Category Archives: Agile Engagement

Earned Media Expertise: Meet the Earnies Judges!

For the 2012 edition of the Earnies,  we have put together a stellar panel of judges, drawing from social media, content marketing and public relations.   The judges hail from equally varied posts – practitioners, agencies and media are all represented.

The Earnies awards recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding efforts in the area of earned media executed across social media. For our second year of the Earnies, we’ve added more categories to give you even more opportunities to show off your successful campaigns.

Without further ado, because this group really doesn’t need embellishment, meet the 2012 Earnies judges!

Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge)

Deirdre K. Breakenridge is Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications. A veteran in PR and marketing, Breakenridge has counseled senior level executives at companies including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Empire Today, Hershey’s, JVC, Kraft and the World Bank.

Breakenridge is the author of five Financial Times books. Her most recent book, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” was published in May 2012 and is available in print and all digital formats. Her other books include, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,”  “PR 2.0, New Media, New Tools, New Audiences,” “The New PR Toolkit” and “Cyberbranding: Brand Building in the Digital Economy.”

Breakenridge is an adjunct professor at NYU, and she speaks nationally and internationally on the topics of PR, marketing and social media communications. She was the keynote speaker at The Social Conference 2012 in Amsterdam, the PRSA Southwest District Conference in Tulsa Oklahoma, and the Canadian Public Relations Society Annual Conference in Victoria, BC.  In 2011, she delivered the keynote address for the Maine Public Relations Counsel (MPRC), and presented the keynote at Visa Championships / USA Gymnastics Conference.  Breakenridge has also presented at BlogWorld, Social Media Congress, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), and the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG).

Breakenridge is a member of PRSA and has served on the Board of NJ/PRSA and the New Jersey Advertising Club. Top Rank named Breakenridge among the 25 Women that Rock Social Media and Traackr recognized Breakenridge among the top 10 PR 2.0 Influencer in 2012.

Breakenridge blogs about PR 2.0 strategies and is the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a dynamic Twitter discussion scheduled monthly for PR students, educators and PR pros.

Tim Moore (@TimMoore)

Tim has spoken to thousands of people internationally about using social media in their work, in all sorts and sizes of businesses. As an analyst, his online influence assessments, strategy maps and implementation of best practices have helped numerous companies drastically improve their monetary conversions.

Tim is author of the forthcoming book “Hype Is Dead,” currently serves as SVP/Social Business Architect at Maximum, and is the CEO and lead singer of CrushIQ. He has been engaged in technology consulting for nearly 20 years and is frequently requested to share his honest assessments and digital evaluations, via his addictive delivery style, with companies at events internationally. He is also called upon regularly as a social media reference by the likes of ABC News, AT&T, CNN, The New York Times Company and many others. He is certified by the Social Media Academy and is addicted to Karaoke.

Tim’s comedy writing/actor credits include The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with ConanO’Brien, SNL and The Onion SportsDome.

Joe Pulizzi (@JuntaJoe)

Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute (a division of Z Squared Media, a 2012 Inc 500 Company), which includes the largest in-person content marketing event, Content Marketing World as well as Chief Content Officer magazine, the leading magazine for content marketers. Joe is also co-author of  Get Content Get Customers (McGraw-Hill), recognized as THE handbook for content marketing, as well as Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand.

Awarded “Custom Media Innovator of the Year” by American Business Media, Voted Who’s Who in Media Business by BtoB MagazineFolio: 40, and recognized as the Most Influential Content Strategist via Lavacon,  Joe travels around North America and Europe  talking to marketers and business owners about how they are indeed publishers, and what they need to do about it.

Joe writes one of the most popular content marketing blogs in the world and is overly passionate about the color orange.

Michael Sebastian (@MSebastian)

Michael Sebastian is the founding editor of PR Daily.

He has also held a variety of editorial roles at Ragan Communications, including staff writer and online community manager.  Prior to joining Ragan Communications, Michael was a newspaper reporter, freelance music writer, and editorial assistant.

Michael lives in Chicago with his wife. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and eating pie. He’s also afraid of bears and lightning.

