Category Archives: Content PR & Marketing

Content PR and content marketing are redefining how brands communicate with audiences. Inbound tactics featuring content that answers audience needs attract attention and create gravitational pull for a brand.

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 upcoming free webinar Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer on Thursday, August 28 at 1PM EST at will delve 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, will 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 register now:  http://prn.to/1q2cWTZ

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

10 Tips for Creating Wildly Successful Infographics

PRN_Infographic_Tips

Infographics are playing a larger role in visual storytelling efforts. When they are thoughtfully designed, they provide attention-grabbing visuals that also help the reader better comprehend and remember the message. This added value to the reader often encourages further engagement and sharing.

Based on my experience creating infographics that are used in PR Newswire’s press releases, blog posts and presentations, here are some best practices for designing infographics that drive results:

Design Basics
These tips can be applied to any design process to get the best end result.

  1. Sketch first, polish later.Before you hop into Photoshop, Illustrator, etc., sketch out your ideas on some old-fashioned paper. My process often starts with a roughly drawn outline of grouped ideas. Once I get that initial visualization of my own thoughts, I can make quick adjustments in another layout sketch before I start work in Adobe’s finest.
  2. Solicit feedbackAs with most creative endeavors, having your work colleagues review your design can help you make the piece even stronger. I will often ask my non-designer teammates for their opinions early on in the process to make sure the concept is being clearly conveyed. I circle back to them again at the end on for fine tuning.
  1. Start in high resolution.
    You can always scale down the image, but scaling up takes additional time and resources.

Multi-Use Flexibility
Infographics can take on many forms and be used in multiple channels. Accounting for this early in your design process will save you some time and money.

  1. Align to your story.
    The first thing to consider is your reason for creating this image – to support the story in an email campaign, blog post, press release, etc.  The information you share in your visual should closely align with the accompanying text of this primary placement. Be sure the terms, structure and tone are consistent to provide cohesive support to your written story.
  1. Strengthen it to stand alone.
    You probably want your users to share your image on social media, so it needs to make sense without the accompanying text of your written story. Be sure to include a clear title of what a reader should expect from the graphic. If you’re targeting a niche audience, make sure you clarify this context in the title and/or subtitle.
  1. Plan for alternate uses.
    We all have limited resources, so you won’t want to spend extra time reformatting your amazing design after the fact. Be aware of common re-purposing and plan accordingly.Generally, I’d say you should always be prepared for these two scenarios:

    1. Presentations: Someone in your organization will want to include it in a PowerPoint deck at some point. I always make sure that the featured data of my infographic is in a landscape layout, which can be easily cropped and dropped onto a slide.
    2. Print-friendly PDFs: Whether for use as sales collateral or an event handout, it’s likely that someone will want to print out your rockstar infographic somewhere down the line. Bearing this in mind, I begin all my layouts in standard paper size (8.5 in x 11 in) in high resolution, allowing for a minimum 0.25” margin of white space.

Viewer Friendly
The trend of long-scrolling, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink data visualization has come and gone. Readers are looking for shorter bursts of visual content .

  1. Narrow your focus.
    Keep your audience’s limited attention span focused by narrowing your visual scope to the core of your message. Your ultimate goal should be to clearly convey one idea.If there are additional thoughts and ideas that you want to include, consider the following options:
  • Supporting items should take a visual backseat to your key point. The reader’s eye should clearly flow from the title to the key idea first.
  • Similar but equally strong ideas might benefit from their own separate graphics. Why squish everything into one, when you can create a short series.
  • Perhaps a single infographic is not the best visual solution for your message. For compound, complex ideas, a video might be a better fit to clarify your message. Or, to unify a series of infographics, consider creating a Slideshare presentation and/or a PDF.
  1. Cut excess words.
    Infographics should always be easy to scan—and understand—quickly. Limit supporting text to a single sentence whenever possible. If it takes a paragraph to explain a visual, it probably isn’t the right visual to use. Even if you’re creating a visual list, brevity should still be top priority.

Mobile-Minded
Audiences are spending more and more time on their smartphones and tablets, and that includes viewing your infographics. Make sure it’s just as easy for them to view on smaller devices.

