Author Archives: Shannon Ramlochan

Content We Love: Visual Storytelling in Regulated Industries

ContentWeLove

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: http://prn.to/1sZrFQm

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: http://prn.to/ContentMarketingWorld2014

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

Content We Love: How Non-Profits Can Use Owned and Paid Media to Spread Awareness

ContentWeLove

via Safe Kids Worldwide

via Safe Kids Worldwide

In the wake of the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, a lot of discussion has been centered on how more non-profit organizations can leverage digital communication to increase awareness of social issues. One of the most important parts of a non-profit’s communications strategy is to educate the general public about the importance of their cause with facts and information that will inspire action. Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing childhood injury, demonstrates how the power of content  distribution can help spread awareness of a single message to the greatest audience possible in a press release titled, “Can We Change the Culture of Youth Sports?

Safe Kids Worldwide partnered with Johnson & Johnson to shed light on the dangerous behaviors and cultural expectations of child athletes that can result in severe injuries or in the worst case scenarios, death.  The release employs a mix of tactics to grab attention and get the point across effectively:

  • An infographic included in the press release highlights key findings from the survey in a concise and visually engaging way. Content needs to be delivered in all the formats that audiences prefer to consume information. Considering that mommy bloggers are a powerful source of influence on the web, this infographic is a great visual to accompany a potential story.
  • The headline uses a provocative question to capture attentions and a subhead provides supporting detail to hint at the findings of their survey
  • The lead paragraph omits the boilerplate language and instead begins with an alarming stat regarding the number of children who sustain a sports injury every year to immediately grab attention.
  • A call to action linking to the survey and infographic immediately after the first paragraph drives readers to the intended action to learn more about the seriousness of child sports injuries
  • Additional stats are listed separately to surface different story angles
  • Statements from the President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, Kate Carr and NCAA’s former football coach Jack Crowe, emphasize the importance of the issue and offer journalists a highly credible source to quote in their stories
  • Bullet points and bold text with sports safety tips the eye toward the bottom of the release as well

Stats from the “Changing the Culture of Youth Sports” report as well as the executive quotes from the release were republished in major outlets including CBS News and USA Today. For other non-profit organizations who need help spreading awareness of their messages, Safe Kids Worldwide sets an example of how content can be formatted and shared in different ways to bring much needed attention to a cause. Congratulations to Safe Kids Worldwide on their efforts to prevent child injuries and on the success of their release!

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator.

Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer

CU-N-CO 2.1.1 Buyer's Journey

Source: Forrester Research Inc.

One piece of content is not all encompassing for the vast and complex audience that makes up your target consumer base. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is comprised of unique personas and levels of expertise that are in search of information catered to their specific needs. For example, if your products are geared toward B2B customers, the CEO of a company might not find the same value in the introductory information that a junior level staffer might need to advance their skill set. For B2C companies, the gap is even wider if you think about the mix of demographics that your products or services might be relevant to. Would a college student doing laundry for the first time respond the same way to an ad for detergent that was geared towards new parents?

Consider that each persona will also be in search of information relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Most of us rely on peer recommendations and online reviews to give us an honest critique of what to expect in a product or service, but not everyone who is researching information is ready to make a purchase. For the product researchers who might be skeptical or simply curious, your content needs to persuade that potential customer to take the next logical step towards a purchase.

Mapping Comms Strategies to Resonate with New BuyerOur free on-demand webinar Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer  delves into how content marketers can plan and create content to meet the specific needs of their target audiences. Presentations by Adam B. Needles, chief strategy officer and principal at Annuitas, and Ken Wincko, senior vice president of marketing at PR Newswire, cover topics including:

  • How to influence behavior through authentic and transparent content
  • The evolution of earned media, and how to harness it
  • The role of distribution as the missing link to any content plan

Follow the link to view the on-demand webinar now:  http://prn.to/NewBuyerWebinar

Content We Love: A Press Release for B2B Buyers

ContentWeLove

Intermedia CWL

Click to view the complete multimedia news release

A Forrester analysis of 30 b-to-b company websites found that 80% were primarily focused on themselves with little regard to the issues that customers might be facing. In other words, a majority of companies are still unsure of how to craft messages that resonate with their audiences, which may be one of the reasons why 51% of marketers told Forrester that their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective. Laura Ramos, VP at Forrester, strongly emphasizes that “b-to-b businesses should speak about the business issues their buyers are facing, and what can be done to address those issues.”

