Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

Buffington’s Guide to Living & Buying in Austin

Join local Austin homebuilder, Buffington Signature Homes, for a tour of the ins and outs of buying a new home in the capital city! Where to buy, what to look for, where it’s hot and where it’s cool!

There are lots of great places to live in Austin. Use these tips to find the perfect neighborhood and home for your lifestyle!

1. North, South, East & West—head any direction from downtown Austin and you’ll discover four distinctive areas of town, each with their own character and atmosphere.

  • North: North Austin and Round Rock are home to many of the region’s biggest employers, with great shopping, accessibility and family-friendly living.
  • South: The original home of “Keep Austin Weird”! South Austin offers a unique experience of the culture and style that made the city famous.
  • East: Enjoying a resurgence in economic development and investment, East Austin is home to great historical neighborhoods, arts and eateries.
  • West: As you head west, the city gives way to the Texas Hill Country. With grand hillside homes and nearby access to Lake Travis, life is good in the west.

2. Major Roads & Highways. Several major roads make getting around town a lot easier… unless you catch them at the wrong time.

  • I-35: The main North/South thoroughfare, I-35 bisects the city just east of Downtown. Connected to just about everything, but beware of rush hour traffic and backups.
  • Mopac / Loop 1: Also running North/South, Mopac loops west of downtown and can be faster and less congested than I-35.
  • 183/183-A: Running southeast to northwest, 183 takes you from the airport, north of Downtown into North Austin. From there, the 183-A toll road offers easy access from Cedar Park and Leander.
  • 290 / 71 / Ben White Blvd: Running East-West from the airport into the Hill Country, Ben White connect South Austin to I-35 and Mopac.

3. Schools. Austin area schools are consistently ranked among the best in the state and even the country. For the top rated public schools in the area, check out the Eanes School District in West Austin, and the Round Rock and Leander ISDs. There are also several highly-rated independent and church-affiliated private schools throughout the city.

4. Colleges & Universities. Austin is perhaps best known as the home of the University of Texas. UT sits right in the middle of the city, just north of the Capital, with nationally ranked undergraduate, graduate and adult education programs. Just south of the river, St. Edwards University is a private, Roman Catholic university known for quality liberal arts programs. Several Austin Community Collage campuses can be found throughout the city, offering quality undergraduate and adult programs, as well as Early College Start programs for high school students.

5. Live Music & Events. “The Live Music Capital of the World” is home to more than 200 live music venues and over 1,900 local musicians! On any given night, you can find incredible live music on the world-famous 6th Street or nearby in the Warehouse District, another growing entertainment area. Local favorites for live performances include Stubb’s BBQ, Auditorium Shores and the newly completed Austin Music Hall. You can also check out hundreds of local and national acts every spring at South by Southwest (SXSW) and at Austin City Limits Music Festival in late summer.

6. Parks & Lakes. The city’s parks, greenbelts and lakes offer endless possibilities for outdoor fun. Barton Springs is a popular attraction, at an average temperature of 68° year round! Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis offer great places for boating and skiing, and miles of hike & bike trails throughout the city are perfect for exercise and leisure. The most popular outdoor destination is Zilker Park, located along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. Zilker Park is home to a popular dog park, the famous Barton Springs Pool as well as one of the largest trailheads leading into the Barton Creek greenbelt.

7. Sports. Great sports action is never far away, with UT athletics throughout the school year, as well as the Austin Aztex USL soccer team and the Round Rock Express baseball team, affiliate of the Houston Astros! Coming in 2009 or 2010, the Texas Stars AHL hockey team will hit the ice in Cedar Park as the top affiliate of the Dallas Stars NHL franchise.

8. Temperature & Climate. Bring your sunscreen! Austin averages 300 days of sunshine per year, with hot summers and mild winters. The coldest month in Austin is typically January, with overnight lows averaging 40°. In the summers, late July and August are typically the hottest, with average daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.

9. Shopping. Key shopping centers for the area include Southpark Meadows and Barton Creek Mall in South Austin, La Frontera and the Round Rock Premium Outlets in Round Rock, as well as Lakeline Mall and the new 1890 Ranch in Cedar Park. For great local boutiques and arts, check out the great clothing and vintage stores on South Congress, as well as “The Drag” on Guadalupe near the UT campus.

10. Dining. Whatever kind of food or atmosphere you’re in the mood for, there are great places to eat all over the city. Find your own favorite neighborhood eatery or look for local favorites scattered across town, like Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Gumbo’s Louisiana Style Cafe, Austin Java, Amy’s Ice Cream and Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ.

Buffington Signature Homes is locally owned and operated in Austin, proudly building new homes in the most sought-after communities in South Austin, Round Rock and Cedar Park. Dedicated to building homes that will last a lifetime, Buffington combines innovative floor plans, skilled craftsmanship and an exceptional buying experience to deliver homes that each and every customer is proud to live in.

http://www.buffingtonsignaturehomes.com

Is blogging really good for my company? Or just a buzz word?

Broaden your internet marketing program, increase your website’s value, and make yourself more visible to search engines… all at once! Business blogs can deliver all of this and more.

