Tag Archives: Visual Storytelling

Satellite Media Tours: Moving Beyond the TV

A sure-fire way to gain TV exposure for your organization’s story is with a satellite media tour (“SMT.”)  SMTs enable your spokesperson or expert to virtually visit a variety of television markets in rapid succession via a series of interviews that are pre-booked with participating  stations.

In reality, though, SMTs deliver more than TV exposure.  Most stations have robust web presences, enabling online audiences to see segments even if they missed the newscast on which a piece originally aired. Additionally, by incorporating audio and online interviews,  the SMT can rapidly morph from a television-only campaign into one that encompasses radio and online audiences, as well.   We’re even doing Blogger Media Tours, focusing on delivering interviews directly to targeted bloggers.

 SMT options:  solo or co-op

Most organizations work with a vendor (such as PR Newswire’ s MultiVu™ division) that coordinates pitching the story to TV stations and other outlets, coordinating  media bookings and managing all of the logistics, including the recording location (whether in a studio or elsewhere) and the communications with the media outlets and bloggers.

 

There are two different approaches to satellite media tours:  your brand can either go it alone, or you can join a couple other brands telling related stories on a cooperative effort, something we call a “co-op SMT.”    The magnitude of your organization’s story as well as your budget are two of the key factors in determining which approach to take for your story.

A co-op tour is a satellite media tour featuring two to four participants focusing on a particular topic or event, such as fitness, beauty, personal finance or sports. Each participant is given 20 seconds to convey their message.  Because resources are pooled the participants, co-ops provide a cost-effective option for reaching consumer audiences.

 What to expect:

Once you have decided to go ahead with your SMT, your MultiVu representative will work with you to coordinate all aspects of your media tour and will ensure that your SMT achieves optimum results. MultiVu will advise on tour date as well as coordinate all onsite logistics, whether at a studio or at a remote location.  We will also discuss key messages, create a one page media alert for use in pitching and determine the most effective overall strategy.   Pitching ideally gets underway a minimum of four weeks prior to tour date.  Strong, up-to-date media contacts mean everything when it comes to booking a media tour.  MultiVu maintains excellent relationships with individual producers at TV, Radio and internet shows who we know will be interested in your story.

On the day of the media tour, plan to have talent arrive approximately an hour before the first interview, this usually means around 5:00 or 5:30 AM ET.  “Business casual” attire is generally most appropriate, and  spokespeople should not wear white or heavily-patterned shirts.  Once at the studio, the spokesperson will go into makeup and your onsite SMT producer will review the morning’s activities and ensure that all technical facets of the tour are set. If possible, sit the spokesperson down for a quick dry run interview before the tour gets underway.  TV interviews will typically be between 2 and 3 minutes long, radio and web interviews will typically be longer (up to 10 minutes.)  The spokesperson will be alerted beforehand as to whether the interviews are live or taped and where the interviews are originating.

The day following the media tour, MultiVu will provide a preliminary report listing airings, audience reached and equivalent advertising values, and if available, streaming video links to the TV segments.  MultiVu will also produce a DVD copy of the entire satellite media tour for your records, which can later be used to assemble a highlights reel.

An evolving resource for media:

Media tours have evolved significantly over the last several years in step with the changing media environment.  For example, in years past, a “traditional” SMT took place between the hours of about 6:00-10:00 AM ET and included interviews solely on morning TV newscasts. Now, SMTS are often extended to 11:00 AM ET or even later to allow for increased booking opportunities, as some stations prefer to tape segments for later use.  Additionally, we’re also incorporating radio and online interviews into the tour, as these additional bookings mean significant added audience and return on your investment.

With the proper guidance, media tours can be a highly effective tool to convey your messages to the media as well as to the public at large, via both broadcast and online outlets.  If you have questions or want to learn more, contact the MultiVu team.

Learn how to empower your communications with visuals — join next week’s free webinar – details below. 