  1. Avoid tiny text.
    Don’t make your mobile audiences squint. As a rule of thumb, I try to keep my detail text at or above 12pt (in the original 300 dpi source file).
  2. Account for retina displays.
    Even though screens have gotten smaller, the resolution has doubled. Ensure your work doesn’t look blurry or pixelated on high definition tablets by doubling the standard length and width of the 72 dpi specs.For example, if you are posting a graphic to your blog where the standard image size is 500×250, you’ll want to save your image to 1000×500 with 72 dpi.

Now that you’ve created your wildly successful infographic, be sure it gets the attention it deserves by promoting it across all “PESO” channels – Paid, Earned, Social & Owned.

PR Newswire offers a benefit to members that allows them to easily store, organize, and incorporate visuals into campaigns using Media Studio in the Online Member Center. Click here to learn more.

jamie_400x400Author Jamie Heckler is the Senior Creative Manager at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @jamieheckle

The Evolution of Digital Communications

Communications  Roundtable Brian CohenAs content marketing blossoms into a multi-billion dollar industry, the competition for standing out becomes even more of a struggle. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and mobile connectivity have all contributed to our shortened attention spans and frustrations with filtering the noise to find the information that is most relevant to us. So how is digital communications evolving to help organizations get their messages effectively heard by the audiences who want to hear them? Brian Cohen, co-founder of Launch.it sat down with PR Newswire’s SVP of Marketing, Ken Wincko, to discuss opportunities for innovation in PR and marketing.

PR journalism and the evolution of press releases

A recent study sponsored by InPowered and conducted by Nielsen, found that earned media provides more benefit to brands than user generated or branded content. Given the shift towards third party content as more credible and trustworthy, Cohen believes that PR is entering a new era which he refers to as, “PR Journalism.”

According to Cohen, while the authenticity and opportunities related to earned media are clear, journalists are simply unable to cover all the news that is available to them.  Therefore, press releases are becoming the trusted third party stories that reach consumers directly.  “The stories that are being read through news releases are written by great writers who are now comprised of roughly 40 percent ex-journalists,” says Cohen, “now PR folks are talking directly to the same people they were talking to before, just through a more direct medium.”

Content creation and the rise of event marketing  

Cohen believes that the greatest opportunities ahead lie within the events industry, which has grown more innovative and tech-savvy thanks to the accessibility of content on mobile devices. Now, events themselves are only the pique of year-long content marketing campaigns. “Event marketers are taking advantage of the lack of publications in their trade markets that have disappeared,” explains Cohen, “now, we’re seeing the event industry say ‘you know what? We’re going to be the publication.We don’t want it just to be January 3 to January 5, we want the event to be about the concept.’” Mobile devices and the content created around the event act as a guide to lead conference attendees to the information that is the most important to them.

The art of discovery

“I can’t boil the ocean, but I can try to do the best that I can to make sure that content is discovered, found, and shared“ says Cohen, “Google search is one thing, but what we’re actually involved in, in our world where there is so much information, is finding things you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Herein lies the importance of distributing content across a variety of channels, as discoverability essentially lays the groundwork for building trust. Cohen predicts that aiding discoverability is one of the strongest opportunities for innovating new products for integrated communications.

PR pros and marketers are admittedly still adapting to changes in technology and public media consumption behaviors, but one thing is certain: communicators should make driving discovery of content by new audiences a priority in order to build relationships for the brands they represent. Simply put, relying on your own blog, web site or social channels to share your messages can limit the audience for your brand’s content. However, ensuring that your messages reach the audiences that they are intended for, and are found by new prospects, is what will lead to measureable outcomes for your business.

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

6 Tips for Transforming Your Boring PDF Files into Compelling Videos

Multimedia BudgetBusinesses that invest significant time and money to produce static content like PDFs, brochures, and product materials are often unable to measure the yield of their efforts because these formats fail to tell a complete story. On the other hand, multimedia such as videos are proven to significantly increase exposure and audience engagement with brand messages. Research by PR Newswire shows that companies who are incorporating multimedia into their communication strategies experience almost ten times more visibility than those who don’t. Despite the apparent benefits, an additional survey amongst PR and marketing professionals finds that a lack of resources is cited as the top reason that companies are not utilizing visual elements. Given today’s noisy digital media environment, attention spans are shrinking and the importance of utilizing video to tell a story can no longer be ignored. Therefore, if you are going to be successful in your communication efforts you MUST find the time, budget and experience to produce video in 2014. “If you’re sitting on some highly produced print communications and you’ve noticed that your investment isn’t being read by a large enough audience, then you need to think about converting your messaging into visuals,” says MultiVu’s Executive Producer, Larry Cardarelli, “It needs to be something that speaks to your audience and influencers in an engaging, and meaningful way.” Those lengthy PDFs and brochures can be reshaped into concise, attention-grabbing videos that simplify complex messages and attract prospective buyers.