Want to know more about Michael? Send him an email:

Tim Washer (@TimWasher)

Tim Washer is Senior Manager of Social Media at Cisco. His social media work has been covered by Advertising Age, ADWEEK, NPR and The New York Times. He’s presented at SXSWi, The Wall Street Journal Digital Download and Harvard Business School. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas.

Tim’s comedy writing/actor credits include The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with ConanO’Brien, SNL and The Onion SportsDome.

YOU.  (Yes.  You.  Reading this.  Right now.)

Guess what! You’re an Earnies judge, too!  After our panel of experts picks the finalists from the entries,  the final decision on the winner will be made by YOU.  And a few thousand of your peers.  Because the final round of judging is crowdsourced!  Thanks in advance for voting!

The entry deadline for the Earnies is November 16th 2012.   To enter, review the categories and then submit your entries from our site.  Here’s the link:  Earnies Categories & Entries!

Call For EARNIES 2012 Entries: Celebrating Earned Media

The Earnies awards recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding efforts in the area of earned media executed across social media. For our second year of the Earnies, we’ve added more categories to give you even more opportunities to show off your successful campaigns, including awards for best visual campaigns using Pinterest or Instagram,  best global communications campaign and best infographic.    Here’s a full list of the Earnies award categories.

To enter the Earnies, simply review the categories, and then click the pink “Submit an Entry Now” button under the category that best fits your campaign.

The deadline is November 30, 2012, so pick your favorite campaign and enter today!

Evolving Media … And Evolving PR

When PR Newswire was founded almost 60 years ago, television was in its infancy.   Throughout the course of our company’s history, we’ve been ringside as media markets have transformed in response to new communications technologies, from television to the fax machine, from the internet to today’s social web.   The transformation of the market – and PR Newswire’s ensuing evolution – is the subject of an article in today’s Financial Times titled, “PR and News Boundaries Are Being Redrawn.”

“Today, it’s in your organization’s interest to make your products available wherever your audience resides,” notes PR Newswire CEO Ninan Chacko. “Every product is digitized, and the context for consumption is created by content marketing.  If the product has to be available everywhere, so does that context.”

This means pushing the boundaries for content beyond the organization’s web site and its Facebook page.  So where else does it need to be? Simply put, in channels you don’t necessarily control, and where your audience lives, such as third party web sites, search engines, and across the broader social sphere.

“Find the nodes that amplify your context,” notes Ninan.  “Those nodes exist – all over the web, on blogs, within communities of interest, across social and in search. These are the primary means of discovery today.  Communicators need to expand the context of what they’re promoting, and that context needs to be available across this entire universe.”

As the information and attention marketplaces evolve, so has PR Newswire.   Our customers expect us to deliver their press releases and other content to the target audiences they’ve identified.  Today, that means a few things:

  • Being a credible new source for journalists and bloggers, and cultivating relationships with that influential audience
  • Making content compelling and easy to find – in search engines and on web sites – for other constituents our customers need to reach
  • Enabling (and encouraging) social conversations around and sharing of the content we publish
  •  Developing content audiences want to read in the formats they find most attractive and compelling, ranging from pithy tweets to fully-loaded multimedia experiences that render beautifully on tablets and mobile devices.

“Bringing the brand to the audience is the essence of what we do,” says Ninan. “We’re not competing with agencies and the brand in content creation.  We amplify the efforts and the capabilities of the agency.  The heavy lifting is done by the agency and the brand to create the content and the strategy. That’s the hard part.”

The core driver for PR Newswire is the incredible opportunity to develop earned media that exists today for PR pros and marketers, thanks to the engaged audiences populating the social web.   We understand that every piece of content an organization publishes today carries the potential to capture the significant credibility (and visibility) that’s generated when readers like, share, link to and comment on owned media assets.  We’re calling that “evolved media” and it’s central to the agile engagement construct PR Newswire has developed, because it’s up to us to ensure our customers are capitalizing on these opportunities.

So we’re arming our customers with new communications capabilities, designed to deftly target influencers, deliver actionable intelligence, identify real-time trends and opportunities and to drive messages into relevant niches previously unknown to the brands and organizations that work with us.  The media marketplace is in the midst of a sea-change, and the way people make buying decisions has morphed.  The agile engagement framework is the map we offer our clients to help them navigate their course in this new environment.

