Laura is Branded3’s Communications Director, having started the PR team at the agency in 2012 she now oversees PR, social media, content, design & front-end development. With extensive SEO and social media knowledge, and experience in both traditional and digital PR, Laura knows how to create and execute campaigns which deliver multiple online benefits.
Laura is a regular trainer and speaker at industry events such as Learn Inbound, SAScon and BrightonSEO, where she has delivered the link building/digital PR training since 2013. Laura also regularly contributes to and is featured in industry publications such as HubSpot expert tips presentations, PRMoment and State of Digital. She won PR Moment’s Young Professional of the Year 2017, was named in The Drum’s 2017 50 Women in Digital Under 30 and has also judged the PRWeek Awards.
Laura has led campaigns for Branded3’s clients that have gained coverage by top international publishers such as BBC, Mashable, Daily Mail and many more.
[00:00:05] I was thinking about what I wanted to talk to you guys about, and I thought the best place to start is thinking about the biggest challenges that I hear from people, because that's the kind of thing, the kind of challenges, that you guys might also share. And it came down to two biggest ones from when I'm at a conference and we get questions at the end, when I do a lot of training sessions, or just general friends in the industry and in my agency. Those two biggest challenges are these:
[00:00:33] 1) How do I get this person or this group of people to work with me? Now this comes up because I do a lot of training for PR people on SEO or SEOs on PR, and a lof of the questions I get from SEO people are: How do we get our PR team to work with us? They won't tell us who they're working with, they won't share our content, they won't help us get links. How do I get them to work with us? And then from the PR teams I got: Aren't SEOs just spammy? Aren't they just going to spam all our contacts? You know people don't really like them, but how how do we get them to work with us so that, you know, they are going to help us and they're not going to spam all our contacts if we give them to them? So those are two different challenges. The other one on that one is SEO and PVC which is what Will was just talking about, you know not sharing data, not necessarily wanting to work together, but actually as Will was just showing you, that's really valuable if you're working together. There's a lot of gains to be had for yourself as an agency in terms of what you can save your client, and also for your client in terms of what you can save and what you can make on revenue.
[00:01:33] 2) The second biggest challenge is this one, which I'm sure anyone working in digital marketing will have come across at some point: How do I get more page views? How do I get more users to my site? How do I get more links? How do I get more links is probably the most common question I've been asked in the five years that I've been working in digital marketing. It's the one that everyone wants know because everyone still thinks that links are the secret weapon for their SEO rankings.
[00:01:57] And at first these two questions kind of seem a bit separate, but actually when you think about it there's one thing that they both have in common and that's this — which is why I decided on this talk. Both of them are about connecting with a person or a group of people. If you want to get another team to work with you, you need to remember that that's a team of people of humans with feelings. If you want to get a user to your site or someone to link you to a journalist or a blogger, that's another person with feelings and needs of their own. And the problem that you have is that it's kind of a mindset thing rather than necessarily a willingness, and it's you going: "How do I get them to do what I want them to do? How do I get that user to come to me because I want them to purchase from me eventually? How do we get the PR team to share my content or get links for me so I can improve rankings?" And what you've got to remember is they're not going to help you for no reason. They need to feel connected to you, they need to like you to want to do that. All you need is to be giving them something in return.
[00:02:59] So what I'm going to go through today is first of all a few universal rules that apply to kind of getting people to like you - getting people to do what you want them to do - and then also some specific things on getting colleagues, clients, agencies to work with you, as well as journalists, influencers, and then also your audience connected with them.
[00:03:17] Let's start off with a few universal rules names. Now I admit I am terrible with names and faces. It's one of the things I constantly want to work on because I feel really rude when I go to a conference or an event and someone comes and talks to me, and I might have seen your face before, we've had a conversation before, but I can't remember your name. Or if I am sat in a client meeting - it's a big client, there's a lot of them around the boardroom - and someone says something and then later on I want to refer to what they've said and I'm like "God what's his name said earlier." So, names are really important because people care about when you use their name.
