Tag Archives: targeting

Pitching the Media: It’s not what it used to be

Life was so simple back when I was a reporter all those years ago. A pen, pad and a mic were all I needed to report the news of the day.

There were really only two ways someone could pitch a story idea to me for the television station I worked for.

Calling the newsroom was by far the most popular pitching method. My assignment editor was the gatekeeper of all incoming calls.  Amazing guy. He could juggle the phone lines, monitor the police scanner and fax machine all to the steady hum of news alerts spewing from the AP printer in the background. You had to get pass him before you could get to me.

If you couldn’t get through by phone, PR folks simply dropped their release in the mail.  That’s right, good ole snail mail!  A batch of releases and letters were neatly stacked on a designated corner of my assignment editor’s desk waiting to be weeded through daily.

It’s a lot different today. We have email and social media to thank for that. PR folks have a multitude of new tools they can now use to deliver their message to the media.

But some pitching rules hold fast.

“Know what the reporter is looking for,” says JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s Your Business. This is #1 on every journalist’s list I’ve come across as a media relations manager with PR Newswire so let’s start there.

  • Do your research: A journalists can tell right away how much you know about their publication or show. JJ says the tip off for her is when people pitch companies.

“We don’t profile companies or people. We feature lessons in small business. That’s what PR folks should pitch to my show.”  Make a good first impression by learning what the media point specifically covers; who their audience is and the various platforms they report on.

  • Personalize your pitch:  A canned pitch is not an effective pitch. Target your pitch to appeal to the media org’s readers/viewers. Be flexible and willing to change your strategy to fit the needs of the publication you’re pitching. Your objective may be to get coverage of an event, but the publication may be interested in another angle of the story. Be open to switching it up to accommodate the journalist.
  • Keep it simple:  Stay away from industry jargon.  “Journalists are not venture capitalists. Our eyes roll when we hear words like “synergy” or “next-generation” or other management-speak buzzwords,” says Colleen DeBaise, former special projects director of Entrepreneur.com and current digital media director at The Story Exchange.  Colorful words don’t make the story more attractive. In fact, it can be a total turn-off.
  • Be available:  Remember, you are on their time. Though you may not grab their attention at first, they may need you later down the road. And when that happens,  be ready.  When they call, answer. Whatever they need, get it. Believe me, they will be forever grateful that you helped them out at crunch time.

The art of pitching the media is forever evolving and changing depending on the nature of your story and the type of media you’re pitching. This Wednesday, I will be moderating a “Pitch the Media Live” panel at the Woman Entrepreneurs Conference in NY. Attendees will have the opportunity to pitch a panel of journalists on the spot and get their honest feedback.  Here are the conference details, agenda and the place you can register.

Work smarter!  Hone your pitches and streamline your workflow with Agility, the PR Newswire platform that enables you to target, monitor and engage with traditional and social media, all in one place.

Author Brett Savage-Simon is a senior manager of media relations for PR Newswire. 

Your Content Needs a Downstream Strategy

Brian Clark of Copyblogger at #CMWorld

Brian Clark of Copyblogger at #CMWorld

I’m up early, noodling on the input from day one of Content Marketing World, and just realized the great advice I heard yesterday all has a common theme, and it’s this:  content needs a downstream strategy.

Over the years we’ve heard a lot about planning editorial calendars, developing buyer personas, doing keyword research and plumbing social conversations for insights that together will help you create and publish amazing content your audience will love. However, almost all the speakers yesterday talked in some form about what happens post-publication.  Or, more specifically, what needs to happen.

Promote your content.  Both Jay Baer and Todd Wheatland emphasized the importance of supporting your own content, and they weren’t talking about just posting a few tweets.   Wheatland noted that most viral videos were boosted at some point with paid promotion.  And Baer went further, noting that advertising isn’t the content marketer’s competition – it’s an enabler that drives qualified views.  Advertising campaigns and PR can fuel significant visibility for the content your brand produces, and in addition to exposure to the audience, they can generate media along the way, which will launch your content into a different stratosphere.

Own the authorship. Copyblogger’s Brian Clark made no bones about the fact that authorship is becoming increasingly important, both in Google’s eyes and  in affecting individual decisions about consuming content.  Rel=author and rel=publisher tags, which essentially authenticate the source of the content by creating a linkage between the content and either a person’s or a brand’s Google+ page, will play an increasingly important role in surfacing content, as Google de-emphasizes anonymous content.   And according to Clark, authorship is something we need to be paying attention to when writing articles or guest posts.  “Who gets the canonical link is a negotiating point,” he noted in his session.

