Author Archives: Shannon Ramlochan

7 Ways to Leverage the Power of Social Influencers

Influencer Marketing Forum 2

While digital communication has afforded brands more opportunities to reach their audiences, consumers have developed a heightened awareness of traditional marketing tactics and look to their peers as a trusted source of information. Brands are now harnessing the power of those influencers for a return on investment that goes beyond retweets and Facebook likes. PR Newswire and Business Development Institute recently co-hosted the Influencer Marketing Forum featuring senior-level marketing and communications leaders who have successfully boosted sales by engaging their social influencers. Here are some of the valuable strategies they offered to help other organizations target and tap into their network:

Leverage the power of other brands that are thought-leaders in your desired market

Alberto Canal, Vice President of Verizon Communications Inc., hoped to establish his company’s brand as a technology innovator beyond cell phone devices. To accomplish this, Verizon teamed with the MIT Enterprise Forum and Mashable to host offline meet up sessions with start-up tech companies. Engaging with these notable brands and initiating personal interaction with other influencers enhanced Verizon’s efforts and increased their value as a part of the tech community.

Pick your social channels with a purpose 

Stats on social moms via Sharon Vinderine

Stats on social moms via Sharon Vinderine

According to Sharon Vinderine, founder and CEO of Parent Tested, Parent Approved Media, over 90% of the time spent online is by moms who rely on social media more than email as a means of communication. However, each social channel is valued for a different reason. Vinderine has observed that Twitter is used to view breaking news, Facebook to connect with friends and family, and Pinterest as a source of creative inspiration. Marketers need to understand their audience intentions on each these channels in order to customize the messages that connect and engage.

Establish a blog

Hosting a blog is key to reaching niche markets because it is viewed as an educational resource that builds credibility.  Sprout It CEO, Matt Armstead, sought the help of six influential bloggers within the home and garden industry to develop engaging content that promoted his company’s new iPad app and “backyard takeover” Instagram contest. The move helped Sprout It generate awareness among thousands of contest participants and firmly establish the brand within the home and gardening space on a conservative budget. It also earned Sprout It a spot on the list of 10 Best Influencer Marketing Campaigns of 2013.

Create visually stimulating content

Tap Influence’s Head of Business Development, Jennifer Swartley, believes that

Photos drive the most engagement on social channels.

Photos drive the most engagement on social channels.

in the age of constant connection, a brand’s social hub is “always on” and must be able to stand out against an overflowing stream of social chatter. According to Swartley, eye-catching images are the types of compelling content that “cuts through on every platform” and provides something of value for audiences to connect with emotionally. A recent survey conducted by PR Newswire supports this notion, proving that photos indeed drive the most engagement on social channels.

Mine your influencers and follow the people they follow

Social engagement is what drives discoverability of a brand’s messages. Therefore, brands need to seek out not just single influencers, but entire communities of people who are participants in the conversation. AARP was able to find a voice amongst an older generation of social media users by listening to conversations and targeting the same people that their identified influencers follow.  As Tammy Gordon, AARP’s Vice President of Social Communications says, “You want the people they care about to be delivering your messages.”

The 5 types of social influencers according to Neil Beam

The 5 types of social influencers according to Neil Beam

Know who your advocates are

Neil Beam, research and measurement council chair at WOMMA, identified five categories of social influencers: advocate, ambassador, celebrity, professional occupational, and citizen. According to Beam, advocates are the most powerful voice among all five categories because they are uncompensated and independent thinkers who bring the most financial return to the brands they support. By identifying advocates, brands are able to gain a number of valuable insights  such as competitive intelligence, locating target audiences , and diagnosing campaign strengths and weaknesses.

Drive new discovery through distribution 

Social media is undoubtedly a valuable tool for engaging with communities that share a common interest, enabling brands to gain visibility and traction among new audiences. To reach fresh audiences and continually introduce organization’s messages to new audiences, brands must put some thought – and some effort – behind the distribution of content they produce.  Reaching beyond your brand’s existing followers is crucial to both acquiring new audiences and driving ongoing discovery of the brand’s content.