Join us for our upcoming webinar to learn more about using multimedia content to engage leads and convert them into customers

Click the image to view our on-demand webinar on using multimedia content to engage leads and convert them into customers

Successful luxury real estate broker and reality TV star, Ryan Serhant, transformed his 36-page company brochure into a stunning short-form video with help from MultiVu’s team of experienced producers and editors. Take a look at the final result:

Even without a large budget, self-made videos can still be an effective way to tell your story. Major outlets like CNN and The Chicago Tribune regularly feature videos taken from ordinary devices such as cell phones and laptops in their news coverage. The MultiVu team suggests the following tips to help you turn your static content into creative and interactive videos:

Understand the audience. “Hold a creative session with your key people and ask something like, ‘What images come to mind when you think about our product or service?’” advises Cardarelli, “from there– the creative juices naturally begin to flow.” Decide who you want to reach and think about what is going to be the most interesting to them. What will make them “feel the most feelings?” The three E’s of a successful video are:

  • Entertain
  • Educate
  • Engage

Create sound bites and b-roll footage. Prepare interview questions and feature a variety of spokespeople who will appeal to different audiences. For the location of the interviews, think about where you will get the best lighting, the best sound, and avoid a background that might distract viewers from listening to your key messages. Additionally, decide what scenic shots will tell your story best. For instance, the example above features shots of the Serhant team at work in the office as well as stock footage of a bustling New York City where the company is headquartered.

Choose the sound bites that tell your story best without the corporate jargon. Remember, audiences don’t care what you do; they care why you do it. It only takes a few seconds for a viewer to decide if they will watch a video in its entirety or not, so make every second count. Be wary of speaking with too many filler words; sentences ridden with “uhs,” “ums,” and “likes” come across as nervous or obtuse and diminish the value of your message. Though you can refine a sound bite for clarity with skillful editing, it is not the best option if you are limited in time and resources.

Pair your sound bites with the best visuals to emphasize statistics or key selling points. The beauty of video content is having the ability to highlight spoken words with short written text or pictures simultaneously on-screen. For perspective, six pages of a booklet can be effectively compressed into one scene of a video. Keep in mind that the ideal video length is no longer than 90 seconds.

Challenge yourself throughout the editing process to ensure your video tells a cohesive story. Now that you’ve chosen the best components to tell your story, you want to make sure those pieces flow well together. Keep an eye out for details such as unnatural vocal inflections throughout a sound bite or unflattering camera angles. You might also want to include music that establishes a positive vibe and maintains upbeat energy; it affects the viewers’ mood.

Include a call to action at the end of the video. Do not waste a valuable opportunity to generate leads and ROI. Consider reallocating the resources you’d have spent on lengthy PDFs or glossy brochures into a more effective video format. Audiences will appreciate it, and your message will be amplified exponentially.

Click here to view our free on-demand webinar for more ideas on powering your content marketing campaigns with multimedia. 

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

The Media Evolution and Its Impact on PR

panelists

Media Evolution Panelists Ellyn Angelotti, Theodore Kim, and David Cohn

Newsrooms traditionally reached their audience through one channel and measured a story’s success by its impact on the local community.

However, that’s all changed, said Ellyn Angelotti, Director of Custom Programs at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Audiences now access a media outlet through multiple channels. In addition to traditional print and broadcasting, newsrooms maintain desktop and mobile sites, tablet apps, blogs, and social media.

Did you miss the webinar? Here’s the link to the on-demand version: The Media Evolution Webinar

The community has diversified and impact is measured on a greater scale.

Angelotti, who also teaches social media and law at Poynter, was joined by Circa News Director David Cohn, Washington Post Mobile/Tablet Editor Theodore Kim, and moderator Sarah Skerik for a discussion on how newsrooms are adapting to the ever-changing media environment.