What’s the driver behind this new focus on content post-publication? Without a doubt it’s the finite amount of audience attention, and the spectacular amount of content every marketer is competing with today.  As Baer noted in his presentation, we’re competing for that attention with our audiences spouses, friends and family — not to mention cute baby animal videos — within Facebook news feeds, on Twitter and in almost every other social network.  The simple act of publishing great content is no guarantee of success.  To win qualified attention, content needs support, promotion and a badge of authenticity. In short, we need to build downstream strategies into our content planning.

Driving Content Discovery: TODAY at Content Marketing World – 10:45 a.m., Ballroom C 

We heard Jay Baer say “Market your marketing.” Today at Content Marketing World I’ll be talking about  exactly that,  in a session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   It’s scheduled for 10:45 and will be in Ballroom C.   I’ll be offering 19 (instead of the previously advertised 10) ways to build an element of discovery into your content strategy, and to promote the discovery of the information your brand publishes.  Hope to see you there! 

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

The Elusive Purchasing Time Horizon: Or Why Driving Content Discovery Really Matters

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report: 2013 Lead Generation Insights

Source: Business.com’s Small Business Pulse Report:
2013 Lead Generation Insights

A recent report on B2B lead generation by Business.com doesn’t offer a lot of clarity on which content marketing tactics generate the most valuable leads.  Generally speaking, the survey respondents were fairly evenly split on which tactics were most – and least – valuable.  Some believed webinars were useful, but whitepapers weren’t, others relayed an opposing view.

The one standout stat is that most B2B lead buyers want – but don’t get – information on their buyers’ purchasing horizons.

It’s easy to overlook the overwhelming and significant fact this report reveals, because that fact isn’t expressed in numbers or charts.  Some tactics work really well, some of the time.

Mix it up.  Rather than relying on one tactic that’s worked well in the past, it’s crucial to keep experimenting with timing, channel and content format, for a few reasons:

-          Different people have different preferences.  Communicating via myriad channels and formats multiples your opportunity to connect with prospects in the method they prefer.

-          Each platform and network has its own audience.  While searches on SlideShare.com represent a small percentage of the total views to the content we published there received, we have to assume the people who got to the content via a deliberate search are well qualified. Skipping one network reduces visibility among people who are truly engaged, and that’s not a tradeoff I’d personally like to make with my brand’s content.

Be present, because your prospects are.   According to an interview published by eMarketer, a significant majority – 88 percent – of B2B decision makers research potential purchases online prior to the buy.  And according to another study, buyers are deep into the decision process before they contact vendors.  I believe that it’s safe to assume that marketers will never have access to batches of leads with ideal purchase timelines.  But the fact is we still have plenty of opportunity to communicate with prospects that are at crucial points in their buying journeys, simply by being present with the right content online.

Seed discovery – atomize and distribute content.    Driving discovery of the content your brand publishes requires its own strategy.  Break apart white papers, webinar transcripts and other big blocks of content, and surface interesting messages and facts.  Develop simple graphics, promote content via online press releases, and share the myriad facts, snippets and assets you’ve created in order to develop the maximum amount of awareness and interest in your messages – across multiple audiences and platforms.

Done well, content marketing will bring people to your brand, familiarizing them with what your organization has to offer well before they identify themselves, and well before they are swept into the nurture stream.    However, effective content strategies require brands to constantly test, experiment with and use a variety of platforms and channels to publish messages.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery  at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.   She’ll be offering 19 (instead of the previously advertised 10) ways to build an element of discovery into your content strategy, and to drive the discovery of the information your brand publishes.  Here’s a sneak peek:

CMW session snippet

 

 

Focused Content: Lessons from Profitable Publishers

Data excerpted from the Association of Magazine Media resources.

Data excerpted from the Association of Magazine Media resources.

It’s no secret that traditional media outlets are struggling to recalibrate their business models to fit today’s digital economy, and many are struggling.  On the other hand, there are some publications that are logging impressive growth, and I’m a big believer in following the money.  How have these publications managed to deliver strong growth in such tough times? It turns out they have a common secret sauce: niche content. [Tweet it!]

I took a look at data from the Association of Magazine Media that compared paid and verified magazine circulation for 2012 and 2011, and I spotted some common attributes that offer important lessons to communicators crafting communications and planning campaigns.

