When should you say ‘yes’ to being a brand ambassador | Rhea Freeman

When should you say 'yes' to being a brand ambassadorWhen should you say yes to being a brand ambassador… and when should you run for the hills?

As brand ambassadorships (let’s pretend that’s a term) continue to increase, I think it’s a question that needs addressing. There are lots of different ways that brands recruit ambassadors. Some ways make complete sense. Some of the attributes they look for, to me at least, are bang on. Some brands… well, not so much. I asked my Small & Supercharged Facebook group members who ran businesses what attributes they looked for in a brand ambassador. And they answered… and those answers are in my ‘what should you look for in a brand ambassador‘ blog. But to give a balanced argument (and to help both sides!), I also asked brand ambassadors in my group what they looked for when it came to representing a brand and being a brand ambassador for it. Now, I must stress that the people in my Small & Supercharged group are very switched on. Many are not ‘just’ riders, they have created brands and businesses around their sport and passion. These are not the kind of people that will send a DM to an account they have never heard of. Because I am sure that you, like I, have had this too.

When should you say yes to being a brand ambassador?

So, to help give brands a bit more information, to help them woo their dream brand ambassador, I asked a few more questions, and here’s what they said…

Laura Szuca from WannaBe In The Ribbons said: From being a brand ambassador for a couple of brands I would say it has to be a brand I know, use and rate highly! I think any endorsement needs to be genuine and authentic so you can’t just put your name to something you know nothing about.

Katie Lawrence from Deciphering Dressage said: I like to be a brand ambassador for a company who wants to know me, my horse, my story and form a team.

The first few companies I worked with didn’t even recognise me when I went and said hello to them… I changed my stance and what I wanted and love the companies I now work with. Many have become good friends! And in turn I’m happy to work really bloody hard to represent them.

Gaelann East from The Orchard Holding and Wacky Racers Adventures said: I guess it’s a brand/item that is in my top ten must haves that I have a passion for and also need. That way content comes easily and the content is real and honest from my soul. I never run out of things to say about the lovely companies that support me. Maybe not number 1 on my list of qualities but I guess for me to be there for them, it’s an important one so I can do my best

Nicki Strong from Headstrong Equestrian said: As a brand ambassador – synergy!

“The combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately” So I guess that’s a way of saying that we both have something to offer one another; before applying for a brand ambassador role I’d always ask myself whether I’m a good fit for the brand / product / customer base, so I can genuinely add value and effectively demonstrate and market their products to help build brand awareness and drive sales – and also whether it’s a brand whose product / service / ethos I believe in and would like to be associated with and could benefit from partnering with.

Tina Wallace from Life On The Left Rein said: I would only ever work alongside/represent/promote a brand that I would willingly spend money on their products myself… far too many people purely want to be a BA just to get “free stuff”, not to enable them to actively promote a brand that they are genuinely passionate about and feel other “equestrians” would benefit from/enjoy using said product/s!!

Wiola Grabowska from Aspire Equestrian said: I’m in a process of working with a brand as their ambassador and my number 1 priority is shared values. I personally see working with brands as an extension of my PR as well as interesting collaboration to create something of value. My coaching business is strongly certain values oriented so I’m very happy to be able to work with a business that see this as equally important

Beth Eckley said:  I try to ask/apply to brands that I already use or rate highly, or if a new brand, one that I think would work well mutually for both of us and is something I would feel I could strongly recommend on its principles and products. I’m sponsored or a brand ambassador for four brands that I love and I hope we all work well for each other

Victoria Brant from Wimpy Eventer said: I would only represent a brand that respected the value of my content and its creation. Posting all the time about products is not what I want, loyalty is paramount but I’m not an advertising board.

 

How to mute someone on Instagram (and why you might want to)

How to mute someone on InstagramIn May 2018, Instagram announced the introduction of the mute feature. In the last month, Instagram has announced some ginormous changes, granted, but this one, I think, is an important one. First, I’m going to tell you how to mute someone on Instagram, and then we’ll chat about why…

How to mute someone on Instagram

I believe there are two ways to do this: one from an image in your feed and one from their profile. Both seem to work in a similar way- tap the three dots, select ‘Mute’ and Bob’s your Uncle. It’ll give you the option to mute just the posts on the main feed or the posts AND story. And it really is just a few taps away. From the reading I have done, these people will be completely unaware on their new muted status too… so that’s a win,

The other thing is, it’s really, really easy to unmute. Just visit the profile, tap the three dots on the right next to their name and select unmute. You can unmute stories, posts or both. It’s really very easy.

Why would you want to mute someone on Instagram? Why wouldn’t you just unfollow?

