Tag Archives: content marketing

Turning Webinars into Real-Time Content & Market Intel

The 19 pieces of content you can wrest from a webinar, courtesy of Readytalk's Bo Bandy.

The 19 pieces of content you can wrest from a webinar, courtesy of Readytalk’s Bo Bandy.

Every content marketer has their favorite go-to tactics, and almost all will share one in common – deriving content from content.   In my hands, a simple blog post can spawn a press release, a slide deck and a host of tweets, posts, shares and updates.  However, I’ve got nothing on Bo Bandy, Readytalk’s manager of marketing communications.   I joined her on a webinar titled Maximizing the Impact of Webinars as a Lead Gen Channel  last week, and I think I learned as much as any of the attendees.

According to Bandy, a simple webinar can be the basis for as many as 19 subsequent pieces of content.

Nineteen.

I’ll admit that I goggled a bit when I saw that number, and I wondered if she was spreading things a bit thin.  It turns out she wasn’t.  She has some great ideas for capturing and atomizing the content a webinar produces, many of which were new to me.

In particular, she offered some ideas I hadn’t considered, including:

  • Creating a short video snippet from the recorded webinar that captures some key segments, and posting that on YouTube
  • Editing the transcript, and turning it into an ebook (use slides and surveys to illustrate)
  • Survey attendees during the webinar, and create an infographic with that data (or even follow on discussion) after the event.

Propel Growth’s Candyce Edelen advises us to use every part of the buffalo” to cost-effectively create volumes of content to feed the “content beast.”

Bandy’s approach reminds me of the “Content Buffalo,” an idea propagated by Candyce Edelen , CEO of PropelGrowth, a content marketing firm specializing in the financial services sector, which encourages marketers to make use of every piece of the content and not let anything go to waste.

Adapting that mindset to the real-time opportunities and intelligence one can clean from a webinar presents the content marketer with a rich source of content ideas.

  • For every case of writer’s block, there’s probably a topic from the Q&A that deserves some expansion.
  • Mine the related Twitter stream. Notice which ideas gained traction, thoughtful feedback and (again) questions that can be answered.

In mapping out our plans for webinars here at PR Newswire, we’ve done a pretty good job of building in pre-event promotion (blog posts, press releases, social media mentions, speaker engagement) but admittedly, I’ve not been taking full advantage of the real-time, market intelligence webinars provide.    Many thanks to Bo and Candyce, two smart new friends with boundless good ideas!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

3 Imperatives for Healthcare Communicators Managing Industry Change (& Lessons for the Rest of Us)

Keynote speaker Paul Matsen of Cleveland Clinic.

Keynote speaker Paul Matsen of Cleveland Clinic.

The sold-out Future of Healthcare Communications Summit held last week in New York and jointly hosted by PR Newswire and the Business Development Institute focused on the major challenges posed by the Affordable Care Act to American healthcare providers.  According to Ray Kerins (@RayKerins), senior vice president and head of communications & public affairs at Bayer Corporation, the healthcare industry currently suffers from a lack of open dialogue and major distrust amongst patients towards healthcare systems. Three major recurring themes throughout the summit offered inventive solutions for mending fragmented relationships between healthcare providers and their patients:

1.       Reform negative public opinion toward healthcare systems

A troubling observation presented by Kerins showed that none of the top ten companies on Forbes’ 2013 List of the World’s Most Admired Companies is a healthcare provider. Kerins believes that in order for healthcare communicators to “recapture the brilliance of the industry,” they must re-examine mistakes made in the past to avoid repetition and engage with stakeholders.

Paul Matsen (@pgmat), chief marketing and communications officer at Cleveland Clinic, discussed five marketing strategies executed at Cleveland Clinic to help transform negative public opinion. While the clinic upheld a legacy as a prominent referral center, it was widely perceived as being inaccessible. In addition to the “Same-Day Appointments” program, Cleveland Clinic differentiates itself by helping physicians patent their intellectual property to build start-up companies and form alliances. Through access, alliances, targeting, engagement, and a branded patient experience, Cleveland Clinic was re-established as a leader in world class care. 

2.       Create content for multiple channels

David Blair (@drblair1), head of industry for health at Google, reported that

David Blair of Google delivered a look into the future of healthcare technology.

David Blair of Google delivered a look into the future of healthcare technology.