[00:03:57] There was a study by the Journal of Consumer Research and it found that using someone's name makes them so much more likely to do what you want them to do, which feels a bit obvious but the study is actually quite interesting. There is a really big percentage increase from when you use someone's name and ask them to purchase from you, to not using their name and asking them to purchase. So names are really important but people kind of take that and go: "Right, I used someone's name, so that's personalization box - ticked. They're gonna do what I want. I've done outreach email, I remembered to use the blog or other journalist's name, they're definitely going to give me that link. It's in the bag."
[00:04:33] But personalization is not just using someone's name, that doesn't go far enough. What I'm saying is that it's important to try and remember people's names and use them. But it's not everything. Now this is a point that I'm sure all of you will have seen before at some point. It's been said to you, said to me a lot in my life. I talk a lot and my mum constantly used to remind me that you know, shut up Laura. But this is a phrase that we're all kind of used to, but we probably forget, and we don't really know why people are saying that we talk to much. But there's a really interesting Harvard study that looked a what talking about ourselves does in the brain. So, when we're saying you know, "two ears - you should be listening to other people" - this is why. So me shutting up can give you the same pleasure - if you're talking about yourself - as food money or sex. That's why we have to shut up. That's why we have to let people talk because they enjoy it a lot more.
[00:05:36] I've done meetings before where I've not really said anything. The persons talked at me for ages and I've kind of sat there and listened. I've come away thinking "Shit, I didn't really really say much, they're going to come away thinking that Laura doesn't really know anything, because I didn't really get a word in edgeways." And you come away thinking, God that's not gone well, and then actually they're like: "Really great meeting, we need to get something in the diary again, we need to talk about this some more. Found it really useful." And you're like, "Really? Because all you did was talk and I didn't really say anything. How did you find that useful?" But it's because I've made them happy. They've been able to talk about themselves, which is ultimately what everyone wants to do because they're getting this pleasure sensation from doing that.
[00:06:19] So if you want to connect with people, if you want people to like you, just shut up and let them talk about themselves. That's going to get you really far. And another thing that's really important: We're drawn to people that are like us. So all of this probably feels quite obvious, but we are, we're drawn to people that are like us. We don't necessarily want to hang out with people that have opposing views to us that we know are really strong. But again, like how important is that? You know because I've got friends that have a different political view to me and that like different music different TV shows to me.
[00:06:53] Well there's another Harvard study which is really interesting. It shows that even if you get one little hint that someone is similar to you in one way, you then start to kind of think of everything they do as being similar. You overcompensate how many similarities you have, based on that one shred that you showed them in the first place. And what I think this is really good at showing, is that in terms of getting someone to like you and showing that you're similar - which is important - you don't actually need to work that hard. You get the first thing in there and they're going to think everything is quite similar. So it's not going to take a lot of work to make people like you. It's just a little bit of effort in, and it's worth saying that the opposite is true, which I think it says in this quote. So if someone sees that you are a little bit different to them they're likely to see everything you do as being different to them. So it applies in each way, so it's important to really know who you're talking to. And political beliefs especially in this study had the biggest impact on that. But how do we show people that we're like them if I've never met them before? If I don't know them that well this is my answer: stalk people. I don't mean in a restraining order kind of way. I'm not suggesting you know, turning up at our house or kind of spying on them and seeing what kind of food they're throwing away, and going into it that way. Not stalking people in that way, but stalking them online.
