Author Archives: PRN Bloggers

Holidays in China: Communications Opportunities & Challenges

Image source: PRN Asia

With the usual cocktail of eardrum-shattering firecrackers, mass migrations, food-centric family gatherings and endless song-and-dance TV programs, Chinese New Year celebrations – which started on the evening of February 8 – are only just starting to wind down.

The holiday serves as a demarcation point for both companies and individuals in China; debts must be paid before the New Year, but any work that requires long-term focus or consideration is often postponed for after the holiday. “We’ll take care of it after Chinese New Year,” is a common response to enquiries in the days and weeks beforehand.

Since so much of the country’s activities are framed by these festivities, having an understanding of this holiday and what it represents is essential for companies doing business in China.

Pre-Game the Holiday

Much in the way that new products are often launched before the Christmas shopping season in North America, the market is ripe for similar promotions in China before the Lunar New Year. This is the time of year when people tap into the money they have saved over the course of the year to buy gifts to take home to their families. Some of them have not returned home in years. As with most Chinese holidays, a huge emphasis is placed on food, both with the nianyefan meal on New Year’s Eve and as a form of gift for friends and family. Beyond food, expensive gifts are popular as a way of conveying respect to the recipient, while the gift-giver gains “face”, or status, in being able to provide such a fine gift. Children are the lucky recipients of yasuiqian, aka cold cash in red envelopes, a tradition that leaves adults feeling rather deflated by the end of the holidays, depending on how many kids they know.

The lunar new year – which falls in January or February – conveniently is always preceded by the Christmas rush in the West, so companies need only tweak their campaigns accordingly to approach the Chinese market at the peak of shopping season.

Timing in all of this is key – New Year’s Eve and day are the biggest days of celebration, but the holiday extends for 15 days, ending with Lantern Festival. Work may officially resume seven days after New Year’s Eve, but many take additional time off to travel to their hometowns, and business activities don’t really begin to normalize until the full holiday has passed.

TV Takes Over

As a result of the urban exodus, the means by which companies usually try to reach audiences – the internet, email, press releases aimed for media outlets – can all fall on deaf ears as urban office workers head back to their hometowns. But while many lose their high-speed internet connections, few are the moments in China when one is not in close proximity to a television, including on all forms of transportation.

Television, as has been discussed, is still a viable medium for capturing an audience through loud, splashy ads. It is the constant background of family gatherings – in fact, the tradition on New Year’s eve is for families to gather around the TV for over four consecutive hours of entertainment in the form of galas, with state broadcaster CCTV’s being the most famous of the bunch. To give a sense of scale, CCTV’s performances this year included Celine Dion singing a duet in Chinese with diva Song Zuying.

While CCTV’s gala, known as the “Chunwan”, runs ad-free, the airtime surrounding the event is a different story. With the potential to reach up to 700 million potential viewers, the 10 minutes before the Chunwan commences are what China’s famous angel investor Cai Wensheng went so far as to refer to as a “barometer of the economy” determining which industries are profitable. This year, while the nation’s populace may have been taking a break from their computer posts, Internet companies still did their best to stay on their minds with an onslaught of TV advertising.

Unexpected Factors

Even the best-prepared companies cannot always anticipate factors that will influence buyers’ decisions during the holiday. In Beijing at least, there were two big ways in which New Year was celebrated differently this year compared to last year for a uniquely Chinese reason: the government. In 2013, authorities asked people to light fewer fireworks to help deal with the capital’s burgeoning pollution problem, and people heeded the call. The Wall Street Journal, via Xinhua, reported that people purchased 45% fewer fireworks than last year.

Also notable was the news that purchases of expensive hard liquor, or baijiu, were down in the wake of pledges to cut back on the expensive government banquets that often feature copious drinking. Even with stores discounting the prices of the most expensive brands of baijiu, at over USD 200 per bottle, Moutai still remains outside the reach of many consumers.

Holiday Exports

China is an established factor in the global economy, but soft power exports in recent years have increasingly factored in the day-to-day lives of citizens of other countries. With a huge uptick in the number of Chinese studying abroad or working overseas, as well as rising numbers of Chinese who can afford to travel abroad recreationally, Western companies are seeing an opportunity in holidays like Chinese New Year. This year, Harrods in London sold snake-themed gold bullion, Louis Vuitton offered snake monograms, and Mercedes Benz even launched a snake-themed smart car.