Demographics:  Five of the top fifteen high-growth magazines are lifestyle magazines catering to Hispanic audiences.  One can’t ignore this potent market signal – there is real demand for content tailored for American Hispanics.  If you represent a consumer brand, and your organization hasn’t developed a strategy for communicating with the Hispanic marketplace,  a fantastic opportunity is being left on the table.

Niche focus:  Urban Farm. Bowhunt America.  Haggerty Classic Cars.  Woodcraft Magazine.   These are some of the top-performing titles, and they are tightly-focused publications.   It’s not enough to simply create content for hunters, for example.   There are big differences in hunting waterfowl, upland fowl and deer.    General content for “hunters” wouldn’t resonate deeply within these niches.   As the top performing magazines show us, there is opportunity for content that is an inch wide and a mile deep.

More than 200,000 people have liked Eating Well's Facebook page, and it's a lively and active social presence that attracts new audience continually.

More than 200,000 people have liked Eating Well’s Facebook page, and it’s a lively and active social presence that attracts new audience continually.

 Multiple platforms:  Top performer Eating Well, which logged circulation growth of almost 60% year on year, is much more than a magazine.  It’s a multi-channel juggernaut, with lively and engaged social presences and assets that parent company Meredith Corp. describes as:

  •  A highly successful and award-winning bi-monthly magazine with a circulation of  almost 590,000;
  • A content-rich website featuring healthy recipes, cooking how-to, meal plans and shopping tips, as well as articles, numerous blogs and nutrition advice. EatingWell.com averaged more than 1.8 million unique monthly visitors and 16 million monthly page views in the first half of 2011, making it one of the top 25 food sites in terms of traffic according to comScore;
  • A robust content licensing and custom marketing program providing diet and nutrition articles, how-to cook information, healthy recipes and meal plans to over 75 clients including major consumer portals, healthcare, food and supermarket retail partners;
  • A Healthy-in-a-Hurry mobile recipe app rated as a top foodie app by the iTunes store and top health app by Consumer Reports Health Newsletter; and
  • A series of high-quality food and nutrition-related books and cookbooks.

We’ve all heard the adage, “All brands are publishers now.”  Taking a close look at the successful and profitable publishers within our industries and markets offers smart guidance for content marketers.  Developing content that resonates with a passionate niche audience will help drive discovery of that messaging among liked minded people (a.k.a. well qualified prospects!)

Need to get into your niches? You can find niche influencers and track emerging trends and conversations with MediaVantage, our potent media monitoring suite that pulls traditional media coverage and social media mentions relevant to your work into a single database, so you can extract valuable information about your coverage with speed and ease.  Learn more
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery next month at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.

Create Discoverable Stories Using Editorial Calendars

8 21 edcal

The MarketWatch/Wall St. Journal editorial calendar provides a great framework for content ideas.

Story timing plays a crucial role in determining whether or not your story is discovered by your audience.  For years and years, media outlets have been publishing their editorial calendars, to help brands manage ad buys and PR pitches.   Those same editorial calendars are a rich resource for content marketers, too.

Time = Opportunity

As you peruse editorial calendars, you’ll notice that the lead times are generally pretty long, even for daily newspapers.  Special sections are planned and “in the can” well in advance of publication. There is opportunity for smart content creators within these timeframes, including:

  • Earned media:  Reporters covering the space will be starting to develop story ideas.  If your brand’s content plans will generate newsworthy content, get your PR team involved.   Surveys, market research and tips/advice are examples of owned content that can earn media when pitched to the right outlets.
  • Accelerating audience interest: In the run up to an event or season, audience interest increases.   Savvy brands can tune into early conversations to identify hot-button topics, and build content around those topics.  A well-structured content plan can also help the brand get ‘out in front’ of the conversations as well.
  • Opportunity to trigger and shape discussion:  As audience interest swells, brands can also trigger and shape discussion with content derived from research, polls and surveys.   Trends pieces and related tips can surface new topic angles with audiences and trigger new conversations.
This smart press release from CCH includes a state-by-state list of tax holidays, making it relevant both in terms of timing and geography.  (Click the image to see the whole story.)

This smart press release from CCH includes a state-by-state list of tax holidays, making it relevant both in terms of timing and geography. (Click the image to see the whole story.)