This is a very, very fair question and I have been giving it a lot of thought.

Instagram has said that mute has been introduced to allow people to personalise their feed more, to see the content that they want. And before you think ‘well, I’ll just unfollow’, don’t forget that Facebook has offered the ‘unfollow’ option for a long old time now… and lots of people use it. Mute might be new to Instagram, but to social media it isn’t.

I think that, in today’s social media and digital world, unfollowing someone is like a virtual slap in the face and being told that they don’t want to be your friend anymore. It’s a bold statement. Realistically, it’s a click, but people take it really badly and it’s used as a gauge for someone’s like/dislike of you… sad but true…

So – a few reasons why you might want to mute someone on Instagram:

  • Maybe your friend is doing something seasonal you have no interest in and although you love them, you just don’t want to see all the images of something you have no interest in.
  • Maybe people are posting too much and it’s drowning out the content from friends and family members you really, really want to see.
  • Maybe you follow a large number of people because they’re clients or even potential clients and even though you like to keep in touch and see some of their pics, you don’t want to see all of their pics.
  • Maybe you like their Stories but not their posts. Or visa versa.
  • Maybe you’re trying to become less addicted to your phone and Instagram feed and want to give yourself less to be distracted by
  • Maybe you’re suffering with a horrible case of comparisonitis – you know it’s your issue but you need a bit of space away from everyone’s shiny Instagram feeds…

I kind of think I see muting someone as a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ thing. What your friend/the person you’re following is posting is not wrong, and you don’t like them any less as a person (you’d probably unfollow in both these cases), but you just don’t see their content in the same way as before. You’re still able to go and visit their profile and like/comment away whenever you like, so it’s not so much a ‘go away’, more a way to give yourself a little bit of mental space.

I know there are conflicting views on the mute feature – personally I can really see where it can add value. But I do also agree with the fact that you shouldn’t follow people just for the sake of following them… and then mute them. If you want to build genuine engagement on a genuine account, when a follow from you actually means something, use mute wisely. And if you don’t want to build this kind of account, I’m not so sure that social media is the place for you to hang out… because the ‘social’ part is really important!

Are you on Instagram? I’m @rheafreemanpr – come and share your views on ‘Mute’ over there…there’s a Tip Tuesday post all about it.

Behind… my new obsession with Audible… and how I’m using it to upskill

My new obsession with AudibleIf you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, I’d love you to follow me here!), then you may have seen my Stories. I take most of them when I’m walking the dog, when my mind ‘idles’ a bit… and usually between me getting myself all organised and ready and listening to my latest audiobook… completely fuelled by Audible.

What’s Audible?

Audible is one way to listen to audiobooks. You can also buy them from places like iTunes, and I did hear of another system the other day that condenses books into audio format… which I need to research. Obviously you could just buy CDs, but I download everything to my iPhone because it barely leaves my side, so it makes the most sense. The reason I went for Audible was, actually, price. Initially I wanted to listen to the Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You because it had been recommended to me. I was going to buy the actual book, but then I saw an Audible free trial and decided that it would be worth giving it a spin… and that was it! I started off with Dorie Clark’s book (which is really good by the way!), then downloaded Denise Duffield-Thomas’s updated ‘Lucky Bitch’, which I will review shortly too. I actually cancelled Audible after the free trial, but quickly reinstated it and paid for the subscription.

Is Audible expensive?

I pay £7.99 a month and that allows me to download one book a month. I thought that was a bit steep when some of the books I was downloading cost less to buy, but it’s actually a very different animal and, in all honestly, I was just being tight. I realised this when I went to look for Denise’s book. The options for me where really Audible, buy it from Audible as a one off or iTunes. And getting a monthly subscription from Amazon was by far the cheapest way. The package I’m on allows me to download one book a month, but I can (and have!) bought extra credits, so when I went to Badminton Horse Trials, I bought three extra credits (I think that was the cheapest way!) and downloaded Carrie Green’s She Means Business (I’ve reviewed She Means Business here) for the car journey to listen to.

Do you download books you’ve already read? Isn’t that weird?

Yes I do. And yes it probably is. I wouldn’t download a book I disliked or a book I read recently. I also own ‘Lucky Bitch’ but this is the updated version. In addition, you’ll often find that the authors ad lib a bit on an audiobook – Gary Vee does this a lot and I love it. Also, it kind on sinks in in a different way when you’re listening, well I think it does, and much like reading a book a second time, you absorb a bit more… and you take different things from it. I know of people who read the same book each year and, each time, they get something else. So while it might be weird, I think you can absorb more the second time around. Well, I find I do.