Distribution can mean a variety of things, from developing a presence within a

A snapshot PR Newswire's press releases shared on Twitter within 3 minutes

A snapshot PR Newswire’s press releases shared on Twitter within 3 minutes

connected industry community to distributing granular content across a network of web sites.  Re-thinking your PR approach is important too – your audiences, as well as the bloggers and journalists who cover your space – are voraciously consuming and sharing content. Want proof? Take a look at the live feed of tweets about press releases issued via PR Newswire! Distribution beyond social channels will ultimately drive more visibility for your messages everywhere, including those same social channels.  When thinking about reaching audiences, remember that content distribution is additive, channeling more attention to your brand’s owned content.

For more thinking on how content distribution drives ongoing discovery and visibility for brands, click to download our free ebook Driving Content Discovery: How to Generate Ongoing Visibility for Your Content.

Content We Love: A “Crazy Good” Press Release

PopTarts Release

Click the image to view the entire multimedia news release

In this week’s Content We Love, freestyle skiers Torin Yater-Wallace and Maggie Voisin head to Sochi to compete in the first ever Olympic freeskiing competition. In honor of their incredible journeys, Pop-Tarts are featuring the medal contenders on limited edition boxes of their beloved breakfast pastry. Did I also mention that the latest additions to Team USA are teenagers?  Their remarkable stories weaved together by a variety of rich visual and social elements make this an unusual example of a press release that is all about storytelling.

A sign of a great press release is one that strikes an emotional chord with its readers. When reading this release, I felt in awe of how much these athletes have accomplished at such a young age. Eighteen-year old Torin remains the youngest Winter X-Games medalist in history, and fifteen-year old Maggie is the youngest U.S Winter Olympic hopeful since 1972. While these fascinating stories will surely resonate within a younger demographic of aspiring athletes, the inspiration one can gain from their passion and dedication transcends generational boundaries and creates an interesting reader experience for a broad audience of all ages.

Featured video footage of Torin catching big air on the slopes makes it hard to believe that he isn’t a seasoned veteran of the sport. But that all changes in the following scene as he names his (several) teen idol crushes. Using a multimedia element to capture Torin’s incredible talent and youthful charm adds another level of engagement to this release.

Incorporating suggested tweets and links to other popular social channels make it easy for readers to share this content and drive social conversations in the direction that Pop Tarts is hoping for. On Instagram, the Pop Tarts team has developed a great deal of entertaining content that shows a true understanding of their audience interests and aligns their efforts to appeal to a younger Olympic fan base.

PopTarts suggested tweets

The variety of storytelling elements incorporated within this release showcase a prime example of distributing content that caters to the audience’s interests and leaves a long-lasting and memorable impression. I look forward to cheering on Torin and Maggie in the upcoming games. Kudos to the Pop Tarts team on their great PR efforts!

Webinar Recap: Measuring the Effectiveness of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives

Measuring the Success of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives

During major televised events, audiences are not only anticipating the main spectacle but also the marketing efforts surrounding it. Access to millions of viewers and a highly engaged social audience means the stakes are higher than ever for advertisers to execute a successful campaign. PR Newswire and Commpro.biz co-hosted the webinar “Measuring the Effectiveness of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives” which discussed some of the emerging trends in advertising that were seen throughout Sunday’s big game. While some brands chose to invest millions into television advertising, others attempted to capitalize on real-time marketing through social media. The webinar’s expert panelists weighed in on which of these efforts were the most successful as well as future strategies for creating content that will achieve a desirable return on investment.

Pre-event marketing

Brands that did not invest in game day advertising saw an opportunity to capitalize on its newsworthiness before the big event. Newcastle Brown Ale received tremendous exposure when their “No Bollocks” ad featuring Anna Kendrick became a viral hit. Jack Neff, editor-at-large for Advertising Age, has seen an increasing number of brands relying on this tactic and believes that the strategy’s effectiveness is due to a heightened awareness among consumers of the marketing efforts leading up to the game.

