5 Best Practices for a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

visual content marketing summit

Today’s consumer is engaging with primarily visual content across a variety of devices and social channels on a daily basis. Due to this shift from text-based to image-based communications, it is proven that multimedia content experiences a greater amount of exposure and longer shelf-life among audiences, making visual storytelling more imperative for brands than ever before. Business Development Institute and PR Newswire recently co-hosted the “Visual Content Marketing and Communications Summit” which offered valuable best practices for how organizations can harness images, videos, and platforms to provide content that allows them to build, engage, and leverage their audiences.

Find the balance between content your audience is interested in while mapping to your business objectives.

“Your content must grab your audience’s attention and offer them a clear path to your brand,” says PR Newswire’s Chief Executive Officer, Ninan Chacko, “there is always an opportunity to link to more in-depth content, so don’t worry about getting the ‘war and peace’ version into the first teaser.” A coordinated approach such as an editorial calendar can ensure that your organization is sending out a steady stream of fresh content that does not overwhelm the audience with information. For example, a video can be curated into an infographic, which can be shared in a blog post, and distributed via press release and social media. Using a mix of content and distribution channels will ensure that your message reaches the greatest potential audience that returns the leads to help you meet your business goals.

Surprise and delight your audience with images that represent your brand

General Electric’s Global Manager of Digital Marketing, Katrina Craigwell, notes that driving interest among the next generation of shareholders is a top priority within her company’s content strategy.  As an innovator in science and technology, GE targeted enthusiasts with similar interests by sharing a video of a short science experiment on Twitter’s Vine app using the hashtag #6secondscience. The response around this post was so powerful that the company was able to launch a full blown #6secondscience social media campaign that creates and curates user-generated Vines capturing the miracles of science. Its element of surprise is what drove visibility and engagement for the GE brand.

Curalate’s SVP of Brand Strategy, Deb Berman, advises content creators that even if your business isn’t selling a tangible product or service, think about your business goals, who you’re trying to reach, and what they would care about. From there, push yourself to derive images, even if they are abstract, that speak to your brand voice and also surprise and delight audiences.

Capitalize on SEO and business intelligence opportunities by observing social media interactions

Over 1 billion images are shared across all social media channels daily, presenting a major opportunity for brands to learn what their fans are interested in. Trending hashtags and content tagging on image driven platforms like Pinterest and Instagram is an important indicator of how consumers are searching for and categorizing similar products, which you can use to your advantage in marketing campaigns that drive SEO. Compare the images that are most popular against the ones that are not and make note of the slight nuances that audiences seem to appreciate. “You don’t necessarily need to know why, you just need to know what is performing better and make sure it is shared,” Berman states frankly. Additionally, leveraging user generated content is a cost effective approach to marketing that directly engages your brand ambassadors.

curalate

via Deb Berman, SVP Brand Strategy, Curalate

Establish a brand experience that is identifiable without your logo

“A logo shows ownership – but everyone has a logo. What are you doing to differentiate yourself beyond the logo?” says Jessica Lauria, director of brand communications at Chobani. Content that is branding heavy overpowers your message and makes it less shareable to a wide audience. Also, if you’re sharing content on owned social channels, then people already know it’s coming from you. Use that opportunity to elevate the conversation and show people what they don’t know about your product or service without overt branding.

Build a narrative around your images that will be memorable to your audience  

According to Matt Peters, founder and creative director at Pandemic Labs, “Visuals make an impact. Visuals with stories make memories.” Therefore, if the story comes first, not all of the visual content you create has to be of the highest production value in order for it to resonate. For example, the Ritz Carlton used Instagram to tell the story of a stuffed giraffe that got lost on a family vacation, which strayed from the usual hi-res images of luxury getaways that audiences might normally associate with their brand, but told a memorable story that others would want to share.

“By using multimedia, you’re creating the best content in context experience” states Chacko, “think about how you want to visualize as you are creating your message.” Employing visuals in your content marketing strategy feeds your audience with the content that they crave on a daily basis and cements your brand’s longevity in an increasingly competitive market.

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

 

 

Grammar Hammer: Irregardless, I still wouldn’t use this word

the Grammar Hammer

nonstandard wordsIrrespective. Irrational. Irregular. Is irregardless a word?

Even though I, the Grammar Hammer, would never use the word “irregardless,” it is in fact listed in the dictionary and used over and over in conversations, on blogs, social networks, and other websites.

“Irregardless” is used when people are describing something “without regard” to something else.

For example: “Irregardless, I’m taking that trip to Vegas this weekend,” said Bob.

What that sentence is trying to communicate is that despite having neither time nor money, Bob is still going to Vegas.

Adding the prefix –ir to regardless creates a double negative (essentially saying something is without without regard).

