Interview with Barbara Rozgonyi

Barbara RozgonyiBarbara Rozgonyi leads CoryWest Media, a strategic marketing consultancy that attracts attention, builds brands, and connects communities in three dimensions: digitally, directly and dynamically via the wiredPRworks system.

An MPI Chicago member since April 2013, Barbara serves on the MarComm committee and was nominated for the chapter’s 2013-14 “Tomorrow’s Leader Award.”

A recognized social media industry thought leader, Barbara founded Social Media Club Chicago, a leading global chapter, in October 2008. In 2013, Nokia selected Barbara as one of two U.S. reporters to cover Social Media Week Berlin.

Barbara is a frequent keynote speaker, an accomplished corporate trainer, and an experienced educator who develops marketing and communications programs for events, colleges, associations, corporations and online communities. In 2013, Barbara created her first online course for college students called “Get Linked Into College Success and Beyond.”

Barbara’s media mentions include Crain’s Chicago Business, Inc.com, American Express OpenForum, BusinessAdvisor.com, HuffingtonPost, WDCB, WIND, NFIB.com, LowesForPros.com, LawMarketing.com, Mashable, Germanys FAZ, Chicago Tribune, and NBC5.

As publisher of WiredPRWorks.com, launched in June 2006, Barbara’s work is often a catalyst for innovative and creative marketers. She is redefining PR as Personality + Reputation.

An author, Barbara contributed the LinkedIn chapter to the best-seller, “Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars.” In 2015, Barbara will be featured as the PR expert in a new book written by the world’s leading online marketing superstars. To tap into WIRED PR marketing ideas and resources, visit Barbara’s top 50 marketing and PR blog, wiredPRworks.

When did you start using WordPress?

I started using WordPress for my business in June 2006, two years after I started teaching blogging for business. It took me two years to get up the courage to publish my first post. In my classes, I used a demo WordPress site with pictures of my cat sleeping in a pile of Beanie Babies. In July 2007, I switched from the WordPress.com platform to wiredPRworks.com, a self-hosted blog.

How did you get your idea for your company, CoryWest Media LLC?

The company is named after my mother and grandmother. I thought of the name before I came up with the business concept. Prior to founding CoryWest Media LLC, I was a national sales trainer for a company owned by Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. When I founded the company as a new mom, almost 25 years ago, one of my goals was to have a better work/life balance by working from home, which was unusual at the time. Initially, the company started out as a marketing communications consulting firm for healthcare providers. My first client was the local hospital who needed PR help. Since then, I’ve been honored to work with a variety of clients on cool projects, including launching the intranet at Sears in 1998.

Barbara Rozgonyi, wiredPRworks - WordPress site - screenshot.

What attracted you to Social Media?

I’ve been attracted to the intersection of technology, people and communications my whole life. In high school, I was on radio staff. I wrote my first computer program at the University of Illinois at 17. When social media became widely accepted, I felt like an alien whose ship had come in – everyone could finally share my future vision. With three junior and high school kids in the house, I had an in-house lab to watch and follow. As a writer, I’ve always been attracted to the idea of repurposing content and writing headlines. As a photographer, I loved sharing life through the lens. Social media wraps creativity, community and collaboration up into one intriguing model.

Can you talk a little bit about Social Media Club?

Sure, Social Media Club [SMC] is a global organization. Founded by Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells in 2006, SMC has chapters around the world. In 2008, Kristie asked me if I’d put the stake in the ground in Chicago. We had a small leadership team forming here so we were ready to host an SMC Chicago event. Over 80 people showed up for our first gathering. In the first year, we’d often see 300 tickets sell out in 18 hours. It was incredible to watch so many people turn out for events like the opening night of SobCon at the Drake Hotel. After five years of being an active board member, I now serve in an advisory role for SMC Chicago. At MPI-CAC [Meeting Professional International – Chicago Area Chapter], I serve on the MarComm committee and contribute social media marketing and PR expertise to the chapter’s educational events.

If there was one thing you would change about WordPress, what would it be?

I’d like to see a collaborative tool that would match publishers and content automatically.

What are some of the differences between when you started in the online marketing industry versus today’s online market?

When I launched my first site in 1996, online marketing was limited to having a site. By 2006, online marketing was evolving to include blogging. Email marketing was key and social media was starting out. Today, online marketing is a mix of channels, communities and messages. Marketing online can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why CoryWest Media, LLC offers digital marketing audits, social media training and strategic marketing consulting. In 2015, I’ll be featured as the PR author in a new book, “Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars.” I’m looking forward to reading the book with chapters by over 20 experts.

What advice can you offer to people starting out on WordPress?

Look at what’s popular on other channels. For example, search LinkedIn for your topic and see what posts are getting the most traction. You may want to interview the author or write a post with your opinion. You will fail – and succeed. Out of all the posts on my blog, only a few are best sellers. You never know which ones it will be. One post I wrote about a Mom blogger Disney movie event led to a keynote speech for 400 people. I’m not a Mom blogger and I almost didn’t go to the Mom blogger event because my kid was 6’3”, but I took him – and invited a girlfriend to bring her six-year-old daughter. You never know where your blogging will lead you. Expect great things. Good Luck!!!

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