Click to register for our upcoming webinar on utilizing visuals to boost the effectiveness of B2B content.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Does Your Story Belong on TV? Look to Your Audience for the Answer

 

“How do I get my story on to TV?”

When we hear this question (and we hear it a lot) we know that the person asking it is really trying to meet a few different challenges. In reality, they’re asking “How do I reach a broad audience?” “How do I generate a high-impact message?” and “How do I tell my story visually?”

As you might guess, these few questions have a lot of answers. We’re going to tackle them over the next few days in a series of blog posts about using visual content to reach core groups.

multimedia comms webinar

Learn more about incorporating visuals into your B2B mix – click to register for our free webinar!

The best way to begin building a visual strategy is to start with your audience.

First, ask yourself who the brand really needs to reach with the message. That’s the key question you need to ask when setting the course for your visual story, and determining whether or not TV really is the best channel for your message. Morning talk and network news shows do reach a broad swath of consumers. If your story truly has broad public appeal, pursuing television coverage may in fact make a lot of sense.

It’s worth spending a few minutes thinking specifically about your story in the context of the audience, too. TV and radio producers are looking for “news you can use” content with easy-to-understand consumer messages. Stories need to be useful, interesting and relevant to the media outlet’s audiences if they’re to win consideration by the production staff.

Pro tip: Frame your story in the context of what the potential audience will find most relevant. That will give you the best shot at creating messages that will win media attention and resonate with target audiences.

However, if an honest assessment of your audience reveals that it’s more niche than national, TV probably isn’t the best route to take – but that doesn’t mean leaving video by the wayside. An array of online videos – including expert commentary, a real-life demo, and customer stories – can draw audience and be re-purposed for use in email campaigns, on social networks, in newsletters and on blog posts (to name just a few.)

Coming tomorrow: Getting your story onto TV (and other channels) with a satellite media tour.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

4 Ways Healthcare Communicators Can Educate and Connect with Patients

Featured panelists during the Q&A session at the Future of Healthcare Communications Summit

Featured panelists during the Q&A session at the Future of Healthcare Communications Summit

According to Manhattan Research’s President, Meredith Ressi, 65% of online consumers say that the internet is critical for obtaining medical information. Now that the Affordable Care Act has taken effect, the healthcare market is experiencing an influx of diverse consumers who are increasingly relying on digital and mobile technology to educate themselves. It is up to healthcare communicators then, to evolve their tactics in order to help patients navigate the ACA’s complex policies. Industry thought-leaders featured at the Future of Healthcare Communications Summit, co-presented by Business Development Institute and PR Newswire, offered their perspective on how healthcare communicators can utilize digital platforms to inform and motivate patients to better manage their well-being.

Engage audiences with multimedia to simplify complex ideas

PR Newswire’s Global Director of Emerging Media, Michael Pranikoff, notes that 85% of brands publish content, but only 35% believe they are doing so effectively. The likely issue is that complicated messages are driving audiences away and leading them straight to competitors.  Instead, multimedia content such as videos allow complex ideas to be simplified in a concise format that grabs audience attention and amplifies visibility. Engagement on social channels such as Youtube, Instagram, and Pintrest is primarily driven by images, so communicators who do not employ visual tactics are squandering additional opportunities for their message to be seen.

Furthermore, consumers have become more aware of overt marketing tactics and are not interested in brazen sales pitches. Videos focus more on storytelling than on the brand, which helps build a mutual trust. As Pranikoff says, “If you are not providing visuals, you are not taking control of your messages.”

Communicate clinical innovations through earned media

Patients with special conditions need to know where they can turn to for help. Johns Hopkins Medicine shares their success stories involving biomedical discoveries, patient survival, and highly qualified physicians to establish the organizations credibility as a leader in the health community. According to Dalal Haldeman, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the brand was recognized by 80.2% of participants in a national survey against the most recognizable consumer brands such as McDonald’s, Google, and Coca-Cola. Brand recognition is immensely important to the patients who are putting their lives into the hands of healthcare providers, and earned media is one of the best ways to build that trust.