Audible helps me multitask

I feel like this is a promotion for Audible and it really, really isn’t – it’s more of a way to telling you how amazing audio can be and how it can help you and your learning. Another thing I love about Audible and, actually, any form of audio based learning, is that you can multitask. As I said, you’ll usually see me on Instagram Stories walking the dog, listening to an audiobook or a podcast. The slightly vexing thing is that some books feature exercises that require a pen and paper, and that IS more challenging, but the exercise still sinks in… and you can always rewind. I’m also a big fan of audiobooks in the car. This not only helps me learn, but I’m a chronic channel hopper when I’m listening to the radio, and I don’t channel hop with an audiobook, I mean, that would defeat the object, wouldn’t it?!

So yes, I am a bit obsessed with Audible…

…and I would urge you to give it or audiobooks or podcasts in general a spin. A lot of people state that a lack of time is what stops them from reading or learning as much as they would like. And I get that. I do try and read and do courses too, but it can be like trying to crowbar something else into a bursting schedule. What audio does, for me at least, is allows me to do two things at once. Yes, it might mean I need to replay sections or even listen to the whole audiobook again, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.

If you don’t have the budget for audiobooks, I’d definitely suggest podcasts. These are free, easy to access and some are absolutely superb. I mentioned them in my cheap ways to learn blog too…

Read this if… you want to improve your public speaking – TED Talks

TED Talks Public Speaking BooksIn preparation for my TEDx talk at TEDxMalvern, I decided that I needed to up my public speaking game. Not least because I wouldn’t ever say public speaking has been my strongest suit. Just because I don’t do that much of it. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but we all know that the more we do something, the better we get… but making the jump can be scary. As usual, when I want to improve in an area, I head for Amazon. And there I found just the thing to help me improve my public speaking. It’s called TED Talks. This is ‘The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking’, written by Chris Anderson, the Head of TED. Sounds a bit heavy, doesn’t it? Let me assure you that it isn’t at all. It’s a really good read!

What’s the premise of TED Talks?

Well, as the strapline says, this book is TED’s guide to public speaking… and as I was getting ready to give my first TEDx talk, this appealed to me in a big way. The book is broken into sections that look at preparation, what to wear, tools and more. It’s very well written and walks you through the process of preparing for any talk. All the themes discussed would apply to any talk. The main thing about TED and TEDx talks in the time limit- nothing should be over 18 minutes. Obviously THIS might not apply to non-TED and TEDx talks, but that’s a minor tweak…

What will you learn from TED Talks?

Depending on your current skill and confidence level, potentially a lot! Chris, the author, refers to many examples in his book, so you’ll also pick up some really interesting facts and ideas that were disucssed at TED and TEDx, but that’s an aside. The book uses examples to illustrate key points in terms of delivery, tools and preparation. It explains the concept in a conversational and easy to read style… which works for me. More than this, the examples given show something else. That not everyone gets it right all the time. And I honestly found this element hugely reassuring. The advice given around what to do if things go wrong was also very very useful. We all prepare for the best, and I couldn’t agree more, but knowing that people do forget their words and the world doesn’t implode is big. Well, it’s a big win in my world.

Why should you buy TED Talks?

If you have any interest in public speaking, get it. Even if you’re an expert, I believe it’ll make you think and reassure. And if you’re just starting out its a wealth of information and reassurance. What more could you ask for in one paperback?

Have a look at my TEDx talk here. 

Are you posting content that matters?

Are you posting content that matters?Are you posting content that matters?

You may think that this is a really odd question – I mean – of course you are. Aren’t you? Of course you’re posting content that matters. Or are you posting content that’s there to simply get a reaction? Not a reaction that aligns with your business… or your goals… or your customers… just a reaction. Any reaction? I’m seeing more and more people post content that doesn’t really matter and doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to get an reaction. Of course, if that’s your only objective, then go ahead. But to me that’s a LOT of effort for zero result.

What is ‘content that matters’?

Content that matters has a purpose beyond just being a piece of content. Maybe you’re sharing a client story? Or maybe you’re sharing something to help inspire and motivate? A useful blog or podcast your heard/read that you thought had value? What constitutes ‘content that matters’ differs from person to person. It depends on the objectives of your business/page/profile, but it should always add value. Otherwise what is the point? Well, I think I might know the answer…

Are you trying to outsmart the algorithm?

