At PR Newswire, we are fortunate to be a part of some of the most cutting edge and engaging content creation programs being executed across any number of industries. We are fascinated by the way these stories are changing the communications landscape and sharing them is another way we can give back to the industry professionals that we work with everyday day.
One of the firms we’ve seen go through a major evolution in how they tell their personal brand story – and the stories of their clients – is longtime PR Newswire client, LEVICK. We sat down with Levick’s Peter LaMotte, SVP and Chair, Digital Communications Practice to pick his brain on the changes that Levick has undergone over the last year and his mindset around content creation.
Q: Peter, your background has been primarily in the start-ups and online firms – what brought you to Levick?
Peter LaMotte: When Levick approached me, they gave me a great opportunity to not only drive, but to craft what the firm’s digital presence would be. About a year ago, Levick went through a massive rebrand and I saw a phenomenal opportunity to work with a well-respected, traditional communications company as it evolved into a more digitally focused firm. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and I feel like my role still has an entrepreneurial feel to it.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the Levick brand evolution and your approach to telling stories.
Peter: Coming from the start-up world where no one has heard of you, I had learned very quickly that it is about drawing people to your content, not just sticking yourself into the conversation. All too often, no matter the medium -a digital advertising campaign or traditional communications outreach to influencers - a traditional communications is simply pushing content that isn’t relevant. We have to start by understanding the trends of what is engaging to the influencers and audience members to get them to come to us.
Levick has always focused on promoting not only our thought leadership, but also our clients’ thought leadership. Levick has always done a good job of producing frequent, high-quality video around thought leadership and industry topics. In the digital practice, we’ve focused on bringing these tactics to our clients. This has helped us expand the Levick brand from just being the experts you want to have in the boardroom when there is a litigation or a crisis communications issue to make us a resource for getting the word out around issues and topics that matter to our clients. It’s a step in helping us demonstrate that we are a well-rounded shop that can assist with any communications objective.
Q: What platforms are you using to tell these stories and how do you see these growing?
Peter: From a digital perspective, we are using a lot of the usual platforms to tell our story and engage with our stakeholders: the usual social media channels, blogs, digital advertising and thought leadership – both in video and whitepaper forms.
We aggregate this content into our Levick Daily blog with the goal of creating a steady flow of content that will be of value to the readers as thought leadership. Not all of the content on Levick Daily is created by us. A lot of what we is content created by our clients or friends of the firm – but it remains relevant to the audience we’re trying to engage. The medium is important as well – a good amount of the content is video in addition to text and other content.
While we’ve had great success and engagement from this approach, we also need to stay cutting edge in our delivery of the content. That was the intention behind the development of our Levick Monthly E-Publication/Magazine, slated for November. No one else in the communications industry is doing a rich-media, thought-leadership monthly publication – and we’re excited to see how our audience engages and consumes it.
Q: Levick generates a metric ton of content. What advice can you provide to help create content that generates engagement?
Peter: The words “Content is King” have been thrown around every conference for some time now. However, there is so much content out there now being produced by brands and agencies, that in order to stand out, the content has to be fresh and it has to be timely.
We subscribe to the idea of the “Urgency of Now”. If there is an issue or a topic in the news, you have to be able to get that content out and to market immediately. You have to get your content out there fast – if there is a topic that people care about today, don’t expect that they will be nearly as likely to care about it tomorrow. There’s always an opportunity to attach more evergreen topics to that timely content – but if you lead about people care about today, you are more likely to find success.
There is also something to be said for simplicity. Traditionally, thought leadership content was long form. But more and more audiences are turning to short form videos and other mediums to get their information on a topic. We see this trend with CEOs and executives and how they consume content. While lawyers and regulators might prefer exhaustive, longer-form content, minute long videos or other condensed versions likely will resonate better.
Q: When your setting expectations on a project for a client how do you set expectations?
Peter: When I’m working with clients, it really is about starting every project with a clear idea of what the client is trying to accomplish. It’s really important for us to educate our clients on reaching out past the primary target audience especially in regard to journalists. Good content should be targeted at the audience to be reached in order to meet their goals – but it won’t be limited to your target audience and can be used by any periphery audience in the future. The content helps tell the organizational story once it is out there, and sometimes success can be found in different ways than the simple metrics of views and shares.
I think the biggest successes we have had with our clients are the times we’ve pushed them a little out of their comfort zone and taken on a project that has seemed ambitious to them. Once we’re able to execute, these projects tend to turn into the type of results that allow us to deem a campaign or piece of content successful.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
Peter: I love the pace of change in the digital marketing and communications field. I don’t know if I could work in an industry that was the same as it was 2 years ago. I love being able to learn every day and work with and hire people that can teach me.
Author Daniel Watson (@danielchwatson) is an account manager with PR Newswire, and is based in our DC office.