To the Relevant go the Rewards

Photo via the Lakewood Citizen (@lkwdcitizen)

Content Marketing World’s host Joe Pulizzi with Kevin Spacey at #CMWorld this year. Photo via the Lakewood Citizen (@lkwdcitizen)

How important is message relevance in gaining audience attention and swaying opinion? This year’s closing keynote at Content Marketing World provided a textbook example of power relevant messages have in developing audience connection.

In a tour de force keynote that was all too short, actor Kevin Spacey grabbed the orange-clad faithful in Cleveland by their collective noses, and brought them to their feet – numerous times.

Over the course of his talk, Spacey answered the question he posed at the outset (“What the hell am I doing here?!) proving that he belonged at a content marketing conference with an eloquent and inspiring discussion of the key elements of great storytelling, which he underpinned with a collection of fantastic stories that drove home his key points.

The presentation was a living case study in the power a relevant message designed for a specific audience.

A seasoned stage actor, Spacey understands audience connection in a more intimate way than many of us will ever experience.  In reality, he’s probably given a version of his keynote talk before – it was one that any theater or entertainment enthusiast would have enjoyed.  But by taking the time to pepper the presentation with examples drawn from the advertising and marketing realms. Spacey fine tuned his content for his audience, and as a result, was immediately accepted as credible and authentic by the crowd of savvy content marketers.

In addition to schooling the assembled on message targeting, Spacey also beautifully illustrated the galvanizing effect of a great story, illustrating his own points with specific and relevant vignettes.

While Spacey was on stage, Twitter was ablaze with tweets and Instagram was groaning under pictures uploaded by those in attendance.  In the ensuing days, blogs recapping the keynote and collections of tweets on Storify appeared and were shared in droves.  Spacey provoked a lot of on-the spot engagement and ensuing discussion.

This was in stark contrast to the closing keynotes at Content Marketing World in years past, which have  delivered heavy doses of entertainment, a welcome relief from the intensity of the preceding sessions.  Two years ago, in Columbus, Jack Hanna brought some interesting and beautiful animals to visit the CMWorld audience.   Last year, William Shatner graced the stage.  Both sessions were a lot of fun.

But Spacey clicked.  Spacey was memorable.  Spacey proved that he was one of us, and the key to the powerful connection he created with the audience was a beautifully crafted relevant message, underpinned by well-told stories.

Do you need a hand finding, telling and illustrating your brand’s stories?   Take a look at how our team at MultiVu can help you create and share your message

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications & content, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Grammar Hammer: Is That Adverb Necessary?

the Grammar Hammer

In honor of back to school season, ABC aired a special ranking the best episodes of Schoolhouse Rock of all time.  I’ve shared my affection for Schoolhouse Rock before, and I am happy to report that my personal favorite, “Conjuction Junction” took the number 1 spot! Another one of my favorites, which also claimed a spot on the countdown, is “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here” about a family-run business selling adverbs. “Lolly, Lolly” has inspired the subject of this week’s Grammar Hammer.

Adverbs modify other words such as:

  • A verb
  • An adjective
  • Another adverb

Adverbs will tell you how, where, when, in what manner, or to what extent an action should be performed. The easiest adverbs to identify are the ones that end in ly, but just because a word ends in –ly, it’s not necessarily an adverb. Also, not all adverbs end in –ly, and there are adverbial phrases that don’t end in –ly. Back into the grammatical minefield we go!

My biggest tip for using adverbs in writing is to consider whether or not you need them. Very popular adverbs like “really,” “very,” “quite,” “extremely,” and “severely” are intended as intensifiers. Consider whether or not what you’re trying to communicate needs to be intensified.

For example, saying “The house was severely destroyed by the fire,” doesn’t add anything to the prose. The house was destroyed by fire. Saying it was severely destroyed invokes more emotion, but is it necessary to what you’re trying to say?

Grammar Hammer, at your service… indubitably.

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Politico Pro and MORE…, Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Corner Office Columnist Adam Bryant (@nytcorneroffice) has been named Deputy Science Editor @NYTimes. He will fulfill both roles.

Politico Pro (Arlington, VA): Kate Tummarello (@ktummarello) joins on as a Technology Reporter. The new Transportation Reporter is Heather Caygle (@heatherscope). Former Environment & Energy Reporter Elana Schor (@eschor) joins the team as an Oil & Gas Reporter. Timothy Noah (@TimothyNoah1) is the new Labor & Policy Editor and Brian Mahoney (@BrianLaw360) joins as a Labor & Policy Reporter. And Cogan Schneier (@CoganSchneier) and Emily Kopp (@emilyakopp) are now Web Producers @POLITICOPro.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Investigative Reporter David Fallis (@DavidSFallis) is now the Deputy Investigations Editor @washingtonpost. And Isabelle Khurshudyan (@Isabelle Khurshudyan) is a new High School Sports Reporter.