[00:08:17] The Internet has given us some really valuable tools. So I thought I'd use an example here. So let's pretend I'm meeting Aleyda, as you will shortly when she's on the stage. So I've got a meeting coming up with her and I want to show her that I'm like her, that we're similar, so that she'll like me and do whatever I want her to do. Best place to go - and I'll say first of all that Aleyda's Twitter is amazing, very work related - so if I wanna talk to her about her views on something that's going on in terms of SEO, I'll find some great tidbits on there that she shared before that I could maybe ask her opinion on. But if I want to find out about her as a person, luckily her Instagram is public so I can have a look on there as well. So let's say she's come in for a meeting. She's a potential client, or she's someone that works with my one of my clients' other agencies or something like that. She shared that she really likes this tea from Fortnum & Mason from last time she came to London, so I can get that in, have that set at the table, give her the selection to choose from, and tell her I like that too. That's going to start a connection. She's going to think she likes the same stuff as me. That's quite interesting. That's that's first spark of showing that I'm a bit similar to her. Let's say that she's really important to me and I really want to get her on-side, so I'm like, "right, I should take her out for dinner." That's the way to everyone's heart, isn't it? Food. Everyone likes people that take them out for food. Where am I going to take her? Steak. Again, I've looked at her Instagram and she really likes a good steak. I might know this great state restaurant. Let's go there. She's goes, "oh I like steak too!" and that's something that we've got in common. We've gone for dinner, like say we're having this day, and I'm like, "right I've already shown her that I like the same food as her - I've shown a little bit in common - but I want some kind of topic of conversation that shows that I put a bit of effort in." Well, she recently went to Machu Picchu, so why don't I ask her about that? Thinking back to what I said earlier, people like talking about themselves. I ask her about that. That gives her a whole space in which to fill with memories of what she did when she was there. What did she see? How did she find it? What were the flights like? I'm giving her that space to talk. That means that she's going to be really happy. She's going to feel like the dinner went better than it did - and not to say that it wouldn't go great anyway, I'm great at dinner.
[00:10:42] But what if people don't want to work with you? So this will work with a lot of people. It's a great way to show that you're interested in people. Great way to get them on board. But it's not going to work on everyone. I don't know how many people have seen this before, but there's a guy called Chris Voss. He used to be one of the best FBI hostage negotiators, that was kind of his career, but he wrote this book and he's done some really good talks. This is one of them that I'd definitely recommend watching, and it's all about how you get people from a "no" to a "yes." So there's kind of various turning points that he goes through, but the biggest one that he found in turning someone around from not wanting to do something to agreeing to do something, is summarizing backs. It's about listening, but not just letting someone talk, it's about listening and then summarizing what they said back to them. So essentially what their argument is against what you want them to do, and getting them to say "that's right," and "that's right" was the magic phrase. And he did this, like I said, in hostage situations, but it's been applied in the business world by lots. For example the Medium posts here all about how a guy used it in a business negotiation when he was trying to bring his whole team on board with the new vision - because he had an interview with The New York Times. And there was a colleague who wasn't on board and had some serious objections, and he used this technique to turn it around and get the guy on board with what he wanted to sell as the vision for the company. So I'd say this is definitely worth a watch because if all the other techniques haven't worked, doing this, showing you've listened, repeating it back, is going to help to get people to want to do what you want them to do again.
[00:12:21] So that's some kind of general rules for how to get people to work with you and how to connect with them and get them to like you. But let's apply it to situations that we'll find in our work in life.
[00:12:31] So first of all, connecting with colleagues and clients. I've put colleagues and clients but it applies to basically work environments where we need to get someone on board with the work that we want them to help with. So first of all, looking at colleagues, I'm sure all of you have these kind of email groups that we do at Branded3, which are like the "all of us in our group" and which is just spam, and any time you get back from annual leave you're like "For fuck's sake. How do we have this many e-mails going around every day? Delete all." But everyone has them, and normally you probably ignore them. You're like, "I really don't care what you did at the weekend, I don't care that you want me to sponsor you for this as well. Everyone wants me to sponsor them." Yeah they're annoyed at it, but actually it's really valuable. So let's say I'm meeting Sarah, she's one of our account directors. I don't know her that well. I just do a little search through all the "All of us" emails that have been sent to see if she has sent any. I can see that she sent this about doing a boxing tournament. So let's say I meet her before the match. I can ask how training is going. She's going to love the opportunity to tell me about her training, as is clearly something important to her, and I'm giving her that space to talk but also showing I've got an interest in what she's doing. If I'm meeting her after the tournament I can ask her how the match went. She's probably going to have some photos that she wants to show me about her winning, the lifting the arm thing. She's going to have stuff to show me, she's going to want to talk about that. If I start a conversation like that with her, she's much more likely t o do what I want her to do as a result of the meeting.
