Outspoken Media: The Evolution of a Brand

by on 05/18/2012 • 28 Comments | Announcements

An Introduction

Hi, my name is Emily Cote, and I am the new Community Manager for Outspoken Media.

You probably didn’t know this, but I have been the Community Manager for the past month. The reason you didn’t know this is because I have pretty much been non-existent online since then. And honestly, I owe you an apology for that.

No one ever likes to admit their weaknesses. It goes against all human nature. But I believe the only way we can ever make progress (as individuals, and as a species) is to know where we are starting from, and to know where we want to go. In between, there is a lot of stumbling, a lot of questioning, and a lot of positive, life-changing growth.

I also think I need to tell you, our readers, the truth. At Outspoken Media, we are pretty much starting at square one.

Let me be clear—not on the client side. Throughout this process of organizational change, our clients have always come first. We are so dedicated to providing consistent, high-quality work for them that we did everything we could to ensure they were buffered and protected, and experienced very little change throughout this transition. And I think, even though it has been a lot of hard work, we have been successful.

But from a social standpoint, I have inherited a community that has experienced a loss, and a brand that is trying to find its new voice. To act as though nothing has changed is doing a disservice to everyone in the community.

A Confession

Outspoken Media is not the same company it was three years ago. Heck, it isn’t the same company it was when I started six months ago. We’re evolving on so many levels, and we are heading toward some truly exciting things. I can’t tell you how much I, in just six months, have fallen head over heels for this company and for our team, or how inspired I am when I wake up every morning, knowing where we are headed.

But, to our community, we look almost the same. It’s the same website. The same logo. The same services. The same general content. And I believe, up until today, the same status quo.

The responsibility that came with inheriting this community has had me mentally paralyzed for the last month. I have wanted so badly to jump in and interact with all of you, but I didn’t know where to start. Out of fear of doing the wrong thing, I have done nothing. And I think that is because I, too, have been operating under the pretense that this company is the same, and that I am expected to fill certain shoes.

A Revelation

But then, this morning, I woke up and I was hit with a realization—one that I probably should have come to sooner. The only reason it has been so hard for me to jump into this, to see the big picture, is because I have been looking at our company through the wrong lens.

It’s time for me to start treating Outspoken Media like a client. A client who is going through a rebranding process. A client who needs a new social media strategy.

Client fallout is almost always attributable to the difference between expectations and outcomes. Therefore, one of the first things we do when we start with a new client is set realistic expectations. We walk them through our work process, we tell them what results they can reasonably expect, and we don’t make promises we can’t keep. It’s nothing but honest communication, usually backed up with hard data.

So, this blog post is step one. I am setting your expectations.

A Plan

This blog is going to change. We’re not going to be posting as often as we used to. But when we do, it’s going to be big. We’re going to start targeting higher-level SEO topics, and talking more about the work we actually do on a day-to-day basis. We’re going to talk about the things we are actively learning, about the tools we are using, and we’re going to start showing lots of data when we can. We’re going to be using those nifty colored boxes you may have spotted in our posts, to outline real, actionable items you can take away from each piece and use in your work.

We’re also going to be doing more case studies. And hopefully you noticed in the title—I have decided to use our own brand as a case study.

I want you to join us during this process. I want you to see how we’re going to get from where we are today to where we are going. Just as we plan to do on the blog overall, for our own brand case study, I want to talk about the tools we are using, the things we are learning, and, yes, I am going to show you lots of data. In return, I am going to ask you, our community, for the following deliverables so we can have a great new working relationship.

A List of Requests

  • Please give us your feedback. Honest communication is a two-way street. We want to know what you think. Suggestions, comments, criticisms… please send them our way. I always tell my clients: “If there is anything else I can do to help or do my job even better, please do not hesitate to ask.” The same rule applies to you. Here is my e-mail to show you I mean it: emily [at] outspokenmedia.com.
  • Please pardon our dust. Rebranding is a lot like trying to remodel a store while everyone is still shopping. We have lots of client work that still needs to get done, and even with all the recent changes, operations haven’t missed a beat. But it’s a messy process to change course while trying to keep the same momentum, and we hope you’ll be patient with us while we work it all out.
  • Please know how much we care. Our industry is really special. Rarely do you see so many competitors working together toward the common good of the entire industry. Rarely do you see so much collaboration. Rhea’s link-building spreadsheet… how awesome was that? Look how many people pitched in, and how it evolved. We want more of that! We want to work with the industry to make it better. If you see ways we can help improve something, we want to know! Give us a shout, and we’ll do our best to pitch in and work toward the common good.
  • Please be excited. I can’t tell you all the things that are coming down the pike for Outspoken Media, but they are so awesome, sometimes they keep me up at night. Some of them are coming soon. Others are going to take more time and a lot more work. But the vision we have for this company, and the passion we have to drive us in achieving that vision, are unmatched by anything I have ever experienced in a job before. I know I can’t fully convey all this to you, but I am just going to ask you to trust me. And I want you to be there to celebrate our successes. And we want to be there to celebrate yours! SEO is not dead. It’s evolving into something new and exciting, and we are very happy to be a part of the change.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I could handle this new role and do it justice. But, knowing the industry, I am hoping I will be able to lean on all of you and ask for advice as I start to get my feet wet. This is all new to me, and I am both scared and excited. But this is my chance to be a part of something beautiful and amazing—the rebirth of a company and a brand that means the world to me. And I can’t wait to jump in.