While bringing Western holidays to China certainly has seen commercial success, more companies are seeing the value in embracing the holidays already important to the Chinese, a trend we can expect to see continue through the Year of the Snake and beyond.

Author Caroline Kilmer is a member of the PR Newswire Asia team.

Online Newsrooms are a Key Part of Content Strategy


With all the Google algorithm buzz (kill) about the need for fresh and frequent quality content, the answer could start with a press release and be buried in your company’s online newsroom.

While most brands report having an online newsroom as part of the company website, only 14 percent of press releases were optimized for search and recent surveys indicate the entire newsroom is lacking optimization.

Shocker? Maybe. But, smart marketers can take it as a digital smoke signal for SEO and PR to spark up a better relationship.

“Newsrooms – if done right – can be an excellent source for new content. However, in this renewed age of content marketing, it can’t just be the press releases. Whatever content gets put up has to be compelling enough for people to want to share. It should not simply report facts, but should have some sort of human element explaining what this news means to the target audience.”
- Quote from Thom Craver

The Online Newsroom Opportunity

Online newsrooms actually present an opportunity for digital marketers trying to find new ways to engage their audience with relevant content at the right time. To help drive traffic, marketers are now shifting their priorities to inbound marketing efforts like creating effective content such as such as blogs, webinars, white papers and press releases according to MarketingSherpa’s eighth annual benchmark report. All this newsworthy content can be used inside the online newsroom.

For example, a recent online newsroom study by PressFeed found:

  • 72 percent of media rooms have an image gallery and 61 percent have a video gallery.
  • Less than 30 percent use multimedia with a news release and only 14 percent of news releases are search optimized.
  • 80 percent of journalists and editors say images and video are important.
  • 61 percent are connecting their newsroom to their social content.
  • 52 percent offer social sharing options in their newsroom.
  • They also lack features the media value.
  • Only 13 percent offer embed codes for images, slideshows and video.
  • Inc. 500 companies have some catching up to do, but have the most opportunity!

Online Newsroom Makeover Tips

Educate the PR and SEO Teams

“The issue that most SEO’s face is most of the time their PR or Corporate Communications folks have not fully bought into the idea of optimizing their online news. This requires education to start with and then charting a process wherein SEO is part of the online newsroom process,” says Bob Tripathi.

Keep it Fresh

Newsworthy stories, images, video, social links and blogs would seem an obvious bonus in attracting quality visits. In the past the newsroom’s visitor profile was typically the journalist, but today’s savvy consumer knows to navigate to the online newsroom to find the latest news.

Collaborate for the Sake of “Quality Content”

“First, I’d hold a brown bag lunch and invite somebody from both groups to explain why collaboration and cooperation between the departments will enable both of them to meet their marketing goals and business objectives,” Jarboe said. “Believe it or not, both groups need to create ‘quality content.’ And that quality content will be read by prospects as well as the press.”

Get Visual!

Let the statistics speak for themselves. Journalists prefer images and multimedia. Search results combined with an image have an increased performance and images are the most shared type of messaging on social media.

One more stat: 44 percent say they’re more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media, according to ROI Research. Get creative and add news feeds from Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook to the online newsroom.

Google Alert: Creating Good Content Pays Off!

“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community,” says Google . “The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

“It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest.”

The PR side of the house will be happy to hear that an online newsroom can be a link magnet. The SEO side might want to meet up with the PR side, after all they are the content generators who just need a little “need to know” SEO guidance.

Bottom Line

Online newsrooms are the mother lode of quality content that should be optimized as soon as possible.

Join guest author Lisa Buyer February 20th for a webinar with PR Newswire where I will dig further into this topic. Click here to register for the upcoming webinar.

PR Newswire’s MediaRoom line offers a seamless solution to organize and drive additional online visibility for your content, from automated news feeds for your current site to a fully hosted MediaRoom site.

Content isn’t King … it’s Gold.

content gold

In a keynote at the Online Marketing Summit last week, speaker Russell Sparkman, president and CEO of FusionSpark Media, proposed that the popular analogy “Content is King,” actually falls short in describing the value good content delivers to a brand.  Instead, he believes content is more like gold, in a whole variety of ways:

  • Like gold, content is a great long-term investment.
  • Like gold, content isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality
  • Like gold, content conducts electricity by provoking sharing, engagement and curiosity
  • Like gold, content and gold are both malleable and can be shaped and stretched into other forms of media
  • Like gold, content can eventually be made into “bling,” and can become very lucrative when we add value.