Ads acknowledging consumer awareness of brand messaging

Newcastle Brown Ale earned additional publicity from their decision to turn traditional marketing on its head and take a blatant, more honest approach to advertising. According to Consumer Products Executive, Zara Ingilizian, this type of advertising is a new way of building authenticity for the brand because it shows respect for the consumer’s knowledge of marketing tactics.

Telling a story across multiple ads

Brands like Bud Light and Wonderful Pistachio went against the typical short-form commercial by showcasing ads that filled multiple spots during the broadcast. According to Neff, while these types of ads cost substantially more money, they are successful in attracting a desirable ROI because they build audience suspense and benefit from a longer exposure time.

Producing videos in real-time

PR Newswire’s Global Director of Emerging Media, Michael Pranikoff, took note of the brands stepping up their content efforts by engaging on social media throughout the game and producing videos in real time. Tide cleverly used six-second Vine videos as a real-time response to the major ads being broadcasted live. Pranikoff believes that Tide benefitted from Vine’s ability to automatically play in the viewer’s newsfeed instead of directing audiences to a separate page. The brand showcased tremendous preparedness and took advantage of a unique opportunity to make an impression on a large audience for a product that might not be at top of mind during a sporting event.

Including hashtags in television ads

According to Ingilizian, hashtags were mentioned in about 60% of the total game day ads this year, a major spike from just 10% in 2013. Ingilizian believes that using this tactic will continue to be favored among consumers and drive real-time discussion on Twitter.

Though audiences look forward to witnessing extravagant marketing efforts on game day, Neff cites a study by research firm Communicus which found that 80% of the ads do not produce a change in purchase intent. To guarantee a desirable ROI, the panelists offered some advice on producing content with maximum rewards:

-          Determine the purpose of your brand and whether your target audience will be present in the conversation. Sometimes it may not even make sense for your brand to participate in every flagship event.

-          Build anticipation and the branding aspect beforehand to gain additional impressions. While there is a lot of attention and engagement during the big event, it is harder to stand out amongst a clutter of high-tech ads competing for the same attention.

-          Stay true to your brand. While being creative is important, sometimes theatrics can overshadow what the brand is actually about

-          Calculate your ROI based on the entire campaign and not just the 30-second ad. Ads should be part of a holistic effort to promote your brand message.

For more on measuring the effectiveness of event sponsorships, follow the link to view the on-demand presentation: https://www.webcaster4.com/Webcast/Page/10/3272

Content We Love: Writing Content from an Audience Perspective

In this week’s Content We Love, SocialRadar is launching a new mobile app that takes social networking offline and into the real world. By combining geo-location data with the user’s social networks, the app aims to rid its customers of the social anxieties that come with feeling alone in a crowded room (or feeling bored in an empty one). The press release for this announcement, titled “SocialRadar’s App for iPhone Gives You Real-time Information About the People Around You,”  is reflective of the company’s desire to help their audience. It is formatted with reader’s needs in mind, and showcases a great example of how to generate quality earned media by writing content from an audience perspective.lil tweet

  • The release begins with a headline that prioritizes social interaction. In less than 100 characters, it tells a complete story of what the reader can gain from this product, followed by a sub-head providing more information on where the app is available for download.
  • Right after the lead paragraph, a call-to-action to download the app is placed near the top of the release, prompting readers to try it out immediately and driving traffic right back to their site.
  • Sentences highlighted in bold add an extra visual component within the body of the release and delve into the types of real-life scenarios where a customer could avoid a potentially awkward confrontation by relying on this handy app.
The Wall Street Journal does a 1-minute video review of SocialRadar

The Wall Street Journal demonstrates SocialRadar in a 1-minute video review

  • Embedding a YouTube video increases the brand’s discoverability on search engine rankings and adds another level of engagement between the reader and the release. The video itself is great too; a light-hearted, shareable product demo without scripted voiceovers that truly allows the product to “speak for itself.”
SocialRadar earns coverage in the Washington Post

SocialRadar earns coverage in the Washington Post

This release generated top-quality earned media for the company, including

several interviews with the CEO and even a video product demo by the Wall Street Journal. This type of earned media is key for positioning the SocialRadar brand as a thought-leader in the tech industry, as well as a top competitor in the race for the next big mobile app.