At the Washington Post, Kim said, evaluating a story’s success depends on the individual piece. While the publication’s ultimate goal is to effect positive change in government and society, the Post offers news sections and 30+ blogs on a variety of topics. An entertainment or sports story may be guided by different metrics.

Each section looks beyond universal metrics to discover how specific engagement is influenced by human production.  The Post may examine a story’s clickthroughs to determine whether there is something in the user experience, headline, or story arc that worked well and can be replicated or improved upon.

Kim clarified, though, that it’s important to remember every newsroom – from the Huffington Post and New York Times to the Dallas Morning News – has different revenue strategies and ways it views its audience.

For instance, whereas news is commonly thought of as a one way stream, Cohn said Circa looks at it as a back-and-forth relationship between the outlet and audience.

The mobile news app measures success based on a unique metric. When a reader is on the app, they can “follow” a story that interests them. The next time someone visits the app, Cohn’s team delivers quick updates based on what’s changed since that individual’s last visit.

Keeping track of what readers consume allows the app to customize the best possible experience and build a relationship over time.

Metrics’ Impact on Journalists and Newsrooms

Although a journalist may be more focused on serving their audience than forecasting metrics, it’s clear that metrics have had an impact on storytelling and the role of journalists over time.

One of these changes is a breakdown in the inverted pyramid structure. Kim cited the popularity of the Post’s 9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask and how it bridged the gap between old and new storytelling.

On the one hand, the story fit the traditional role of the media by educating its audience on the intricacies of an important and complex topic. However, its execution took a new approach. The headline was written to be very shareable on social media and the story format broke the issue down into 9 bite-size items of substance.

Circa, similarly, has found success by organizing its stories into atomic units: facts, quotes, statistics, events, and images. These “snackable” formats are gaining popularity because audiences want to get to the point quickly.

Metrics also come into play when determining which stories are published.

Newsworthiness used to be decided by editors and publishers, said Angelotti. But more often, we’re seeing it defined by what a newsroom’s social networks and online audience are talking about.

Kim agreed, with a caveat. If everyone is talking about something on social media, a news organization should pay attention to it; however, it may not necessarily be newsworthy.

We have to keep in mind that the number of active social media users is a fraction of the world population, he said.  When something is being talked about on Twitter, the tendency is to think that everyone is talking about it. That’s not always the case.

Because of this, most journalists use every tool that’s out there: They’ll have multiple columns up in Tweetdeck while filtering through incoming email and keeping an eye on Google News alerts, saved searches, and the newsroom’s other notification systems.

As Angelotti succinctly put it: “Journalists have gone from just being storytellers to sensemakers.”

It’s a journalist’s responsibility to sort through the glut of information, verify it, add context, and give the audience the resources to think critically.

How can PR help, not hurt this newsgathering process?

Kim estimated that he receives 600-700 emails a day. Conservatively, 10 of those emails are relevant pitches for stories.

To improve your pitch’s chance of cutting through the other emails, it’s important to understand a journalist’s audience. Journalists develop a niche and expertise. They know and understand who their audience is and how to serve them. “If your pitch can sync to that, all the better,” said Cohn. “If it’s out of left field, it’s like finger nails on chalk board.”

Angelotti said that a pitch is more compelling if you go beyond the boilerplate information, and tell a story. A good journalist will take that as a first step and push it further. They may not use your version of the story, but the process you undergo to research and craft your brand’s narrative surfaces valuable insight.

The same goes for multimedia, said Kim. Although it’s helpful to have images and video available, many reporters will not use your video package in its entirety. It’s important to make your materials editable and easy to break apart.

The panelists agreed that the best way to get your story heard is by building a relationship with the journalist. “Ask yourself: How many times have you engaged with a reporter on Twitter? Have you retweeted and read their stuff?” suggested Kim.

One thing is clear: While journalism and public relations are constantly in flux, thorough and thoughtful relationship building isn’t going anywhere.

Want to learn more about the issues and trends affecting journalists and bloggers? Subscribe to PR Newswire’s new Beyond Bylines blog to stay up to date with the media industry.

As a media relations manager at PR Newswire, Amanda Hicken enjoys helping journalists and bloggers customize the news they receive on PR Newswire for Journalists. Follow her at @PRNewswire and @ADHicken.