Russell backed up his premise with several examples of the value of content to an organization’s strategy.  Here’s a video of an earlier  but related presentation  he gave that’s well worth watching:

Spinning Gold into Nonprofit Exposure:

The first example was a nonprofit called Florida Friendly Landscaping which designed a web site ( to help residents of Florida learn ecofriendly practices in gardening. The website hosted environment quizzes, a “drag and drop” interactive backyard, and a certification program offered to Florida residents that wanted to be recognized as “eco-friendly”. How well did this content work?  The electricity created by the certification program was astounding! So many applications were submitted that Florida Friendly Landscaping simply couldn’t fulfill the demand.  In terms of initial long-term investment in great content; the site still indexes at the top of desired search results, the foundation gets 6-10 inbound email per day, without any investment in social media or refreshing content since 2005!  Pure nonprofit Gold!

Content to Drive Profits:

Gary Vaynerchuk is a Russian immigrant currently residing in New Jersey that founded The Wine Library TV channel on youtube.  By having a firm grip on his is audience Gary creating a wildly popular series of over 1000 wine tasting videos that have been viewed over 1.7MM times.  Why did these videos garner viewers?  Each video was quirky, fun and appealed wine enthusiasts in a humble or unpretentious manner.  One example worthy of mention is where Gary pairs some of his favorite vino with poplar cereal brands.  His video content is so popular, if you search for wine tastings he comes up right underneath Wine Spectator.

By generating high quality content, Gary has appeared on late-night television, shaped his Youtube video channel into a seven-figure book deal and turned his “mom and pop” liquor store turn into a multimillion dollar retailer.

These examples illuminate exactly why Content is Gold – not King.  For more perspective from Russell, we recommend his post titled “Content Marketing Secrets, Part VI: Content is King … NOT!”

Author Michael Seghieri is a Divisional Vice President with MultiVu, a PR Newswire company specializing multimedia content production and distribution.

Social & Mobile: The Ad Kingdom is Changing

In the first day of the general sessions for the online marketing summit in San Diego, “content” was a constant theme across many sessions.  The first two I attended were specifically relating to the “royalty” of content:  “Content is Gold” and “TV Advertising is King, but the Kingdom is About to Change”.

Both of these titles are not only true, but the messages couldn’t be clearer.  TV advertising has always been predominant (it still is), but online video and specifically targeted video, is catching up… and fast!  And in that ever-important 18-34 audience, TV advertising can easily become wasted dollars.  (See the excellent infographic by Koeppel Direct illustrating this trend at the bottom of this post.)

One only has to consider the larger idea of TV advertising to realize this change is occurring:  Everything has to be part of social media.   Without asking “How does it conform to social media” is to miss the entire point of today’s advertising mindset, and more importantly… the mindset of the audiences.

Ask anyone who has grown up with the internet “What does TV mean to you?” and they’ll point to their laptop or tablet or smartphone.  It’s ANY screen.  Video content has become the glue to engage audiences across any device.  TV does not own this space anymore (outside of the Super Bowl I suppose!).

Static imagery still remains relevant.  But the terminology may be changing more slowly.  We still think of a “Kodak moment”.  When that is replaced by “Instagram moment” in all of our minds, we’ll know the changing of the guard has occurred.

In addition, to today’s youth market that is growing up with online, TV Networks mean nothing.  Their devices house their content.  Hulu, Youtube, and their brethren are the new “TV networks”.

Maybe most importantly, people don’t want to be told what they want by an ad anymore.  They want to be told by a friend what’s important or interesting… and act on that!  Social media has become a major force in how people not only engage, but purchase.  Video needs to address this, particularly on TV, or it will continue to lose relevance to the growing hyper-connected audiences.

TV commercials must change to make it more specific to the online audience.  A simple 30 second commercial spot may not address the specific target audience, or engage with them enough through social, interactivity, or relevance.  It is reminiscent of the first TV commercials for the new television audience in the 1950’s.  One of the very first TV ads was for Bulova Watches:

Not understanding how this new medium worked, the TV ads simply became a video of a magazine ad:  Showing a ticking watch, with the announcer reading the magazine text.  Hardly the stuff that TV audiences expected from this amazing new technology in their living rooms.  But now, those commercials appearing directly on our devices are no more relevant than the Bulova Watch ad… unless the the creators take into account targeting, interactivity, and conforming to social media best practices.