Ok, I get it. Social media’s algorithms can make our job more challenging… but let’s just break it down a little… can we? Social media (I’m talking Facebook, Instagram, etc etc) is built on the people who use it. The companies who run these platforms want the user experience to be good and engaging and interesting. They want to keep people on their platform for as long as they can (because, let’s be honest, that makes them an even more appealing advertising platform). But a recent algorithm update states that it has changed to help people have ‘more meaningful interactions’. Meaningful is the keyword here. Yes, Facebook’s algorithm does look at a range of factors to see if your content ticks this box… and reactions, shares and comments do factor here… but if your content is seen as engagement bait, your content could actually be demoted. In December ’17, as a response to user feedback, Facebook started demoting posts with this ‘engagement bait’ type content. To enhance the user experience.

Why posting content that matters, matters

There are a few reasons why posting content that matter, matters… hopefully one of these will strike a cord…

  1. When someone reads a post, you’re taking up their time. Time is the MOST valuable commodity that we all have the same amount of… don’t waste it!
  2. It’ll take you as much time to create GOOD content as it will poor quality
  3. Content that doesn’t add to your story or to your customer’s story is a waste of your skills
  4. Everything you put out on social media should, in some way, align with your business, your beliefs or your goals. If it doesn’t do this, why post?
  5. You can create engagement bait style posts. You might get a lot of engagement. Yay. But are these people actually interested in you or your business? Even a bit? Will they like the page and stay around, engage, ask questions and maybe even become a customer? If you’re asking them to tag a friend who is… I don’t know… blonde… are they going to buying your course/product/service? Engagement matters (a LOT), but PROPER engagement, from your tribe, your fans and people who get you is what to aim at. Not just random people who have a friend with a certain colour of hair!

So, that’s why I urge you to make sure you are posting content that matters – not just click bait or engagement bait to get some reaction. It’s a hollow victory, and no one needs those!

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What should you look for in a brand ambassador? | Rhea Freeman

what should you look for in a brand ambassadorWhat should you look for in a brand ambassador? Many, many companies are now appointing people to be ambassadors for their brand… and what is required varies enormously too. Your requirements and your expectations will, of course, influence what you should look for in a brand ambassador. Don’t discount these at all. However, to give you a bit of help, I decided to do a little research for you. I asked my Small & Supercharged group on Facebook what they look for in a brand ambassador. As this group is bursting with small business owners, many of whom use brand ambassadors to help promote their brand, I thought it was a good place to ask.

Now, you don’t have to look for the same things in a brand ambassador, far from you – you do you. Consider what you need, your brand, your expectations, your demographic and your strategy. Here are just a few ideas you might like to pick up, kindly provided by people over in my fab group…

The question I asked was: ‘what do you look for in a brand ambassador?’

Amy GriffithsAmy Griffiths Photography/Hoofprints – someone easily likeable both in real life and social media. To both me as a brand and also other people. Everything else can be discussed/worked upon but likeability isn’t something a person can change very easily! The other obvious thing is it has to be someone who uses my product or service.

Katie MortimoreKatie Mortimore Photography – Authenticity! Too many relationships are about money and not about a product on both sides.

Danielle HolmesBlack Nova Designs –  I think they have to be interested in what you offer, anyone can be a brand ambassador but if they don’t know what you do or why then promoting isn’t going to be easy.

Lydia DuceLD Equestrian – High quality content, I think it is hard to find this now with so many new bloggers/vloggers and influencers.

Sarah SJ JohnstoneApt Cavalier – Personality- my three ambassadors are all really likeable, hilarious and genuinely fun to be around. I think it’s important for that to shine through in photo shoots, social media posts etc. They all have fierce passion for the sport, which is really important to me as an “Eventing Brand”, not just a fashion brand.

Emily GaileyEquus Photo – Authenticity and being a genuinely nice person. I am such good friends with my brand ambassadors, we all hang out, we help each other out with our horses and they seem to genuinely love working with me. I think people can see that it’s a proper relationship instead of them just working with me for free stuff…which in turn makes potential clients more interested.

Emma-Jayne RothwellWoof Wear– Personality. Oodles and oodles of it. You’ll be ‘the face’ of the brand meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet or converse with, you’ll need to confidently talk about product to customers and the public, you may need to conduct course walks, talks, personal appearances, yard visits and attend events. You may also (hopefully regularly!) be on the winner’s podium and need to speak clearly and concisely and memorably, and finally, with the meteoric rise of video countering content collapse on all social media, your brand will most definitely need you to step up and join the revolution. So yep, you need to be choc full of personality.

Kate Owen Pony & Pup Photography–  I look for genuine people that are authentic, love their horses and work hard at it, aren’t afraid to post about the good times and the bad! And they have to already engage with and support your brand.

Victoria ArcherEquissage – I look for an ethical and professional person with no bad history. A ‘good influence’ to the public and I then associate my brand with those.

Janine KellThe Golden Paste Co – Authenticity. We aim for our brand ambassadors to be current customers who use and understand the product and its capabilities.