[00:14:03] Now, other ways of getting colleagues to work with you, some kind of tips I tend to use. 1) Compliment them on some great work. Seems obvious. People love getting a compliment. It makes them more susceptible to doing what you want. It doesn't matter if you actually liked what they did as long as you can say it with a straight face and you can pick something out. Just make them feel good about themselves. Everyone loves a compliment. 2) Ask for their advice on something. So if you've got an upcoming project, whether you really need their input or not, showing that you are asking their advice makes them think that you value their opinion. Which again makes them more likely to work with you. So just take some time, and what you're also doing is, again, you're giving them that space to talk about themselves. They're getting to talk because you've asked for their advice, which means that even if you don't take their advice they're going to be happy. They're going to feel better that they had the chance to talk in the meeting. 3) Find out what their KPIs are and what's important to them. One of the biggest barriers that I said about going into these kind of meetings is that you're thinking about what you want, you're not thinking about them and their own needs. There's a reason they don't want to work with you if you don't take the time to find out what that is. You can show them how you can benefit them as well. So for example if I'm going into a PR team and I just want them to get links for me, well if I don't ask them what their KPIs are, I can't relate what I want them to do to what they need to do. I want them to get links, they're probably targeted on coverage in certain kinds of publications. I'll have a target if I can show that the content I'm producing, the campaigns I'm producing, is going to hit the same places. So actually, them helping me is also going to help them hit their KPIs because they've got better stuff to go to journalists with. And if all that fails, 4) provide treats. Like everyone wants treats. Take some chocolate biscuits to me and it's already going to get off to a better start. But think about the treats that you provide. So, like I said, if I was meeting Aleyda I might take that tea that I know she likes and she's going to be happier because she's got something that we know that she enjoys.
[00:15:59] And so, to put this into context with a few examples, I worked with a gambling client, and their PR team didn't really work with their SEO team, they didn't even really talk to each other. That was my job. And because my background is kind of PR, and I was working with SEOs, I clearly knew how to speak to the PRs and they didn't. So I sat down with them, because they wouldn't really work with us at first, and I was like "Well, what do you have to do? Like what's your boss looking for?" It turns out that the number one thing that they had to do was just get in The Sun. If they got in The Sun every week, their boss was happy. It didn't really matter about anything else, wasn't like a huge target on the amount of media coverage or penetration or brand awareness. Get in The Sun, that's where our customers are. So what we did is we came up with a campaign that we knew would get them in The Sun, and sure enough they're happy. They want to work with us because we've shown that we can help them to hit the KPIs that they need to hit.
[00:16:48] Another client, a notoriously quite difficult client, had made me cry on one occasion previously which I don't often do. Very difficult, dread meetings with them. One meeting I happened to do the lunch and I got these fruit pots, because you know let's be healthy as well as having chocolate biscuits. But yeah, I got him this fruit pot and he ate three of them. Three of the fruit pots that I put out for everyone, and I like, "That's a bit annoying because I kind of wanted the fruit pot for myself, that's why I bought them, but whatever." And then suddenly he's really happy. He's signing everything off, he's like "yeah, I think we should do that. That's a great idea. How about we put some more into it actually? It sounds like a great idea." And I'm like, "Ok, this isn't you." And then he keeps going. He's like, "You know what, I don't know if it's the fruit pot talking or me, but I'm really enjoying this meeting." And I was like, "Excellent, fruit pots are now at every meeting." Something like that, remembering what he enjoyed, he's happier every time we meet now which is great. It hasn't made me cry since.
[00:17:48] Another client, massive foodie. So we're based in Soho, in London, which for anyone that's been or knows it is foodie paradise. Loads of food, loads of drink, something to try every time you go out. So what we do is, every time we have a meeting, I also choose a new restaurant we're going to go to after. We've got a connection in that we both know that we're foodies. So in between meetings we're sharing restaurant openings that we see, or pop ups because there's a pop up for everything - there's like a crisp pop up, a doughnut pop up - all different things that we can go to, so we do that. We've got a connection, we've got something that holds us together beyond the work that we're doing and they like me better.
[00:18:25] This is another one of our clients, which is kind of going even further. We've worked with them for quite a while. She invited her client team to her wedding. This is a quote from her. If that's not a great relationship, I don't really know what is. And she talks about the fact they've got a great connection, they can say good things and bad things to each other. They've got a genuine connection, so much so that she wants them there on her big day. And that's great to me, that's exactly what we want with clients - not to go to all of our weddings - but we want to know that they like us.