The companies that do this well, will succeed in achieving their goal.  That is the new Kingdom, and it’s changing before our eyes!

Author Kevin Wilk is a divisional vice president with MultiVu.

Let’s Get Personal (But Not Too Personal): A Relationship-First Approach to Mobile Marketing

This year nearly 10 trillion SMS messages will be sent. 90% of those will be read within three minutes. The opportunity for marketers is huge, but sending generic, blast messages is a recipe for failure. Success requires delivering individualized messages that align with each and every consumer’s journey.

I attended a session on Mobile Marketing during OMS 2013 today and got just a peek at the nuances of mobile marketing strategy. Wacarra Yeomans  from Responsys led an informative session with great takeaways.

Amazingly, we are all intense multi-taskers.  86% of people admit to checking their phone while doing other things- at a meal with someone else, while driving, at a religious service, and even on the toilet.  Even with all this segmentation and lack of attention spans, the customer is demanding a different type of relationship, one where they are in the driver’s seat and determine the level of access and type of interactions.  Savvy customers in 2013 expect more from marketers.  Interactions need to move from campaign based to customer focused.  They expect you to “know me”, “engage me” and “lead me”.

According to a study by mobile technology consultant Tomi Ahonen and commissioned by Nokia, we are so dependent on our mobile phones that on average, we check them every six-and-a-half minutes, or about 150 times per day.   A statistic like this makes it sound like it should be easy to reach customers on the mobile devices, but it’s much more complicated than that.  Courting mobile customers and having them build a real relationship with your brand is a bit like trying to court the most fickle girl at the dance, the one who might dance with you, but is always looking around the room for the bigger, better deal, and who also might walk away and not dance with anyone if she doesn’t like the song.

44 % of opt- in email subscribers also welcome SMS marketing messages, but almost all users find text spam much more offensive and invasive than email spam.   Half of all users have actually ditched a brand entirely because of a poor mobile experience.

In order to avoid a poor mobile experience, it’s important to have a very clear intent to engage your target audience.  You must be relevant, but there are so many more personalized factors that you need to consider.  Some of the main categories of engagement are:

  • Interest- product availability and discounts or coupons
  • Desire- like texting your zip code to find a store near you
  • Action- notifications to keep you informed, like “your shoes have shipped”
  • Experience- allowing users to interact with customer service
  • Loyalty- polling and voting

It’s clear that a billboard by the side of the road or a spot on local radio is no longer the only way to reach your target audience, and that the personalization of the message is the key, especially when the  message is being delivered to a device in their pocket.  Mobile marketing is here to stay and will likely evolve to include video and other multimedia content in the very near future.  As long as brands are willing to pay attention to the voice of the consumer, we will have many messages to keep us checking our phones at inappropriate times for many years to come.

Author Heather Williams is a national account manager for MultiVu, PR Newswire’s multimedia division.

Content Marketing Like a Pro

Author Paula Henderson

Why is content marketing important? According to the company Media Whiz, It is the future of marketing and how you should be generating new business. I bet most marketers don’t think like a salesperson when writing for their respective audiences but if you use your content to win your customers, it will generate leads for your business.  As a salesperson, I often have to think to myself why I would want to buy a particular product or service. When posing that question, it’s easier to write with authority. Daryl Colwell, VP of Business Development for @MediaWhizLLC tells us to make our buyer the hero. “Produce content that informs your customers and improves their business, says Colwell.

Our VP of Social Media Sarah Skerik riffed on a quote from the movie Field of Dreams, saying “If you build it, they don’t always come.” In other words, don’t create content just to have content.

In Skerik’s workshop at the Online Marketing Summit Conference she spoke on making your customers your advocates and finding your industry rockstars by customizing your content to meet their needs. MediaWhiz also suggested using websites such as and Yahoo Answers to find specific questions around a subject which will help you tailor your content accordingly.

More benefits for SEO writing:

  • Attracts Authority Signals (links, social shares) – improves SEO performance
  • Positions brand as authority on relevant topics
  • Increases conversion rates

-Educates users on topics that are difficult to understand.

While it is important to write with these SEO tips in mind, you’re not a computer so write for humans!

Top 5 tips MediaWhiz provided for Content Marketing:

1)    Know your audience: Write for a specific reader or customer. Know what they want and how/where they consume information

2)    Include images: Images will “pop” when content is shared

3)    Commit: Not a one-night stand. Establish an editorial calendar and publish often.  Give customers a reason to keep reading.

