Tag Archives: content marketing

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

Content We Love: Simple Visuals Break Down Big Data

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the press release on PRNewswire.com

Click here to view the press release on PRNewswire.com

Digital technology has given marketers more ways to collect and analyze data than ever before and as a result, glossy infographics have exploded as a favorite content type to make sense of the overabundance of information available. But infographics don’t have to be complex in order to share them with your audience; charts and graphs made with standard computer software are still a highly useful visual representation of data that tells your story in a clear and effective way.

A press release by mobile analytics company Mobidia Technology titled, “King Digital Entertainment Continues to Lead Game Publishers in Most Popular and Most Played Mobile Games,” caught my attention as a prime example.  King Digital is home to the popular Candy Crush app that is fueling procrastination everywhere, but other game developers are quickly on the rise as the next big player on the market. To illustrate this point, the release included photos of two simple graphs depicting highest game usage among the top mobile game publishers, which were subsequently republished in earned media and shared on social.

Other noteworthy aspects of this release that showcase a keen understanding of news distribution as a content marketing tool:

  • Interesting data points are appealing to readers and represented in a visually comprehensible
  • Bullet points break down key information for readers scanning the page, and offer different story angles for media
  • A quote from Mobidia’s Vice President of Marketing promotes the company’s thought-leadership
  • A restrained use of links directs readers to a call to action to download the related white paper

By using these tactics, Mobidia Technology generates more opportunities for raising brand awareness, earning media pickup, and generating leads. Kudos on a job well done!

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

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.  

Content We Love: A Lesson in Education Reform and Press Release Writing

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the entire press release

Click here to view the entire press release

As public relations evolves from a segmented business practice into an integral tactic of marketing and sales strategies, press releases have advanced as a tool to support these new relationships. In a recent announcement titled, “BBVA Compass economists say U.S. should adopt national curriculum in education overhaul,” economic research company BBVA Compass aptly demonstrates what a modern day press release that gets results should look like; one that is written and formatted in a way that creates several opportunities for the audience to engage and interact with their content in order to drive ongoing visibility for their message and establish trust with the organization.

A hard hitting headline and lead instantly presents the story angle and demands attention. Education reform continues to be a hotly debated topic in the United States, and BBVA seizes the opportunity to share their expertise. They have immediately provided a strong story angle for journalists to cover and earn media attention for their cause.

Visuals explain a complex issue in an understandable and emotionally engaging way. In the embedded YouTube video, BBVA Compass economist, Kim Fraser, exercises her thought-leadership on the issue while bringing sincerity and humanity to the message.  Its hi-res quality makes it readily available for broadcast media pick up, while allowing the message to extend to all social media channels where audiences are engaging mostly with visual content.

A call to action in first paragraph quickly leads to reader towards the intended goal of the message, which is to showcase the findings of a study that sheds light on the current challenges of the public education system while establishing BBVA as a trusted source of economic research.

Finally, the release provides an additional opportunity for engagement by inviting interested audiences to a web conference and Q&A session, further driving the discoverability of BBVA Compass in search results and credibility of the organization among the public.

BBVA Compass showcases the dynamic capabilities of a press release to spread awareness of a message in all relevant spaces, fostering a direct and emotional connection to the audience, and building trust with the public. Congratulations to BBVA Compass on an excellent release!

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

Strategic PR Can Lead to Strong SEO

SEO has finally matured. It is no longer about tricks, games and hats of black and white. SEO is now about broader business strategies that take careful planning and time to execute. It’s about your PR approach and your content marketing. It is about excellent user experience and creating content people will want to share.

Conference organizers and former presidents of DFWSEM: @dansturdivant @marksbarrera @seanthinks @tonynwright

Conference organizers and former presidents of DFWSEM: @dansturdivant @marksbarrera @seanthinks @tonynwright

I recently attended the DFWSEM State of Search conference in Dallas, and what stood out most clearly at the end of the day was that wise PR strategies can have excellent effect on a site’s SEO.

“Make friends with PR,” said speaker Wil Reynolds. “Follow PR’s influencers and map the keywords that are important to them.”

Brand recognition and a keen understanding of a brand’s influencers can be leveraged for search optimization efforts, and that’s an area of expertise for PR professionals.

There’s no SEO bag of tricks any longer. Major search engines like Google and Bing are not favoring content that is keyword stuffed or optimized with hidden text.

Strategic branding and influencer engagement will pay off in the long run with quality links and social sharing that send strong signals to the search engines.

Relevant and timely content such as social posts, blog posts, multimedia and well-crafted press releases can lure and engage your audience.

Done well, “content brings them in , educates them, then keeps them engaged even after conversion,” said speaker John Doherty.