In addition to the industry’s largest and most comprehensive syndication network, PR Newswire has developed a number of solutions offering reach and functionality not available elsewhere, including the ARC Engagement Platform and Agility, a platform marrying influencer targeting and engagement, media monitoring and digital syndication.

“We’re really creating a platform that ultimately brings you – your brand, your organization – to your audience,” said Ninan. “We have different ways to get you to the audience.  Relying solely on the notion that the audience will come to you overlooks the incremental gains afforded by seeking out your audience.  Our platform enables our customers to capitalize on the evolved earned media landscape by combining content syndication with search optimization and social media engagement, providing comprehensive visibility for your brand across all the channels your audience relies upon.”

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Related reading:  Powering Agile Engagement & PR Results Through Proactive Listening

The Key to Relevance: Listening

It should be no surprise that listening is the logical first step in a truly agile communications strategy. Social media provides the ultimate feedback loop, and actively listening to your brand’s Social Echo delivers insight that can enhance just about any public relations and marketing initiative.

Your Social Echo – that powerful reverberation of conversations around your brand in the social sphere – provides proof of concept for good PR strategies and tactics, warning signals about potential crises and always-on inspiration for improving and evolving communications.

At a tactical level, establishing a brand’s thought leadership and optimizing brand messaging were cited as the top two reasons for monitoring social media, according to our survey of PR professionals. To take a closer look at each of these concepts, we’ve asked social media professionals to share their best practices for analyzing social media to build and amplify one’s thought leadership presence, as well as using social feedback to inform messaging in the new white paper (available for free download) titled “Active Listening: The Key To Relevance & PR Results.”

How to Amplify Messages by Cultivating Audiences & Influencer Relationships

It’s not a comfortable question, but in today’s connected world, it’s one we communicators have to ask ourselves.  And here it is:

How many of the media and influencers in our  media databases hear regularly from us (or our brands) other than when we have a press release in hand or a story idea to pitch? 

In many cases, the answer is “Rarely.”  However, social media offers us the ability to develop relationships at our fingertips, as well as some opportunities to significantly improve our personal effectiveness, and the resonance of the messages we publish, specifically:

  1.  The ability to create a landing pad for messaging, by cultivating an interested audience; and
  2. A way to develop personal relationships with key influencers that will keep you “present” and top of mind.

Creating a bouncy landing pad for messages by cultivating your audience before you communicate:

It’s not unusual for a PR campaign to still operate on the “Ready, aim, fire” principle.  The audience is targeted and the message is subsequently distributed.  Follow up calls are made.   This approach misses one of the greatest gifts to PR from the inventors of networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest – the gift of ongoing audience attention.  Any content marketing strategy worth its salt makes social channels a key distribution network for messages.  PR pros need to embrace this strategy, too.  Why?

Every day, on social networks all over the world, with absolutely no regard at all or whatsoever for our various and sundry communications plans and corporate schedules, conversations are happening relating to the products, services, ideas and causes we spend our days promoting. People are looking for information.  Bloggers are blogging. Consumers are considering what to consume next.  If we’re lucky, several of these actors might alight upon a message we published.  If we’re unlucky, however, they may overlook our brands completely.

Now, some folks aren’t considering capturing these spur of the moment opportunities.  However, those communicators who are more dialed in to their marketplaces – and, arguably, their company KPIs (key performance indicators) – do care deeply about these opportunities – and they’re wise to do so.   The ability to capture the ongoing attention of your audience can result in extremely measurable outcomes, and create a soft, springy and receptive landing pad that can bounce your messages around to different people who will amplify it for you.

Modernizing media relations with meaningful digital connections

The second opportunity social media offers public relations practitioners is a more modern approach to media relations.  And no, I’m not talking about simply sending out pitches on Twitter.   By paying attention to what journalists are doing on social media, you can:

  • Develop a good idea of what sort of stories interest them. (What do they tweet, bookmark or read via social reader?),
  • Identify other opportunities for coverage or exposure beyond their primary beat (Do they pin images on Pinterest? Contribute to a blog in addition to their beat?  Create vlogs or podcasts? These are all parts of the news hole.)
  • Learn what sort of content is popular with the larger audience.  (Which stories trigger enthusiastic sharing?)
  • Find non-traditional influencers who weren’t on your radar screen but are nonetheless influential, especially in niche areas of interest.
  • Understand what topics are near and dear to the hearts of the audience.