4)    Engage the right buyers with the right content. Write content for all levels of the sales funnel.

5)    Repurpose content. Turn blog posts into white papers; white papers into infographics, etc.

Follow the tweet stream at #OMSummit for ongoing commentary from the Online Marketing Summit this week.

Author Paula Henderson works for PR Newswire consulting our agency clients  in Los Angeles, CA.

Marie Claire Magazine: Pitching Tips & Overview from Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin

Trish Halpin and Justine Southall of Marie Claire magazine, at PR Newswire's recent "Meet the Media" event in London.

Trish Halpin and Justine Southall of Marie Claire magazine, at PR Newswire’s recent “Meet the Media” event in London.

If there’s one place a fashion brand wants to get featured, it’s Marie Claire, the largest fashion magazine in the UK with a total reach of over 2 million women, online and in print. So when Marie Claire UK Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin starts to reveal how her journalists decide what goes in each edition, a lot of PR ears prick up.

At another of PR Newswire’s glamorous Meet the Media events, suitably located in the Victorian ballroom of central London’s 8 Northumberland Avenue, Trish Halpin and Marie Claire Publishing Director Justine Southall made a lot of people in fashion PR very excited, with a typically polished presentation and a few tips for grabbing their attention.

Marie Claire’s journalists receive thousands of beauty products a year, which may sound like a dream come true, but actually leaves them with a daily struggle to justify featuring an exciting new lipstick, say, while leaving an eyeliner in unheralded obscurity.


Trish Halpin, Editor in Chief of Marie Claire UK, address the Meet the Media audience at 8 Northumberland Avenue in London.

Trish Halpin believes it is up to PR companies to make a journalist’s life a lot easier – for the benefit of all parties – and she gave the audience her dos and don’ts that can make the difference between a new product making it into the magazine or making straight it in to the ‘deleted items’ folder.

So, how do you attract the attention of a busy Marie Claire journalist? Here is what Trish Halpin had to say:


 •  Learn Your titles

Make sure you know why you are pitching to a Marie Claire journalist and not someone from Elle or Glamour.  To know that, you must understand how each title is different and what is unique about each brand. Familiarise yourself with each feature and pitch your product for specific pages of the magazine.

Anticipate questions

Know your products inside out and try to predict what a journalist might ask you, because they are going to ask you a lot of questions. Don’t make them lose interest by not having the information they need.

Think of fun ways to draw attention to your brand

The best example that got huge amounts of tweeting from the Marie Claire team was a plus sized lingerie brand that sent in a bag of breakfast baps along with some plus size bras that they wanted featured.  The team just loved it and thought it was really funny that they all got a big breakfast bap. It was entertaining and they all tweeted about it. It brightened up their day and the lingerie went into the magazine.

• Include prices & telephone numbers

Please don’t make any more work for the journalist. You may think they will call you to ask for all the details they need, but not having them in the first place may turn them off the whole idea. Get them everything they need from the beginning.

• Exclusive content

It should go without saying that if Marie Claire is offered the chance to feature exclusive content such as case studies, expert insight, or a celebrity feature, they don’t expect to see it in another magazine in the same month. In the long run, one quality long term relationship is better than two that are short lived.


 • Cold call or ask for features lists
You must make sure you know who is responsible for each section. Phoning up and saying “Can I speak to somebody who deals with homes?” is hopeless.  You need the name of the person you want.

For example, if you have a tanning product, call up the beauty desk and say, “I see that you did a tanning story last June.  Will you be doing one this June?  What will the angle be?”  Don’t just say, “Give me a list of what you’re doing”.  It’s not going to happen.  You need to do your research.

Send too many emails
Don’t send too many emails, because journalists will just stop looking at them.  “As soon as you see it come into your inbox you just press delete, because if you get something every single day, you just haven’t got the time to look at it. It’s better to target one or two really good specific emails at the right people from the beginning.”

Send pictures as attachments
Don’t send pictures as attachments.  Have them in the body of the text, again because the journalist is not going to spend the time downloading it. If they have to download an image, a journalist might not even read your email, but if they see something in the body of an email and think “that looks really nice”, then they will read it.

Send redundant press kits
Marie Claire have got four people in the beauty department, but they don’t all need a press kit each.  Redundant kits are a waste of your money and it wastes a lot of packaging.  Again, target the right person.