Be aware of language and cultural considerations before utilizing a specific communications tool

Consumers are making their own decisions on treatment providers, but different audiences are using different channels to shop for their plans. For example, Makovsky’s Executive Vice President, Gil Bashe, reports that African Americans are most likely to use smartphones to access healthcare information more than any other group. Understanding the demographic usage behind each communication tool can help segment the market and target the messages that are most appropriate for those audiences.

Top support and solutions that online consumers want from pharma

Top support and solutions that online consumers want from pharma

Listen to social conversations and use this information to inform your health programs

The rise of consumerism has created an environment focused on collaboration and engagement in the healthcare industry. A study by Manhattan Research finds that 59% of online consumers are interested in patient support to learn more about their conditions and how to cope. Social conversations provide a context for the types of information that patients are looking for. Using data analysis, healthcare providers can develop more sophisticated programs to connect patients with their communities.

The statutes of the Affordable Care Act are still largely misunderstood by the public, giving healthcare communicators an important opportunity to fill the information gap. But in order to do so effectively, healthcare communicators need to embrace the new age of interaction that is less product-focused and more patient-focused. Digital and mobile technology makes it possible to speak directly to patients in an environment they feel most comfortable in. By utilizing visuals, customizing messages, and listening to social conversations, healthcare communicators can better prepare the public to take increased responsibility for their own health management.

Telling Your High-Science Healthcare Story to Consumers

Future of Health Summit Logo

Video has often been a tool to help simplify a complicated message, and a way to add comments of credible, third-party thought leaders on a specific topic. In the healthcare space, this is common practice. For years, pharmaceutical and biotech companies have been using interview-style soundbites to simplify and support their message. While this is still common, we’ve also seen an increase in companies using production styles like kinetic topography, animation and illustration to also support their campaigns and announcements. Over the past year, Multivu has produced and distributed these types of videos for healthcare programs, such as:

  • FDA approvals and commercial launches
  • Life-cycle announcements
  • Disease awareness campaigns
  • Data publications
  • Live presentations/roundtables

A recent video used as part of an FDA approval announcement of an oncology treatment is a good example.  While it’s typical to add video to support an FDA approval, this example was interesting because the video was unbranded and focused more on explaining the disease state and tumor type rather than the treatment option. Often times, the content that is distributed by the pharmaceutical company is found online via search and editorial websites. The video made it possible for those potential patients and caregivers reading about the newly approved drug to have a better understanding of the disease itself. The video itself utilized whiteboard animation (or, video scribing), which was particularly engaging for a lay audience.

Many might think that a video about a complex and high-science disease state would not be as impactful as the traditional “talking head” video featuring a key opinion leader (KOL) or Chief Medical Officer (CMO), but what we found was the video did very well in terms of views and engagement. This confirms our thought that both the media and online news seekers are looking for what we refer to as “explainer videos.” This type of content, if produced correctly, provides insightful information in a very digestible format.

For more about this, I welcome you to attend our very own Michael Pranikoff’s presentation at the upcoming Future of Healthcare Communications Summit on February 25th  presented by Business Development Institute.

Follow the link to register now: http://www.cvent.com/d/l4ql1w

George HeadshotAuthor George DeTorres (@georgedetorres) is the Divisional Vice President at MultiVu. 

Brand Content in the Age of the Selfie

Our wedding selfie

Our wedding selfie

I got married last November.  It was a great day that was immortalized online via all of my social channels when my husband took his phone, pointed it at us, and said, “Time for our Wedding Selfie.”

We’ve all done it – and on multiple occasions.  We take a self-pic….or Selfie.  Oxford Dictionary stated that the word, “Selfie” was the word of 2013.   Searching  the term “selfie” reveals that this is not just a term that we are using nowadays  in reference to  a younger generation; people are really interested in looking at this content and producing it.

