BrandYourself, DIY Online Reputation Management

I happened to watch a rerun of Shark Tank this week and was intrigued by Patrick Ambron, co-founder of BrandYourself, an online reputation management service. I find it very interesting since I’ve been in the position of counseling small business clients on the problems they’ve encountered, such as having negative reviews on Yelp. Worse yet, those Yelp reviews show up on a Google search results pages, often with the negative review snippet showing front and center.

Ambron says BrandYourself isn’t so much about removing the negative as helping you create a [positive] presence online. I agree with that philosophy and also wonder if their Do It Yourself tools can really work. In my own experience, I find clients want to spend as little time and money as possible. They typically don’t understand my philosophy of:

Great online reputation management is actually great online marketing, which most every company should be doing.

Big Brother vs Apple? Security vs Privacy?

I find the controversy involving the FBI seeking access to the I-phone rather disturbing. It’s not a simple premise of “security versus privacy,” as Wired magazine points out.

And I find this quote from Reuters to put things in perspective.

Most technology security experts, including many who have served in government, have said technical efforts to provide government access to encrypted devices inevitably degrades security for everyone. It is an argument that has been made since the 1990s, when the government tried and failed to force tech companies to incorporate a special chip into their products for surveillance purposes.

Tim Cook and Apple states in their letter to customers, “The FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.” Nothing like an from 200+ years ago to use in the high-tech world of 2016.

In any case, we should all read and listen to the issues and possible outcomes from this situation. It could affect our privacy for years to come.

LinkedIn profiles: first or third person?

I vote for both and here’s why.

Online marketing professionals typically have an opinion on how to write LinkedIn profiles. Many of them promote the use of first person. They argue that first person is more friendly and inviting. I don’t disagree with that notion, however, there are intervening variables. Like search engine results, for example. It’s kind of a big deal since for the time being, Google is likely to pick up your LinkedIn profile on page one of a search for your name, or your company name.

LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn profile summaries are more search friendly in third person

Will Google easily recognize and display your information when it says, “I am a blah, blah, blah?” Who is “I?” Well, “I” is everyone on the planet. It’s more beneficial to write something like, “Mary Johnson is the founder of XYZ accounting and consulting firm and responsible for the day-to-day performance of more than fifty dedicated employees. Mary Johnson leads the company’s management team and is responsible for planning, operations and the company’s overall financial success.”

Why the third person and full name? According to Copyblogger, Google zeroes in on your LinkedIn profile summary. Using your first name in your summary allows Google to pick up “Mary Johnson is…” as not “I am the…” Makes sense doesn’t it!

The summary is the first big block of copy about you after your name, photo and job title. Then comes the listing of your past positions and education. Here’s the place to change it to first person. It reads more friendly and personal, and we’re not so concerned with Google displaying statements from these sections. And frankly, it feels more natural to write about ourselves in first person.

Bottom line? Write your summary in third person, and everything else in first person. You’ll get better Google search results while still conveying a more personal tone in the rest of your LinkedIn profile.

Email Newsletter Award Arrives from Taiwan

email newsletter award presented

Ann Musser presents email newsletter award to Gary Lofstrom of Lofstrom + Company

The award for best chapter newsletter was physically awarded at People to People International’s Worldwide Conference in Tainan, Taiwan on September 17, 2014. Since I was unable to attend, fellow member, Ann Musser, accepted it on my behalf. The photo shows Ann presenting the award to me here in Kansas City, MO USA.

How to craft a winning content marketing plan

Content Marketing PlanDo you want to be a successful business content marketer? The excitement and potential of creating content that builds your reputation as a thought leader often gets in the way of doing the simple stuff first. Like planning. Content editorial planning to be specific.

Unfortunately, you might start out with two or three great blog topic ideas, and then, you’re stuck. You got nothing. No new topic ideas, and your commitment to regular blog posts means there are deadlines. If you had only taken a bit of time up front to plan your content. Well, it’s not too late, and you’ll be glad you did.

As a professional service or small business person, you don’t want to spend loads of time planning. However, a little time and thoughtfulness can allow you to create a simple, actionable content plan. Let’s review the essential elements of a content marketing plan.

Business objectives

Business objectives are two-fold: financial and marketing. It’s the same for any business plan. Financial objectives include quantitative goals, like “achieve a 12% growth in revenues,” or “increase revenue by $100,000” or “gain 20 warm leads.” The time frame might be monthly, quarterly or annually, and the time frame must be included in order to measure results.

Marketing objectives help you achieve your financial objectives. They might include: [Read more…]

Thinking responsively: responsive web design that is

Responsive web design - Strategic Compliance, Inc.

Responsive web design adjusts elegantly to fit on desktop, tablet and smartphone browsers

Responsive Web Design

This year I’ve built new websites for clients on responsive design platforms. Mobile responsive design has been talked about for a few years, but I think it’s really become a must in the last couple of years. And it’s much easier to accomplish today with responsive design platforms, like most of the StudioPress WordPress themes.

If responsive web design is a somewhat unfamiliar, no worries. Responsive web design is a website design that adjusts elegantly to fit on desktop, tablet and smartphone browsers. No longer will people get essentially the same website view as a desktop – only scrunched to fit the smaller space. Instead, the responsive technology adjusts the website content to  the particular device. Searchers and visitors can easily see and navigate the available content.