Congrats to the SocialRadar team on crafting a spectacular release!  If you’d like more examples for crafting press releases that will be found, discovered and shared, take a look at our free ebooks, Driving Content Discovery and  New School Press Release Tactics

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

Content We Love: A Press Release That Scores a Winning Touchdown

ContentWeLoveWith the Big Game looming on the horizon, millions of fans around the country are gearing up for a weekend of chants, cheers, and – apparently – chicken wings. The National Chicken Council capitalized on a golden opportunity to announce the findings of their annual Wing Report by issuing a press release. Not only is this release a pristine example of fantastic timing – it also incorporates a number of other strategic PR tactics that makes this announcement a noteworthy piece of content.

A tweet-able, eye-catching headline

In just 58 characters, the National Chicken Council grabs the reader’s attention by including an interesting stat in the headline. Numerical data communicates credibility to audiences, and the headline’s attention-grabbing and to-the-point message makes it ideal for sharing on social channels. The stat garnered press coverage from several high-profile outlets including Bloomberg, the Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and was tweeted by prominent social influencers.

Los Angeles Times Chicken Wings

Juicy, bite-sized bullet points

Not only did the National Chicken Council highlight figures about the season’s

The announcement reaches a broad fan base on the Fox Sports website

The announcement reaches a broad fan base on the Fox Sports website

last-standing finalists, but expanded the list to include all eight teams that made it to the playoffs divisional round. It’s a cunning tactic for appealing to a broad range of passionate fans and stealing attention from readers who might be quickly scanning the page.

Anchor text with a call to action

Finally, the release wisely embeds links from relevant natural phrases that motivates readers to take an additional action. The National Chicken Council benefits from qualified traffic leading back to their site when their content is posted on other web pages.

Coverage on the Huffington Post links back to the National Chicken Council's website

Coverage on the Huffington Post links back to the National Chicken Council’s website

Kudos to the National Chicken Council on delivering  content that is both newsworthy and PR-savvy.

3 Ways Press Release Measurement Can Inform Your Message Strategy

Press Release Reporting

PR Newswire’s “State of Multimedia Use in PR” survey found that 56.4% of communications professionals claim to not have the reporting tools necessary to understand the success of their multimedia efforts, with many relying on ad hoc reporting to convey their results with stakeholders. Despite this perceived lack of resources, 76% of those surveyed planned to increase their multimedia efforts in 2014.

Fortunately for PR pros, press release vendors often provide comprehensive reporting that measures the success of a press release and its multimedia components. If you use a wire service and haven’t taken the time to really look at the numbers in your reports, resolve to do so now! You can derive valuable insights from these reports, such as audience engagement levels, social media impressions, and identification of potential influencers. Given today’s fierce competition for audience attention, press release reporting is an indispensable tool for demonstrating ROI and finding new opportunities to improve your message strategy.

Here are three ways you can take action on the numbers you see in PR Newswire’s Visibility Reports to improve the effectiveness of future campaigns:

Use your engagement score to determine what content is favorable among target audiences

Denise Perez, PR Newswire’s manager of global press release reporting.

One of the unique metrics featured in press release reporting is an engagement score, which measures the level of interaction that readers have with a press release and its contents. Denise Perez, PR Newswire’s manager of global reporting, describes the process PR Newswire uses to derive an engagement score:

“The Engagement Index score derives from the comparison of engagement statistics for a given release with those other releases issued by PR Newswire within the same industry or industries.  Specifically, PR Newswire tallies the number of times readers save, print, email, share or blog about a message and compare this number to the number of times these actions have been recorded for other news releases in similar industries.  Visibility Reports then generates an engagement “score” for that release based on the number comparison.  The scale for index scores is set from 0-100, with 50 always being the industry average. “Visibility” scores (i.e., measuring views to the release) and Engagement scores (i.e., measuring interaction with the release) generated in this way can be considered as an industry benchmark comparison for that particular release.”