But here’s the question, is this a trend that carries over to brands?  How does the ability for people to easily create their own content today impact the content that is being created by brands as a whole?

Google trends on the word "selfie"

Google trends on the word “selfie”

Throughout history, there have been many defining moments for content and art.  I reference art because in history, it has mostly been art that has depicted for the masses a reflection of itself.  Now, I’m no art historian (but I did take one art history course when I attended Syracuse University), but we’ve seen some interesting changes in how art has gone through a similar evolution as man from depicting the Gods, to the rich, to the common everyday person.   When Renoir first depicted everyday people doing everyday normal things, this was a revolutionary idea to the art world and to us….but not anymore.   Today, the ability for anyone to create a piece of content at any time challenges all of us to work harder as we create.

#KissTed on Instagram

#KissTed on Instagram

Brands are playing with the idea of the selfie and trying to incorporate it into their marketing campaigns.   The clothing brand, Ted Baker, used the idea of the selfie in their holiday campaign using in-store and window displays to display social content using the hashtag #KissTed. Mobile Commerce Daily wrote about this unique program in creating social buzz and a search on Instagram metrics provider, Statigram, found that the hashtag #KissTed was used on Instagram approximately 588 times.

Some brands are even opting to incorporate selfies into their campaigns.  Dove had tremendous success in 2013 with the Dove Real Beauty campaign, earning them the title of Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  This campaign was also one of the most viewed releases on PR Newswire last year.  Great success however doesn’t stop the creative mind.  Dove followed up with their #BeautyIs campaign that co-opts the idea with a short-film entitled, “Selfie.”  This campaign follows the same principles and ideas of their “Real Beauty” campaign and has achieved organic results with over 765,000 views to day.

Click the image to view the entire multimedia news release

Click the image to view the entire multimedia news release

So, brands are trying things out…and that’s good, but does that answer how a brand competes with user created content and the selfie?  At PR Newswire, research has shown multiple times that content with multimedia performs better than content without.  However, that doesn’t mean that all multimedia is created equal.  Your content today has to drive connection and action in order to be successful.

This is a subject I will be exploring further in San Francisco on March 27th in a seminar series entitled, “How To Keep Your Content Relevant in the  Age of the Selfie.” Click here to register now: http://prn.to/P8Wi6l 

Pranikoff LinkedIn Headshot - Sept 2013

Michael Pranikoff is PR Newswire’s Global Director, Emerging Media. Follow him on Twitter @mpranikoff or add him to your circle on Google+

Webinar Recap: Measuring the Effectiveness of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives

Measuring the Success of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives

During major televised events, audiences are not only anticipating the main spectacle but also the marketing efforts surrounding it. Access to millions of viewers and a highly engaged social audience means the stakes are higher than ever for advertisers to execute a successful campaign. PR Newswire and Commpro.biz co-hosted the webinar “Measuring the Effectiveness of Sponsorship and Event Initiatives” which discussed some of the emerging trends in advertising that were seen throughout Sunday’s big game. While some brands chose to invest millions into television advertising, others attempted to capitalize on real-time marketing through social media. The webinar’s expert panelists weighed in on which of these efforts were the most successful as well as future strategies for creating content that will achieve a desirable return on investment.

Pre-event marketing

Brands that did not invest in game day advertising saw an opportunity to capitalize on its newsworthiness before the big event. Newcastle Brown Ale received tremendous exposure when their “No Bollocks” ad featuring Anna Kendrick became a viral hit. Jack Neff, editor-at-large for Advertising Age, has seen an increasing number of brands relying on this tactic and believes that the strategy’s effectiveness is due to a heightened awareness among consumers of the marketing efforts leading up to the game.

Ads acknowledging consumer awareness of brand messaging

Newcastle Brown Ale earned additional publicity from their decision to turn traditional marketing on its head and take a blatant, more honest approach to advertising. According to Consumer Products Executive, Zara Ingilizian, this type of advertising is a new way of building authenticity for the brand because it shows respect for the consumer’s knowledge of marketing tactics.