What is a Blog?

A blog is a frequently updated website featuring news, commentary, advice or insight. Blogs are published using third-party content management systems, which makes them simple to manage – even for beginners. Blog content is usually displayed in reverse chronological order (newest post at the top) and can be easily categorized by the author(s).

The Benefits of Blogging

Business blogs are becoming popular for a number of reasons. Blogs have a user-friendly publishing interface, so companies often update their blogs more frequently than their regular website. Some of the most popular business blogs get updated once or twice a day. In addition to keeping readers coming back, this also improves search engine optimization by adding fresh content to your online business presence.

Step 1 – Set up your blog

Ask an employee or hire a firm to install third-party blogging software onto your web host and test it for proper operation. Be sure that you use a software that allows you to customize your business blog with your logo and colors. You may not be able to get the blog to completely match your website. Think of it as an opportunity to create a new online look for your company. It is good for the blog to have you logo and similar colors to your website, but you have a chance to give your blog its own look!

Step 2 – Learn how to Blog

You should be given access to a user-friendly management center where you can log in and begin publishing immediately. If you feel that you don’t have the time to do so, consider assigning this task to an employee. You should pick someone who can write professionally and understands your business and its products. If you do not have anyone in your company with these skills, hire a marketing firm who can write the blog articles for you.

NOTE: Writing articles for a blog is different from writing articles for a press release. Be sure that you hire someone who understands this!

Blogging is easy. In fact, if you can type an e-mail you can post content to a blog. It really is that simple. However, general business e-mail rules still apply. Do not put anything offensive or off-color in your blog articles. This includes images. Keep your content professional, but still with a familiar voice. You don’t need to write an encyclopedia entry. Don’t capitalize entire lines of text or bold every word that you feel needs emphasis. This is extremely annoying to online readers and they will start to overlook your phrases.

Step 3 – Blog

Once you’re comfortable with your blog, you can post content on a regular basis. You’ll actually be growing your website with quality news and information – good for your readers, and good for the search engines too.

Pick at most three key phrases in every post and link them to three different pages on your website that match the phrases. This gives you a chance to create a legitimate linking campaign on the internet. If you will look above, you will see that I chose three phrases and linked them to pages on our company website. I didn’t just choose random pages. I chose pages that match the key phrases. Internet users dislike it when you link a phrase to a web page that does not match the phrase. This might get your blog blocked from ever being used by that user and you will have lost a possible future client. So don’t try to trick the reader.

What to Blog

Stumped over what to write about? Here are some ideas that you can always fall back on.

  • New product or service
  • Upcoming event
  • New hire
  • Awards
  • Spotlight on a client or employee

The topics are endless. Anything that is news in your company can become news on your blog!

Get Started!

Blogging is easy and can bring a valuable resource to your company. Give it some consideration. Look at some of the other blogs out there and see how they are being used. This may be something that you add to your website that gives you the edge over your competitors!

Learn More

If you would like to talk to a marketing firm about helping you to set up a blog for your site, consider contacting Intra-Focus, Inc. Their friendly staff has a great deal of experience with blogs and would happy to help you realize your blog possibilities.

Get Noticed Online

Publishing press releases can support your internet marketing and PR program in several ways. Creating an entire online PR campaign opens up lesser known opportunities and also generate leads to direct inquiries from the media and prospective customers. Use the following steps to help you realize your online PR campaign.

Step 1 – The Press Release

The first step is to identify a topic for your press release. Popular topics include new or improved products, relocations or new locations, website or blog launches, or any other unique stories associated with your company. Be sure that you have a competent person create a professional press release that identifies your target audience. Be aware that writing for print media and writing for the web can differ. If you do not have an employee that can meet these needs, you should hire a marketing firm to write the article for you. You might be surprised at how little it will cost for this service!


TARGET AUDIENCE QUIZ

Which of these sentences would appeal to men aged 16 – 20.

#1. The new Speedster skateboard uses ionized paint to anticipate the retroactive artistic styles of master artisans of the past century.

#2. The new Speedster skateboard has a retro look that will appeal to your senses.

Both of these sentences say the same thing and are professionally written, but the first sentence will probably cause the target audience to immediately stop reading. If you do not have someone in your business to handle these duties, you should consider hiring a marketing firm that has a copywriter. You might be surprised how little you will have to pay for this service.


NOTE: Do not finalize the press release until it has been checked for spelling and grammar by someone other than the copywriter. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes!

Step 2 – Releasing to the Media

Once you have the press release finalized, it is time to release it to the media for release in their publication or electronic medium. Send your PR to prweb.com and prnewswire.com. These websites are two of the most sophisticated online press release services around and many media outlets use these two websites to find news. Your article might just get picked up by dozens of newspapers! By combining your marketing firm’s knowledge and experience with the powerful distribution networks of sites like PRweb, you can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

You should also send your press release to your local newspaper and any local television or radio stations. Make sure that they have good contact information for you in case they would like to use you in a feature story!