[00:18:56] So don't underestimate the power of a drink. It doesn't have to be alcoholic. A coffee, getting someone out of the office - whether it's a colleague, whether is a client, whoever it is - they just open up more. They're going to talk to you more, it's going to go better for you.
[00:19:10] So moving on to connecting with journalists or influencers or bloggers, whoever it might be. Twitter is your best friend for this. So coming back to what I was saying about stalking people. Twitter is amazing and it's the best way to make a connection, because you can find out what people really like. So TV is a good one. A lot of journalists will be tweeting about their favorite TV shows. You can find out what they watch - don't try and fake it if you haven't actually seen the TV show or you don't like something they're talking about - try and find something genuine. A few examples. One of my colleagues David. He watches a TV show called Jane the Virgin, which I have never seen. I hear it's great but I've never actually watched it. But he works with this journalist, so he saw on Twitter that she also watches Jane the Virgin, and since he's obsessed he picked up the phone and started talking about Jane the Virgin first, before he actually moved on to his selling. So she knew that, oh actually he's done a bit of research, he knows what I like. It's nothing to do with the campaign, but we've got something in common. He's showing that they've got a similarity and she's then just going to like him more and be more likely to do what he wants. And sure enough she does. So she replies, she says she's going to put up a campaign, she's going to link to it and she's also recommending other TV shows that you might also like consider if he likes Jane the Virgin. So not only has he got the coverage that he wants, he's also got another TV show to binge watch. So it's kind of a win win for him.
[00:20:35] It's not just TV shows that work, music is a really powerful one especially if you're really into music. So another example here, where he stalked someone's Twitter, had a little luck and found that they went to see a band in particular, Space. His girlfriend happens to be obsessed with Space. So that's how he starts his e-mail, "first of all, most importantly, I see that you've seen this how was it? blah blah blah." Then, "here's this campaign I want to work on." Straight away she wants to reply. She's telling him all about how it was, she went to see them twice because they were so good. And yes of course I'll be putting your campaign up. That's great. We've got exactly what we want.
[00:21:18] It's not just about personal interests though, it's important to look at what they've written about before and what they currently write about. So what column do they write about? It might be that you've got something that piques their personal interest, but if they don't write for that column there's not really much point pitching it to them. So make sure you do a really good look at that, and there's a great website I use called Anewstip, and this lets you look at different things that people are tweeting about and writing about. One thing I am not ashamed about is that I watched Love Island this year it was great. I gave up all my evenings for it and I don't know what to do now that it's over. If anyone's got great suggestions please feel free to send them to me. But I was into Love Island, and I want to find people that write about Love Island, that tweet about Love Island, I can easily do it on this tool. So you might have a cooler thing that you're into than Love Island, have a look, do your research. You'll find people that want to write about it.
[00:22:07] But this is the response - after I go through all this - that I often get from a training attendee. "But isn't that reall time consuming? Isn't it going to take me ages to research people and find out, and then call them or e-mail them and do this for everyone that I want to get a link from or that I want to work with?" Yeah it is. It does take a while. It takes longer than doing a mail merge. There's no point in lying about that, but what it does is it gives you people who you can go back to, time and time again. The value in that is much bigger than just being able to do a mail merge every time because every time you're going to have to do that mail merge you're going to have to find your list, send your mail merge, check whether people are covering it... It's not a way to do PR. It doesn't work. Whereas when you've got a relationship, you can go back to that person. "Oh we worked on that campaign before, we've now got this video, or we've got this great idea, would you want to cover it if we went with it? What would you add? What would you take away?" And we actually get the feedback from the journalists before we're even at the stage where we want to get a link. They help us to make that a better campaign, a more link worthy campaign, and a more shareable campaign because they know what they want, but then we know what they want. So this is the extra value and the time that you save in doing that research.
[00:23:20] Finally, connecting with your audience. Stop talking about page views and users. This is the biggest problem. People talk about "How do we get links? How do we get people to view it? How do we get people to share it?" They are all people. You need to remember that and treat them as such.
[00:23:36] Some good tools to do that. BuzzSumo which has already been mentioned. Look at what kind of stuff they share. So if I want to do something around Whisky, let's look at what kind of articles people share about Whisky. Let's look at what they're interested in and make sure we're appealing to what they want to share.