Telling a story across multiple ads

Brands like Bud Light and Wonderful Pistachio went against the typical short-form commercial by showcasing ads that filled multiple spots during the broadcast. According to Neff, while these types of ads cost substantially more money, they are successful in attracting a desirable ROI because they build audience suspense and benefit from a longer exposure time.

Producing videos in real-time

PR Newswire’s Global Director of Emerging Media, Michael Pranikoff, took note of the brands stepping up their content efforts by engaging on social media throughout the game and producing videos in real time. Tide cleverly used six-second Vine videos as a real-time response to the major ads being broadcasted live. Pranikoff believes that Tide benefitted from Vine’s ability to automatically play in the viewer’s newsfeed instead of directing audiences to a separate page. The brand showcased tremendous preparedness and took advantage of a unique opportunity to make an impression on a large audience for a product that might not be at top of mind during a sporting event.

Including hashtags in television ads

According to Ingilizian, hashtags were mentioned in about 60% of the total game day ads this year, a major spike from just 10% in 2013. Ingilizian believes that using this tactic will continue to be favored among consumers and drive real-time discussion on Twitter.

Though audiences look forward to witnessing extravagant marketing efforts on game day, Neff cites a study by research firm Communicus which found that 80% of the ads do not produce a change in purchase intent. To guarantee a desirable ROI, the panelists offered some advice on producing content with maximum rewards:

-          Determine the purpose of your brand and whether your target audience will be present in the conversation. Sometimes it may not even make sense for your brand to participate in every flagship event.

-          Build anticipation and the branding aspect beforehand to gain additional impressions. While there is a lot of attention and engagement during the big event, it is harder to stand out amongst a clutter of high-tech ads competing for the same attention.

-          Stay true to your brand. While being creative is important, sometimes theatrics can overshadow what the brand is actually about

-          Calculate your ROI based on the entire campaign and not just the 30-second ad. Ads should be part of a holistic effort to promote your brand message.

For more on measuring the effectiveness of event sponsorships, follow the link to view the on-demand presentation: https://www.webcaster4.com/Webcast/Page/10/3272

Content We Love: A Feel-Great Story Gets a Boost

ContentWeLove

Have you seen the WestJet “Real Time Giving” video yet?  If you have, I know you want to watch it again.  If you haven’t, you really must. Either way, here it is:

As of this writing, the video has been viewed more than 19 million times since its release earlier this week, and I think it’s safe to say that this is just a start.

As totally lovable as the video is, however, it’s not the subject of my adoration this week.   That honor is reserved for the press release the WestJet team used to promote the video, seeding the media coverage and social visibility that triggered viral sharing. lil tweet

WestJet Today

Like the kid who circles everything in the catalog, the West Jet had the waterfront covered, creating a variety of visual assets, and wrapping them into a fully loaded press release.

A press release about promotional video?  Yes. The team deftly used paid media to promote their owned media, resulting in an earned media avalanche, with pick up in USA Today, the Today Show, Mashable, Huffington Post and Forbes, to name just a handful of outlets running the story.

westjet mashablePromoting content via a newswire service like PR Newswire (or, in this case, our sister company up north, Canada Newswire,) to promote owned content may strike some PR people as strange.  However, it’s a tactic that has proven to work well for the content marketing crowd, who don’t blanch at the idea of marketing their marketing.