Underestimate the power of cake!

There is nothing that gets a magazine team more excited than being sent some cake.  It’s a brilliant way into a magazine because journalists, like the rest of us, become very excitable when presented with free cake. They will take a photo of it, they will tweet it, they will boast about it, and they’ll remember it.

Add  power and precision to your pitching with Agility, PR Newswire’s unique media targeting, monitoring & distribution platform.  Identify and target key media and bloggers; uncover what is being said about your brand as it happens; and engage these influential people in real-time via traditional and social channels.

Author Andrew Woodall is an operations manager for PR Newswire Europe, and is based in London.

Black History Month Captures History in the Making

As part of PR Newswire observance of Black History Month, we contacted multicultural communications experts to asked them if they would like to share their views and insights about the significance of Black History Month. We asked them to share their views on the historical significance and how the annual observance has changed and evolved over the years. Christina Steed, Senior Vice President with the Flowers Communications Group shared her perspective.

Black History Month is observed in February in the U. S. and Canada, and October in the United Kingdom. It began as a marked calendar opportunity to celebrate the achievements, key historical moments, and impact that African Americans and those of the African Diaspora have had on America and the world. And, while for many years, educational institutions have dedicated time and resources to teaching Black history and celebrating Black History Month, over time, these efforts have not fully captured the countless contributions of Black history, and how these are interwoven into the quilt of American history.

Discussions often arise regarding whether Black History Month is still relevant. Some question the need for the entire month, arguing these achievements and contributions should be celebrated, recognized, and talked about throughout the year, not tangentially. While it is true that Black culture is a year-long intangible experience, oftentimes, the discussion of history is not. Thus, moments-in-time like Black History Month provide an opportunity for consumers and marketers to recognize the impact of ancestry and cultural advancement, and the fortitude of ethnic segments on the world.

Black history and culture are very unique and pervasive as seen throughout the fabric of this country, from hot topics to industries including technology, science, mathematics, literature, arts, entertainment, fashion, sports, architecture, design and innovation. We continue to reap the benefits of Black pioneers who navigated uncharted territories to make major contributions to the foundation and infrastructure that exists today. Thus, Black History Month captures more than historical contributions, but also history in the making. The spotlight in February encourages continued dialogue and elevation of Black history and culture. It represents the springboard effect that is felt by some of the world’s most influential, multi-faceted, multi-generational trendsetters.

From our perspective, companies who do it best are ones which include the diverse perspectives of consumers into their overall business strategy – making it a priority to acknowledge, support and celebrate these unique interests. Not only do companies like McDonald’s, AT&T, Wells Fargo, and many others engage with the African-American segment year-round, but they also amplify their efforts during Black History Month.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The significance of these (and other) historical events must continue to be passed on – not only to the next generation of African Americans, but to the next generation of Americans.

When brands celebrate Black culture, they educate, bring awareness to, and improve the lives of their total consumer base. Thus, Black History Month remains important not just because of the month, but because of the concept of celebrating Black achievements and doing so in a concentrated, scheduled, purposeful moment in time that can be rallied around.

Local networks of business leaders, clergy, educators, economic empowerment champions, and general consumers who represent the African- American community at-large collectively own what the celebration should be about and what it can evolve into. Highlighting business opportunities, leaders in the Black community, telling stories of triumph or adversity — all framed with a historical perspective — leads to advancing the Black community and speaks to the spirit of America. Brands that earnestly listen and are engaged will be acknowledged as integral parts of this community that deserves both continual and highlighted recognition. In turn, these are the brands that will be deemed deserving of recognition and support during Black History Month and throughout the year.

Author Christina Steed is a Senior Vice President with the Flowers Communications Group based in Chicago, Illinois.

In observance of Black History Month, PR Newswire is offering special pricing on our array of African American-specific communications offerings - ranging from press release distribution and targeted media lists to multimedia syndication and strategic placements – enable you to increase your organization’s visibility among key African American media, influencers and consumers, providing the opportunity to share your organization’s story, spark new relationships and cultivate your audiences.

Leveraging Converged Media for Content Marketing

It was not that long ago that marketing spent their advertising budget on telling consumers what they thought the consumer should know about a brand. Not what the consumer wanted to know.

However, in today’s consumer-driven world, brands’ audiences expect more. They want a seamless, consistent experience – it should be easy and organic to go from website to blog to wherever else on the web that the company is found.