So, why is this word in the dictionary? The American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, and Oxford English Dictionary all list irregardless as a word with the notation that it is considered a “non-standard” word.

Non-standard words include dialect, colloquialisms, and jargon. Yes, these are words too, but their usage is considered common language (examples – “gonna,” “ain’t,” etc.) compared to the “standard” words (those words defined as the language spoken by educated native speakers).

My advice is, as always, to consider your audience for whom you are writing or speaking. If I’m scheduled to give a presentation to my work colleagues I’m not going to say, “Irregardless, I ain’t gonna go into too much detail.” If I’m writing something more casual (it is, after all, National Poetry Month), I still wouldn’t use irregardless, but I might use “gonna.” (I like that one.)

What are your favorite non-standard words that are in the dictionary but not words you would actually speak or write?

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

MEDIA News: Media Moves at Wall Street Journal, Time, Weather Channel 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.

Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal (New York, NY): Alice Hagge (@alicehagge) (alice.hagge@wsj.com) moves from MarketWatch to work @WSJ Real Time Desk, where she is the U.S News Editor.

WSJ Washington Wire The Wall Street Journal – Washington Bureau (Washington, DC): Ex-Washington Post Op-Ed Editor Autumn Brewington (@Autumnsan1)(autumn.brewington@wsj.com) is a new Political Editor @WSJ. Former Politico Reporter Reid Epstein (@reidepstein) signs on @WSJwashington to be a Washington Wire Political Blogger. And KSL-TV’s Social Media Director Natalie Wardel (@nataliewardel)(natalie.wardel@wsj.com) is WSJ’s new Social Media Editor.

TIME.com Time Magazine (New York, NY): Time promotes Susanna Schrobsdorff (@SusannaSchrobs) to Assistant Managing Editor and Living Editor.

The Weather Channel The Weather Channel (Atlanta, GA): Meteorologist Dave Schwartz returns to @weatherchannel after six years away.

Entertainment Weekly Entertainment Weekly (New York, NY): Chris Rackliffe (@crackliffe) has been named Senior Social Media Editor @EW. Also, Neil Janowitz is set to become the new Assistant Managing Editor.

Letterman CBS (New York, NY): Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman when he retires in 2015. Letterman has hosted “The Late Show” (@Letterman) for 21 years.

Men's Journal Men’s Journal (New York, NY): Marissa Stephenson (@marissastphnsn) moves from Self Magazine to Men’s Journal (@mensjournal) where she is Senior Editor.

Wonkblog Wonkblog (Washington, DC): Quartz Reporter Roberto Ferdman (@robferdman) joins Washington Post’s blog (@Wonkblog) to cover consumer business, immigration and Latin American development.

Emily Miller WTTG-TV (Washington, DC): This Fox affiliate (@fox5newsdc) has added Emily Miller (@EmilyMiller) as their Chief Investigative Reporter. Emily previously worked at The Washington Times as a Senior Op-Ed Editor.

InformationWeek InformationWeek (Manhasset, NY): Alison Diana joins @InformationWeek as Senior Editor covering Healthcare Information Technology.

Marine Corps Times Marine Corps Times (Springfield, VA): Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) takes on the Managing Editor role @Marinetimes.

Business N.C. Business North Carolina (Charlotte, NC): David Mildenberg is the new Editor at @BusinessNC. He was previously with Bloomberg.

New Haven Register New Haven Register (New Haven, CT): Sean Carlin (SeanCarlin84) joins the newsroom at the @nhregister as a Local News Reporter.

Breitbart News Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews): Charlie Spiering (@CharlieSpiering) has been hired at as a Political Reporter. Breitbart California was recently launched by Breitbart News. Joel Pollak (jpollak@breitbart.com) (@joelpollak) is the Editor.

refinery29 Refinery29 (@Refinery29): The new Beauty Writer for Refinery29 is Maria Del Russo (@Maria_DelRusso).

The Cut The Cut (@TheCut): Veronique Hyland (@Veroniquean) is the new Fashion News Editor at this New York Magazine blog.

Yahoo Yahoo! (@Yahoo) (media@yahoo-inc.com): Sarah McColl (@SarahMccoll) has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo!’s food section (@YahooFood). Paula Froelich (@PFro) is the new Editor-in-Chief for their travel section (@YahooTravel).

Bleacher Report Bleacher Report (San Francisco, CA): Baseball scribe Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) signs on to cover America’s pastime @BleacherReport.

CBSSports.com CBSSports.com (Fort Lauderdale, FL): Former Birmingham News Sports Reporter Jon Solomon (@jonsol) tackles the College Football Reporter role @CBSSports.

New York Magazine New York Magazine (New York, NY): Tara Abell (@tara_abell) is now an Associate Editor of Social Media @NYMag.