Using a newswire to promote content delivers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Reaching a larger audience.  When you distribute content online via PR Newswire, for example, it is re-posted on thousands of web sites, exposing the message instantly to new audiences.
  • Seeding social interactions.  Search engines weigh social interactions heavily in their algorithms, and sparking a spate of tweets or a bevy of +1s can give content a significant boost in search rankings — as well as reaching an expanding audience and setting the stage for viral growth.
  • Capitalizing on the opportunity to earn some media, while you’re at it.  The WestJet video is a great case in point.  The video itself isn’t terribly newsworthy, however, its popularity is.  WestJet was beautifully prepared for that possibility, distributing related images and several other videos, including a blooper reel and a more serious interview with Richard Bartrem, the company’s vice president of communications and community relations, in which he spoke  about the inspiration and logistics behind the airline’s second annual holiday surprise video.

westjet usatoday

According to Todd Wheatland’s Content Marketing World presentation earlier this year, most viral videos have been given a big leg up through paid promotion.  If you want your video to go viral, Wheatland said, first you need to be certain that it is fantastic.  The next step? Buying some promotion. And distribution of the content via PR Newswire is a fast, efficient and cost-effective mechanism for driving the content into new audiences and seeding social visibility – the foundations of viral spread of content.

So kudos to the WestJet team on job very well done, and thanks for brightening our day.  This is truly content we love!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the newly-published ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

A sampling of the media coverage:

NPR: Must Cry Video? Watch WestJet Airline’s ‘Christmas Miracle’

Forbes: The Real ‘Christmas Miracle’ of WestJet’s Viral Video: Millions in Free Advertising 

New York Daily News: WestJet Airlines Surprises Passengers With Gifts After They Touch Down From Flights 

Buzzfeed: This WestJet Christmas Miracle Will Make Your Day 

Huffington Post:  WestJet Finds Out What Passengers Want For Christmas, Leaves Presents at Baggage Claim

 

PR Secrets: Master Digital Press Releases and Get More Journalism Coverage

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta's Shade Vaughn.

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta’s Shade Vaughn.

If you tuned in last week to the Bulldog Reporter PR University webinar Mastering Interactive News Releases: 7 PR Secrets of Digital Press Releases That Woo Editors and Wow the Public, you likely came out with more than seven secrets.

The powerhouse panel of social media and PR experts included:

  • Taylor L. Cole (@TravelwithTLC), director of PR and social media with Hotels.com;
  • Melanie Moran (@melaniemoran), executive director of integrated communications for Vanderbilt University News and Communications;
  • Shade Vaughn (@shadevaughn), director of PR and events with Rosetta;
  • Serena Ehrlich (@serena), director of social & evolving media with Business Wire; and
  • Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik), vice president of social media with PR Newswire/MultiVu

It’s no secret that today’s Internet and media inboxes are overflowing with news releases announcing products and services, financial earnings, changing staff, and more. But with so many of these releases competing for the same eyeballs in newsrooms, standing out from the pack requires finesse and clever packaging, particularly in this digital era.

Some highlights that came out of the webinar (#realworldpr) included Bulldog Reporter PR University training director Brian Pittman’s list:

  • Consider multiple/tailored releases to different audiences and verticals.
  • Always use unique and trackable URLS. (Example: Bit.ly)
  • Include a “click to tweet” link within the press release, near the top of the content. 
  • Keep headlines to 100 characters or fewer. This is also good for subject lines when sending out release as a pitch ancillary/support.
  • Write for mobile first. Craft mobile-ready copy. Think short sentences and graphs, punchy quotes, and use micro content principles. (Example: The main facts/5Ws could be listed as bullets so they’re easily scanned on mobile.)
  • Always include a call to action. (Example: “Click here to download app” or “click here for a fact sheet.” This would then tie to the first bullet above and would be trackable.)
  • Make all content portable. When possible, generate your press release content so it can be “broken apart” into pieces of mini content. (Example: Can your pull quote stand alone and be tweeted or shared on Facebook? Can your graphic be shared with a cutline that provides the key facts? Can your video stand alone?)

The panel also stressed the importance of SEO keywords.

The right keywords can improve readership of your release, the group agreed.
Business Wire’s Ehrlich shared some of her favorite keyword tools: SpyFu and Google AdWords.

When it comes to paid distribution, wire services still tend to be the “best place to get your message out there,” Ehrlich said.