Melanie ClarihewMackenzie & George – I’ve had to think really hard about this as it’s multi fold; they need to be genuine, authentic love for the brand and what we do, super lovely people who respect their audience, and loyal.

But, the one most important factor For me, is willingness to work with us to produce original content.

Laura WilliamsBoudica Equestrian – The most important thing I look for in an Ambassador for my brand is shared value of equine welfare. I don’t look for a person who just wins prizes or has a huge following on social media, but someone who puts the needs of their horse first and strives to keep learning and improving their riding and knowledge for the horse’s benefit. As a small business I need someone who has similar ethics and beliefs. That way we can work well and closely together.

Helena Smith – From a brand point of view – approachable and an ideal customer, that can truly engage and promote the brand without it seeming like a hard sell. It also helps that others can see themselves in your ambassadors shoes, making products seem achievable and needed.

Tamara HudlestoneThe Very Important Pad – A brand ambassador needs to be engaged and proactive; not chased all the time .

Jenni WinterFlying Changes Coaching – For me I choose someone who is open and honest in their social media. Someone who doesn’t come across as “salesy” because working as a Mindset and Performance Psychology Coach means that my BAs need to be real and get people on board that way. Mindset is such a hot topic right now so they need to walk the talk.

So, what should you look for in a brand ambassador?

It’s fair to say that while the Small & Superchargers had slightly different ways of wording it, authenticity, being friendly and having a genuine affinity with the product and brand are essentials. Of course, there are lots of others things you can add to your list, but if you have these qualities as the foundation, it’s a great place to start.

What qualities do you look for in a brand ambassador? 

How to use Canva

How to use CanvaCanva. One of my favourite online places to be. I am a HUGE fan of Canva and regularly recommend it. I still find it amazing that not everyone knows about Canva, so I thought a blog that gives you the basics of how to use Canva would be a good call. Because it is such a game changer.

What is Canva?

Canva is a free – yes FREE – graphic design ‘tool’. It’s accessible online, it all works through the internet (you don’t need to download anything) and it is genuinely amazing. With loads of inspiration, design templates and even online tutorials about how to use Canva, it’s a really superb space. There are also paid for options (whether you want to buy an individual image or upgrade your package) but I’m not going to talk about them because I can honestly say I am yet to use them. I think as I have a lot of my own images, that helps a lot. Although the resize function would definitely be handy… so I’m not ruling it out. The reason I mention this is because there are so many platforms that are free to use, but if you want to do anything else, you have to pay. And when I mean anything else, I’m talking basic functionality here. I’m not having a pop at these kind of sites as everyone needs to make a living – I get that- but you can really create quality graphics, ads, posts and a LOT more for nothing through Canva.

How to use Canva

I am not saying that Canva should replace quality design – it shouldn’t. While I like to think I am OK-ish on the design spectrum, I am not a graphic designer. Graphic designers don’t just know how to use clever bits of software, then KNOW how to design. This can make the difference between an OK design and something that’s superb.

But, in my experience, Canva is incredible for making a graphic designer’s work go further. So if you want to add your beautifully designed logo to – I don’t know – a quote, Canva allows you to do this. So you’re using the graphic designer’s work with Canva. Equally, if you’ve taken an image you want to put onto social media, Canva allows you to do this. Ideally, you’d have a brand manual too, which would give you things like the hex colours, font families and other guidelines and how to use your marketing collateral so it stays on brand. But these guidelines can (and should) be integrated into anything you create through Canva.

I have also used Canva for bigger things – I have designed adverts through Canva. This is not something I like doing (but that’s because of my skillset, not Canva!), but it has that functionality as you can download your design as a print ready PDF, set the dimensions so it’s sized correctly, and even add bleed if needed. This means that Canva is more than just a tool for online graphics, memes, quotes and more, it’s also very, very capable of creating artwork for print too.

Canva templates

As I said, Canva has a huge range of templates available for you to use, for free. These will, usually, be to the correct size for what they say – like ‘Facebook Cover’ for example. However, if you have something specific in mind, you can just set your own dimensions – that’s the beauty of Canva – it lets you create what you actually need. When you’ve done your stunning piece of artwork, you can then download it in a range of formats, making it great for online as well as print.

Some of the template options are completely designed ready for you – you just change the words and the images as you like and they’re ready to go.

How to use Canva – what do I do?

I actually created a draft of my logo in Canva and then had a graphic designer refine and tweak it, but as I had the framework I could really show what I was thinking! Day to day, I use Canva for social media posts and blog images above everything else to be honest. It means I can quickly create the graphic I want with zero compromise, and I can use the elements I have had designed by a graphic designer in my designs too.

