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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

Video

The 3 Tactical Elements That Made the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a Viral Success

Unless you live under a rock that isn’t equipped with Wi-Fi, you’ve probably seen news about the viral success of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Our social streams are full of friends, family and celebs dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and challenging others to either donate to ALS or subject themselves to an icy shower.

The results are pretty amazing. The ALS Foundation reports that donations have increased nine fold during the challenge, and the organization is unquestionably garnering new donors and supporters for its mission.

There are lots of causes out there about which people are passionate, and many charities make deft use of the social web, which begs this question: Why is ALS research getting a disproportionate share of attention (and dollars) this summer? The answers are actually pretty simple.

  1. Video is at the heart of the viral spread. Participants post videos – some elaborately staged others spur-of-the-moment – of their dousing on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other channels. Video is the most arresting visual format, and communications featuring video elements have an advantage over other message types.
  2. Personal interaction, as well as a bit of peer pressure – are built into the challenge. Participants issue challenges to others they name, and those people then follow suit. Viral spread isn’t just assured; it’s built into the fabric of the campaign.
  3. Creative license, with a shot of competition. The audience generated element rewards creativity. Case in point – a colleague and I who received the Challenge from another coworker are orchestrating plans for our own video response. We’re determined to up the ante in our response, which will probably inspire the folks we nominate to do the same. The result? An organic mix of interesting and widely varied content.

For communicators planning campaigns on social channels or at live events, keeping these three keys in mind as you structure the program will help ensure success. A strong visual core will garner more attention than plain text, and building in the right sort of interactivity that encourages viral spread and rewards creativity will result in the development of higher-quality content that is more likely to spread.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

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

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the complete press release

Click here to view the complete press release

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

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

Content syndication as a discovery tool for journalists

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

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

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

Storytelling with an exceptional news hook 

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

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

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

Other qualities worth noting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEDIA News: Media Moves at: People, Quartz, The Washington Examiner and More…

http://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/agility-logo.png?w=127&h=125&h=125PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department makes thousands of updates to the  database of journalists and bloggers that underpins our Agility media targeting and distribution platform.  Below is a sampling of recent media moves and news from the research team.  Learn more about Agility media targeting here.

PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department provides daily updates on Twitter (twitter.com/PRNmedia).

The Washington Examiner (Washington, DC): The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Hugo Gurdon (@hgurdon) has left to join the Examiner as Editorial Director.

The Hill (Washington, DC): Managing Editor Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief @thehill. News Editor Ian Swanson (@iswanTheHill) is the new Managing Editor. And Dustin Weaver takes over the News Editor role.

People Magazine (New York, NY): Alexandra Brez begins at @Peoplemag as Director of Editorial Operations.

Hispanic Market Weekly (Coral Gables, FL): Diego Vasquez (@TheDiegoVasquez) is the new Editorial Director @HispanicMktWkly taking over for Cynthia Corzo, who will become a Contributing Editor.

Quartz (New York, NY): Indrani Sen (@IndraniNY) is the new Deputy News Editor @qz. And former American Banker Editor-in-Chief Heather Landy (@HeatherLandy) is the new Global News Editor.

The New York Times (New York, NY): Former Environment Reporter Kia Gregory (@kiagregory) has switched beats @nytimes to cover the new Manhattan beat. Sam Sifton (@SamSifton) has become Editor of the new Food section. Former Dining Editor Susan Edgerley (@nytedgerley) will be the Deputy Editor of this section.

Bloomberg Businessweek (New York, NY): Natalie Kitroeff (@nataliekitro) joins @BW as an Education Reporter. Also, joining the publication is Joshua Topolsky, who will serve as an Editor for a series of online projects.

The Washington Post (Washington, DC): Capital Business Reporter Sarah Halzack (@sarahhalzack) switches to the Post to be the National Retailing Reporter. And Jorge Castillo will be covering the Washington Wizards and NBA this Fall as a Sports Reporter @washingtonpost.

Runner’s World (Emmaus, PA): Paul Collins is now the Associate Publisher @runnersworld.

Advertising Age (New York, NY): Malika Touré (@MalikaZeinab) is a new Reporter @adage.

Good Housekeeping (New York, NY): Kristen Mascia (@kmascia) becomes Features Editor at @goodhousemag. Lori Bergamotto (@loribergamotto) is the new Style Director. And Kristen Saladino (@KristenSaladino) takes over the Fashion Director role.