Earlier this week, the Online Marketing Summit and PR Newswire presented a webinar titled “Leveraging Converged Media’s Impact on Content Marketing.”

At the heart of conversation between presenters Ardath Albee and Sarah Skerik was the importance of coordinating a consistent story across all media channels and creating quality, sustainable content that is straightforward.

In other words, it reinforced a common sense approach to marketing that is starting to evolve:  value and relevancy over static and boring.

“Content has to be awesome,” Skerik remarked during the presentation. And she’s right. It’s time to take a pledge to stop distributing bad press releases or “phoning in mundane blog posts” because they do very little to increase brand awareness.

Quality content has staying power and builds loyalty.  It shouldn’t just convert your target audience into a buyer, but also keep them coming back.  Other noteworthy points:

  • Consistent and creative storyline – Anyone can spout facts, tell a story.
  • Logo is less important – Tone, style, quality and relevance have more substance and tell a better story.
  • Channels are digital ambassadors for the brand and should be consistent, utilizing paid, owned and earned media.
  • Communications between brands and audiences is no longer a one way street – successful marketing today is conversational.
  • Creating valuable content will open up an exchange of information between audience and brand.
  • Content has to be awesome.

Consumers have more of a voice than ever before and they are using it.  Traditionally, when a consumer was unhappy with a product, they would just stop buying what was being sold and maybe tell their family or friends.  Now, when a consumer is unhappy they have multiple channels to vent their frustration.  This is also true when a consumer likes something.

Personally, when I find a product I like, I look to their website, like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter and more than likely will seek them out on Pinterest.  My goal is not to necessarily keep track of their every move but to show support and, let’s be honest, get the low down on coupons, sales or giveaways.

I will only do this if it is easy.  If I have to click too many times or have to hunt for a link, I will give up.  I am not going to work to find something that should be there already and both Ardath and Sarah echoed my thoughts as a consumer perfectly and offer wonderful insight on how to achieve this objective.

Quality over quantity is what will attract and keep new business and utilizing the many social media channels that are offered will only help to brand awareness.  It is important to remember that new social media sites are created daily and having the ability to adapt the message will only mean success over in the long run.

Finally, PR and marketing need to be on the same page.  It is a waste of time, effort and money if the two departments are not coordinating.

Did you happen to catch this presentation? If so, what was the biggest takeaway for you?

Of course, if you weren’t able to make it, you can listen to the archive of the webinar at the following link:  “Leveraging Converged Media’s Impact on Content Marketing

To learn more about the topic of converged media, check out PR Newswire’s workshop, “Driving Qualified Audiences Into the Funnel Using Rich Media and Distribution Network” during the upcoming Online Marketing Summit. Click here to register and be sure to use promo code SMPRN1 to receive 30% off the registration rate.

Author Mary Johnson is the office manager in PR Newswire’s Cleveland office and is a member of our social media team, curating and tweeting technology news under the @PRNTech Twitter handle.

Using Multimedia to Power Content Marketing & Tell Stories

Last year, you may have watched State Farm’s PSA about the dangers of deep-frying a turkey. Even though William Shatner added some silliness to the PSA, the campaign proved to be effective, with a decrease in the number of turkey-frying incidents.

It became a successful example of a content marketing campaign many companies will strive to replicate — and now can, with the information provided from last week’s webinar, “Brands as Storytellers: Powering Content Marketing Campaigns through Multimedia,” co-hosted by Online Marketing Institute and PR Newswire.

Kevin Wilk, divisional vice president, PR Newswire’s MultiVu, began the webinar with the discussion of paid, earned and owned media, breaking down the individual media types, and then offered some tips to increase the effectiveness of the content a brand publishes.   Some of his key points included:

  • Paid media is when a brand pays to place ad or content on a channel.
  • Earned media is publicity gained when an influencer promotes a brand.
  • Owned media is when a brand owns a channel.
  • The lines between paid, earned and owned media are blurring.
  • Earned media is gaining importance.
  • More multimedia = more views. Text + photo, video and downloadable files can increase views by up to 9.7 times.
  • Distribute content to different channels to increase earned media, and this will increase in the number of views.

Maria Pergolino, senior director of marketing for Marketo, Inc., followed by introducing six types of visual content that can be used in a content marketing campaign: comics, memes, infographics, photos, videos, and visual note-taking.