Forrester’s research highlights the need for companies to channel the customer-focused strengths of PR to make greater headway in their content marketing efforts. A great example of how to combine both forces can be seen in Intermedia’s multimedia news release titled, “The ex-employee menace: 89% retain access to Salesforce, QuickBooks & other sensitive corporate apps.” From the headline to the final sentence, the message is primarily focused on the concerns of Intermedia’s b-to-b audience while establishing the brand’s expertise in information security.

Just a few of the elements that content marketers should make note of:

  • It is without a doubt challenging to create a company website that both promotes products and services but does not appear to be self-promotional, but this branded multimedia news release works around the challenge by familiarizing readers with Intermedia’s visual identity and focusing on a single customer-centric message.
  • The headline of this release draws upon a compelling stat from Intermedia’s survey results to attract reader interest and optimize it for social sharing.
  • A call to action near the top of the release using a trackable link drives readers back to the company’s website and provides data that can help measure content marketing success rates.
  • Downloadable content offers including a video, an infographic, a checklist, and web report present key findings of the survey in different formats that are sharable and cater to the different audience preferences of consuming information.
  • US and UK versions of each content type target the message to regional audiences.

Remember, it’s not just the media that are reading press releases; b-to-b buyers are researching the solution sets that fit their needs far in advance of contacting a sales representative. Intermedia presents a use case of how to write a press release that caters specifically to buyers, which is made more discoverable by the audiences in search of this information through the power of multi-channel distribution.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate PR into your content marketing strategy, view our on-demand webinar: How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. 

Content We Love: A Great PR Stunt and Press Release Gives Journalists a “Brewed” Awakening

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the complete press release

Click here to view the complete press release

Consumers look to product reviews as trustworthy insight on whether a purchase decision is worth making, so when a positive product review is written by a journalist, brands benefit from the influence of that media outlet on readers as well as the earned media attention that boosts search visibility. But the reality is there are not enough journalists to cover all the products that companies want reviewed, and unless that outlet is solely dedicated to reviewing products, there needs to be an interesting story angle other than “this product is great” to convince a reporter that it’s worth writing about.

Genuine Thermos used a press release titled, “Genuine Thermos Brand Shipping the Best Hot Coffee Overnight Across the Country,” to promote a clever and bold PR stunt tied to their product that earned them highly coveted positive media attention needed to persuade consumers. The release highlighted their “Overnight Coffee Challenge” Facebook contest, where winners would receive a freshly brewed cup of coffee shipped overnight in a Genuine Thermos with the promise that the coffee would still arrive hot and fresh despite spending hours in transit. Even the journalists who covered the story had to admit it – the stunt worked. Here’s why:

Content syndication as a discovery tool for journalists

Writer Liz Clayton of Sprudge.com, who participated in the challenge, wrote of her experience as a coffee journalist receiving an endless number of odd pitches and what made Genuine Thermos stand out in a good way:

“Working on the front lines of coffee journalism, one gets a fair amount of strange emails from publicists. Do I want to try bouillion-style cubes of coffee? Not really. Do I want to sample some “naturally caffeinated” fruit juice? Might take a pass on that. Do I want the Thermos corporation to, in a fit of truly inspired stunt-istry, overnight me a hot Thermos Brand Bottle of Ritual Coffee from San Francisco to New York to prove how awesome their Thermoses are at keeping drinks hot? Hell yeah.”

Clayton includes a direct excerpt from the press release in her article as well as a link to the website where it was syndicated and found. It’s a lesson for communicators to make note of: telling a story that is genuinely interesting and amplified by content distribution creates more opportunity for earned media.

Storytelling with an exceptional news hook 

In a piece titled “I Drank a Cup of Hot Coffee That Was Overnighted Across the CountryRobinson Meyer, associate editor at The Atlantic, wrote of the stunt:

It succeeded in both senses: The coffee was still hot by the time it reached me, and I am writing about it now…It was, however, an extraordinary PR stunt—well-executed, conceptually simple, and bubbling with zeitgeist. And I accepted the hot coffee for reasons beyond my love of roasted arabica.”

Meyer was so intrigued by the concept that he even traced the coffee’s temperature history from the moment it was brewed to when it arrived at his office to determine the quality of the thermos.

Other qualities worth noting:

A hi-res photo is ready for republishing and adds a human element to this story by capturing the artisanal, hand-crafted attention that Genuine Thermos gives to its product.