90% of all consumption is screen based, with 77% of consumers relying on screen technologies for health information. In fact, an astounding 7 billion searches on Google are specific to health conditions. According to Blair, the proliferation of screens has empowered patients, creating a need for branded experiences within multiple contexts. “We live in a constantly connected world of moments,” he explains, “Think of your brand message as liquid content; you want to flow to every device at any time.” A fascinating adoption of multi-channel health content occurred this year when UCLA live-tweeted a brain surgery for the first time using Twitter’s vine app.

Monique Levy (@monlevy), vice president of research at Manhattan Research, supports the notion of multi-format engagement. A Manhattan Research study concluded that the amount of time consumers spend searching for material depends on the type of device being used. While smartphones supply “quick hit information,” tablets and desktops are used for “lean back learning.” The results emphasize a need for appropriately formatted content for each type of communications device.

 

3. Personalize engagement with customers 

While some consider press releases to be old-fashioned, they are still regarded as a highly dependable source of information. Gil Bashe (@Gil_Bashe), EVP and health practice director at Makovsky, refers to a Makovsky-Kelton Health Info Study which found that company press releases have higher trust amongst patients than company websites or social media.

Mike Slone (@MikeSlone17), design director at Eliza Corporation, believes that disengaging marketing tactics like charts and brochures have steered patients away from building trust with healthcare providers. Instead, Eliza Corporation developed a vulnerability index (VI) which uses survey data to quantify the impact of everyday stress factors. A high VI score indicates an increased risk of developing health issues likes diabetes, depression, and heart disease. To promote healthy living, ad campaigns address daily anxieties with humor, such as “Exercise to Avoid Punching Your Boss in the Face.” Slone says that health communication is “not just about health, but about the quality of life you live.”

There’s no question the Affordable Care Act is changing access to and the delivery of health care in the US, and represents a sea-change for the industry.  The imperative for communicators as they navigate these changes is clear – brands and organizations must both listen and speak to their audiences.  Messaging needs to address the questions and concerns of the constituents, not paper them over with brochures.   The common thread in the advice from the speakers was the focus on the audience, a good guide for any marketing or PR professional steering message strategy through uncertain waters.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team. 

5 PR Tactics You Can Use to Promote Events & Webinars

rt reg pageWhile live events and webinars are generally thought of as marketing activities, designed for the purpose of generating leads, the promotion of these events has some real similarities to launching a PR campaign.  By pulling a few pages from the PR playbook,  an organization can increase awareness of an interest in the event among a qualified audience.

A good way to frame promotional messaging – whether you’re creating a blog post or doing a press release about the event – is to focus on the who, what, where, when, why and how of the event.   Answering the following questions within your messaging will help you attract the right audience, and inspire them to action.

  • Who:     Who is the target audience?  Relevance matters in today’s environment.   Keep your target audience firmly in mind and draft your communications to appeal to them.  Trying to appeal to a very broad audience may water down your message to the point where it’s simply not interesting to anyone.
  • What:    What will the audience gain by participating?  In return for their time and attention, your event needs to deliver key information to the audience. Clearly describe what the participants will get from the event.  Tactical tips?   Exclusive access to a luminary?   This is a key component of the value proposition of the event.
  • Where & When & How:    These are easy and obvious – clearly, your audience needs to know when to show up.  Eliminate any confusion by listing all time zones, so it’s easy for your audience to check availability, and include links to the registration page toward the top of your message.   Saying “yes, I’ll sign up,” should be easy as pie.
  • Why:     Why should I bother taking an hour out of my busy day to listen?  As your event draws nearer, your potential audience’s days get more crowded.  Competition for their attention increases, even if they already had your event on their calendar.   Answering the “why” question will help  reinforce the decision the audience members made when they signed up for the event initially.

Are you charged with lead generation for your organization?  Do you need to up the “net new names” numbers in your dB?   We all know events are a great way to introduce your brand to new audiences, but in order to do so, word of the event has to spread far and wide, finding engaged niche groups.    Learn how to drive that essential discovery of your event messages, and how fully leverage the content your events generate, on a webinar titled “Maximizing the Impact of Webinars as a Lead Gen Channel,” Tuesday July 30,  at 1 ET/12 CT/ 11 MT/ 10 CT, with me and Readytalk’s manager of marketing communications Bo Bandy.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

How Content Curation Attracts Audience & Powers SEO

If you want to position your organization as a thought leader or enhance your brand’s reputation on line (or, for that matter, do the same for yourself), honing your ability to curate relevant content is crucial.

