier in the week. We’ve had no client complaints. Everyone at the firm raves about the option to leave at noon on Friday. Not all do, but most are out of here by 3 p.m.

If you look around, you find companies of all sizes uses flexible schedules. In a recent survey of 1,051 organizations with 50 or more employees, the Society for Human Resource management found that 43 percent of the employers allowed at least some people to compress their work weeks by logging longer hours on fewer days, for at least part of the year. There are several good reasons to offer flexible work hours. Nearly 65 percent of small business owners report that offering flexible, mobile and remote work options has helped them in hiring and retaining key employees. According to another study, firms offering employees choices in how they work grew four times faster than control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover rate.

If the goal is to re-energize and motivate people, flexible hours definitely work here at Bottom Line. Maybe compressed work weeks won’t work in your business, but think about what other flexibility you can offer people. The infographic from Plantronics offers some insights to consider.

It’s not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work world anymore, so let’s think differently about how and when we work so we can all do our best.

Get Your Blog Noticed

So, you’ve written an amazing blog post. It’s powerful, it’s compelling and you know people will want to read it…if you could just figure out how to get it in front of them.

Clicking “publish” on your blogging platform is not the be-all, end-all of getting your post noticed. Here are some other steps to consider to create attention and awareness for your blogosphere masterpiece.

  • Leverage social media – If you’re blogging, chances are your organization also has other social media channels. Use them! Cross-posting blog links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more, is a great way to extend the post’s reach. People who don’t catch it on your blog itself, may find it via their social media feeds. It’s also a great way to generate likes or retweets.
  • Make it easy for people to follow your blog feeds – Feeds alert interested readers to your latest blog headlines—often straight to their email or app. Make it simple for new readers to add your blog to their feed list and consider strategies that will help you grow the number of people who subscribe to your feed.
  • Comment on other blogs – Check out the other well-known blogs for your industry and comment there. The blog owners will often return the favor by commenting on and spreading awareness for your blog as well. It’s also a good way to build your profile and credibility in the blogging community and attract new readers from those blog audiences. The same goes for any industry forums where you could comment or link.
  • Put keywords near the start of your headline – To maximize SEO and key word visibility, consider headlines that put your most important content words first. For example, “Crisis Tips: Top 10 Must-dos” is stronger than “Top 10 Things to Do in a Crisis” because the key word crisis is placed earlier and, therefore, given more emphasis in a keyword ranking.
  • Respond to people who engage – One of the best ways to drive visibility for a post is simply to engage with those who do find it and read it. By responding to comments, emails or feedback about a post, you’ll strengthen the relationship with those particular readers and potentially encourage them to share the post with others in their network.
  • Track the results – Measure whether your strategies are effective by tracking the visibility of each post. Do some social media channels boost your views more than others? Did your comment on a leading industry blog produce a parallel spike in your own blog traffic? This will help you refine your approach and track the growth of your blog audience.

Now, brainstorm that next great post idea and get it out there!

Work Life in the Midwest

Friday night fish fries, the Great Lakes and friendly neighbors… long drives, terrifying tornadoes and harsh winters.

The Midwest may have some good and bad qualities, but we think it is a great region to work in. Sure, it doesn’t have ocean views or countless sunny days, but the Midwest is made up of friendly, hardworking and down-to-earth people. America’s Heartland is known for its belief in education and tolerance. These characteristics and values build a workforce that is supportive of one another yet still tough enough to get the work done.

We work in a service industry, where we are accountable for every minute we serve a client. Our Midwestern values drive us to meet client expectations while balancing employee needs. Since summers in Wisconsin are so short, we have half-days every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That being said, our employees know they will most likely have to work late or through lunch to get work done for clients, and it’s worth it for a Friday afternoon of fun.

As Midwesterners, we work to deliver on our promises and have a work-hard, play-hard mentality. We emphasize face-to-face contact with clients. Teamwork is crucial when working in the Midwest, because you never know when a snow storm is going to hit or someone needs to take care of a sick family member. We understand that safety and family are important, so working as a team helps us to easily fill the gaps if a co-worker needs to miss work. Midwesterners also have the diligence to work remotely when they are trapped in their houses due to the most recent accumulation of four feet of snow.

Working in the Midwest obviously isn’t perfect (see FOUR feet of snow mentioned above), but it does have some great benefits. So, we challenge you to embrace your Midwestern-mindset and go enjoy a Friday night fish fry with your chatty neighbors or kind coworkers!