  • Comics: They can be used to introduce or transition into other content, e.g.,    introducing a white paper.
  • Memes: They are not only funny, but they can share quotes or a customer case study by including a quote, photo, brand logo, etc. A meme helps tell the story in a condensed way, similar to the function of Twitter. Memes are also easily shared on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. They are a powerful form of marketing.
  • Infographics: They are a little bit harder to utilize. One idea is to use a white paper as the basis of the infographic. Visual content, and not just stats, are important in an infographic, so it needs to be creative and stand out.
  • Photos: They can tell a whole story and, like a meme, can be posted on a photo-sharing website. Photos help viewers get involved in the company’s story.
  • Videos: It is increasingly difficult to improve video quality, as well as use it to tell a story. It is an investment to create a video ($10,000 per minute – but it ranges), and much more expensive than taking a photo. If you decide on creating a video, you need to weave in your story.
  • Visual note-taking: Pergolino mentioned this is one of her favorite types of visual content. It is very engaging. This type of visual content can trigger memories of the topics discussed at an event, meeting, etc. After the event, you can take a picture of the storyboard and post it immediately to your company blog, without having to wait to write up a blog post. Visual note-taking tells a story in a visual and engaging way.

The keys to visual marketing success include: 1) create a compelling story, 2) choose the right type of content, 3) partner with others while telling your story, 4) focus on great design and branding, 5) promote your content strategically.

When promoting your content, use different social channels to tell your story. Use the right content for each channel.

Todd Wheatland, VP of marketing for Kelly Services, began his discussion with “what is driving this change”:

  • Mobile is driving change, because people want content that is quick and easy.
  • Being social is driving change, because people want to share content they think makes them look cool. They also want to consume and not leave the platform providing them with the content.
  • Content needs to work everywhere, e.g., laptop, iPad, cellphone, etc.
  • B2B marketers need to learn how to entertain, because people learn from people, not companies.
  • There is content inflation – the volume of content is increasing dramatically. However, you need to find a balance between expensive video content and a good story.
  • The sharing of video content on mobile devices has doubled.
  • There has been an increase in the amount of online video consumed, and the average length of B2B videos has decreased. People are watching videos to be entertained — keep videos short.
  • Trends in video marketing include the use of humor and case studies (people buy from people – relate to a human story).
  • There has been an increase in video content on landing pages.
  • Don’t skip on costs when making videos – it is a showcase for your company’s products and services.

Interesting Facts

  • The number of companies with YouTube channels increased by 39 percent in the last year.
  • There are six types of Facebook posts, but image posts get 20 times more engagement.
  • LinkedIn Today, which shows daily trending news and shared content, prioritizes heavily. When tweeting from LinkedIn, every RT counts as one LinkedIn “like.” This will help your news trend.

Wilk then concluded the webinar by giving an example of a successful campaign created by Multivu for Apple Vacations. He explained it is a perfect convergence of paid, earned, and owned media using one platform. In addition, it can be easily found on search engines and the content can be shared on different channels. You can view the campaign here:…

The webinar ended with a Q&A. Here is some of the info shared during the Q&A:

  • B2B means businesses selling to businesses. B2C is businesses selling to consumers.
  • If your company decides to produce a video, keep the video under two minutes. There is a higher abandonment rate (the point viewers stop watching) after two minutes. You can test the abandonment rate for your videos by creating videos with different time lengths.
  • The best way to make sure your content is mobile-friendly is by testing it. Load your content and see. Also, there are sites like YouTube that make your content mobile-friendly.
  • The goal for a company using social media is to establish a presence on the social networking site and keep people coming back.
  • Video content should not be telling people how awesome your company is, but needs to be engaging and entertaining to your audience. The cheapest way is to have a “talking head,” but you need to be unique and entertain. You can have a “talking head,” but should add another dimension that is more entertaining.
  • Don’t create accounts if you are not creating videos, posting images, etc. It doesn’t look good to create an account and then not post to it.
  • When using images for your content marketing campaign, you can use iStock (purchase images) or grab from your company’s material. Stay away from images that don’t belong to you, and include images your company is comfortable with you using.

You can follow these presenters on Twitter:

Kevin Wilk: @MultiVu

Maria Pergolino: @InboundMarketer

Todd Wheatland: @toddwheatland

Access the archived webinar here: Brands as Storytellers

Author Polina Opelbaum is an editor with ProfNet.