You may already know some great curators – they are those people on Twitter who share links that you consistently click on, or that friend on Facebook who always finds the most interesting stuff.  They are those people whose boards on Pinterest seem to be full of the most compelling ideas.

In short, they are the people who have earned (and kept) your attention.

Curation is a lot like editing.  In addition to having their fingers on the pulse of a particular topic, good curators winnow out the valuable nuggets from amidst a veritable mountain of chaff: and this ability is what makes them so valuable to their followers.

Developing a stream of relevant and interesting content is a worthwhile endeavor.  In addition to attracting and keeping interested followers, doing so effectively creates an audience for the communications you develop (again, for either your brand or yourself) and deploy into the stream.

A free webinar later today featuring Cameron Uganec (@CameronU)  of Hootsuite will be exploring these benefits, and also discussing how curation can improve SEO and web site traffic.  Simply put, it’s difficult to understate the importance of developing a relevant audience for your brand, and the benefits that can accrue to organizations that make the investment in doing so.   Social buzz, thought leadership, SEO, lead generation — it’s all connected, and it all starts with sharing great content.

I’ll be tuning in, I hope you can, too.  Here’s the registration link:

A Guide to Content Curation: How Social Media Changed the Game — Wednesday July 10, 2013
2:00 pm-3:00 pm ET

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Social Curation for Writers

Twice a month, ProfNet hosts #ConnectChat, a Twitter-based interview that covers topics of interest to media and communications professionals. The latest chat featured writer Linda Bernstein, who discussed social curation for writers.

With all of the information and data available online, it’s more important than ever for writers to filter through the noise. In this chat, Bernstein discussed why writers should use social curation, including some of the available tools that help work manage the social clutter.

ImageBernstein teaches social media in the continuing education program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She has more than 35 years of experience in all corners of journalism and publishing, including as editor of Sesame Street Parents, Scholastic Parent and Child and Modern Bride Connection magazines. She is currently a contributor to PBS’ Next Avenue. In addition, she is a speaker, social media consultant and conference organizer. Her own blog, GenerationBSquared, is an active voice for the baby boomer generation.

Following is a recap of the chat:

Linda, thanks so much for joining us. Let’s get right to it. What is social curation?

Social curation is selecting and organizing material you pick up on social media. With curation, we make sure our audience has best possible information.

What’s the difference between curation and aggregation?

Aggregation is simply bringing together a bunch of stuff in a “pile,” so to speak. Curation involves thought, judgment, and selection.

So aggregation is getting all the info, and curation is sorting through it?

Yes, aggregation is collecting; curating is choosing and selecting and making sense. Journalists need to focus on information and filter away all the noise of social.

What is good definition of noise, and how do you avoid it?

Noise, I would say, is all the information that floats about on social that may be inaccurate or not useful. We avoid noise by becoming good curators — which is what we’re talking about!

In what ways are people already curating on social media?

We are all already using Twitter lists, and “friend” settings on Facebook. We also have been, in our heads at least, selecting trusted sources. We also curate the experts we get from ProfNet. If someone is great, we follow her and use again.

Why is curation important for journalists/writers? Why do they need to be doing it?

There is so much happening on social that, without it, we would go nuts — or not see the story. Curating also means we have better, accurate sources we trust. Curation isn’t something that happens overnight. You work on it over time.

Can you give an example of how a writer would use curation for, say, breaking news?

For Twitter, you would search hashtags. You can use http://search.twitter.com or Twitterfall.com. Also, don’t forget to look at trending topics. You might find the most used hashtags there. Also, see who is tweeting in the hashtag. Use search! Hashtags are so rich with possibility. Find journalists and experts you trust and follow them. It helps to do your homework way beforehand. Choose major cities; find news sources there you trust.

How do you make sure you’re not plagiarizing when you’re curating?

Be smart. Give credit. Follow fair use laws. Find out what is copyrighted and cannot be shared. Here’s a link to U.S. fair use/copyright laws: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html 

Do you have a favorite tool for curating?

