Tag Archives: storytelling

To the Relevant go the Rewards

Photo via the Lakewood Citizen (@lkwdcitizen)

Content Marketing World’s host Joe Pulizzi with Kevin Spacey at #CMWorld this year. Photo via the Lakewood Citizen (@lkwdcitizen)

How important is message relevance in gaining audience attention and swaying opinion? This year’s closing keynote at Content Marketing World provided a textbook example of power relevant messages have in developing audience connection.

In a tour de force keynote that was all too short, actor Kevin Spacey grabbed the orange-clad faithful in Cleveland by their collective noses, and brought them to their feet – numerous times.

Over the course of his talk, Spacey answered the question he posed at the outset (“What the hell am I doing here?!) proving that he belonged at a content marketing conference with an eloquent and inspiring discussion of the key elements of great storytelling, which he underpinned with a collection of fantastic stories that drove home his key points.

The presentation was a living case study in the power a relevant message designed for a specific audience.

A seasoned stage actor, Spacey understands audience connection in a more intimate way than many of us will ever experience.  In reality, he’s probably given a version of his keynote talk before – it was one that any theater or entertainment enthusiast would have enjoyed.  But by taking the time to pepper the presentation with examples drawn from the advertising and marketing realms. Spacey fine tuned his content for his audience, and as a result, was immediately accepted as credible and authentic by the crowd of savvy content marketers.

In addition to schooling the assembled on message targeting, Spacey also beautifully illustrated the galvanizing effect of a great story, illustrating his own points with specific and relevant vignettes.

While Spacey was on stage, Twitter was ablaze with tweets and Instagram was groaning under pictures uploaded by those in attendance.  In the ensuing days, blogs recapping the keynote and collections of tweets on Storify appeared and were shared in droves.  Spacey provoked a lot of on-the spot engagement and ensuing discussion.

This was in stark contrast to the closing keynotes at Content Marketing World in years past, which have  delivered heavy doses of entertainment, a welcome relief from the intensity of the preceding sessions.  Two years ago, in Columbus, Jack Hanna brought some interesting and beautiful animals to visit the CMWorld audience.   Last year, William Shatner graced the stage.  Both sessions were a lot of fun.

But Spacey clicked.  Spacey was memorable.  Spacey proved that he was one of us, and the key to the powerful connection he created with the audience was a beautifully crafted relevant message, underpinned by well-told stories.

Do you need a hand finding, telling and illustrating your brand’s stories?   Take a look at how our team at MultiVu can help you create and share your message

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.

Storytelling With a Plan to Inspire #CMWorld

According to Andrew Davis (@TPLDrew) in his keynote that kicked off Content Marketing World today, the marketing funnel was invented in 1898 and is sorely in need of retirement.

In reality, he says, the best model for the online universe in which our brands live isn’t a simple funnel – it’s the universe.

“A Galilean model of the online universe has Google at the middle,” he told the assembled faithful at Content Marketing World, as he took the audience through a convoluted search journey.  “Funnel that.”

Look at your consumer’s perspective and map their universe, he challenged the group. It’s populated with the content and networks they love.  Ask yourself where your brand sits within universe?  Are you at the center? No.  Most brands are on the outer peripheries of their audiences’ universes.

Should we even be asking how we get closer and closer to the center of our audiences’ universes?  Probably not.  Can you put your content closer to THEIR universe, and still get them to act.

The key, Davis notes, is to know what inspires — and what triggers.

The buyers’ journey today doesn’t look at all like the centuries-old funnel.  Instead, Davis calls the process “active evaluation,” throughout which consumers continually add and subtract brands as they move closer and closer to purchase.

Creating moments of inspiration can keep your brand in active consideration and provide the trigger that moves the buyer to action.

But what is a moment of inspiration? Create moments of inspiration that can send people on a journey — instants in time that send them on journeys they never expected.   Therein, Davis posits, is the greatest revenue opportunity for content marketers.

Andrew Davis’ 4 secrets to driving moments of inspiration that drive revenue for brands.

  1. Build suspense when you tell a story. Create anxiety – what happens next?  Create drama.
  2. Foster aspiration. Show your audience the potential, and how they can achieve it. Tap into your audiences’ aspirations.
  3. Drive empathy. Understand and speak to your audiences’ feelings.
  4. Harness emotion. Get the audience to take action based upon the emotion you’ve generated and inspire people to act.

Make triggering an irresistible urge to act a primary goal of your marketing, Davis suggests.  After all, nothing has fueled our culture and consumer culture more than the content brands we love.

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.




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

Timeless Storytelling Tips from Former PR Newswire Features Editor Fred Ferguson

freddieEditor’s note:  The following piece is based upon an article published years ago by our then Features Editor, Fred Ferguson.  We were saddened to hear news this week of Fred’s passing.  A PR Newswire employee for more than 16 years, Fred left an indelible mark on the organization and instilled keen news sensibility in many of his colleagues.   In today’s age of content marketing, his advice on fashioning effective news pieces is more relevant and timely than ever.

A computer programmer develops a program to keep Internet pornography from the PC his son uses.

A retired schoolteacher produces a set of cards to teach his own children math and vocabulary faster.

And a dance teacher confined to a chair because of a broken leg creates a videotape teaching chair dancing.

These are the personal, dramatic stories that once hid in routine news releases, according to Fred Ferguson, the former manager of PR Newswire’s Feature News Service who passed away on August 22, 2014.

His advice, which encouraged organizations to incorporate feature news writing into their press releases and publicity campaigns, is still instructive today, and not just for PR pros penning press releases.  Marketers who want their content to resonate with audiences should pay heed to Ferguson’s words too.

“Organizations and companies who need publicity may get more exposure by doing a feature story rather than issuing a straight news releases,” said Ferguson, who was a longtime reporter, editor and executive with United Press International before joining PR Newswire.  “Unless you’re announcing something or have breaking news, tell your story in a feature that won’t bury the heart of it.”

Ferguson’s tips for creating a compelling feature story focused rigorously on putting the audience for the story first, and the brand second.

  • Hit editors with the story in the headline, which is all they see in selecting stories.
  • Tell the same story in first paragraph, which should never be cute, soft, a quote or a question. These leads obstruct getting to the story. People, editors included, don’t read deep;
  • Support the first paragraph with a second that backs it up and provides attribution. Bury the product and service name at the end of the second paragraph so it becomes less advertorial.
  • Try to keep all paragraphs under 30 words and to three lines. This curbs fulmination, is easier for editors to cut to fit available space, holds the reader’s attention and is attractive in most page layouts;
  • Do not excessively repeat the name of a product or service. Doing so is story desecration and the feature loses print and broadcast opportunities;
  • Forget superlatives. Forget techno babble. Forget buzz words. Tell why consumers care instead;
  • Never say anything is first or the best, express an opinion or make claims unless you directly attribute it to someone. Editors avoid anything not pinned to someone;
  • Avoid the self-serving laundry list of products or services. A better way to introduce a product or service is to have a spokesperson discussing it as a trend or advising how to use it;
  • Know that putting the corporate name in all capital letters violates style and will be rejected by many as advertorial and unsightly. Also beware trademark repetition.
  • Do not use the corporate identity statement. Instead, use the information throughout the story so that it will be used. If you must use the boilerplate, put it in note to editor so it won’t interfere with text.

Storytelling is all the rage today in marketing circles.  Fred knew the power of stories, and taught scores of communicators the ins and outs of storytelling.

Our thoughts are with Fred’s family and friends, and he has our everlasting thanks for his sharing of his knowledge and enthusiasm with his cohorts, cronies, colleagues and clients.