Slate Slate (New York, NY): Alison Griswold (@alisongriswold), who was previously a Reporter for Strategy section at Business Insider has been named Staff Writer at (@Slate).

The Plain Dealer Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH): Debra Adams Simmons (@DAdamsSimmons) has been promoted to VP of News Development for Advance Local from Editor for the daily (@ThePlainDealer) in Cleveland.

Crain's Cleveland Crain’s Cleveland Business (Cleveland, OH): Elizabeth McIntyre is set to join the trade magazine (@CrainsCleveland) as Editor.

Chicago magazine Chicago Magazine (Chicago, IL): Terrance Noland is joining @ChicagoMag as Executive Editor from Contributing Editor for @MensJournal.

Teen Vogue Teen Vogue (New York, NY): Amada Keiser has been named Fashion Editor.

Seventeen Magazine Seventeen Magazine (New York, NY): Elizabeth Denton (@Elizabethann1) signs on as an Online Staff Editor.

Real Simple Magazine Real Simple Magazine (New York, NY): Former Huffington Post Executive Lifestyle Editor Lori Leibovich (@lorileibovich) is now the Online Editor @RealSimple.

MundoFOX MundoFox (New York,NY): Nicole Suarez has joined MundoFox (@MundoFOX) and as an Anchor for “Hoy Noticias MundoFox 13.” This is a joint project with Hoy Newspaper (@HoyChicago).

MEDIAware’s full weekly version can be found at:www.prnewswire.com/knowledge-center/medi…

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

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

For Brand Messages, Distribution Matters.

Why do press releases still matter?  I tackled this question in an interview with The Pulse Network at the Inbound Marketing Summit a couple years ago.

A post on PR Daily today questions the value of press release distribution, given the declining number of journalists. [link]

So who really does read press releases these days? 

In short, the audience is still vast, and it includes all of your organization’s key constituents.  Press releases are extremely public means of communications.

  • The tens of thousands of credentialed media on PR Newswire for Journalists tally more than one million press release reads each month.
  • On PR Newswire.com, the press releases we issue garner more millions more reads each month.   Most of those readers find the content via search engines.
  • On Twitter, if you search the term “PRNewswire” you’ll see an avalanche of tweets referencing press releases – often several per minute.

Our clients tell us the press releases they issue have resulted in coverage on Good Morning America (with no pitching!),  increases in landing page traffic of more than 200%,  record app downloads and the generation of qualified leads for sales teams.   The key take-away is this:  all of your brand’s constituents are reading the PR content you distribute.  Failing to calibrate your content accordingly leaves measurable results on the table.

Distribution drives results. 

What drives these results?  Distribution.  Distributing messages beyond the realms of the journalists on your targeted media lists and your brand’s followers on social networks delivers specific and measurable results.   Well-crafted messages are found by new audiences, re-distributed across peer and professional networks and are surfaced in search engine results – often for months after the messages are originally issued.    Distribution is the key to driving ongoing message discovery and introducing your brand to new constituents.

Disappointing results?  Take a hard look at the message.

If your press releases aren’t generating results, before you blame your distribution channels, take a look at the messages.    Here are some tips for making your press releases relevant, useful and effective in today’s connected digital environment:

  1. Is your content truly interesting and useful to your target audiences?  Framing your message in the context of what your audience cares about or will find interesting will enliven your message, and prevent it from reading like a missive from the ivory tower.
  2. Do your headlines convey the messages that will appeal to audiences?  Headlines aren’t for branding.  They shouldn’t be coy.  Headlines need to arrest the eyes of your reader, and inspire them to stop, and read your message.     Keep the headline short – about a hundred characters.  Use a subhead to add the brand mention and additional detail – you needn’t be so mindful of length there.
  3. Do you embed specific and measurable calls to action toward the top of your messages?   Give your readers a path to take by providing a link to a relevant web page that will further engage them with your brand.  Invite them to read an excerpt of a white paper, view a demo or provide robust Q&A that will answer their obvious questions.    In addition to courting media coverage, the press releases you issue are also portals for your brand, and can deliver new audiences right to their doorstep.  Don’t rely on a link to your homepage that’s buried down in the boilerplate.  Make it easy for people to find relevant information, and take the next step.
  4. Is the copy you distribute designed to be easily scanned by readers on all kinds of devices, using bold subheads and bullet points to surface key themes?  Many people are reading press releases on tablets and smartphones.  Organize the body of your press release content into easy to scan chucks, and use numbered or bulleted lists to draw attention to key points.
  5. Does your PR team illustrate press releases with visual content, such as videos, images and infographics?    We really can’t emphasize the value of visuals enough.  Search engines and social networks are increasingly visual, and plain text simply doesn’t carry the same weight. Relying on plain text reduces the effectiveness of messages.