My favorite tool: my brain. Also:

  • For curating people, I love oneQube. While following my home stream, I can click on buttons to find out about people. Here is my oneQube for today’s chat report: http://qub.me/EfPIbo.
  • HootSuite enables you to filter tweets so you get rid of noise: Get Started with Twitter and HootSuite.
  • For putting together a story, nothing beats Storify. It pulls in videos and tweets from the Web. Here are some great directions for putting together a Storify: Tips for Using Storify in Your Reporting and Digital Storytelling.
  • Archive.ly, a people research platform in now in closed beta. Their CEO, Perri Blake Gorman, is on Twitter: @bethebutterfly.
  • OverBlog, a blogging platform that enables you to highlight your curated social, including Facebook and Google +.
  • SeeSaw is amazing. You type in a hashtag, and it shows you tiles. Pictures from links are displayed. With SeeSaw, you can take the tiles you see and like and save them to a board.
  • Rebel Mouse: collects your social stream – you can embed it into your site. Widely used by news orgs.
  • Prismatic lets you connect to a newsfeed based on your interests.
  • With Scoop.it, you decide on a topic, name the stream, and handpick sources. Also offers some suggested content.
  • For journalists, Storyful verifies information. It’s not a free tool, but most news organizations subscribe.
  • Pocket (formerly Read It Later) is my favorite way to save things to read later. You can organize what you save with tags.

Pocket sounds really interesting, especially for those of us with terrible memories.

I have a button on my browser. It makes life easy! In fact, most of these tools have browser buttons. Here is a list, though some of the tools aren’t around anymore: The Best Content Curation Tools for Journalists.

With so many tools, how do we decide which one to use?

I always say: Be an early tester. Be a thoughtful adopter. Try them all. Use what you like. There are so many wonderful tools, but, ultimately, they will impede us unless we settle on a few helpful ones. You should curate your tools as well as all the information.

ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, connects PR professionals with journalists and writers in need of subject-matter experts.  Each month, ProfNet users are quoted in hundreds of media outlets, ranging from major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times to trade magazines like Risk Management and QSR magazine.  Users receive queries about potential story opportunities daily, and can manage the type and volume of queries received.  Want to know more? Get a quote or request a free trial at: http://www.prnewswire.com/profnet/profnet-experts/

The Press Release as Discovery Tool

Today’s noisy media environment poses challenge for brands:  how to get for important messages when there is so much fragmentation of the audience — and competition for their attention.  People share and consume incredibly granular information, and a fundamental communications vehicle – the press release – is proving remarkably adaptable and effective, provided communicators refresh their approach to using this PR workhorse in this new environment.

“Press releases have a chance to be something so much more relevant,” notes Steve Farnsworth, chief strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing, and publisher of the widely-read Steveology blog. “But they have to be immediately specific and relevant.”

Who’s reading press releases (and why?)

A couple minutes' worth of press release tweets from this morning.  Click the image to see the live feed.

A couple minutes’ worth of press release tweets from this morning. Click the image to see the live feed.

According to research PR Newswire conducted with Forrester on the visitors to PRNewswire.com, a significant portion of millions of monthly visitors are engaged in researching a product or service, and they find  press releases through their use of search engines.  People are also accessing press releases increasingly on mobile devices –views to PR Newswire’s mobile site have almost doubled in the last year. 

What’s the attraction? Press releases, as on-record statements from the organizations issuing them, are viewed as credible sources of information, and they are read and shared by the public, as well as journalists, analysts and bloggers.

“Most press releases that are produced aren’t read by the media, they’re read by the people,” says Farnsworth. “Your readers are going to be your stakeholders, and you’ll reach more directly that way than through the media.”

The long tail of the press release

Many communicators distribute the press releases in one way or another, whether through an email to industry players, a newsletter to customers or a commercial newswire service.  Once distributed, press releases develop an amazing ability to work their way into key industry niches, attaining the credibility of earned media status as they are liked, commented upon and shared.

Additionally, press releases are read long after they’re issued and the PR department has moved on to other things.  PR Newswire’s data indicates that most of the views the average press release will accrue over the four months following the distribution of the message – longer than many communicators expect.   A good message can actually increase its audience’s attention span.

To capitalize upon the ongoing attention the message generates, the press release also needs to provide direction for interested readers to take.

“The press release needs to be a guide to something bigger or better than itself, such as an infographic or ebook,” commented Eddy Badrina, co-founder and chief strategy officer at BuzzShift, a digital strategy agency.  “In fact, all those things you spend time creating probably deserve a press release.”

