Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Visit with Robert Lillegard: Creating Content That Connects in Our Digital Age

Big shout out to Molly Solberg for the caliber of speakers she's brought to our monthly Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports. July's topic: Creating Good Content. July's speaker: Robert Lilegard, freelance writer, entrepreneur and founder of Be Our Guest, a results-driven PR firm.

Not only did Lillegard talk about how to create content, he demonstrated by his presentation that he could efficiently deliver shovels-full of practical info to help anyone who was seriously listening and taking notes. Practical, purposeful and efficient being the operative words here. Clearly he has walked the walk, and wasn't afraid to generously show us the ropes. What he really showed is that he knew his stuff.

What impressed me is his non-nonsense approach to content marketing. Seriousness does not mean the absence of fun, however. When you read his prose you find it to be lively, engaging, full of wit, and truly fun. No wonder editors like what he brings to the table.

EN: When did you first take an interest in writing?

Robert Lillegard: When I was six years old I wrote my first story. In it a boy finds out his brother is the devil and has to kill him. Interestingly, my brother Michael is five years younger than I am.

EN: How did you come to focus on food writing?

Delicious dish at Duluth Grill is also a work of art.
RL: There is less hate mail than with political op-eds. Although frankly there is also hate mail with food writing. I think if aliens encountered the Internet they would conclude it was a tool designed for turning ignorance into hatred.

EN: How many businesses do you have your hand in? And where did the entrepreneurial call come from?

RL: I have two now, a bakery and a marketing firm. Entrepreneurship was a pretty logical step because my first boss had the philosophy: "if I can't do a job while drinking wine and watching Law and Order, I'm not doing that job." This meant I'd only hear from her if I screwed something up really badly. By the time I officially started my own business I had essentially been supervising myself for years.

EN: Can I assume the alligator story was a publicity move? Where did that idea originate and how did it play out?

RL: Obviously you, too, are under the pay of Big Alligator or you wouldn't be questioning this. Mayors Larson and Ness have stayed silent on the issue but ask Jim Richardson and he will tell you about the rash of alligator attacks. The truth is out there on Perfect Duluth Day!

EN: Tell us about Be Our Guest PR? How did this come about and what is the nature of your business? 

RL: You know how some restaurants and hotels seem to always get covered on the news and in the newspaper, but yours seems to get overlooked? A lot of those have people behind the scenes talking the newspaper into covering them. I'll be that person for you.

EN: Over the past decade social media has emerged as an essential tool for business marketing, but it's still evolving. What are some essential rules or guidelines that businesses need to be aware of when "invading" social spaces for marketing purposes?

Social Media Breakfast at WITC
RL: You have to just accept that Facebook is a paid service now and if you don't pay Facebook you'll be limiting your reach. Your time is worth something too so don't waste it playing the "but it should be free" game.

EN: What is the best writing advice you ever received? 

RL: The persistent get published.

EN: And finally, do you have a boilerplate 3-4 sentence bio I can open with?

RL: Isn't this awful? I am going to insist that you as the writer research this part from what's freely available on the Internet :) I've been written about before; you'll find something.

Robert started his career as a national food and travel writer for magazines like New York Times, Outside Magazine, Cooking Light, Midwest Living, and (surprisingly) Latina. Among other familiar topics and clients, he wrote and published The Duluth Grill Cookbook, which led to a sequel. In addition to his writing about restaurants, he also knows about the hospitality business. Along with his brother he co-owns Duluth’s Best Bread. (EdNote: The names say it all.)

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Learn more about Lillegard and his work at BeOurGuestPR.com.

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