Bon Appetit (New York, NY): Features Editor Carla Lalli Music (@lallimusic)  has switched gears and become the Food Editor @bonappetit.

The Atlantic (Washington, DC): CNN foreign affairs expert Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) is now a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. He will also continue his column for The Washington Post too.
Politico (Arlington, VA): Washington Post Editorial Writer Eva Rodriguez takes on the Senior Editor role of the magazine.

Florida Trend (Saint Petersburg, FL): Amy Martinez (@amyemartinez) joins @FloridaTrend as Associate Editor. Most recently she was a Business Reporter for the Seattle Times.

South Florida Business Journal (Fort Lauderdale, FT): Calia Ampel (@CeliaAmpel) joins the staff @SFlaBizJournal as a Reporter covering technology and venture capital.

Food Network Magazine (New York, NY): Yasmin Sabir (@AboutTheFood) is the new Senior Associate Editor @FoodNetwork.

NPR (Washington, DC): Veteran Journalist Margot Adler (@MargotAdler) passed away after losing her fight to cancer. Margot was with NPR for more than three decades.

TCTMD (New York, NY): Todd Neale (@ToddNeale) climbs aboard this cardiovascular site (http://www.tctmd.com) to be a Senior Associate Editor

Houston Business Journal (Houston, TX): Paul Takahashi (@HBJpaul) signs on as a Real Estate Reporter @HOUBizJournal.

Men’s Journal (New York, NY): Former Outside Magazine Research Editor Ryan Krogh (@RyanKrogh) is now a Senior Editor @MensJournal.

Climate Central (Princeton, NJ): John Upton (@johnupton) is joining the team @ClimateCentral in mid-August as a Reporter.

Macon Telegraph (Macon, GA): High School Sports Editor Jonathan Heeter (@heets_tweets) has switched positions at the paper and now works as a Digital Producer.

Detailed outlet and contact information is available at agility.prnewswire.com.

You can view the full version of MEDIAware here: http://www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/MEDIAwareAugust42014.html

Content We Love: A Dynamic Press Release with Global Appeal

ContentWeLove

Click to view the complete multimedia news release

Click to view the complete multimedia news release

Hot on the heels of the World Cup games, this announcement by Dynamic Architecture titled “The Dynamic Football Experience: World’s First Football Entertainment Centre to be Rotating Building” became the most viewed multimedia news release on PRNewswire.com. It’s no surprise that the news earned so much attention; a spinning, soccer-ball shaped building to be constructed in the middle of Rio de Janeiro sounds like a story beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. But this press release does a great job at anticipating the questions a journalist or potential visitor might ask and includes eye-catching visuals, an intriguing story angle, and fifteen translations of the text release to entice soccer enthusiasts around the globe.

Employing visual storytelling gives readers a look into the future of what this over-the-top structure might look like once fully executed. After viewing the videos, you’ll realize how impossible it would be to imagine such an extraordinary concept without accompanying visuals, which is proof of their value to readers and media covering the story.

A tweetable headline with a newsworthy hook immediately supplies journalists with an attention-grabbing story angle as well as a shareable one for readers engaging on social media.

An integrated language toggle converts the English-language text into Portuguese with just the click of a button and fourteen other translations of the text release are provided as PDF documents to tailor the news to interested readers around the world. This is a major advantage for earning worldwide media coverage, as journalists everywhere are strapped for time and will not bother to try to translate a story if they can’t understand it. It also makes this news more searchable for international readers who are looking for information in their native language.

Bold sub-heads highlight important information and break up the text into a more easily consumable format.

Leveraging a timely, highly-social event also helped earn additional visibility for this message by appealing to heightened emotional states of soccer fanatics everywhere.

This multimedia news release is an example of high-quality content that employs a number of press release tactics to attract the greatest amount of attention possible. Kudos to Dynamic Architecture on a stunning release!

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

Updated Tactics for Issuing Press Releases Across Multiple Markets

It’s not unusual for an organization to issue similar announcements across a variety of markets. Whether announcing award recipients, regional services or a multi-city tour, developing localized press releases with similar themes for multiple markets is a common and necessary PR tactic, and using a template for the messages has long been standard practice.

