Storytelling for Businesses in 4 Steps

Your business website is a sales tool whether or not you have an actual product. If you’re attempting to convince customers or clients they should work with you by way of sales copy and stock photos, you’re missing out on the many opportunities of storytelling.

Small businesses have a ton of stories to share—just waiting to be told. Aside from a source of content, why should companies share content?

Storytelling gets people talking. Stories are engaging, and can also drive revenue.

Using these four steps, you can effectively reach customers through storytelling.

Find the Story

Content curation has to be a team effort, especially at companies were the person creating the content probably isn’t speaking to potential clients or customers on a daily basis. Encourage your employees to be on the lookout for stories:

  • An experience of a customer working with your company.
  • Customers adept to telling their own story. Are they well spoken?
  • Case study opportunity. How did your company solve a client’s problem?

Extract the Narrative

Once there appears to be a story, you’ll have to extract the narrative in order to eventually create content. This is part isn’t always easy.

Dig deeper than the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why). Find the heart of the story. Why will people care about this? Why will your audience care about this story? Will someone learn from it? Will someone be touched by the story? Will your story start a conversation?

Document the Story

Now that you’ve got the bones of your story, how will it come to life? Will the associate’s story just be a Q&A on your blog? If you have a great story on your hands that could really start a conversation, give it more life. Move beyond the blog and imagine what you can do visually:

  • A video interview
  • An audio recorded interview
  • Slideshow of photographs with captions
  • New section on your website just for candidate stories

Share the Content

Maybe you’ve created a new section of your website for candidate stories and you have this fantastic video. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Next, think of other platforms to share your story. Don’t stop at social media. Are there forums or platforms or communities that might appreciate your video? Where else on the internet can this video be seen and shared? It may take some research but you can find them.

Have a story but can’t find the heart? Have the story but can’t find the community to share it with? I’d love to help. Contact me today

Tips and Tools for Marketing Your Skills Online

Back when I first moved to Portland from Minneapolis, I had to start all over building contacts and my social and professional networks. Being a writer, I knew I needed to spend a lot of time on self-promotion and branding.

In addition to experiencing it for myself, much of what I’ve learned about self-promotion, I learned from hiring managers and CEOs in the staffing industry. For over three years, I helped companies market themselves to potential job seekers. To do that, I had to learn about their audience: the jobseeker.

Here are a few tips and tricks for making yourself stand out whether or not you’re currently looking for a new job.

computer market yourself

The term “personal brand” might make you cringe (me too) but its importance is the reality of the world we live in. Those who are hirable and embrace their personal brand find ways to set themselves a part from other candidates. And these are the people hiring managers end up hiring. This goes for any industry.


Google Yourself

Imagine someone emails you and wants to work with you. If that person doesn’t provide portfolio links or other job-related info in his or her signature, the first thing you’d do is search Google for details on that person. Now you do it. Google yourself.

If a Google search of your name brings up only your Google+ and Facebook profiles then you can still get to work (let’s be real Facebook is set to private anyway). Anyone can sign up for a free social media account (my grandma was on Facebook) but not everyone takes the time to make their skills highly visible. When you do, hiring managers will likely notice.

Keep Your Online Presence Up To Date

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, keep up on marketing yourself. It builds trust when potential and current clients or employers can find you online. Another reason to keep up on your online image? Often hiring managers are looking for people who are currently employed, also known as passive candidates.

Your online presence is important whether or not you’re currently searching the job market.


Here a few snazzy (and free!) tools to set yourself a part from other candidates in terms of visibility, freshness, and timeliness that go one step beyond an up-to-date LinkedIn profile.


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Log in to SlideShare using your LinkedIn profile and the website will automatically generate a small slideshow of your experience, education, skills and recommendations from the information on your LinkedIn profile. You can easily upload this slideshow to your LinkedIn profile, add it to a WordPress site or email it to a recruiter.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 3.03.31 PM grabs your LinkedIn data and generates a scrolling infographic that you can share along with a resume or link to from any website, email or even post via social media platforms.

One helpful aspect of is that you can pick and choose which work experiences you want to share. This way, there isn’t irrelevant work experience listed. You also have the option to delete entire sections if they don’t apply to a position you’re hoping to get in the future.