Including Facebook and Twitter handle with hashtag drives readers to a desired action, triggers social sharing and the implied links that increase search visibility.

Bold subheads break the text apart into bite-sized pieces that are easier to read.

Kudos to Genuine Thermos on a successful PR stunt and a great press release!

Have you seen an awesome press release that should be featured on Content We Love? Email Shannon Ramlochan at shannon.ramlochan@prnewswire.com

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. 

The Growing Impact of Visuals on Integrated Communications

Comms RoundtableAccording to Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report, the average article reaches half of its total social referrals within 6.5 hours on Twitter and 9 hours on Facebook. In other words, content grows old quickly, and communicators have only a fleeting moment to make a memorable brand impression on audiences scrolling through an endless stream of information on their newsfeeds. Amy Binder, owner and CEO at RFBinder Partners joined PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of marketing, Ken Wincko, for an exclusive roundtable discussion on the growing impact of visual communications in integrated campaigns. The conversation explored various case studies and successful tactics that brands should incorporate into their visual storytelling strategies.

Create a steady stream of content

Expertise and time are two of the major challenges that content creators are facing, which can hinder the effectiveness of campaigns. “62% of marketers are building content on a case by case basis,” cites Wincko from a 2014 Forrester report, “but content should create an ongoing relationship.” If content is created on a case by case basis alone, it will only cater to a portion of the complete buyer’s journey.

To navigate these obstacles, communicators can reuse the content they’ve already created and reformat it for different platforms. Sites such as CEO.com are making use of “charticles,” which essentially cut the text of traditional articles in half and replaces it with informative and visually appealing charts and graphs. These charts and graphs can stand on their own on social media, as well as circulated within other types of content such as press releases or email campaigns.

CEO.com Charticle

Take advantage of a trending topic that applies to your brand

Leveraging the popularity of a trending topic is a great way to attract views for your content, but the context of a trending topic has to make sense for the brand to avoid seeming like a forced attempt at getting attention. Binder pinpoints Tide’s recent Game of Thrones themed infographic titled, “A Season of Stains” as a brilliant example of using visuals to spark social media engagement and grab headlines. “The brand leveraged pop culture in an innovative way by taking a trending concept and applying it to their business,” Binder says of the infographic, which was tweeted the day after the television series’ highly anticipated season finale. The context made perfect sense;“memorable stains” highlighted in the infographic such as blood, dirt, and grass that accrue on the battle fields in Game of Thrones are some of the same stains that parents struggle to wash off of their children’s clothing.

Convey your message faster by keeping it simple 

In the precious seconds that brands have to attract the interest of their audience, clear and concise messages are the most effective. “If it’s simple you can scan it and see it at the same time,” Binder explains, “If you want them to grasp the concept as quickly as possible, something has to strike them.” Truvia’s “Keep Calm” meme is an example of very simple-yet-effective visual content. It contains minimal branding, and captures the passions of their target consumers with a short and memorable phrase.

truvia

 

 

 

 

Your influencers are evolving – know who they are

The types of interactions that companies should have with their customers are greatly dependent on what the business is trying to sell, so there is no single approach to communications that will meet the needs of every brand. This is where the power of strong relationships with online influencers such as bloggers, journalists, analysts, and their respective networks has the greatest impact. Brands should listen to their influencers and gain insight on what types of content they are looking for and learn who can share that content in order to earn third party credibility. Binder reminds communicators that a brand’s influencers can change over time, and their feelings towards certain topics can evolve as well. Effective communicators stay up to date on what those perspectives are and respond appropriately.

Do not oversell

Binder notes that often times, ad agencies that are participating in social media tend to lean towards traditional sales pitches that are no longer effective. “In the debate between advertising versus PR, PR will win,” asserts Binder, “people don’t want to be sold to, they want to be engaged. If they sell, it goes against what social media is all about.”

The standards of visuals are raising now that more rich content is being created, which means that brands need to figure out additional ways of amplifying those messages to stand out. The key is to use visuals as a way to capture a story that is unique to the brand in order to leave a positive and long-lasting impression on the audience.

Note for PR Newswire members only: you can organize your visuals for quick and easy deployment using Media Studio in the Online Member Center. Click here to create a gallery or learn more

ShannonShannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s content marketing coordinator. Tweet her your favorite examples of branded visual content @sramloch