Tag Archives: content marketing

Content We Love: MSL Group Promotes Brand Citizenship Through Brand Journalism

ContentWeLove

A 17-country survey commissioned by MSL Group reveals that millennials believe the combined forces of corporations and government can “solve the world’s greatest problems.” As brands yearn for attention and loyalty from millennials, the findings of MSL Group’s “Business Citizenship” study signify a potential opportunity for organizations to serve a greater purpose and earn positive praise from this seemingly unattainable demographic.

To shed light to this opportunity, MSL Group employed a news release with multimedia assets, exemplifying what Ad Age refers to as the “modern marketing imperative,” a personalized, content stream approach involving multi-faceted messages via multiple channels to multiple audiences. The organizations who are at the foundational stage of their brand journalism efforts should make note of the following:

Click here to view the complete press release from MSL Group

Click here to view the complete press release from MSL Group

The headline is attention-grabbing, includes keywords and highlights a groundbreaking new discovery and potential opportunity that can be gained from reading this release.

Information is delivered in multiple formats to cater to audience preferences. Even though they are derived from the same story, each piece of content has its own unique utility:

  • The infographic highlights key report findings in a concise, visually enticing, and socially shareable way
  • A YouTube video featuring the company’s Global Practice Director of Corporate and Brand Citizenship establishes the company’s thought leadership and provides sound bites for media to use in their coverage
  • Reporters can find more in-depth conclusions in the long-form research report and pair it with an accompanying visual

A strong story with a variety of narratives increases its earned media potential. Using bold sub-heads and bullet points, the release surfaces at least 4 different stories that a journalist has the option of covering.

This news release does an excellent job of catering to the audience needs – a key tenet of effective brand journalism. Congrats to MSL Group on a fantastic release!

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

10 Things I Learned from #CMWorld 2014 Without Being There

The over-arching theme at Content Marketing World 2014 focused on audience-first messaging and the importance of delivering content in all of the ways that your audience wants to consume it. Case in point: though I was not physically present at Content Marketing World, I felt like an integral part of the event by relying on Twitter to deliver the awesome tips and sound bites that I was afraid of missing out on.

Many of the presenters and attendees at Content Marketing World had already made a favorable impression on me long before the conference. Knowing that they were credible and profound thinkers, I was inspired to follow the hashtag, engage in the conversation, and have my own Content Marketing World experience in a way that was specific to my needs. Through my virtual attendance, here are ten of my favorite things I learned from Content Marketing World 2014 without being there:

This year’s conference will surely be difficult to top next year – like many of you I am still recovering from having my mind blown by Kevin Spacey’s keynote speech thanks to the live stream. To all of those who took the time to tweet, thank you for making Content Marketing World 2014 an incredible learning experience right from the office!

To learn how PR Newswire and UBM Tech Create can help you fuel your content engine, follow the link: http://prn.to/ContentMarketingWorld2014

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

Trend Watch: Content Marketing World Day 1

Following the tweet stream from Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) is like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Not unexpectedly, the attendees and speakers are producing quite a bit of content.

Emerging themes are bubbling up as day 1 is being recapped and digested, including:

  • Measuring business outcomes, not marketing output.  Increased spend is demanding increased rigor in measurement.
  • Aligning with the focus on outcomes, more attention is being paid to developing content for specific personas that is also mapped to buyers’ journeys.
  • Tightening the screws on content utility and relevance. Even as content marketing becomes more disciplined,  we can’t lose sight of the audience.  Content may be exquisitely aligned to personas and mapped to journeys but if doesn’t deliver value to the audience, it won’t produce results.
  • Using analytics to inform strategy.  Content marketers are increasingly mining big data sources to glean insights about what makes their audiences tick.
  • Content amplification.  Developing strategies to ensure content is seen from social seeding to actual distribution is central to achieving content success.

This is my third year at Content Marketing World, and the industry is definitely maturing.  Sessions and conversations are focusing on advanced strategy and execution, rather than more basic why-you-should-get-started discussions.

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

 

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Relevant Content: Driving the Kraft Marketing Engine

Photo of Julie Fleishman via  SimpleReach

Photo of Julie Fleischer via SimpleReach

With so many channels and the marginal cost of the creation and distribution of content, brands today are struggling to communicate with an increasingly fragmented audience.

“Consumer attention is ephemeral and is exponentially fleeting,” said Julie Fleischer (@jfly) of Kraft Foods in her Content Marketing World keynote.

What will save our brands?  According to Fleischer, the answer is content. “It’s an invitation to engage. It’s not intrusive and invites the consumer in.”

Content signals “I know you, you know me,” and creates trust, demonstrating shared interests. And in today’s digital environment, content is self-targeting, through search engines and social recommendations.

For these reasons, content is at the center of the Kraft Foods marketing engine.