Just remember to make it super easy for your audience to share your content. “Social signals are expert signals to search engines,” according to Bing’s Duane Forrester.

And let us not forget about media pickup which can result in powerful earned links and quality traffic back to your site or product page. Concentrate on getting more buzz and authority for your brand.

“PR is how content marketing works,” said Sean Jackson. “Get your name out there!”

To sum things up, here are some action items for improved SEO (note that the top three were Duane Forrester’s top three focus recommendations):

  • Quality content: Create well-crafted content to lure quality traffic and social shares.
  • User experience (UX): Provide your audience with excellent user experience. Not only is it good for your visitors but it’s a signal search engines are watching.
  • Social Media: Create useful and sharable content to inspire tweets and other social posts that send strong positive signals to search engines.
  • Branding: Build brand awareness and authority.
  • Discoverability: Write content that people can find. Use keywords appropriately and make sure you distribute content to places where people will be seeking it.
  • Sharing: Make the sharing of your content super easy. This affects both traffic and SEO.
  • Media pick-up: Earning media pick-up can translate into very valuable links and quality traffic.

All of the above can and should involve the expertise of your PR department. To be sure, SEO is now a long game that requires strategic planning. No quick tricks, but lots of devotion put into building your brand, finding your audience and offering useful content people will want to share.

Victoria HarresVictoria Harres is VP, Audience Development & Social Media at PR Newswire and the original voice behind @PRNewswire. She speaks and writes about social media, PR and marketing…and occasionally SEO.

3 Ways Digital Communications Can Build Trust in Financial Services

Greg Matusky discusses the "5 C's of Trusted Content" at BDI's Future of Financial Services Communications event

Greg Matusky discusses the “5 C’s of Trusted Content”

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that financial service is globally considered the least trustworthy industry. While the industry’s reputation is still in recovery from the 2008 economic crisis, digital communication is creating new opportunities for building credibility and authenticity. Business Development Institute’s recent event “The Future of Financial Services Communications” presented case studies from emerging financial leaders that prove the effectiveness of using technology to strengthen customer relationships. The discussions offered several communications tactics that financial institutions can incorporate to build trust and loyalty among existing and potential clients.

Employ social media as a targeting tool

A case study by Actiance Inc. found that LinkedIn is now the #1 sales pitching tool among top sales reps. Actively participating in social media gives sales reps a higher competitive advantage than those who don’t due to the high engagement levels and greater reach on these channels. The ability to leverage connections, research prospects, and participate in relevant group discussions has evolved the traditional “cold call” pitch and enforces customer loyalty. Social media engagement also humanizes the brand in a genuine way.

Build a sense of community between the business and clients

“Finance should be viewed more as a community than a commodity” says CommonBond Co-Founder David Klein, “what will distinguish the winners from the losers is not necessarily building a community, but a community people want to belong to.” Commonbond’s unique approach to student lending has made education more accessible to those who wish to pursue an MBA degree without the fear of loans with high interest rates. During a time when students are facing enormous debt, the company has established trust with their clients by providing attentive customer service and hosting professional networking events.

Noah Breslow, CEO at OnDeck, explains how embracing cutting edge technology helped OnDeck improve the relationship small business owners have with their lenders.  Traditional lending models that require customers to acquire a loan in person do not cater to business owners in remote geographic locations. OnDeck’s mobile and electronic payment system is revolutionizing the industry by providing access, convenience, speed and service to clients in all locations. While some customers still feel skeptical about electronic transactions, the company has built trust by creating an open dialogue with their audience’s preferred social networks, such as Yelp. Customer testimonials on these channels resonate more effectively than typical marketing tactics because as Breslow says, “Small business owners trust other small business owners more than you.”

Share consistent and relevant content

“Content bridges the digital divide between businesses and consumers” says Greg Matusky, President and Founder of Gregory FCA. Establishing the brand as a thought leader in financial services will build credibility among customers. In addition to credibility, Matusky’s “5 C’s of Trusted Content” also include compassion, creativity, contemporary, and compliance.

When it comes to digital communications, financial service providers face the unique struggle of maintaining relevant conversations while abiding by compliance laws. The lengthy approval process required for every tweet is incompatible with today’s demand for instant news. While it will take some time for financial services to adjust their approach to compliance, a more viable solution is to generate earned media as a method for creating trust with stakeholders. Developing high-quality resources that are shareable will accumulate audience attention over time and continuously spark conversation, thus building a community around your content and earning further credibility for your brand.

To learn more about developing content to build credibility among target audiences, check out the blog post “Creating an Effective Brand Experience on Social Networks.”

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