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About the Author

Emily Cote

Emily Cote is an Internet Marketing Consultant and the Community Manager at Outspoken Media. Connect with Emily on Google+.

Get social with Emily at Twitter

28 thoughts on “Outspoken Media: The Evolution of a Brand

  1. Awesome! Y’all worry too much! This sounds great.

    I’m a talker, and something I’ve often been told is to talk less and let the actions speak for themselves. I love that you’ve addressed your overwhelm paralysis here, that happens to me too, but no more planning. No more telling us what you’re going to do in a post Lisa world.

    Just do it. The next post, tomorrow, needs to be one of these valuable actionable guides, or something funny, or a video, or SOMETHING real.

    No more planning, posturing, etc, no more promising and discussing, it’s time to just start DOING. And you will, and you can, and it will be great.

    We believe in you.

    Feel the fear and do it anyway.

    • Matt, I appreciate your sentiment and just want to stress that since we’re changing up the format on the blog, Emily wanted to set that expectation. There’s plenty of doing, but as a result, there will be less blogging. ;) Doing without an explanation would look odd. I love that Emily wanted to let you guys in on the fact that we’re no longer going to maintain the status quo and that she wanted to give an introduction to who she is. I haven’t seen Emily this fired up in awhile and it’s awesome. It’s why we know we made the right choice. So proud of her.

  2. Congrats on taking the plunge! My company is doing something very similar (on a much smaller scale of course) but it can be terrifying, but also exhilarating!

  3. From one community manager to another, welcome and congrats! You’re off to a great start with this honest and heartfelt post. I can’t wait to see what comes from the “new” Outspoken Media.

  4. Hi Emily,

    It’s nice to meet. I appreciate your honesty & passion for what you are doing. I’m in a somewhat similar situation, helping to grow a small website design company. I come from a marketing/ sales background , but learning the social media & tech side!

    Good luck to both of us.
    Brad

    • Brad, thank you for the support! It was scary to put myself out there like that, but I have to remind myself that we are all human, and learning can be both scary and fun!

  5. I admire you, Emily, for being so transparent and authentic during your “rebranding” phase! I was in a similar position myself, when I joined my company – as I took over an online audience that was already familiar and connected to my predecessor. I was scared, it was tough, and even after about a year it still comes with a few challenges and awkward moments. :) But our company went through an online “rebranding” process and expanded our network and did things we’ve never done before- so it was exciting.

    It sounds like Outspoken Media has some great things in the works and I’m sure the company will be better than ever before! I’m excited for you and the rest of your team- can’t wait to see what comes next. :)

  6. Welcome to the flock, Emily! I’ve been a fan of Outspoken for a little while, and I’m interested to see what all you’ll be rolling out.

    I find honesty is severely lacking in our industry, and I can hardly think of a more honest post from anyone. Especially with this being your introductory post, I’m really eager to see what you do. I hope this has been a glimpse of what’s to come; if so, I think you’ll have quite the following.

    • Takeshi, thank you for your wonderful comment. I really appreciate it! I hope as we move forward, we are able to offer a very honest and approachable portrayal of the industry and how we work as a company, and I am very excited about that. :)

  7. Case studies are awesome. If you want inspiration check out your (well, relatively distant) neighbor over in Worcester there at EvolvingSEO, Dan does some insightful ones, not sure how, it’s all creative-brain thinking stuff.

    That linking spreadsheet thing is awesome, so many ideas, thanks for pointing it out, I had missed it.

    - Ted

  8. Emily definitely look the idea for the new plan and the actionable items. I am looking forward to the first couple posts and what you have to share. Thanks!

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