Developing content that supports the brand’s key themes credibly can create the foundation for shaping the direction of the conversation. The relationship between timing and the ultimate discovery of brand messaging is clear.  There’s a lot to be gained for the brand that is prepared and catches the wave of attention around an event or topic as it’s developing, not waning. However, it’s also important to remember to seed discovery with distribution of message components.   Tactics you’ll want to have in your toolbox include:

  • Social and traditional media monitoring:  Keep tabs on conversations, stories, influencers, new trends, and new players.
  • PR savvy:  Don’t overlook the opportunity to generate valuable earned media.  Pitch relevant journalists newsworthy facts, data and trends.   Generate more visibility for assets you produce, such as surveys, white papers and infographics with a press release that outlines a few key points and offers readers a link to the rest of the information.
  • Visual development:  Don’t forget to develop visuals.  An infographic is more than just a great way to illustrate a trend or make data more tangible.  Multimedia assets attract more viewers, and can develop lives and audiences of their own.

One final note:  a strong social presence for the brand is especially helpful for capitalizing upon ultra-timely, news-driven topics.  Make building and bolstering your brand’s social presence and the relationship with the audience an ongoing priority – these are important assets that deliver tremendous value to the organization and provide ongoing visibility for the brand.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books “Unlocking Social Media for PR and the soon-to-be-published “New School PR Tactics.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery next month at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   Stop by the PR Newswire booth to see what’s new (and enter a great give away!) In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag #CMWorld.

5 Ways Press Release Writers Can Offer More Content & Guidance to Readers & Journalists

Last night PR Newswire completed the updates to our content syndication network and on www.prnewswire.com  to meet Google’s new guidelines regarding links in press releases.  And we’re convinced that in this new environment, new opportunities for press release issuers abound.

Here’s why.

Now that these changes have been made, we no longer have to caution you, as we had recently, to be careful to limit links to just one or two per press release,. You’re now able to  link the interesting and useful content that best serves your readers, and your business.  This means you’ll be able to add more richness and depth to press releases, using links to add new dimensions to the content you present, such as:

  • Adding credibility and accessibility to the experts quoted in press release, by adding a link to their expert profile on Profnet Connect, bio on your web site, a paper they wrote or their social media handle.  This is a particularly handy reference for journalists and bloggers considering covering the story.
  • Encouraging interaction by plugging a “Tweet this” link into your content, following a key stat or pithy quote.
  • Boosting measurability and engagement by using a landing page. Get cozy with your marketing team, and instead of simply linking to a page on your web site, have a landing page designed specifically for your press release.  Populate that page with content that is relevant to your message, and provides details for journalists and engagement for potential customers.  Landing pages are extremely measureable, too. If the press release you issue does a good job of generating interest, the landing page will support and measure subsequent audience engagement.
  • Building curation into your content. This might sound counterintuitive, because press releases are all about the company message. But think about it: most of the organizations we represent are spending a lot of time, energy and resources publishing content these days. Curate some of that content for your press release readers.  Embed a relevant link in the body of the copy to related media coverage or an industry blog post.  Using a link, you can surface relevant earned media, to bolster the message credibility.
  • Creating pathways for potential customers.  We know that potential buyers look at press releases as credible sources of information.  Cozy up to your marketing team again and channel this interest by incorporating a call to action in the form of a strategically placed link within a press release.  This link can go to a landing page with quick access to trials, demos and downloads, which will appeal to people doing research on potential purchases.

 Because we no longer have to worry about leaving search engine juice on the table with press release links, we can now link to all the information and resources that help journalists, reader and buyers — which will ultimately make the messages more effective.

However, we’d also like to insert one note of caution.  We’re not recommending that you link to every conceivable asset your organization can muster.  Scads upon scads of links are annoying and turn readers off.  We’re advocating message craftsmanship, using links strategically to present related and useful information and logical next steps for readers.   (A good rule of thumb: if a piece of content or related web page isn’t specifically relevant to the press release, don’t link to it.)

Start to think of press releases as the trail head for a route that leads back to your company, and avoid presenting readers with a maze or circuitous route.  The path should lead clearly to the objective, and not send readers wandering in circles or into dead ends.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books “Unlocking Social Media for PR and the soon-to-be-published “New School PR Tactics.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Coming up at Content Marketing World:

Sarah is presenting on the topic of content discovery next month at Content Marketing World, in session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.”   We hope to see you in Cleveland at the show!   In the meantime, follow the conversation on Twitter, hashtag#CMWorld.

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.