At the beginning, content wasn’t aligned or integrated with the rest of Kraft’s messaging, despite the broad reach the content team had developed.

The new media landscape – driven by data and built on technology – changed that.  The future of consumer connection isn’t about mass, it’s about individuals and personalization, enabling brands to focus on niche interests and create customized, relevant and persuasive content.

Kraft has also built an agile approach, using data to quickly surface trends and deploy or create content to capture opportunity.

“Content and data are inextricably linked,” Fleischer noted. “Data is the value exchange and conversion is the outcome.”

Content and advertising have to be linked, helping to drive the precision of advertising in terms of both message and media, driving improved ROI.   “We seek to drive effectiveness, better segmenting, targeting and serving relevant communications,” Fleischer said of how Kraft combines the two to drive revenue.

Personal relevancy is a big focus at Kraft.  The company’s researchers are looking at consumers in terms of ‘microtribes’ and are developing precise measurement tools to quantify and understand both results and consumer behavior.

Fleischer offered advice to her fellow marketers for winning in today’s digital media world:

  • Relevancy requires the ability to change and adapt. Move fast, and break things.
  • Don’t be afraid to un-learn what you know and try another angle.
  • Culture trumps strategy. The pace of change will never be slower than it is today. If change is happening on the outside faster than it is on the inside, the end is in sight.
  • Expect to succeed. Swagger matters.
  • Start small.
  • Done is better than perfect.

Fleischer closed with invaluable and inspiring advice that succinctly summarized her journey in building the content engine that drives Kraft’s advertising and brand presences.

“Learn. Create. Deliver. Measure. Learn. Repeat.”

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

 

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Is your content strategy sustainable?  A high-powered panel will tackle the ins and outs of building a sustainable content strategy at  Content Marketing World next week, in a discussion titled, “Don’t Run Out of Gas! How to Fuel a Sustainable Content Marketing Strategy,” slated for  Tuesday, September 9 at 11:00AM – 11:45AM EST.

Featured panelists include PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ken Wincko,  Dell Inc.’s TechPageOne.com Managing Editor, Nicole Smith (@NicoleSatDell), and Altimeter Group’s Industry Analyst Rebecca Lieb (@Lieblink.) The discussion will be moderated by Michael Pranikoff (@mpranikoff,) director of emerging media for PR Newswire, and will focus on developing and executing an ongoing content strategy, including:

  • What to do after creating a content calendar and plotting out the best channels to distribute messages,
  • How to develop a customer perspective that drives community engagement,
  • Ways to accelerate content promotion.

Conferences attendees can join the conversation on social media by completing the sentence “Content drives” using hashtags #contentdrives #cmworld.

Content Marketing World attendees can visit booth #11 at the event to hear more. You can also follow this link to learn more about how to accelerate your content strategy:  http://prn.to/ContentMarketingWorld2014

The 4 Stages of Content Marketing Program Evolution

espresso and panicAny time an organization embarks upon a new marketing strategy, there are bound to be growing pains, milestones and (happily) successes.  Content marketing is no exception.  Where is your organization in the content journey?

Inception (0-6 months)

The corporate equivalent of taking the plunge, the inception phase kicks off when the company says “I do” to a content program.   At this stage, there is generally little to no content strategy or editorial plan, and goals tend to be broad and poorly defined (e.g. “Position company as a thought leader.”)

The “content team” (note, those were “air quotes”)  comprises a handful of dogged enthusiasts who operate on the edge of panic as they scrounge for content to fuel the blog, feed the newsletter and share via social channels.

The effectiveness of espresso as a creative muse is discovered.

Experimentation (6 mos. – 1 year)

The wheels are up on the content marking program and the team is in flight.  Air quotes are no longer used in description of the content team, because the stuff they’re creating is gaining traction in the marketplace.  Industry bloggers are taking note, the social channels have more relevant followers,  the efforts have spawned a few media hits, the company is starting to rank for a few key search terms and the sales team are incorporating messaging into their pitches and follow up.

The content team is starting to learn from their experience, and is honing the approach.   Content duds are identified and not repeated.  Basic persona research has helped the team sharpen the message focus.

As successes build, the demand for content across the organization increases.   Speaking invitations require prep and subsequent content creation.  Product managers emerge from their dens, requesting airtime and attention for their products.

People assume the content team are magical beings capable of pulling stories and visuals from thin air.  

Steady State (1-2 years)

What the content marketing program has lost in novelty, it has gained in budget and resource.  Several people are devoted to the task of content creation, curation and publishing. The blog is a permanent fixture, and has morphed into an important vehicle for keeping internal and external audiences informed and engaged.

Integration between teams is starting to solidify.   The content, social media and PR teams were the first to synch up, followed by the events team who has seen registrations increase when events get full exposure via numerous channels.   As a result, the organization’s communications silos stat to crack and campaigns morph from isolated episodes into longer-term and higher-value digital presences.