WiseStamp is a Google app that allows you to have an eye-catching and live signature within your Google email account. With WiseStamp you can:

  • Link to your profiles:  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Skype, Gtalk and more
  • Promote your latest G+, Etsy or blog post
  • Add your company logo
  • Share current Tweets


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This online design tool provides templates for social media artwork, Google+ headers, business cards, Twitter headers and other designs to spruce up your online image. Start by designing a Google+ profile header: add images that reflect your skills or dedication to your industry. Keep up on Canva’s blog for tips on photo filters, fonts, how to select powerful stock images and more.

This is a modified version of a blog I wrote for Staffing Robot in 2016.

Why Paid Social Media Will Continue to Be Essential in 2017

Once we start receiving something for free it’s pretty annoying to have to start paying for it again. Imagine being told you have to pay full price for every album you listen to on Spotify after listening for free for years.

As consumers we always seem to find a way to get what we want for free (think: Napster). As marketers of our businesses though, we have to pay the price to succeed and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find the free workarounds.

We’ve gone from paying for billboards and tangible ads—to free social media—to being told we have to pay again.

Why do we have to pay? Facebook cut organic reach as a way to make a buck off of businesses using their platform for marketing. Facebook wants to make money just like the rest of us.

The honeymoon is over. Paid social media will continue to be essential in 2017, and we have non-existent organic reach to thank.

Couple Atoll Honeymoon Beach Destination Holiday
The honeymoon is over. It’s time to pay.

Organic Reach

Organic Reach is defined as the “total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution.”

You’ve heard the warnings about the death of organic reach on Facebook, but how does it really affect the distribution of your content in 2017?


“The average organic reach for posts from Facebook pages in March was 2.6 percent of a brand’s audience. This percentage dropped to 2.3 percent for pages with more than 1 million likes.”  –1to1Media

Most mid-size companies won’t have 1 million likes on Facebook. This means if you’re relying only on organic reach (posting on Facebook without paying to promote), your reach (depending on your # of followers) is very like well below 1%, unless of course you have a million followers and are granted 2.3% organically.

What About Twitter?

In 2014, Twitter released a new dashboard for brands to measure insights on how their organic Tweets perform, namely paid Promoted Tweets, which target a specific audience.

Twitter found brands that tweet two to three times per day can typically reach an audience size that’s equal to 30% of their follower base during a given week. While Twitter is better than Facebook for organic reach, it’s only a matter of time before Twitter kills organic reach, especially with no growth its first quarter since it went public.

What About Instagram?

With Facebook’s purchase of Instagram marketers now have the option of promoting a post on Instagram simultaneously to creating a promoted post on Facebook. Alternatively, posts can be promoted and targeted at users directly through the Instagram application.

Proof in Numbers

Taking into account a known decreased reach, we can look at data from posts to prove that paid social is essential.

Look at these two Facebook posts created and posted for a client. I see it happen with so many of my social media clients: the clients who have a budget for paid promotion end up with the most engagement and even some leads.

The first example is from a client with 2,000 Facebook fans. I did not promote this post. You can see the reach is only 441 users.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 12.09.54 PM

It’s OK for a post like this to only have a reach of under 500. The objective is retention and overall engagement, not necessarily leads or conversions.

On the post below, I used paid promotion for the client. The post reach was far greater at nearly 7,000 people. Keep in mind depending on a company’s industry or market the total spend differs, and depending on the audience you’re hoping to reach spend amount can differ greatly, too.

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As you can see, paying to promote your posts just as you’ve always paid for advertising is essential in 2017—not only to reach potential customers—but to reach more than a handful of potential customers.

Need some help navigating Facebook ads? Contact me today, I can help you reach potential customers.

This is a modified post from 2016 written by myself for Staffing Robot.

First-Ever Guide to Distillery Tasting in PDX

Super excited to announce High-Proof PDX will be published this fall by Overcup Press fall of 2017

Follow along on social to stay up on all of the cocktails and distillery events:


Instagram: @highproofpdx


From Overcup Press:

Straight, No Chaser! High-Proof PDX by Karen Locke Joins Overcup

See Blog Post

“We’re thrilled to announce the latest addition to our 2017 catalog, High Proof PDX by Karen Locke.

This first ever comprehensive guide to distillery tasting in Portland, Oregon is a must-have handbook on how to navigate the growing spirits industry in the city that loves to drink! This guide for locals and travelers will keep readers on the spirited path to better libations in Portland.