Genuine engagement with content such as click-throughs, retweets, and downloads reveal the types of content your audience is interested in. Engagement is also weighed heavily in search engine algorithms, which influence the discoverability of your content.

Refer to release comparison trends to inform your editorial calendar

While the engagement index determines what content is working for your audience, evaluating release comparison trends can help you better determine what does and doesn’t work. View activity trends for your content over various periods of time to understand how long your news was a topic of interest. This information can help inform a timelier editorial calendar built with content that your audience wants to interact with.  You can also quickly ascertain which messages developed stronger traction overall with your audiences, as well as the comparative duds.  Analyze each group, looking for common elements.  Incorporate what you’ve learned from evaluating your more successful messages to improve your future content.

Identify social influencers with detailed social media reporting

Another benefit of press release reporting is the ability to monitor social media conversations. The analytics provided can help you obtain a better understanding of how your message has resonated on social channels. Some of the stats measured include:

  • How many tweets and retweets your release has garnered
  • A full display of the Twitter channels where your release was shared
  • Klout scores of the individuals who tweeted your news
  • Follower counts and total impressions of your tweet

The ability to recognize the industry thought-leaders sharing your news is a major advantage to your message strategy. Targeted influencers are a direct route to additional audiences for your content, which can help generate more leads and drive traffic to your website. If these influencers are also members of the media, consider building this relationship by pitching your stories directly to them. Refer to a media contact database, such as Agility, in conjunction with your press release report to identify what outlet that leader works for, the topics they typically cover, and preferred method of contact. Genuine recognition from these social influencers will help position your brand as an industry authority as well.

As reported in our survey, communications professionals are increasingly recognizing the power of a good multimedia strategy but admit to lacking the resources necessary to measure their results.  Press release reports are a convenient and easy-to-use solution, enabling users to quantify areas of success as well as areas for improvement. Use it to pinpoint the messages resonating with viewers, find new audiences, and build relationships with media influencers.  As audience attention becomes more selective, the analytics provided within your press release reports will be a crucial asset for staying ahead of the competition.

Have you measured your press release results lately? Log in to the Online Member Center to view your Visibility Reports and further develop your message strategy. 

The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

For the first time this year, tablets and smartphones surpassed desktop usage for shopping and social networking, marking 2013 as “the year we all went mobile.” The influx of new communication tools inspired PR and marketing pros to rethink traditional tactics in order to better accommodate the needs of their audiences. Beyond PR’s top blog posts of 2013 offered tips on competing for audience attention by targeting consumers with unique content, raising awareness through press releases, and maintaining engagement on social media. Here are the top 10 posts in descending order along with their key takeaways:

1)      Top 10 Best Practices for Social Media

Use social media to provide friendly and knowledgeable customer service on a consistent basis

2)      The Difference Between Social Media News Releases & Traditional Press Releases

Social-friendly formatting makes it easy for readers to share your content

3)      An Emerging PR Trend: Content PR Strategy & Tactics

Create content that represents your brand’s point of view within the timelines of a person’s search for information or buying process

4)      Generate Awareness, Not Links, With Press Releases

Press releases seed discovery among relevant audiences

5)      Do Press Releases Help SEO?

Human interaction with press releases boosts search engine rankings

6)      SXSW: Forget Stories. Your Brand Needs a Narrative

Build a narrative around your brand to encourage active long-term participation from the audience

7)      Content We Love: The Press Release Behind the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” Campaign

Sharing multimedia elements offers interesting insights behind the message of your campaign

8)      The Top Ten Reasons to Send a Press Release

Use a press release to establish your organization as a thought-leader within your industry  

9)      SEO is Dead, Now Lets Optimize!