The practice of public relations today requires an increasingly deft touch.  PR Newswire’s own distribution network is designed to deliver customized content to the journalists, bloggers, web sites and media outlets that subscribe to our news feeds.    Ensuring the content they receive from us is relevant to their interests and areas of coverage is the cornerstone of our media relations programs and services.

Likewise, the development of e-mail pitches and press releases takes a similar deft touch.   But don’t leave distribution out of the picture.  If your organization wants to increase inbound web site traffic, acquire new followers, find new audiences and earn some media along the way, broad outbound distribution of your messages via a service like PR Newswire will deliver measurable results.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the recently-published ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

6 Keys to Using the New Twitter Design for PR

Actor Channing Tatum’s Twitter profile shows off the new format.

Twitter’s new design – mirroring Facebook’s layout and emphasizing visuals – reinforces the importance of using multimedia elements in communications. However, the new layout offers more opportunity for brands than initially meets the eye.  (See related: Coming soon from Twitter)

Surfacing granular content (& winning attention)

The brands that do it best know that Twitter is about granular information. The short format requires brevity, and forces tweet authors to get straight to the point. Best practices for tweeting links are straightforward:

  • On Twitter, your tweet is your headline. Its role is to arrest the reader’s attention and get them to take a next step, such as clicking on the link or re-tweeting the message.  lil tweetAvoid generalizations. Instead, carefully craft your tweet to give followers insight into what the link contains (and incentive to click!)
  • Include visuals that are strongly related to and illustrative of the content you’re sharing. Pictures and videos stand out in the newsfeed and command attention, and they convey messages in their own right.
  • Use relevant hashtags. While hashtags can be used to convey side commentary or emotion, for brands, hashtags are also how content is found. Scan your own Twitter feeds for relevant hashtags, and also use the Twitter search function for research. Don’t use a hashtag without first looking at the related tweet stream. You want to make sure your messaging is in relevant and appropriate company.

Drill into the angles
You can surface (and illustrate!) a variety of themes and elements for the story you’re promoting. In most cases, the stories we create –whether in the form of a press release about a new product, a blog post about an industry trend or pitches about an important development at the companies we represent – contain multiple hooks and angles and elements. Every tweet is another opportunity to engage your audience, and sharing different story angles increases the message’s appeal.

So for PR pros whose brands have cultivated strong presences on Twitter, some new tactics are in order:

  • Don’t get in the habit of tweeting the headline and calling it a day. Instead, create a series of tweets highlighting different elements of the story.
  • Share individual visual elements. And when sharing large infographics, consider having your designer create image snippets that illustrate one key fact. A simpler image will render better in the Twitter feed.
  • Don’t be afraid of tweeting multiple messages about one piece of content. One white paper or press release could reasonably offer a host of tweeting angles – quotes from people mentioned, a host of key findings, a variety of charts and graphs. Stagger the tweets over a few days (or even longer) to maximize visibility.

One final note: as Twitter rolls out the new design, we all need to be mining our image files for visuals that will fill the new space. Larger profile pictures and a Facebook cover-style banner are key features of the new look, and offer brands the opportunity showcase their visual identities.

Learn more about using visuals in B2B campaigns by viewing the on-demand webinar: Powering B2B Content with Multimedia.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

 

Upcoming Webinar: Powering B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Through Multimedia

webinar banner

Due to the wealth of information available online, consumers have taken the buying cycle into their own hands by researching prospective vendors and seeking peer recommendations before making a purchase decision. Content such as white papers, case studies, and blog posts provide critical education around an organization’s solutions, but can be limited in terms of social reach and standing out among competitors. Therefore, communicators must consider more cutting edge alternatives in order to have their messages effectively heard.

The ability of videos to capture and retain viewer interest, fuel engagement across all social channels, and simplify complex messages make them an unparalleled method of connecting with audiences.  Their presence in an organization’s communications strategy makes all the difference in a gain or loss of business, and including multimedia is no longer an option.

Powering B2B

Tomorrow we will be hosting a webinar titled “Powering B2B Marketing Campaigns Through Multimedia” moderated by PR Newswire’s Product Manager of Online Services, Erika Kash and featuring B2B Marketing experts Rachel Foster, CEO at Fresh Perspective Copywriting, and Scott Armstrong, Parter at Brainrider.

“Nowadays there’s so many different tools made available to us that a budget shouldn’t limit you from using video because it helps drive engagement,” says Kash in response to the notion that multimedia puts a strain on marketing and PR resources, “you can put together simple sound bites using everyday tools like cell phones and laptops and increase visibility for your message. The key is to create a story from the content you already have.”

The panel will discuss how to think beyond the brochure and use multimedia content to engage leads and convert them into customers.

Click here to register now.

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 register for our upcoming 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.

Register to attend our free 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.