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KJ Blattenbauer: “I’d like to start a movement to reintroduce kindness into the mainstream”

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to reintroduce kindness into the mainstream. Whatever happened to being kind to strangers or others just because it was the right thing to do? It feels good to be kind! I’d love for our society to move away from what I perceive as constant anger and […]

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If I could inspire a movement, it would be to reintroduce kindness into the mainstream. Whatever happened to being kind to strangers or others just because it was the right thing to do? It feels good to be kind! I’d love for our society to move away from what I perceive as constant anger and instead get more comfortable with facts, not feelings conversations. We might disagree on subjects or have differing stances on an issue, that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil to one another. A smile, simple greeting, manners, or common courtesy — these things go a long way and make our world a better place. I wish more people would lean into being kind.

I had the pleasure of interviewing KJ Blattenbauer, a business strategist and publicist with more than 22 years of experience helping entrepreneurs and influencers get more clicks, coverage, and collaborations. KJ has been recognized as one of the Twin Cities’ 25 Women to Watch by The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and as a Trailblazer by VoyageDallas. Her expertise also has been featured on Entrepreneurs on Fire, PR Daily, Refinery29, Inc., The Today Show, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and more.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’m a small-town girl originally from North Dakota. My original plan was to attend the University of North Dakota, a tradition in my family, and major in communications as a precursor to law school.

Somewhere in the midst of undergrad, I fell in love with the subject of public relations, and I convinced myself that being in PR meant I’d be sitting poolside having drinks with celebrities nonstop as my career. Boy, was I wrong!

I got a heavy dose of reality when I took my first PR internship with Fleishman Hillard. Once there, I was assigned only tech and finance clients. Which led me to quickly find a way to take even the most complex, and sometimes boring, topics and make them newsworthy and fun. From there, I started working in roles with both agencies and corporations representing brands like Best Buy, Dow Chemical, US Bancorp, Life Time Fitness, and Rock-n-Roll Marathons. Now, I’ve made a career out of it by having my own agency.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

As someone who has learned to use the various platforms to my advantage — and completely transform how I do business — I definitely consider myself an authority in social media marketing. Since I’ve gone all-in on social, my numbers have skyrocketed to nearly 20,000, highly-engaged followers and my email list has tripled in size.

As an example, my lead generation tools and efforts on Instagram alone are currently converting at 64%. And, I’ve been able to take what was once a word-of-mouth, limited referral stream of revenue and pitch and promote my offerings to a worldwide audience with a simple post or tweet and a few hashtags.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Being a publicist, one of my favorite ways to use the Instagram Stories feature is to take the day’s top news headline and turn it into a teachable moment for my followers. I recently was sharing commentary and insight on how to address negative media situations using a PGA golfer and the poor way his management team handled the situation — which made this player’s issue much worse — as an example. By taking a real-world situation and showing an actionable solution that can apply to a professional athlete or even a side hustler’s first negative Google review, a series of short video stories on Instagram helped me land not one, but two professional athletes clients, as well as additional PR clients.

None of these folks would have heard about me, or seen my insight in action, without Instagram Stories. You have to love the power of social media!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

While I don’t know if I would consider either to be funny, two of the mistakes I’m guilty of can definitely be huge lessons for your readers.

The first is not understanding Pinterest in all its glory. When Pinterest first launched, I wasn’t using it for my blog posts or to promote my PR services. I thought it was a tool for saving pretty pictures and do-it-yourself party planning ideas. However, it’s an amazing search engine that rivals Google. And you can’t beat it when trying to drive traffic to your blog or offerings. I cringe when I think of how many missed opportunities I’ve missed out on because I’m just now starting to use my 7,500 monthly viewers to my advantage.

I also cringe thinking about my first few years on Instagram. Why didn’t any tell me that Instagram is the greatest promotional tool ever created? I wasted so much time posting images I thought were okay and then taking up valuable real estate in my captions by only posting Marilyn Monroe quotes or other song lyrics and sayings I thought made me sound so deep. If only I could go back and tell myself that the captions are where you can engage, promote, educate, and form amazing relationships — I wouldn’t’ have wasted all that time.

The lesson I learned from both of these mistakes is that social media platforms are powerful tools. Think before you use them. Understand how they can boost your brand forward or blow up your dreams. Think before you tweet, plan before you post, and don’t waste valuable promotional space by not using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to your advantage.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Instagram is definitely my jam as far as social media platforms go. I show up on there multiple times a day to share, post, engage, and interact with my followers. Whether I’m launching something new or sharing tips and tools that I know will help them move their businesses forward, I love the photo, video, and written capabilities Instagram gives me.