Strategic Compliance, Inc.

The website displayed here is for Strategic Compliance, Inc., a “boutique, human resources consultancy offering critical wage and hour compliance solutions. Owner Alfonso Zarate created the business to leverage his past experience as a Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Department (WHD) investigator. He seeks to bridge the gap between legal compliance issues and everyday human resource issues, and help employers better relate to employees from different cultures or who speak different languages.

Alfonso’s experience as a WHD Investigator helps his clients defend themselves against WHD investigations, saving them time, money and headaches. He is proficient in reading, writing and speaking to/from English/Spanish. During his time as a WHD Investigator, Alfonso received the prestigious Secretary of Labor Exceptional Achievement Award on three occasions.

Lofstrom + Company professionals developed the firm’s branding, including the logo and tagline, and built the website content and design from the ground up. We chose the “Executive Pro” theme from StudioPress, which allowed us to have mobile responsive design with very few alterations to underlying code.

People to People Newsletter Award to Gary Lofstrom & KC Chapter

nonprofit Email newsletter award

Best member newsletter award was bestowed on Gary Lofstrom and the Kansas City chapter of People to People Kansas City International

Our chapter of  People to People International was recently honored as the “2014 People to People International’s Chapter Newsletter Award” winner. Our chapter president kindly gave me kudos for my part in publishing the member email news blast.

People to People International Kansas City Chapter Members,

Please the attached. I nominated Gary Lofstrom for the PTPI Newsletter award and he won! This is quite an honor for Gary and the Chapter. While I know a number of members have contributed to the quality of the Newsletter, Paulette Markel, Karen Haber and others, it is Gary who pulls it all together and comes up with the great graphics and layout.

Larry Dolci

Chapter President

And the award  letter from People to People International

Dear Greater KC Chapter,


It is a sincere pleasure to inform you that your chapter is the 2014 recipient of People to People International’s Chapter Newsletter Award. Your achievements will be recognized at our Annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the
21’t Worldwide Conference in Tainan, Taiwan. This prestigious program will take place at The Tayih Landis Hotel on Friday, September 19 at 6:30 pm. We hope that one or more members of your chapter are able to join us, along with your peers from around the world, so that we can personally thank you.

I must acknowledge that I use MailChimp, a great email tool. You should try it, too.  Now if I can only raise money so I can travel to Taiwan and pick up the award. I wonder if the country offers any grants!


Entrepreneur of the Year – Yes Me!

Gary Lofstrom, Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner image

Gary Lofstrom – 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner, as awarded by KC-IABC

I was honored yesterday by my peers within the Kansas City chapter of International Association of Business Communicators ( as the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year. The award was presented at the annual Business Communicators Summit. I am grateful for the recognition and want to say again that IABC has been a great professional organization for so many marketing communications professionals to cultivate their skills and achieve their personal and career goals.

Per our chapter’s guidelines, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of our industry’s self-employed professionals. These individuals inspire us with their entrepreneurial spirit by organizing, managing and assuming the risks of running a business and demonstrate:

  • A strong book of clients
  • An ongoing, active role in IABC
  • Assistance and support to other communications professionals – both organizational and independent
  • A position of respect among their fellow entrepreneurs
  • Evidence of business stability

Should you include photos of key people on your website?

A good head shot photo is a must for your website. Make sure you’re not having a bad hair day!

This headline is a question posed frequently by clients when I ask them for their most recent, high quality head shot, or ask them to get a head shot photo taken for their website. I generally support the idea of a photo to go with a bio. However, I think there are times when certain people prefer to omit their photo for security and/or privacy reasons. I know there’s not much in the way of privacy once you do much of anything on the Internet, but if a person has such a concern, then it should be respected. As for revealing one’s age, gender, etc., the bio even without a photo will reveal quite of bit of information (if it’s at all informative). Final thought, I don’t stay long on a website if it the people behind it are a mystery! What are they hiding?

Hard-working and selfless content marketers need not fear Google Hummingbird

Hummingbird in flight

Diligent content writers work as hard as the hummingbird to create useful and interesting content for Google searchers

The good people at Copyblogger recently compared online marketers’ relationships with Google to playing Russian roulette. The new Google algorithm, Hummingbird, has further revealed our obsession about the mechanics of Google search. Content- and SEO-driven people can be lazy and selfish by trying so hard to outguess and game the system. Why not just write great content? How do you write great content and bring searchers to your website, you ask? Well, Copyblogger, of course, has a checklist for that and here it is.

Copyblogger’s Checklist for building topical authority around a page and a website

  • Create high-quality, useful content (including in-depth articles) to deliver meaningful value to your audience, which you can measure by how much time a visitor spends on your pages and site and what they share across the social web.
  • Create a website that provides top-notch online experience in terms of design, speed, and navigation.
  • Create a sterling, exciting reputation that people talk about in the press, on blogs, and on the social web.
  • Create thoughtful, original content that attracts and holds attention and encourages people to share across the social web.
  • Engage with your audience through comments, guest posting, and social web interaction.
  • Establish and protect a credible, transparent, and likeable identity that proves you are an authority.
  • Connect all of your online content through authorship markup.
  • Set and guide the online conversation with challenging, consistent content.

Source: “Are You Still Playing Russian Roulette with Google?” by Demian Farnworth, Senior Copywriter for Copyblogger Media.