The recent “Dove Beauty Sketches” campaign included a exemplary press release that – while also loaded with multimedia elements – was also masterfully written to capture attention behind-the-scenes information about the wildly successful social media campaign.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .

 

Finding the Link Between Content & Conversion

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the role of content in the public relations and marketing strategies, and much of it is focused on the awareness-generating and attention-acquiring benefits a stream of content can produce.

However, as an organization builds out a content strategy, it’s also important to consider the role the published articles, case studies, press releases, blog posts, white papers, etc., work together to create a pathway for readers that ends (ideally) in conversion.

“Content creates the context for consumption,” noted Ninan Chacko, PR Newswire’s CEO, at the Content Marketing Summit hosted by the Business Development Institute last week. “Earned & paid media historically have been separate silos, but that’s changing.  Social media has brought the two together.  Audiences don’t live in the paid or the earned environments. The challenge is now how to craft content that lives across different media.”

The challenge for communicators, he went on to say, is in understanding the resulting metrics, and how engagement activities, such as social interactions, contribute ultimately to conversion.

“Ninan made a great case for engagement as a metric. While retweets, likes, and other signs of engagement might not directly translate to leads, they are invaluable when it comes to measuring the success of your efforts,”  wrote blogger John Brhel of Social Eddy, in his own recap of the event titled “Top 5 Quotes from Content Marketing Summit 2013.

Here is Ninan’s presentation deck, which illustrates the connection between content and customer conversion: 

8 Ways Law Firms (& Other Professional Services Companies) Can Use the Internet to Attract New Clients

legal marketingBefore moving into my current role as Chief Commercial Officer for PR Newswire, I worked for seven years as an M&A associate at two multinational law firms and then spent six years dealing with law firms (small and large) in my role as General Counsel for a large media group.   I have a unique perspective, having been involved in every aspect of law firm marketing, including:

  • Marketing to clients
  • Being marketed to, and
  • Marketing to law firms as a vendor, encouraging use of PR Newswire’s marketing & communications services.

I am passionate about law firm marketing because on the whole, law firms do a poor job of leveraging the tools available to them to drive business.  So, without further ado, here are my eight tips aimed at helping law firms optimize their online marketing efforts:

Your Website

A law firm’s website serves two purposes. It enables clients and others to find information about the firm and it also is the hub of a firm’s marketing activities.  Any marketer will tell you that your target audiences will spend more time on your site and click more often if your site contains multimedia elements, such as videos, photos and charts. Sadly, many law firm sites do not contain any of these elements (other than pictures of lawyers).  Blending the About Us section of your website with your News & Events content enables the firm to engage in brandstreaming (i.e. developing an ongoing flow of useful information that attracts potential clients and ultimately differentiates your firm from competitors while at the same time building authority and goodwill for your brand with the audience.)

Content Marketing

It is critical that a firm, regardless of whether it is small or large, engage in thought leadership activities online.  This includes publishing articles, white papers, webinars, short videos, etc. that address the questions and concerns your potential customers may have, and thus building credibility with this audience.  Law firms do a decent job of this, but the problem is that a significant part of the universe to which the relevant firm is marketing itself will never see this content.  That is because a very large majority of the content that law firms creates is placed on their website and maybe distributed to their email lists (i.e. a known audience).  In order to successfully drive more leads and clients, firms need to amplify what they are doing to their known audiences by distributing their content throughout earned, paid and owned media. Email, broadcast and print advertising can be effective, but they are that much more effective when the relevant content is distributed to numerous other relevant sites online.  This makes the content more discoverable.

Influencer Engagement

Bloggers and journalists produce content for communities that follow them.  Each of these bloggers and journalists owns a small piece or real estate online that is trafficked by interested parties.  By engaging with influencers, a firm is able to rent a portion of this real estate so that it can establish itself with the relevant audience.  How can a firm do this?  Well clearly, using a credible third-party distribution service helps because journalists and bloggers need content and are more likely to use content from a reliable source.  Another tactic is to use platforms that get experts (i.e. attorneys) quoted by relevant journalists and bloggers.

Testing

One of the most popular tactics being used by marketing teams is A/B testing of their online environments.  This involves serving up two or three different treatments of a webpage to an audience and then determining which of these treatments is most likely to cause the relevant audience to take the action that the firm wants them to take (downloading a white paper, watching a video, attending a webinar, reaching out to a specific attorney, etc.).