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL): Wes Venteicher (@wesventeicher) has been promoted to the investigations team as a Reporter @chicagotribune, covering healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. He most recently served as Reporter @TribLocal.

Time (New York, NY): Mandy Oaklander (@mandyoaklander) has been added to the Health team @TIME as a Writer and Editor.
Fast Company (New York, NY): Erica Boeke (@ejboeke) was named Associate Publisher @FastCompany. In addition, Reyhan Harmanci (@Harmancipants) is the new Senior Editor.
Houston Business Journal (Houston, TX): Suzanne Edwards (@HBJsuzanne) joined @HOUBizJournal as a Money & Law Reporter.

TWICE Magazine (New York, NY): John Laposky (@johnlaposky) is named Editor-in-Chief @TWICEonline. He was Managing Editor there.

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY): Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) joins the sports team as a Football Reporter @TheBuffaloNews.
Meet The Press (New York, NY): Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) joins @meetthepress as a Senior Political Analyst and Contributor.
Buzzfeed ( Tom Gara (@TomGara) will be the new Deputy Business Editor @Buzzfeed.
People StyleWatch (New York, NY): Sarah Taylor joins @StyleWatchMag as Deputy Editor.
Promenade Magazine (New York, NY): Jason Kontos joins the team @PromenadeMag as Editorial Director. He will continue his role as Editor-in-Chief at New York Spaces (@nyspacesmag).
Trending NY (New York, NY): Hearst releases @TrendingNY, a free publication focusing on fashion, culture and beauty. Emily Cronin (@emrocro) will serve as Editor.

Maxim (New York, NY): Kate Lanphear (@katelanphear) joins @MaximMag as Editor-in-Chief.

The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN): Lifestyle Features Reporter T.J. Banes (@TJBanes) has retired @indystar. Higher Education Reporter Eric Weddle (@ericweddle) and Health/Government/Education Reporter Barb Berggoetz (@barbberg) have moved on.

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at Agility

Click here to view the complete listing of MEDIAware

Content We Love: Visual Storytelling in Regulated Industries


Communicators in highly regulated industries such as healthcare must carefully consider the compliance and privacy laws that govern their businesses before experimenting with new content trends. But regardless of these policies, it is still critical for healthcare companies to engage their audiences with visual storytelling given the complex nature of their messages. For public stakeholders such as patients, visual storytelling illustrates abstract concepts and raises greater awareness for healthcare issues.

This subject will be explored in greater detail by leading healthcare and financial brand marketers at the live event “Visually Conveying Your Message in a Highly Regulated Environment,” on Thursday, September 18 in Boston. Use the promo code PRNCOMP at checkout for a complimentary registration:

The American Society of Hematology is using visual storytelling to spark a dialogue around sickle cell disease and draw attention to Sickle Cell Awareness Month this September via a multimedia news release. Communicators in regulated industries should make note of how the ASH framed their content to shed light on the disease and inspire action:

Click here to view the complete Multimedia News Release

Click here to view the complete Multimedia News Release

  • Sickle cell affects the body internally and therefore the physical impact of this disease is not very apparent to those who aren’t affected. Seeing the internal effects of sickle cell disease depicted in a short video and photos helps bring greater understanding of the issue.
  • The text of the release is fleshed out yet focused, written inverted pyramid style and answers the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why.
  • The call-to-action is strong and strategically-savvy: reporters and journalists reading this release can simply click on the button to request an interview with a sickle cell disease expert. Earned media is a critical part of educating the public, including policy makers who can support funding for research, about the seriousness of this issue.
  • Related links offer additional information to raise further awareness.

Digital media is changing the nature of the healthcare industry, and communications tactics must evolve with it. The ASH has demonstrated how communicators in regulated industries can use visuals and owned content promotion to further awareness around an important cause.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan, Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

10 Things I Learned from #CMWorld 2014 Without Being There

The over-arching theme at Content Marketing World 2014 focused on audience-first messaging and the importance of delivering content in all of the ways that your audience wants to consume it. Case in point: though I was not physically present at Content Marketing World, I felt like an integral part of the event by relying on Twitter to deliver the awesome tips and sound bites that I was afraid of missing out on.

Many of the presenters and attendees at Content Marketing World had already made a favorable impression on me long before the conference. Knowing that they were credible and profound thinkers, I was inspired to follow the hashtag, engage in the conversation, and have my own Content Marketing World experience in a way that was specific to my needs. Through my virtual attendance, here are ten of my favorite things I learned from Content Marketing World 2014 without being there:

This year’s conference will surely be difficult to top next year – like many of you I am still recovering from having my mind blown by Kevin Spacey’s keynote speech thanks to the live stream. To all of those who took the time to tweet, thank you for making Content Marketing World 2014 an incredible learning experience right from the office!