Growth in traffic, follows, click-throughs and referrers exhibits a satisfying up-and-to-the-right curve.

Busting a few department silos has whetted the content team’s appetite.   Sales, customer service, internal operations and demand gen are now in their sights.

It is clearly evident that content powers the universe.  

Focused Results (2+ years)

Content is making enough of an impact that others in the organization are noticing it, and are starting to think in terms of how to incorporate the benefits of successful content marketing programs into other marketing disciplines, including retention and demand-gen.

Never satisfied, the content team continues to hone messaging and starts to proactively promote owned content.  At first the PR team feels a bit queasy but they quickly realize the content marketing program is a rich source of the sorts of stories and stats journalists crave, so they quickly get on board.  Amplification rates and generation of potent earned media take off.

At this point, the data and analytics teams get really interested. The impact of content is undeniable, and opportunities abound to test messages and gauge results via content channels.

The brand’s marketing squad becomes fully integrated.  Content becomes the common thread linking upper-funnel visibility programs all the way through to conversion.  Using new insights from the analytics gurus, they create content aligned with personas and buying stages, crafting calls to action that engender specific responses and behaviors.   The web site becomes search engine magnet, social hub and sales machine.

The content marketer finds the real secret to successful content strategy.  It’s not doppio espressos (but keep ‘em coming nonetheless) nor is it magic.  It’s the integration of marketing activities up and down the funnel, linked with excellent content.

CMW_Release_Graphic_v3

Is your content strategy sustainable?  A high-powered panel will tackle the ins and outs of building a sustainable content strategy at  Content Marketing World next week, in a discussion titled, “Don’t Run Out of Gas! How to Fuel a Sustainable Content Marketing Strategy,” slated for  Tuesday, September 9 at 11:00AM – 11:45AM EST.

Featured panelists include PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ken Wincko,  Dell Inc.’s TechPageOne.com Managing Editor, Nicole Smith (@NicoleSatDell), and Altimeter Group’s Industry Analyst Rebecca Lieb (@Lieblink.) The discussion will be moderated by Michael Pranikoff (@mpranikoff,) director of emerging media for PR Newswire, and will focus on developing and executing an ongoing content strategy, including:

  • What to do after creating a content calendar and plotting out the best channels to distribute messages,
  • How to develop a customer perspective that drives community engagement,
  • Ways to accelerate content promotion.

Conferences attendees can join the conversation on social media by completing the sentence “Content drives” using hashtags #contentdrives #cmworld.

Content Marketing World attendees can visit booth #11 at the event to hear more. You can also follow this link to learn more about how to accelerate your content strategy:  http://prn.to/ContentMarketingWorld2014

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

 

 

 

Content We Love: A Press Release for B2B Buyers

ContentWeLove

Intermedia CWL

Click to view the complete multimedia news release

A Forrester analysis of 30 b-to-b company websites found that 80% were primarily focused on themselves with little regard to the issues that customers might be facing. In other words, a majority of companies are still unsure of how to craft messages that resonate with their audiences, which may be one of the reasons why 51% of marketers told Forrester that their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective. Laura Ramos, VP at Forrester, strongly emphasizes that “b-to-b businesses should speak about the business issues their buyers are facing, and what can be done to address those issues.”

Forrester’s research highlights the need for companies to channel the customer-focused strengths of PR to make greater headway in their content marketing efforts. A great example of how to combine both forces can be seen in Intermedia’s multimedia news release titled, “The ex-employee menace: 89% retain access to Salesforce, QuickBooks & other sensitive corporate apps.” From the headline to the final sentence, the message is primarily focused on the concerns of Intermedia’s b-to-b audience while establishing the brand’s expertise in information security.

Just a few of the elements that content marketers should make note of:

  • It is without a doubt challenging to create a company website that both promotes products and services but does not appear to be self-promotional, but this branded multimedia news release works around the challenge by familiarizing readers with Intermedia’s visual identity and focusing on a single customer-centric message.
  • The headline of this release draws upon a compelling stat from Intermedia’s survey results to attract reader interest and optimize it for social sharing.
  • A call to action near the top of the release using a trackable link drives readers back to the company’s website and provides data that can help measure content marketing success rates.
  • Downloadable content offers including a video, an infographic, a checklist, and web report present key findings of the survey in different formats that are sharable and cater to the different audience preferences of consuming information.
  • US and UK versions of each content type target the message to regional audiences.

Remember, it’s not just the media that are reading press releases; b-to-b buyers are researching the solution sets that fit their needs far in advance of contacting a sales representative. Intermedia presents a use case of how to write a press release that caters specifically to buyers, which is made more discoverable by the audiences in search of this information through the power of multi-channel distribution.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate PR into your content marketing strategy, view our on-demand webinar: How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics

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

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