Look for High-Proof PDX at stores in Fall, 2017.

For more information on the book and to join the High-Proof PDX Cocktail Union to receive updates, recipes and more, click here.





10 Signs You Might Be The Company Slob

If you have been in the workforce for any number of years, you’ve likely had to hide at least one bad habit from your coworkers. Every once in a while though — and especially for the closet slobs out there — bouts of untidiness creep out.

Are you guilty of any of these 10 signs of utter slobbiness? You might be the company slob.

1. The entire office space is up for grabs during nap time, including common areas, breakrooms, or even under your desk.

2. Sheer terror is bestowed upon your coworkers at just the thought of having to find something on your desk. Panic attacks have occurred at the sight of an open desk drawer.

3. Fruit flies congregate above your cubicle for their own “water cooler” chats.

4. What is that there? Must be a piece of caramel popcorn from yesterday’s bi-hourly snack! In the pie hole it goes!

5. So many of your belongings have “found their way” into other corners of the office that your coworkers think it’s time for the company-wide coat drive again.

6. The last time you dusted your desk, the computer on top of it was an orange iMac.

7. Even Mike the company bulldozer won’t touch your lunches in the fridge.

8. Acts of hygienic upkeep or personal relaxation are commonplace.

9.  WAIT. There’s a dishwasher in the break room?

10. “Business casual” is a mindset, more so than a “look”.

The upside to the occasional sloppiness is that if you work hard and make a valiant effort in your day-to-day tasks, your coworkers may be more forgiving…right guys?

Article via Staffing Robot

Most Memorable Sips

“You won’t like it,” he told me. I had convinced my father to give me my first drink of beer. I was in elementary school and he was sitting in this favorite purple chair.

One of my most memorable sips of alcohol to this day was from a 40-ounce bottle of Budweiser and hoo boy, did I do a lot of talking to get it.

I’ve had much better beer (and cocktails) since but I’ve always acknowledged context such as this in my drink writing, especially when it comes to roundups. Some of my (and surely your) favorite or “best” food and drink memories are classified as the most memorable — for so many reasons — but often based on context.

Here’s my list of boozy drinks I enjoyed in 2014 (with some context).

Whey of the Gun from The Whey Bar at Ox 

I was riding in an elevator with Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton after picking up my press credentials for Feast Portland, and the first thing to spill out of my mouth was how much I loved the Whey of the Gun cocktail.

Whey of the Gun is made from rum, bourbon, whey, and lime. The mouthfeel of this cocktail silky, smooth, and citrusy, and will stay on your mind for quite some time.

While I love Tiki drinks, Whey Bar gets bonus points for using rum to build a solid cocktail from surplus ingredients instead of a typical Tiki-style drink.

Whey of the Gun made from rum, bourbon, whey, and lime.

The Whey Bar is a great spot to grab a drink and wait for your table at the ever-popular Ox restaurant but I recommend going there just to drink. In the summer months, the sliding doors to the small bar are fully open and you’ll feel like you’re in your own craft cocktail oasis, tucked back from cars blasting by on MLK Blvd.

Aged (and boxed) rum in Colombia

Since I’m on the rum tip: boxed rum. We need it.

In April I flew to Bogotá, Colombia to stay with an American friend I had met while I was living in Minneapolis. It was one of the most terrifyingly beautiful places I have ever experienced. Due to slight elevation headaches and the overall uncertainties of the city, I was fairly sober for this trip. When I was drinking though, I was drinking rum. Boxed rum. Inexpensive rum, aged for four years is available in the grocery store. We need accessible aged rum like this in the States.

People often tell me how they dislike rum.

If you dislike rum, you haven’t had good rum yet. In 2015 I challenge you to try a rum aged four or more years. It will change your opinion of rum.


Another imbibing option in Colombia is Aguardiente.

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Derived from sugarcane and flavored with aniseed, Aguardiente is Colombia’s national drink. If you’ve ever tried this “firewater,” you know why it’s so memorable.

Portland Caprese from Acadia

I stopped into Acadia over the summer to try the Portland Caprese designed by Beau Burtnick. I was in search of summer cocktails for Drink Portland’s list of summer cocktails.

Beau was visually excited about this drink and within reason. It tops my list as one of my most memorable drinks of 2014.