How do YOU use Canva?

If you haven’t used Canva yet, I would urge you to go and have a look on the Canva website here. There is also an app version that I have on my phone, but I have never really got on with that. I can do minor tweaks to designs and then screenshot them if I want to use them on Instagram, for example, but in my opinion the desktop version is head and shoulders above the app.

If you do you Canva, I’d love to know how you use it and why! Pop on over to Facebook to get involved!

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

What I learnt from giving a TEDx TalkIn April, I gave my first TEDx talk at TEDx Malvern. I learnt a HUGE amount in the run up to and during the experience, but I needed a bit of time to reflect before I could write this. I wanted to share with you what I learnt from giving a TEDx talk… it might just help you if you’re planning to give a TEDx talk or if you’re just looking to improve your public speaking.

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

For ease, I’m going to pop these in a kind of long bullet point form…

  • Public speaking is not as scary as I thought. I’ve always told myself that public speaking is scary… because I have had a few public speaking brushes before and all made my heart pound a bit. This time, I genuinely wasn’t scared. Which was weird. On the lead up to it I was a little anxious, but from the point I got in the car to make my way there, I really wasn’t…

 

  • I’m not as bad as public speaking as I thought. In my head, I had decided that I was not a gifted public speaker. And to be clear, there is PLENTY of room for improvement, I’m not denying this for a second. But I’m not bad. And the fact I have admitted to myself that I’m not bad has given me a huge confidence boost. Silly, isn’t it? We have the power to change how we feel about something so radically by shifting our perception from awful to ‘not as bad as I thought’. However, saying you’re not as bad as you thought, well, in my case, means I want to go on, learn more and do more. Saying I’m point blank terrible makes me want to run for the hills. So I’m not as bad as I thought. And I am happy with that.

 

  • Break it down. If you think of the whole TEDx talk ‘thing’ as one big chunk, it’s overwhelming. Breaking it down makes me much easier. I thought of it in a number of different ways and tried to work on a bit of it regularly, so what to wear (parts one and two!) was one thing, the draft of the talk, recording the talk, learning and ‘performing’ the talk, writing the cards, preparing the slides, sourcing the images, etc etc. I even broke some of these into bits – so I had a very vague outline for the talk I was giving and then started to fill bits in… and leave bits to get more info on and come back to. If I’d thought ‘right – today I am doing all things TEDx’ I would have come unstuck quickly. Because while I knew who I needed to speak to and needed pics from, getting images takes time… not a long time but with time differences it does. Chipping away at it and breaking it into bitesized chunks was much easier.

 

  • I can do slides. It turns out that I although I have seen a million (slight exaggeration) Powerpoint presentations before, I haven’t actually done one myself. I didn’t realise this until I started working on it and very quickly hated the design options available to me. I hated them so much that I designed every slide in Canva and imported it as an image into Powerpoint. So I don’t do slides in a conventional way, but I can do them.

 

  • Slides should not make up your talk. I watched a lot of talks on Youtube before my TEDx talk and I found one theme in common with what I thought were the best talks. The slides were limited (in some cases there were none), enhanced the talk by adding images/video/key facts, and were clear and easy to read. The ones I disliked the most had the talk on them… I mean, why have someone read something to you from a screen? Of course, some more technical talks benefit from more detailed slides with facts, figures, graphs and charts. Mine wouldn’t have. And although I could have added more slides with more images, I was quite happy with what I did.

 

  • Go with your gut. When I was talking through the slides with my Dad (who, turns out, has done loads of presentations using Powerpoint…) he was pretty sure I was putting over the wrong kind of thing. He said that images weren’t really right for slides. And they should be more dynamic than mine. Well I wanted images and I didn’t want crazy moving parts – it’s just not me. I’d also watched a lot of talks and realised that everyone is different and there’s no ‘right’ way. You do you. So I did me. And I was really pleased with what I’d done.

 

  • What you wear matters. This is something I’m slowly beginning to realise. Your clothes aren’t just about how you look, it’s how they make you feel. I put a fair amount of thought into my outfit (and was ably assisted by Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell) and I was pleased with how I looked. Looking at the pics taken on the night, I was cross with how my shirt creased at the front… I would probably wear something different in style next time because of this, but I felt confident and happy (and it did look really good before an hour’s car journey and an hour sitting down in a theatre!)