Social Media

Like most lawyers, I have control issues.  Giving up control by posting something in social media can be scary.  That said, more and more firms are doing it, especially to establish their attorneys as thought leaders.  Your clients and potential clients are on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and social media is often the best way to engage with them and establish yourself as the go to person on a topic.  There are many ways to increase your followers on social networks.

Driving Traffic Through Distribution

The adage “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to your web site, and when it comes to delivering your message to new audiences, your email list won’t fill the bill.  So how do you get the message out to the broader universe?  In addition to the social media tactics above, positioning the firm as a credible media source and distributing press releases  announcing the availability of new studies, articles or other materials will put your content on the virtual information map, and ensure it’s seen by broader audience.  Keep in mind that you can also distribute other sorts of timely commentary, which leads us to the next tip:

Newsjacking

Whether it be a key Supreme Court decision or some other event, things are happening every day that provide an opportunity for a firm to share its perspective and expertise.  We have seen many firms jump in on issues such as Obamacare, new tax laws, the fiscal cliff, gun control, etc.  By engaging in newsjacking, the firm is able to draft off of an event to accelerate its Marketing efforts and drive more leads.  And the beauty of this is that so long as the quality of the content is high, a small firm can be just as effective as a large firm.

Search Engines

I saved this one for last, for a reason.  And no, I’m not talking about spending a fortune on targeted ad-word buys.  One of the biggest benefits of publishing the content and fostering the interactions mentioned above is the fact that these activities can have a powerful impact on your web site’s organic search rank.   Providing fresh and current information gives search engines incentive to come back to your site repeatedly, and social interactions send potent signals to the search engines indicating people are finding the content useful.  Because the majority of internet searchers choose to click on organic links rather than sponsored ads within their search results,  it is easy to see why getting your firm onto the first page of search results is important.

So if you want to increase your client base, a good place to start is your web site.  As you develop and publish content to your site, use social media, press releases and multimedia elements to drive discovery and reach new audiences.

PR Newswire will be exhibiting at the Lawyernmomics Conference, April 26-27. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

Scott Mozarsky

Author

As EVP – Global Chief Commercial Officer, Scott oversees PR Newswire’s commercial activities worldwide, spearheading the company’s efforts to meet the communications, marketing and investor relations needs of its customers. Scott and his team ensure that PR Newswire’s services align with industry demand by identifying and integrating new tools and technologies that mesh with the company’s core communications offerings and provide a platform for continued growth.

How to Increase Content & Messaging Visibility with a Multi-Channel Distribution Strategy

We’re all creating content today, but how do we do it right?  Jon Miller(@jonmiller), co-founder of Marketo, along with Michael Pranikoff, PR Newswire’s director of emerging media, seek to answer that question in this webinar.

Jon began the discussion by talking about how marketing has changed in recent years.  Back in the ‘Mad Men’ era of marketing, a buyer would have to talk to a sales person to obtain information on a product, but with the abundance of information available on the internet, the sales person is no longer needed until much further along in the buying cycle. According to Forrester Research, at least in a Business-to-Business setting, a buyer is 65% to 90% finished with their sales cycle before they actually connect with a salesperson.  This has profound implications for marketers.

3 Main Benefits of Content Marketing:

1)      Increased Brand Awareness – Buyers are online.  When someone shares your content on a social network, that action gives you free brand awareness in a more powerful way than purchased advertising.

2)      Better Brand Preference – People are more likely to choose the product from a company they feel they have a relationship with.

3)      Risk Reduction – In Business-to-Business purchases especially, avoidance risk and fear tend to be the most dominant motions in play.  A person may make decisions out of fear of losing their job.  To reduce fear for your buyers, your trusted content and thought leadership will help you gain trust from your buyers, which is important.

Creating content for the buying process:

To create an effective campaign, you need to create compelling content for the appropriate stage of the buying process.  You don’t want to give late stage content to an early stage customer because it’s not relevant to them at this point.

– Early Stage:  By far, the majority of content is early stage – usually educational or entertaining content. It’s all about appealing to the audience before they become a customer.

– Middle Stage: the tools that will help a buyer when they are already thinking about a purchase, such as  a buying guide, ROI calculator or analyst data.

– Late Stage:  is about the product or service specifically, such as pricing, demos and case-studies.