However, PR Newswire’s new copy quality guidelines caution against using templates, and for good reason.  Google’s recent Panda update targeted low quality content, and multiple redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations were specifically cited as indicators of low quality content.

So what’s a PR pro to do when faced with the task of creating similar announcements for multiple markets?  Here are some tips for developing messages that won’t be flagged as low quality content and (bonus!) are more likely to garner the attention of journalists, bloggers and local audiences:

  • Create unique messages.  Each headline, subhead and lead paragraph need to be significantly different – merely changing names of cities or people in each isn’t enough.
  • Emphasize different story angles.  For example, if you’re announcing special events at a variety of hotel locations across the nation, emphasize different aspects of each location – e.g. shopping on the Mag Mile in Chicago, touring historic neighborhoods in Boston, waterfront attractions in San Francisco, etc.
  • Localize and further differentiate content by including real quotes from people on the ground in each market.
  • Include market-specific visuals, such as pictures of a local storefronts, individual award recipients, etc.
  • As much as possible, encourage social sharing of the content by local contacts.
  • Stagger distribution.  Don’t unleash a spate of similar messages all at once.
  • Rethink your approach entirely. Instead distributing press releases over the newswire for each market, build more public awareness by creating a rich, compelling and highly visual multimedia press release that tells the whole story.  Then use your media database to identify relevant media and bloggers in the region, and send them market-specific details directly via email.  (Here’s a great example from Honda, announcing the Honda Stage Festival.)

There’s no doubt that creating unique, quality content is more time consuming that simply using a template to crank out messages, but audiences value rich content, causing Google (and PR Newswire) to raise the bar on content quality.  To deliver the best results for the organization, creating unique and useful content is imperative.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Safeguarding Brand Visibility on Social Networks

brand hub

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all public companies, and as such, their primary objectives are to return profits to their shareholders, not drive visibility for the brands that have developed presences on their platforms.  It’s no secret that social networks strive to make their sites useful and attractive to users, employing algorithms to serve up content that will engage their audiences and keep them on the site longer (thus exposing them to more advertising.)  The recent news of Facebook’s experiment in manipulating user emotions by managing what they see in their newsfeeds is surprising to some, but the reality is this:  the brands we represent are not in control of social presences, and while there’s no doubt social media is a powerful communications medium, communicators are at the mercy of the social network companies and their fiduciary duties to their respective shareholders.

Changes in organic reach of Facebook posts since September 2012. Via Moz.com

The social network companies can make (and have made) significant changes to their platforms, increasing and decreasing visibility for brands seemingly at the drop of a hat.   As a result, except for brands willing to spend heavily on advertising, visibility via social networks can be unpredictable.

Here are four ways brands can safeguard their online visibility and social network traction.

Make your web site or blog the center of your content universe. Instead of using social platforms as the primary repositories for the content your brand produces, concentrate key assets on channels the brand controls.

Use social channels to build awareness and engagement, but don’t invest in creating communities on sites you don’t own.  Social networks are great places to find and interact with like-minded people. However, building communities and groups on sites your brand doesn’t own, for example, creates an asset for the social networking company, not your own brand.   If you’re going to invest in building a community, do so using a channel the brand owns.

Build a multichannel strategy for distributing content and messaging.   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Building a multichannel approach to distributing content is crucial for building new audiences and maintaining engagement with people who are already connected with a brand.  Social media, commercial newswire services, online communities and a brand’s own digital channels reach different audiences.  Employ a mix, and fine tune messages to fit each, to maximize relevant exposure for your messages. You’ll also be creating a hedge against significant changes in the social media or search engine landscapes.

Let your audience do the talking.  Encourage social sharing (but point people back to your brand’s hub.)  As you develop content and plan strategies, make “social sharing” a goal.  Building content and crafting strategies with social sharing outcomes in mind will not only help amplify brand messages – you’ll build credibility through social proof, as well.   When possible, link shared elements back to your brand’s owned channels.

Using social channels to amplify brand messages while at the same time directing audiences towards digital assets the brand owns and controls enables organizations to capitalize upon the important benefits social media delivers, building visibility and interaction with key audiences  while protecting the brand’s investment in content development and outreach.  In addition to limiting downside risk to the organization in the face of changes in how social networks present brand content, smart communicators can develop traction with audiences on their brands’ own channels, developing increasing the return the organization realizes on the content it develops.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.