 

  • Enjoy it, because it doesn’t really matter. Don’t think I’m being flippant here. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and TEDx matters a LOT, but I decided that enjoying it, to me, was important. This was also a bit deeper because if I worried myself stupid and told myself that it mattered SO much, I would have been scared of making a mistake. Of stumbling. Of losing my thought. This would make it a lot more likely that I would and, if I did, I would struggle to get back on track. When I decided that I would give it my best shot but, quite rightly, acknowledged that no one was going to die if I messed up, I was able to enjoy it and really think I delivered a much better talk as a consequence.

 

  • Preparation matters. I felt fairly confident in what I was doing for many reasons – and one was the amount of prep I had done. I had had a fairly quite week to make sure I had time to prepare (thanks for the kick in that direction Emma Warren!) but it made a huge difference. I didn’t over rehearse what I was saying but I had a few good run throughs, had everything ready in plenty of time- I’d even allocated time to iron my shirt! Preparing things on every level helped me feel a lot more confidence for my TEDx talk.

 

  • Cheerleaders. For various reasons, I didn’t know anyone at who attended the TEDx talk. There was talk of different people coming with me but I didn’t push the point and it didn’t happen – the talk sold out very quickly too, so that was quite a large factor. But you know what? It didn’t matter, because while no one was sat in the theatre, I have the BEST bunch of cheerleaders who were with me every step of the way on my phone. I had SO many lovely comments come through email, messenger and text during the day and had lots of messages asking how it had gone too. I think I was in the car for about 30 mins replying to everything before I started on my way back. That made me feel incredibly special. Your cheerleaders don’t have to be in the same room… or even in the same country!

 

  • I want to do more of it. A rather unexpected result of my TEDx talk was that I want to do more public speaking… yeah, I was surpised too. As soon as the event had finished and I was outside chatting to some of the attendees, I was approached about giving other talks, so that was nice.

 

  • You need to step beyond your comfort zone to grow. And to get that lovely buzz that’s a mix of pride, achievement and possibility. It’s a nice buzz.

 

  • If plan A doesn’t work out, there’s a load more letters… and if you get stuck, ask for help. I had put a post on my Facebook page asking for a case study element for my talk. Whether I didn’t explain it properly or what, I don’t know, but none of the responses were what I needed. This was a problem as it really illustrated the point. It wasn’t until I was speaking to Sophie Callahan that the idea hit me. And I should add that it was her facial expression that gave it away. See, I was looking for someone in my local area who had connected with someone in a rural location through social media. Of course, the answer was looking me straight in the face – I was the perfect example. You know sometimes people say things are too obvious? Yeah – that.

 

  • You can condition yourself. I started off being nervous and managed to feel excited. This was due to something Emma Warren, my lovely client and friend suggested. In essence, it was when you feel a pang of ‘Oh Christ, what have I done, it’s going to be awful’, do something to change the game. She suggested I rubbed my hands together and said ‘I’m so excited about giving my talk and sharing my knowledge with the people there – it’s going to be great’. Or something like that. Damn me it worked. I only did it twice… and then I struggled to get worried about it. Weird. But it worked!

 

So that’s a snapshot of what I learnt from TEDx. Although I feel that this could have applied to all public speaking and all of the above will definitely help me in the future.

If you’d like to see my TEDx talk, you can have a look at it here. I hope you enjoy it. And HUGE thanks to Jane at Confident Rider and her friend Vivre for helping me illustrate how incredible social media is…

Behind… the different types of Instagram Stories

Behind the different types of instagram storiesOh, Instagram Stories – how I love thee! I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories, and get a tiny bit excited when a new feature is unveiled. As Focus has recently joined the Instagram Stories family, I thought it would be a good chance to have a chat about the options currently available, the different types of Instagram Stories, and how you might be able to use them. I use quite a lot of these in my own Instagram account...

The different types of Instagram Stories

So, just to recap on how to get into Instagram Stories… open your Instagram app > press your home button (bottom left) > press the camera button on the top left.

Now you’re here, should we explore the options together?

TYPE – if you have something to say or you maybe want to introduce a poll, Type is a good option. You can select different colours an different font styles. You can also hide hashtags quite easily on the Type background.

LIVE – pretty much as you’d expect, this is for you when you want to go Live. I am going to cover Instagram Live in more detail in a different blog because it’s a different beast to Stories (in my opinion), but when you want to go live, it’s there.

NORMAL – this is for still images and short videos. To take a pic, just tap the button once. If you want to record a short video, hold the button down. Colour will fill around the edge of the button and this is your countdown timer. Each clip is 15 seconds long if recorded through the app. There are ways you can chop a longer video up into 15 second clips, but 15 seconds is how it will display.

BOOMERANG – I love Boomerang. It’s a really simple way to creating a more dynamic shot. It actually works by taking a load of photos and playing them in order and reversed. Nifty.