The act of simply paying attention to the conversation around topics central to your organization is always informative.   An added bonus is that you’ll be able to subtly introduce yourself into the conversation (and to the key players) by adding value when you start sharing useful information, and sharing content posted by others among your own social network.   Tweeting a journalist’s story is a positive way to get on his or her radar screen, especially if you have cultivated a solid and relevant following yourself.

Developing digital relationships

The good news is that cultivating audiences and developing good digital relationships with media and influencers on social networks are achieved through similar means.    Here’s how you do it.

  1. Develop a focused presence on the social networks germane to the topic you’re promoting.   This presence is ideally branded, but it can be a personal presence bearing your name, as well.  If you’re ambitious, you can do both.  Either way, be transparent about who you are, and where you work.
  2. Delve into the topics at hand. Become an expert, share your expertise, and share good content.  Engage in conversation.  Focus on being helpful, interesting and authentic.
  3. Research hashtags, follow lists and read what others tweet.  Get a handle on the nature of the conversation in your space.  Learn what sort of content resonates with the influencers who have gained your interest.
  4. Look at your media list and connect with key media who have also developed professional presences on social networks.  Important: pay attention to how these folks use social media.  If they don’t talk shop on their Facebook wall, you should avoid doing so too.
  5. Commit to building these presences over time.  It takes time to gain traction with an audience.  Along the way, you have to care for and feed your social presences.
  6. Practice the 90:10 rule.  Fully 90% of what you share shouldn’t be brand-focused.   Act as an editor at large, finding and sharing lots of interesting stuff.   Yes, you can drop one of your messages into the stream every now and then.  But if you want to create and maintain interest, you’ll need to be selfless with the content you curate and the presence you construct.

As you proceed, you’ll pick up more followers, and find interesting people to follow. You’ll identify influencers.  And if you do it right, you’ll become a valued member of the community, one who others rely upon for great information.   You’ll be creating a receptive audience for key messages, and positive relationships with influencers who matter, and triggering a loop of incredibly valuable attention, interaction and opportunity.  We call this new approach to PR and content marketing Agile Engagement.

Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik) is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Image courtesy of Flickr user  stevendepolo.

Distilling the Magic of Content Marketing #cmworld

Marcus Sheridan, aka @TheSalesLion, sells in-ground fiberglass pools.  He also happens to be an instinctive content marketer who dispenses with theory and goes straight to tactics that work.   His presentation kicked off the second day of Content Marketing World 2012 with raw truth and unbridled energy.

Marcus started out emphasizing the absolute requirement that we think about how our customers behave.  Where do they turn when they’re looking for information?  Google.  And what  questions do they Google?  A prospect’s questions usually follow a pattern:

  • Price – They want to know how much it costs
  • Problems – Consumers want to know if it solves a problem.
  • Comparisons – They want to compare you to your competitors
  • The Best – They want to know what product/solution in the space is considered “the best”
  • Reviews – They want credible reviews.

In sales, Marcus noted, we don’t hear questions, we hear our answers.  As marketers, this translates into publishing what we want our market to hear.

The questions customers ask should be at the center of your approach to content creation. As  your teams to tell you what the questions they hear every day from customers?  Turn those questions into titles of blog posts and get going, says Marcus.  Within 30 minutes of mining your organization for questions, you’ll come up with dozens and dozens of ideas for blog posts and other content.

The golden rule of content marketing, according to Marcus, is “They ask, you answer.”  People who are good listeners never run out of content. There’s a dearth of content that actually answers consumers’ questions.

Author Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik)  is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

At PR Newswire, content marketing is powered by an agile communications approach – built on effectively listening to online conversations, targeting of active influencers, creating content based on the insights gleaned and syndicating content that is relevant, compelling and trustworthy on an ongoing basis to drive visibility and deliver results.