Maximize the reach of your content by distributing on multiple channels

10)   Marie Claire Magazine: Pitching Tips & Overview from Editor-In-Chief Trish Halpin

Research the interests of key demographics and target your pitch accordingly

Thank you for reading our blog throughout the year and participating in the conversation. We wish you a very happy new year and look forward to facing exciting new challenges with you in 2014.

holiday-2013

Exploring the Convergence of Marketing and Communications

CommsRTBlog

Business Development Institute and PR Newswire co-hosted the final communications roundtable of 2013 featuring Bloomberg’s Head of Marketing Communications, Deirdre Bigley, as the guest of honor. Moderated by PR Newswire’s CEO, Ninan Chacko, the conversation explored how blurred lines between PR and marketing are impacting communications and what it means for the future of business. Ms. Bigley shared some of the ways that Bloomberg has sustained a successful brand by embracing the current convergence.

PR, marketing, and social media work together as a team

Bloomberg’s marketing department has existed for only four years, but quickly adapted to the new era of communications. Instead of differentiating between departments, PR, marketing, and social media have formed a committee that focuses on building an infrastructure for lesser-known Bloomberg subsidiaries. While the desire to take ownership of a campaign’s success can be a challenge, it is ultimately understood that overlapping expertise between units is the committee’s greatest strength.

View content from a journalist’s perspective

The Bloomberg communications committee has taken a unique approach to content by viewing themselves as publishers instead of marketers. To enhance this method, the committee enlists the expertise of freelance reporters to help create focused content. “You’re not producing content for all the same audience,” says Ms. Bigley, “it’s important to understand your segment and who wants to follow you on this topic.” Journalists can apply their deep understanding of industry topics to find storytelling opportunities for the brand.

Use analytics to support a content strategy

Ms. Bigley acknowledges that analytics is a coveted skillset at Bloomberg because it plays a key role in helping content stand out amongst the crowd. Monitoring the type of media coverage a major story has earned as well as the influencers sharing it on social channels are some of the metrics used to develop their communications strategy.  The goal of using analytics is to identify patterns among segmented groups and discover niche markets to inspire new and relevant content.

Engage with social audiences

When social networking emerged there was an initial resistance at Bloomberg to actively engage.  It wasn’t until popular demand urged Bloomberg to combine their Twitter feed with their traditional news feed that the company realized the potential of social media.  According to Ms. Bigley, Bloomberg’s social audience viewing videos online is three times larger than its television audience. This astonishing figure is influencing the company’s future communications plans, with Ms. Bigley declaring that “The future of Bloomberg is video.”

The convergence of PR and marketing has shifted the traditional talent structure of organizations from one that differentiates skill sets, to another that unifies them. The new wave of collaborative communications leverages the strengths of both PR and marketing to develop inventive strategies for reaching target audiences. Future communicators should focus on building skills such as analytics, marketing automation, and producing multimedia to further develop the PR and marketing relationship.

To learn more about the convergence of marketing and communications, you can access our free, on-demand webinar “Alignment for Engagement: Unifying Marketing and PR Departments for Content Marketing Success.”

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

Drop the Mic: Even Beyoncé Uses Press Releases

beyonce PR

The tactics used to launch Beyonce’s new album: the element of surprise, hip Instagram video —  and a press release.

Mega-superstar Beyoncé  shocked millions of fans when she simultaneously announced and released her fifth studio album on iTunes over the weekend, just before midnight on December 12th. In a more surprising twist, each song on the self-titled record is accompanied by its own music video. With the help of an Instagram video and an official press release, the stunning announcement put an end to swirling rumors over when Beyoncé’s next album would be released. The risky yet successful publicity stunt posed an interesting question: why does someone as powerful as Beyoncé still need a press release to announce her new album?

It’s no secret that the press release has seen its fair share of criticism due to the rise of digital communications.  So why did Beyoncé, one of the most beloved and acclaimed artists in the world, still need a press release to announce her new album? Here’s why:

Elle Magazine Quote

According to Fuse TV, “As photos of some of these video shoots had hit the internet over the past two months, fans had waited for any announcement of where they might officially purchase any of the songs.  But Bey didn’t release any comment until now.”