FOCUS – a bit like my beloved Portrait mode. Focus allows you to bring the person into focus and the background becomes blurred. This works on still images and videos.

SUPERZOOM – this is a bit of fun. Select this if you want to zoom in on something in an amusing way. You can also select the style of your Superzoom from Dramatic, Beats, TV Show and Bounce. Just tap the little musical note (oh yeah- there’s music).

REWIND – plays the video in reverse. I’ve only tried this once… I tend to use Boomerang instead.

HANDS-FREE – lets you record a video without having to have your finger permanently welded to your phone screen, which is a bit of a win.

STOP-MOTION – I love stop motion. I created my Christmas campaign using stop motion (OK, I used an app and posted on FB, but still). The stop motion in Instagram Stories required a lot of tapping but it’s a fun way to show a sequence of events or process.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can also add text, stickers, GIFs, hashtags and tag people to all of the above!

Instagram Stories should be fun to watch and do – so mess around with the different styles inside the app… if you don’t like the result, delete it and no one ever need see it. And if you post it, it’ll be gone in 24 hours anyway! Enjoy!

If you’d like to see how I use Instagram Stories, you can find me at @rheafreemanpr

…and feel free to tag me if you’ve tried something new on Instagram Stories as a result of reading this!

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

Can you be an ambassador for too many brandsCan you be an ambassador for too many brands? I was asked this question for a recent Facebook and Instagram Live. Not only was I very. very sure of the answer (yes), but there was a lot of support for this from business owners too. There are, however, variables on the number. Being a brand ambassador can be great for brand and ambassador, but it’s not always. And, as a brand ambassador, if you’re overstretched and underdelivering, it won’t end well.

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

You might have noticed a surge in the use of the term brand ambassador. It used to be a fairly rare ‘thing’ but, with the rise of social media, it’s become a lot more popular. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it’s a grey area. Having a lot of anything can reduce its kudos and can make what should feel like a rare opportunity a lot less ‘special’. But that’s a different subject.

People who are active on social media, who produce good content and engage with their audience are more likely to be asked to be brand ambassadors. When you apply for this accolade or are asked, the chances that any brand worth their salt will have done a little research into you and what you do. Now, these people (who are active on social media, have good engagement, etc) are not all that common… and that means that they can find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of requests. Yep, it’s really flattering and yes, you will probably get lots of lovely free things… but let’s just take a breath and have a little think…

If you are a brand ambassador, the brand will expect something from you

It doesn’t have to be a kidney or your first born, but there will be some pay back. If you’re supplied with products, the brand will expect to see these appear on your social media feeds, on your blog or vlog… and they will expect you to use the items. All of these things take time. Yes, you get the free stuff, but it all comes with an expectation. And so it should… giving stuff away for free is REALLY easy. But if that were the objective, you might not have been picked and the ‘contest’ would have been very different.

So. Yes. You get free things. But they’re not free. You’re expected to give something back and that will take time.

Some brands are flexible

Some brands give brand ambassadors a free rein and don’t give strict criteria. I personally think this is a good policy and you get to see who ‘gets’ it and who really doesn’t. It can be quite eye opening from the other side of the fence. This does not mean that every single post has to include a brand’s product, but it should feature organically in the content because. Wait for it. YOU SHOULD WANT TO WEAR OR USE IT. If a brand is flexible on the content you create, nurture this and support them. But be aware that just because they aren’t kicking off, they will be watching and waiting.

Lots of brands = no time

If you are looking to create content for lots of different brands, be aware of how much time this will take. You might find that, very quickly, you run out of time because of what you should be doing for others. This might mean your own social media suffers, or worst still, that your real life does! This is a real, genuine issue. Being a brand ambassador should not take away from your enjoyment of what you do. And having too many could well do this.

Conflicts

Lordy… this is a big one. Many brands have more than one type of product, and some have MANY. If you’re the brand ambassador for a retailer, they will carry lots of products. So what does this mean in terms of who else you can be an ambassador for? You need to find out. If you’re saying that ‘this x is the best ever’ on one post, and your next post states that something else is… what does that prove? You’re fickle? You can be bought? Your advice can’t be trusted? No one wants this… and you certainly don’t. If you work with people who have very specific products, you can take on more brand ambassadorships, if you work for people who have a range of products, this becomes a lot more challenging…

 

So, yes, you can become an ambassador for too many brands, but the actual number depends on a lot of factors. Being clear on what is expected from each party is crucial from the get-go, and from then you can work out whether or not they fit in with your current constraints and other brand ambassadorships.

If you’d like more hints and tips connected to PR, marketing, influencers, business development and more, don’t forget to join my newsletter– you can subscribe here