Step 3 – The E-campaign

At this point, you should strongly consider hiring a marketing firm to handle the creation of your e-campaign. If you used a copywriter to write the press release, see if they will also set up the e-campaign. (Better yet, try to get everything in one package!) The e-campaign should be attractive and eye-catching and have at least one link to a landing page. Make sure that the landing page contains a form for lead generation or, at the very least, a button for people to contact you.

An important item that is largely ignored is the size of the e-campaign. If you choose to send the entire press release in the e-mail, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels. This will fit in most e-mail clients. If you choose to send a summary of the article or an eye-catching graphic that will go to the press release, then the campaign should be no wider than 600 pixels and no taller than 395 pixels.

Your marketing firm should also have a system that will track how many people viewed and clicked on the e-mail. Be sure to ask for reports. This is an excellent opportunity to not only judge the success of your e-campaign, but also to remove any defunct e-mail addresses from your customer database.

Step 4 – Updating Your Website

If you don’t have a news page on your existing website, you are missing out on a great opportunity to add fresh content and to expand your profile on search engines. Get your news section built and add your first article.

If you do have a news page, get your article up there with a dateline at the top and contact information at the bottom.

Be sure to link no more than five phrases in your article to other pages in your website. This is called an optimized press release and will be beneficial to your search engine optimization efforts.

Step 5 – To Blog or Not to Blog

This step is optional, but can bring great rewards to your online presence. If you have a blog, post your press releases with target phrases linked back to your existing website. Optimized press releases get a lot of visibility in the major search engines. They can also generate new links back to your website, as other sites republish your release. These "backlinks" play an important role in the overall search engine visibility of your website.


INDUSTRY EXAMPLE – Online PR Campaign (Intra-Focus, Inc.)

An online PR campaign was recently created for Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes and their work on Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition. In addition to electronic press releases, they also created a special website to generate buzz about the project.

>> Read the press releases
>> View an example of an e-press release
>> See the website
>> Visit the main website


The world is becoming more internet focused by the minute and you need to stay on top of this technology wave or your company will drown. Don’t wait! Get proactive and start your online PR campaigns today!

Learn More
If you are interested in getting a quote from a marketing firm or just finding out more about the process, you should contact Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus has a wealth of experience writing press releases, optimizing them for the search engines, and distributing them online. They can transform your press release into an online promotional vehicle with unlimited reach.

Business Blogging – A Crash Course for Busy Executives

By BR Cornett

If you’re a business owner or corporate executive, but you don’t yet publish a blog, I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the big deal about blogs, already? Aren’t they just online diaries?”

Well, yes and no. Let me explain.

What is a Blog?

“Blog” is an abbreviated version of “weblog,” which is a term used to describe frequently updated websites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. Blogs are published using third-party content management systems, which makes them simple to manage – even for beginners.

The Evolution of Blogs

In the “early” days of blogging, most blogs were personal in nature. Blog authors posted their daily thoughts, rants and musings for friends and family to read. While the diary-style blog is still common today, a variety of other blog types have evolved as well. Today, blogs run the gamut from personal, educational, political, promotional, etc.

The Business Blog

As is usually the case with Internet technology, it didn’t take long for companies to see the potential benefits of blogging. Early adopters of the business blog had the corporate courage to share internal happenings with their customer base. Many people found this newfound openness refreshing, and word spread about the effectiveness of business blogs.

Over the last couple of years, tens of thousands of companies have launched business blogs. Some of these blogs have become successful by offering engaging commentary, news and helpful information from company leaders to customers. But just as many business blogs have failed as a result of their owners misunderstanding the medium.

Why Should I Blog?

Business blogs are becoming popular for a number of reasons. Because of their user-friendly interface, people update their blogs more frequently than they might update their regular websites. Some of the most popular blogs get updated once or twice a day. In addition to adding freshness and usefulness to a website, this also improves search engine visibility.

Blogs also add a social, interactive element to your website, because you can turn on a feature that allows moderated comments from readers and customers. When such interaction grows over time, it can have far-reaching effects.

What Should I Blog About

Some of the most popular business blogs are published by “thought leaders” in their respective industries. The authors of these blogs have had the courage to come out from behind their anonymous corporate websites to share their true thoughts and feelings about their products, their companies and their industries. These authors also know that the blog is not the place for brochure copy or other promotional content.

To get an idea of how you might create a business blog, look to some that are already popular and successful. Here are some to get you started:

The Many Personalities of a Business Blog

One thing you’ll notice about each of these blogs, is that they have their own style and persona. That’s because the authors have their own styles and personas, and the best business blogs truly represent their authors’ personalities.

Summary of Blogging Benefits

A business blog can help keep your website fresh and improve your search engine rankings. Some business blogs take on a life of their own, attracting more attention than the company ever dreamed of attracting. Business blogs also broaden your communication with customers by encouraging dialogue.

Perhaps the best benefit of all is that blogs are flexible enough to support any business goal, so you can determine exactly how your blog will operate and how it will support your communication goals.

About the Author

B.R. Cornett writes and works for Intra-Focus, an Austin marketing company specializing in Internet marketing, website development and CRM. Intra-Focus serves clients from many industries and from all over the country. Learn more by visiting www.intra-focus.com.