Portland Caprese made from Glaser white rum, clarified tomato juice, fresh basil, cane vinegar, honey, lemon, salt with a fresh mozzarella ball garnish. Photo provided by Acadia for Drink

The base of the cocktail is made from clarified tomato juice, which Beau repeatedly pressed through a sieve to produce a light and refreshing base. No other bar (that I knew of at the time) was producing a cocktail like this with great mouthfeel that engaged multiple senses.

The liquid-form Caprese is beautifully arranged so as you sip, you take in the aroma from the basil as the clarified tomato juice hits your tongue. Portland Caprese interacted with taste, vision and smell in a way very few have matched.

Sazerac at Hotel Monteleone for Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans 

In July, I flew to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, for “five days of what’s now, what’s new and what’s next in bartending.”

If you’re in the industry —  whether you’re a bartender, a bar owner, or a writer — it’s a huge honor. Being granted media credentials was HUGE. I tried cocktails from bartenders I had only read about and sat in on seminars led by some of the best in the industry, including Jack McGarry of Dead Rabbit.

Before leaving New Orleans a sazerac was in order. This sazerac was one of the best I’ve ever had. Just the right amount of bitters and prepared as if the bartender had been making only sazeracs for 20 years.


If you’re ever in New Orleans head to the Carousel Bar for a sazerac.

The Old Fashioned at Multnomah Whisk(e)y Library

I had just started writing full-time for Staffing Robot, a beyond rad website design company. For one of our weekly happy hours we went to Multnomah Whiskey Library. And we didn’t have to wait in line.

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I would have waited in line for this Old Fashioned though. It was as solid as they come and my first time sitting within the bar’s exhaustive collection of whisk(e)y.

Amari tasting at Nostrana

In April, I wrote about how Nostrana‘s Bitter 101: Amari menu would get us all hooked on the bitter for Drink Portland. I stopped into Nostrana one night to get a feel for the menu.


And it’s true. I was hooked. And I discovered new amari. While editor of Drink Portland I was given so many opportunities to try new things and this was a memorable tasting experience as I discovered new bitters and tried old favorites (Thank you Irene.).

Suitcase mezcal at Xico

I had stopped into the “aggressively modern Mexican” restaurant in the past to write about cocktails for Drink Portland but in December I was back in Xico to write about suitcase mezcal for Mise Magazine.

The owner Liz, has been bringing back mezcal back from Oaxaca and I was thrilled I could share this story that began in her early 20s.

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Mezcal, or any booze for that matter, just tastes better when you know where it comes from and you can hear the story first-hand. Especially when it involves getting shocked by car batteries.

If you’d like to follow my drinking adventures in 2015, follow me on Instagram at @kayvee926 or on Twitter: @karenvlocke

Content Strategy and Writing at Staffing Robot

In June, I started at Staffing Robot, a rad company that does website design, mobile app development, graphic design, branding and marketing strategies, and more.

I’m doing content strategy for our clients and blogging about the Internet. So along with drink-related articles you’ll also see more from me in the realm of website design, social media, software, apps, branding, and more.

Staffing Robot is also super supportive of my drink writing and made me a robot avatar with a cocktail!

karensrobot (2)

Upcoming Drinking Adventures in Bogotá

When I’m about to visit a new country the first thing I research is food and drink. The second is outdoor activities. Before my trek to Laos in 2008, I read about Laotian rice whisky called Lao-Lao and had flashbacks to drinking Everclear in Iowa. My first inclination was that it would have too much kick, and would cause a crippling hangover. Neither of these were true for Lao-Lao.

Many of my fondest memories of Thailand include Chang beer. I’ll never forget paying over $30 for 12-pack of Victoria Bitter in Melbourne. There wasn’t a beach I sat on in Puerto Rico without a Gasolina Urban Blends® ready-to-drink alcoholic pouch in hand. It turns out I’ve been photographing my drinks even before I was writing for a drink publication.

I leave for Bogotá in 20 days and first on my list of drinks to try is Colombia’s aguardiente, which is an anise-flavoured liqueur derived from sugarcane. The hangover part might be more feasible in the Andes with all of that elevation but that’s why I plan on sleeping with Aborrajado (deep fried plantains stuffed with cheese) by my bedside.

Tell me…what else should I eat and drink in Colombia?