By showing up daily and making some tweaks to how I promote and position myself on Instagram, I more than tripled my income in 2018 over 2017. I’ve been able to take my PR business from purely word-of-mouth referrals and month-to-month pitching clients to daily leads and traffic that leads directly to passive income products — almost eliminating my need to take on monthly pitching clients entirely.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Use your profile as a business card

The first impression people have when they see your Instagram feed, is your bio. Treat it like your business card. Make sure it is catchy and informative. And that it shows them the value you’ll be able to provide them. I love this trusty formula: who you are + what you do + who you serve + why should they follow you. And make sure you avoid a salesy tone!

As a publicist and business strategist, my current bio reads: Business strategy and publicity for entrepreneurs and influencers // Featured on Entrepreneurs on Fire, PR Daily, Inc., USA Today, Buzzfeed, and more.

It tells who I am, who I serve, how I can help, and where you’ve seen my expertise before. All in a few short sentences.

Make yourself recognizable Stay Recognizable

All your posting on Instagram will be for nothing if what you post doesn’t show who or what your brand truly is. The key is to stay recognizable! Choose an Instagram name that’s the same as, or related to, your business’s name across other social media channels. Make sure you keep your profile image uniform across all channels, too.

If your business is named Kathy’s Cakes and Cookies and I know to find you on Facebook using /kathyscakesandcookies, I’m going to assume that you’re under the same handle on Instagram. But what if on Instagram you’re actually @cakesandcookiesbykathy? Then nine times out of ten, whomever has @kathyscakesandcookies is getting all your mentions, attention, followers, and sales.

Use one link to boost your brand

On Instagram, you have only a single chance to directly lead a click over to your website. Always include the link to your online shop or a targeted landing page in this spot. And don’t use a third-party provider, like Linktree. Instead, make an additional page on your website where you can direct people to the top three or four (no more) important areas of your business.

Because my blog posts, media coverage, and offering links change almost daily, I created an additional page on my website that includes the top three links on a constant rotation to help my audience find the appropriate information. You can view it here: kjblattenbauer.com/clickme.

Don’t be a slime ball

More than 38 percent of people say they are influenced by a brand’s social media, and 35 percent are influenced by retailers on social. Which proves social is ripe for selling — but don’t be a slime ball about it. Post good visuals that allow viewers to make their own decisions without feeling pressure from you, removing the dreaded used-car salesman feeling from the scenario. Also make sure that your captions convey action without being overtly pushy or worse, disingenuous.

Look, we all are in business to sell. How else are your bills going to get paid? But that doesn’t mean you have to jam your offerings or products down people’s throats. I like to employ the give, give, give, and then take method. I offer up free content, tips, educational posts, and a fourth kind gesture before on my fifth post I sell to my audience. This way, they get to know me and engage with my brand, while also gaining insight, before I sell them. I’ve warmed up my audience by practicing this method!

Build a community

Build a community by offering promotions and exclusive announcements to your followers. Fill your feed with special offers, bonuses, and insider announcements.Studies have shown that people will follow a brand to take advantage of perks and giveaways, so give your followers that incentive.

You know how you encounter newsletter popups and other promos when you first visit a brand’s website and then you join because you feel special or like an insider? You can use those same tactics to make your fans and followers feel welcome and a part of the community by sharing exclusives on Instagram. I highly recommend a giveaway of $50 or more to grow your following.

Be consistent

From your handle to how often you post, it’s important to stay consistent on Instagram. If your followers know you as one name on Facebook, they’ll easily assume you’re under the same name on Instagram. And if you’re not? They may never find you. Don’t make people guess! Along those same lines, if you want to be popular and gain followers (and make sales) on the platform, show up daily — or at least on a regular basis. The worst thing you can do is post nonstop for weeks and then take months off from the platform. That inconsistency will hurt you in followers, views, and your bottom line.

The truth is Instagram rewards you for being on their platform and engaging with others. By showing up consistently and engaging with your audience, you’re showing the powers that be that they should make sure people see your content more often. And, because it takes more than nine interactions with a brand before consumers are moved to act, wouldn’t you want to post nine days straight and make a sale on that tenth day versus dragging it out and waiting? I thought so.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to reintroduce kindness into the mainstream. Whatever happened to being kind to strangers or others just because it was the right thing to do? It feels good to be kind! I’d love for our society to move away from what I perceive as constant anger and instead get more comfortable with facts, not feelings conversations. We might disagree on subjects or have differing stances on an issue, that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil to one another. A smile, simple greeting, manners, or common courtesy — these things go a long way and make our world a better place. I wish more people would lean into being kind.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Being new to the Dallas area, I’m currently fascinated with Mark Cuban. I’d love to have even five minutes to ask him a few questions about how he strategizes.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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