No matter what stage, the content must always be relevant and helpful to the buyer.

The power of visuals

best press release format tips multimedia news release

Press releases that offer readers a variety of multimedia options (e.g. video, images, downloads) generate almost 10 times more views than plain-text messages.

Another trend that Jon talks about is the rise of visual content.    Not only does adding multimedia give you more views, there is also better engagement in content with multimedia elements than plain text.  Marketers need to create content that people want to share.  Michael Pranikoff sited a PR Newswire Web Analytics study that showed syndicated content gets more views as more multimedia elements are added.

Customers want to have fun.  With early-stage content, the more you can do to entertain, the better off you will be.  Jon talks about the jingle created to promote ‘The Definitive Guide of Marketing Automation’, an e-book available on the Marketo website.

As I was watching this webinar, I pulled up Marketo’s youtube channel & watched the video Jon referred to, as well as some other fun & informative marketing videos, and I can see why these videos would be shared & re-shared.  Jon said he believes humor and personality are way underused in b-to-b sales.

Don’t panic – this isn’t as daunting as it may seem

You don’t have to have all your content on Day 1.  Just keep creating something new all the time.  Think big, start small, move quickly.

Think about how you can take the content you have and cut it in different ways – re-purpose your content.

  • Promote your content on different channels:  including paid,  owned (such as your own website or blog) and earned.  On social media, don’t promote too much of your own content.  Build an audience and a following, which will build your presence and will get more impact for the content that you do share.
  • Syndicate & Connect – Michael Pranikoff shared a story about a client of PR Newswire’s that issued a short news release to online publications with a link to their blog post.  After syndicating the release, they found a 54% increase in blog traffic and higher search result ratings.  A little content syndication can go a long way. 

Social media can give you a boost on every other type of campaign.  You don’t have to run a social campaign, but make every campaign that you do social.  Give people a reason to share your content.

If you missed the live webinar,  you can assess a recording here: Connecting the Content Dots

Author Jillian Courtright is a Senior Customer Content Specialist at PR Newswire.

There’s No Excuse for Bad Content

Image via Velocity Partners. Click to access a great deck about content quality.

Image via Velocity Partners. Click to access a great deck about content quality.

Content marketing is the outgrowth of a number of long-terms trends in the communications business.  The ability of anyone to be a publisher.  The shrinkage of traditional media.  The questionable effectiveness of online advertising.  The changes in search.

But ultimately it is about producing content that is exactly what your audience wants to read.  Exactly what they are looking for.  The answer to their search for information.

Commercially produced content has rarely been any of the above.  Traditionally it has garnered views by trying to be in the right place at the right time so that the viewer/reader sees it in spite of the fact that he or she is really looking for something else.

Sponsored content, advertorial, paid content, pre-roll, whatever you call the output of marketing  and PR it has no doubt been considered B-list, isolated from the somehow purer editorially-produced content or the presumedly more valuable organic search result.

So content marketing is about moving up to the A-list.  Not trying to hitch a ride on the coattails of the seemingly more popular.  It’s about being the destination, not hanging around in the same neighborhood.

Which brings us face-to-face with the issue of content quality.  It is the prerequisite, the precursor, the minimal requirement, the absolute starting point for content marketing.  Because, let’s face it, marketing content traditionally just hasn’t been that good, focusing as it has on tweaking the reader’s wallet rather than his or her interest.

I’ll be the first to admit that I think journalist-produced content written for independent publishers is going to be better and more interesting to me than something that comes out of any organization’s marketing or PR department, but there’s also no reason that has to be the case.  Good writers aren’t that hard to find, and neither the number of opportunities nor the salaries paid by the media are going to make them inaccessible.  Photos, videos, and other types of images are easier to produce than ever.

And when you have good writers, good photographers, good videographers, you have to turn them loose.  Carefully-crafted, on-point, closely controlled organizational messaging isn’t going to work in content marketing, just as it doesn’t work in social media.  Take advantage of the diversity of voices and styles within your organization, don’t squeeze them.

And finally, produce content for your reader, not for your boardroom or your attorneys or for the search robots.  Create stuff you’d want to read, want to see.  Or…go back to buying banner ads.

Author Ken Dowell is PR Newswire’s EVP of social media & audience development.

Got some good content?  We can help you do some interesting things with it.  (And if you don’t have any, we can help you with that, too.)