3 Tactics For Integrating Online & Offline Content to Own the ZMOT #cmworld

The Zero Moment of Truth is that moment in time between a customer’s first exposure to your brand (e.g. an ad, a piece of content) and the moment in which they make the decision to buy.   Being present in that moment enables brands to capture this potent opportunity to influence the looming outcome.  Being absent from this moment all but ensures a brand is overlooked.

The pervasiveness of mobile devices has changed how people consume content and make purchasing decisions, giving rise to the “cross-platform consumer”  — and the ZMOT. This fragmentation of our audiences’ attention between devices — and the simple fact that people can pull the information they want whenever they need it via the phone in their pocket – requires communicators to think differently about the content they produce, with respect to the role of content in the marketing approach.

Bridging digital & analog – anticipating online behavior 

Despite the fact that we often create distinct campaigns and content for print and digital, it’s important to remember that our audiences don’t fall into one category or the other. In most cases, they readily consume analog and digital media, and bounce freely Back and forth between different types and formats of media.

So rather than using an “either or” mindset when planning content, a more anticipatory approach is useful.  Anticipating what behavior content will inspire and planning accordingly is an effective means of bridging online and off-line media.

A simple way to begin this approach is to think about three things:

  1. What actions will the content drive?
  2. What opportunities will these actions create for the organization?
  3. What tactics need to be in place to convert actions to opportunities?

Here are some examples of different actions content can produce, and the requisite opportunities and tactics for each.

Potential action #1 — social discussion:

Action: Content creates social discussion. People on social networks are talking about the content you published.

Opportunity: Social discussion affords the brand a number of opportunities, including:

  • Building awareness & word of mouth volume
  • Generating leads
  • Solidifying a relationship with some readers

Tactics: To capture these opportunities, the content creator needs to employ a variety of tactics, including:

  • Defining and publicizing a hashtag for the subject (or using one that’s already established) will help people find the content on Twitter.
  • Creating smart, relevant presences in other social networks where you know key audiences are present (e.g. Facebook, SlideShare, Pinterest) will cultivate an audience likely to amplify your messages.  Be sure the teams administering those presences are informed of key messaging well in advance of deployment, and that related content and images have been shared with them.  The best way to annoy your social teams – and to reduce the impact of key messages – is to loop them in after the message is deployed and put them in the position of playing catch-up.
  • Researching related search terms, buying them as part of an SEM strategy and incorporating them into messaging will have an important dual effect – audiences will be able to more readily find your content, and the search engine rankings for related web sites may improve.

Potential action #2 — cultivating (& converting) consideration

Action: Consideration. The content you publish triggers purchases, or (at least) strong consideration of a purchase of the product, event or service you’re promoting.

Opportunity:  Active consideration triggers a variety of new behaviors, many of which start with a search of some type, including:

  • Sequential search – An interested audience member conducts a search after coming into contact with the content.   They may use their PC for the search, or they may use a mobile device.
  • Spur of the moment search – An interested member of your audience whips out their mobile device to kill time, and starts looking for information related to what you’re promoting.
  • Calls to action: Your reader is eager to learn more, and is seeking a path to follow to access additional information.

Tactics: Capturing people in the consideration phase requires the company to deliver information crucial to supporting the decision process – where and when the prospect is seeking it.

  • Decision affirmation:  Related content, such as testimonials and case studies, provide decision support and inspire confidence.
  • Decision affirmation from the crowd: It’s not at all uncommon to see people querying others on Facebook, Twitter and other networks about a potential purchase.  Providing content that is readily shared will help spread your message among other potential prospects, even as the original prospect continues gathering feedback.
  • Especially if the product or service is purchased through a retail location, providing hours of operation, location details and a phone number are key.  Search your business from a mobile phone. If a map to your location with other key details doesn’t show up at the top of the screen, it’s time to improve the mobile version of your web site.
  • And even if your product or service isn’t sold in retail establishments, your customers are using mobile devices.  Ensure you have excellent mobile content that works across all platforms.

Generating social discussion and triggering consideration are just two of the actions the content you publish can inspire. Audience behavior and preferences, desired outcomes and other actions sparked by your content marketing programs will vary by organization and industry.  However, the cross-platform information consumer is a reality for all communicators, and integrating our online and off-line communications to capture opportunity and maximize results is an important aspect of any communications strategy.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.