To learn how PR Newswire and UBM Tech Create can help you fuel your content engine, follow the link:

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

Trend Watch: Content Marketing World Day 1

Following the tweet stream from Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Not unexpectedly, the attendees and speakers are producing quite a bit of content.

Emerging themes are bubbling up as day 1 is being recapped and digested, including:

  • Measuring business outcomes, not marketing output.  Increased spend is demanding increased rigor in measurement.
  • Aligning with the focus on outcomes, more attention is being paid to developing content for specific personas that is also mapped to buyers’ journeys.
  • Tightening the screws on content utility and relevance. Even as content marketing becomes more disciplined,  we can’t lose sight of the audience.  Content may be exquisitely aligned to personas and mapped to journeys but if doesn’t deliver value to the audience, it won’t produce results.
  • Using analytics to inform strategy.  Content marketers are increasingly mining big data sources to glean insights about what makes their audiences tick.
  • Content amplification.  Developing strategies to ensure content is seen from social seeding to actual distribution is central to achieving content success.

This is my third year at Content Marketing World, and the industry is definitely maturing.  Sessions and conversations are focusing on advanced strategy and execution, rather than more basic why-you-should-get-started discussions.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications & content, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.




Sustainable Content Strategies – Measurement & Promotion Required

L-R: Ken Wincko, Nicole Smith, Rebecca Lieb, Michael Praniloff

L-R: Ken Wincko, Nicole Smith, Rebecca Lieb, Michael Praniloff. Photo courtesy of Victoria Harres.

You’be got the budget, you’ve got the plan – but is your content plan built to last? Keys to developing sustainable content strategies was front and center in the panel entitled “Don’t Run Out of Gas! Fueling a Sustainable Content Strategy” at Content Marketing World today.

Tellingly, two primary themes emerged from the discussion – the need for rigorous measurement and the reality that content needs to be promoted to be effective.

Panelists included PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ken Wincko,  Dell Inc.’s Managing Editor, Nicole Smith (@NicoleSatDell), and Altimeter Group’s Industry Analyst Rebecca Lieb (@Lieblink.) The discussion was moderated by Michael Pranikoff (@mpranikoff) director of emerging media for PR Newswire.

Business benefits will fuel sustained investment 

Building content strategies geared to deliver business benefit – and then measuring those results in a relevant way – is crucial to building a lasting program, the panelists agreed.

Rebecca Lieb (RL): Start with building an understanding of how content impacts broader benefits for the brand, including favorabilty, share of voice and improvements in customer care, customer service.

Nicole Smith (NS): Understand what you’re trying to achieve.  A bucket full of KPis is a diffused way of assessing your ROI.  Brands need to get specific about what they’re counting, and they need to be thinking about whether or not what they are measuring is relevant.

Break it down. What constitutes engagement? Increased comments? Really dig in and think about what’s relevant about your business.

Ken Wincko (KW): Think in term of what the specific challenges are for each your buyer personas along their buyers’ journeys?

How can brands get content to stand out in today’s fractured content environment? 

The days of organic propagation of content are waning, Lieb noted, driven largely by the convergence of paid, earned and owned media.   While the occasional great piece of content will go viral, in reality, most content requires promotion (at least at the outset) to drive amplification.

The panel agreed that search engines play a crucial component in driving content success, and that the meshing of paid, earned and owned media into converged forms provides important visibility opportunities for content marketers.

KW: Targeted outreach is an important way to reach influencers – the journalists and bloggers who own key niches to build expert advocacy for your brand.

Get beyond vague engagement metrics 

NS:  Cares that people find the content useful, and that they come back.  Comments are not as important.  We’re looking for a correlation between an activity and a result we like.  Reverse engineer it.

RL: Content marketers have to be careful to not resort to ad metrics. Publishers are trying to prove to advertisers that a lot of people are seeing their ads, and there’s not a lot of accountabilty beyond that.   Content marketing is not advertising, and it has to be more accountable.

KW:  Ultimately it’s connecting the dots between the interactions.  Tracking that activity through marketing automation in a multichannel way reveals what’s working for buyers across all the touch points.

When it comes to budget, advertising gets the lion’s share. How can content marketing compete?

RL: The Altimiter Group research demonstrated that advertising is losing ground, because content is more measurable and more effective.  Social channels only exist because there’s content in them.  Email is a container for content.  Sophisticated marketers are creating content, testing it in social and owned channels, and then investing expensive ad dollars into content that has been proven to strike s cord. Benefit: this also creates a unified brand voice.

The content cycle: content > owned > social > ad.  Lather, rinse repeat.


sarah avatar

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications & content, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.