PR Newswire’s Skerik agreed, noting that syndication of press releases and other branded content drives discovery of that information by new audiences, which in turn seeds new social interaction and page traffic.

“You really need to look at press releases in the grand scheme of your overall success,” Erlich added. “Understand the real size of your audience. The smaller and more micro you go, the better chance you have of getting coverage. Build your superfans.”

These digital influencers require regular doses of good information to stay engaged. Skerik pointed to the fact that influence is changing.

“There’s constant feedback,” Skerik said. “Communications campaigns need to support this feedback loop. It’s less ‘Ready, aim, fire’ and more about connecting a living and breathing presence for your brand.”

hotels bulldog

This press release from Hotels.com featured an eyecatching visual, as well as relevant links to strongly related information.

Consider also the folks on the receiving end of content might be changing. Skerik mentioned the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom, which recently fired its photography department, Pulitzer Prize winners and all.

It used to be that large, glossy photos on the front of the newspaper would drive newsstand sales. With media moving farther in the digital direction, arming editorial departments with iPhones and simple photography basics appears to be more accepted.

Press releases with a multimedia strategy – photos, video, audio, or infographics – always will trump those without.

Why do these visuals work? Because photographs are worth about 60,000 words.

“Visuals have their own their own distribution networks,” Skerik said.  Shade Vaughn agreed, noting that for Rosetta, including visuals in press releases improves search visibility and brand awareness.

Online newsrooms also need compelling photos, must be easy to search, and have prominent contact information, added Moran, with Vanderbilt University.“A robust cutline describes the story,” Moran said. “That’s your news release in a few lines of text.”

Vaughn, with Rosetta, said the company focuses a lot of time and attention on thought leadership. Rosetta publishes white papers to its site, maintains a blog, and does a great deal of social promotion behind each piece.

Vaughn uses PR Newswire and said the Visibility Reports dashboard is particularly helpful in tracking metrics relating to the story’s online performance, something the company carefully manages as each message is structured.

“For every release, we create a page title and meta description unique to the press release,” he said. “Write [press releases] to communicate the purpose of the announcement, not to sell. Simplify.”

Finally, Hotels.com’s Cole advised working with other brands to extend the life of your news.

“If your release is the hub, you have to get it right. Headline, subhead, call to action,” Cole said. “Communications is a two-way conversation.”

Cole also reminded the audience how important it is to align PR messaging with other marketing and communications objectives, both in terms of how the press release will be used and how the results will be measured.   The links offered within press releases are a great opportunity for measurable collaboration.    Hotels.com always includes links within their press releases.

“Link once or twice to useful content that is really relevant to what your reader wants to do,” Cole noted, emphasizing the connection between digital messages and the subsequent actions readers take with the content.  PR messages can bring new people into the company’s sales pipeline, and providing useful links is one way to capture and cultivate audience interest.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

How Cross-Channel Storytelling Engages Broad Audiences

honda drive in

One example of a campaign that incorporated storytelling was Honda’s “Project Drive-In.”

Yesterday’s Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit, held in Marina del Rey, CA, brought together a powerhouse panel that focused on the role of storytelling in today’s media environment.  Top digital marketers and their technology partners across the entertainment and brand landscape discussed campaigns that are making an impact now.

Moderated by David Hayes (@heydch), Entertainment Evangelist, Tumblr, the panel was thick with heavy hitters from impressive brands.

  • Bettina Sherick (@bettina), Senior Vice President, International Strategic Digital Marketing Twentieth Century Fox
  • Malcolm De Leo (@innovationmuse), Chief Evangelist, NetBase
  • Alicia Jones (@aliciajones), Manager and Head of Social Media, American Honda Corporation
  • David Gibbons(@gibbosf), VP Product Marketing Ustream
  • Nicolaus Beraudo, EVP Worldwide Sales, GM US, App Annie
  • Jared Hoffman, EVP Content and Programming Partnerships, Alloy Digital

The panel first gave a nod to their favorite brands.  They ranged from some long standing, tech-oriented brands like Sony and EA Sports to retail and apparel giant Nike as well as the uber successful sandbox indie game, Minecraft. The most interesting brand mention was Star Wars.  Jared Hoffman explained that he is fascinated by how it has come to mean many things to many people.  It has now engaged at least two generations, showing its enduring tale has serious staying power – – it has has infiltrated Angry Birds and is currently featured in a Verizon commercial.