Journalists and fans alike could not rely on speculation from the internet as a credible source. However, the press release was able to definitively answer burning questions such as why Beyoncé chose a groundbreaking visual approach to her album and explains how her team was able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat in the public eye.

Some may argue that these statements were also accessible on her website and social media pages, but why send journalists on an information scavenger hunt? Press releases highlight the most important information in a concise format, perfect for republishing and retweeting, and provide links to relevant pages. Additionally, wire distribution services are more protected against hacking; it’s not as simple as obtaining the right password.  The album announcement dominated the social media realm, generating over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours and amassing extraordinary media attention.

While there’s no disputing that digital communications has created a surplus of new channels for distributing information, there is no guarantee that this information is reliable. Press releases come straight from the source and strip away any uncertainties over whether the information is factual. So until there is no longer a demand for highly credible information, press releases will remain as a vital resource for businesses, media, and the public.

Read the weekend’s most talked about release right here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/beyonce-available-worldwide-now-235687181.html

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team. 

3 Ways Digital Communications Can Build Trust in Financial Services

Greg Matusky discusses the "5 C's of Trusted Content" at BDI's Future of Financial Services Communications event

Greg Matusky discusses the “5 C’s of Trusted Content”

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that financial service is globally considered the least trustworthy industry. While the industry’s reputation is still in recovery from the 2008 economic crisis, digital communication is creating new opportunities for building credibility and authenticity. Business Development Institute’s recent event “The Future of Financial Services Communications” presented case studies from emerging financial leaders that prove the effectiveness of using technology to strengthen customer relationships. The discussions offered several communications tactics that financial institutions can incorporate to build trust and loyalty among existing and potential clients.

Employ social media as a targeting tool

A case study by Actiance Inc. found that LinkedIn is now the #1 sales pitching tool among top sales reps. Actively participating in social media gives sales reps a higher competitive advantage than those who don’t due to the high engagement levels and greater reach on these channels. The ability to leverage connections, research prospects, and participate in relevant group discussions has evolved the traditional “cold call” pitch and enforces customer loyalty. Social media engagement also humanizes the brand in a genuine way.

Build a sense of community between the business and clients

“Finance should be viewed more as a community than a commodity” says CommonBond Co-Founder David Klein, “what will distinguish the winners from the losers is not necessarily building a community, but a community people want to belong to.” Commonbond’s unique approach to student lending has made education more accessible to those who wish to pursue an MBA degree without the fear of loans with high interest rates. During a time when students are facing enormous debt, the company has established trust with their clients by providing attentive customer service and hosting professional networking events.

Noah Breslow, CEO at OnDeck, explains how embracing cutting edge technology helped OnDeck improve the relationship small business owners have with their lenders.  Traditional lending models that require customers to acquire a loan in person do not cater to business owners in remote geographic locations. OnDeck’s mobile and electronic payment system is revolutionizing the industry by providing access, convenience, speed and service to clients in all locations. While some customers still feel skeptical about electronic transactions, the company has built trust by creating an open dialogue with their audience’s preferred social networks, such as Yelp. Customer testimonials on these channels resonate more effectively than typical marketing tactics because as Breslow says, “Small business owners trust other small business owners more than you.”

Share consistent and relevant content

“Content bridges the digital divide between businesses and consumers” says Greg Matusky, President and Founder of Gregory FCA. Establishing the brand as a thought leader in financial services will build credibility among customers. In addition to credibility, Matusky’s “5 C’s of Trusted Content” also include compassion, creativity, contemporary, and compliance.

When it comes to digital communications, financial service providers face the unique struggle of maintaining relevant conversations while abiding by compliance laws. The lengthy approval process required for every tweet is incompatible with today’s demand for instant news. While it will take some time for financial services to adjust their approach to compliance, a more viable solution is to generate earned media as a method for creating trust with stakeholders. Developing high-quality resources that are shareable will accumulate audience attention over time and continuously spark conversation, thus building a community around your content and earning further credibility for your brand.

To learn more about developing content to build credibility among target audiences, check out the blog post “Creating an Effective Brand Experience on Social Networks.”

Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.