[00:23:57] Another great tool YouGov Profiles. This tells all different things. If I want to know about customers of Johnny Walker, I can find out what kind of feeds they're in. What kind of quotes they have. One of my favorite ones on here, people get far too easily offended these days, they like a bit of good humor. They don't want someone to play it safe. I want to know what TV they watch, I can find that out. I want to know what they do online, I can find that out. I can really understand who the people are, what their opinions are, what their likes are and therefore tailor what I'm doing to them to make a connection.
[00:24:29] So to pull this all together quickly, this is a great book that I highly recommend to anyone. I've recommended it quite a few times now, it tells you all about what makes people talk about campaigns, share things. The really important thing here is that they talk about the "three whys": so why do people do something? Why is it important? You ask that three times: why is it important. why is it important, why is it important. And that's how you get to an emotional connection.
[00:24:56] So an example for a campaign that we work on. So we work with a company that ensures taxis. Why do people use taxis? They want to get to where they need to be. Why is that important? Well, you want to arrive quickly and safely. We don't want anything to happen to us, but we need to get there on time. Why that important? And well we don't wanna travel on something that's unclean. We want to get there, but we don't want to be ill when we get there. And yeah why is that important? Because you don't want to get ill. So what do we do with that? That's an emotional connection, people feel quite strongly about not wanting to be ill because it sucks to be ill. We did analysis of all the transport in London - so we swabbed all the cheap lines or the buses or the taxis. We worked with a university on this to find out what bacteria is lurking on there. So, to find out how likely are you to get ill from using these different modes of transport, we had this visual where you had a look at the taxi, and then you turn the microscope on and it shows you where all the germs are lurking. You hover over it, it tells you what kind of thing was found in the taxis. It's disgusting. It was our Leeds team that did this, not the London team. They didn't think about the fact that we then still had to travel on all of that transport. But how did we put this into practice? So, Carrie, the girl that worked on it, she'd previously worked on an automated campaign before. And she'd worked with this journalist before, she had a connection with her. So she got in touch to say "look we're going to be working on this campaign, I've got an idea. What do you think about it?" Sarah comes back, says "That sounds like a great idea. If you do this we definitely want to cover it we want it as is." She's a freelancer, so she talks about where she wants to pitch it to. We'd worked with her on the Daily Mail, she also worked with the Standard and Wired, so she'll let us know if it goes ahead.
[00:26:37] It does. We get the exclusive, we get exactly what we want. We know if it goes in the Mail online we'll get a ton of hits, loads more places will pick it up. And they did. So we connected with more journalists, so we personalized what we were doing to what mattered to the journalists. So if we knew where the journalist was based, especially regionals, we generally knew what Tube line they might be coming on, so we could say "this is what's lurking on your tube line." We made a connection. It wasn't necessarily a positive one, it didn't make them feel all warm inside, but it piques their interest. They wanted to cover it. It connected so much that the London mayor then announced a super clean of all the tube lines because we found all these super bugs lurking on there that had killed people in America. There was a super bug that they found that actually killed people. That's how well it connected because we've done our research, we knew what people cared about. People talked about it, we got the online conversations, and all of this is great but did it do what we wanted to do? It was an SEO campaign. We got lots of traffic, the traffic spiked. It spiked even more with the mayor's announcement than it did with the campaign launch, but we got people to the site, we got those page view, we got those clicks, we got the users that we wanted. And it worked in terms of search. They'd been hit by a penalty previously, we launched the campaign, they went back up. It resonated in the ways that we wanted it to. Did it work from a client's perspective? Yes, you can see the feedback here. I've highlighted the last line because I think this is the most important. It talks about the fact that they, the team that worked on it, made it fun. They connected with the client. They had a fun time doing the campaign and it hit the results which they were obviously going to be happy about.
[00:28:07] So finally to summarize, we like to talk about ourselves. So if ther are three things you take away from this: 1) Let people talk about themselves; 2) Show people that you've listened or researched them beforehand so you have a connection with them; and 3) Remember that you're connecting with people. So stop thinking about how I get this team to work with me, how I get this service area, how I get clicks, how I get links. It's about people. Remember that they're people and you'll do much better. Thank you.