Alicia Jones gave two very powerful examples of Honda campaigns that made good use of storytelling.  “Million Mile Joe” is a real person whose Honda was just about to tip the odometer over 999,999 miles. This story was brought to Honda’s attention by Joe’s local dealer in Maine.  It was an organic, authentic customer story– easy to tell and easy to digest.  Moderator David Hayes basically defined a successful campaign by having brand pillar messaging hidden inside a consumer story, like “Million Mile Joe”.  See the campaign here: http://www.rpa.com/portfolio/honda-million-mile-joe_surprise-parade/

In the same vein, Bettina Sherick elaborated on 20th Century Fox’s  “Life of Pi” promotion  using Yahoo!’s contributor network and encouraging the telling of real-life accounts of heroism, stories of overcoming adversity and inspirational vignettes in the same vein of the award-winning film.  This resulted in editorial impressions and many levels of engagement via comments and sharing.

Another great story from Honda was one that PR Newswire was proud to play a part in executing.  Project Drive-In was created by Honda and tapped into the major challenge of drive-in movie theater’s conversion to digital projection.  By telling a story integral to American car culture, a car company was able to engage the public with a good emotional draw and maintain a positive message without over commercializing the brand.  Honda used digital delivery, social engagement and traditional press release distribution methods to garner editorial coverage and increase overall exposure.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hondas-project-drive-in-helps-save-four-additional-theaters-nine-in-total-continues-fundraising-effort-to-help-others-224840162.html

Overall, the panel seemed to agree on the success of storytelling as a sales tool, but what must be recognized is that the narrative must be told across platforms to drive and sustain audiences throughout the story arc.  Marketers need to embrace the sheer size of the potential audience and it’s important to listen as much, if not more, than you talk.  Malcom De Leo summed it up by reminding us that we live in “post-authoritarian economy” and to a very great extent, the audience controls the success of your message.  So we need to take all this into consideration, sit side-by-side with those audiences and craft a good old fashioned story with a beginning, middle and end.

Author Heather Williams (@heatherw716) is a national broadcast manager with PR Newswire/MultiVu. 

Your Audience Knows Best: Content Format

A conversation I had yesterday with a PR textbook author got me thinking about our habits and the tactics we employ to communicate with our audiences. We were talking about digital storytelling, and the conversation turned to multimedia.

What format should a multimedia press release take, he asked.   I think my answer may have surprised him — and wrecked his chapter outline, to boot.

The format of the content shouldn’t dictate the message.

My answer veered off the path of what I think he expected, because I said that the answer to that question depends upon the audience, and is informed by the assets you have at hand.

You won’t go wrong if  you start with your audience.  Where do they look for information?  Do they gravitate toward a particular social network or digital community?  If so, what sort of content does that audience prefer?   Asking these questions and allowing the answers to inform your content strategy will ensure more effective communications.

Some networks, like Instagram and Pinterest, are built on visuals.  However, visuals are also make messages more effective on networks like Twitter and Facebook. And they carry extra weight with search engines — and speaking of search engines, YouTube is the second largest.  Point is, incorporating visual elements – video, images, downloadable content such as presentation decks or white papers — will ensure your message is available to the denizens of those networks.  Making visual communications a habit will improve communications results.

I don’t like thinking in terms of formats, simply because they discourage people from incorporating multimedia elements if they perceive they don’t have all of the right content lined up.    Instead, allow your audience’s needs to guide development of your content. 

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the newly-published ebooks  New School Press Release Tactics and Driving Content Discovery. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.