Welcome to the Content Marketing Revolution

Today’s post is courtesy of Edelman Digital and though the main focus of the piece is content marketing on social media (meaning it should fall under Social Media Wednesdays), it is important to view this new way of content marketing as a PR Tip necessary in order to adapt to the dynamic changes taking place in the world of public relations.

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Edelman Digital, Melbourne

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While corporate gets hung up on the tactical aspects of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the real action is bubbling beneath the surface. For many it’s not as sexy as the social technology platforms we hear about and see in the media every day but it’s equally powerful. Indeed, it’s the ‘secret sauce’ – the fuel that keeps the social web cranking along at breakneck speed.

I’m talking about content and how it can be used to keep your brand connected to the people who matter most to your business, cause or issue – how it can help organisations to:

  • Attract Attention
  • Gain respect
  • Build trust

… with longer-term goal of generating leads and ultimately growing sales revenue. (And let’s face it, which brands don’t want to tick those boxes?).

Emerging from Social Shadows

While we’re (finally) starting to take the notion of social media more seriously here in Australia, in the US the concept of ‘content marketing’ has emerged from the social shadows and is set to explode.

The creation, sharing (and in some instances, curation) of content is becoming a cornerstone marketing activity for many major brands and fast-growth companies.

Strategic Intent

Content can include everything from videos, podcasts, e-books, white papers and case studies through to blog posts, infographics, webinars, microblogging (Twitter), online news releases, mobile phone apps and interactive newsrooms. Used effectively and with strategic intent, content marketing is a powerful means of reaching and engaging with current and potential customers, media and other influencers.

The irony, however, is that despite its huge growth, content marketing is not exactly new. Videos, hard-copy newsletters and custom-published magazines – all corporate communication tools that have been around for years – can be considered content.

Why the sudden interest in content as a cornerstone marketing strategy?

Blame (or more importantly, thank!) the emergence of the social web.

Distribution Channels

Today, any person, company or organisation can establish its own online TV show (vodcast), radio station (podcast) or web-based magazine (blog), while social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook serve as effective and powerful two-way content distribution channels.

Think about it for a moment. Let the concept percolate a bit – swill it around in your mind.

At the risk of repeating myself, we can now communicate directly with the people who matter most to the success of our business – and we can do it with a degree of scale and intensity of connection we’ve not been able to do before. I might also add: cost-effectively and in real-time.

This presents massive opportunities for companies and organisations to bypass the traditional ‘gatekeepers’ – journalists and editors – and engage directly with their constituents.

Empathy and Respect

But this opportunity comes with a caveat – several, actually.

Content marketing is not a sales pitch. Have empathy for your audience. Treat them with respect.

Create compelling content that’s interesting, relevant and worthwhile to your audience: it’s about them, not you.

Solve problems experienced by your audience (add value); tap into the experts in your company (hidden assets); provide credible information (without selling); and shine the spotlight on your customers (take a back seat).

Content marketing can be a powerful strategy. Get involved, but use it cleverly and respectfully … and reap the benefits!

Image credit: Rafael Peñaloza

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Get to know your client’s ‘publics’

This post is courtesy of PR Daily.
It may seem pretty obvious, but if you want to practice public relations well, you should know your clients’ publics.

I don’t mean your clients’ customers, but prospects or even people working in relevant industries. You’d be surprised by what you learn and how that can benefit your clients, the content you develop, and the way you work with journalists.

By talking to the people who face the problems your clients solve, you will learn what causes them the most pain, how they deal with that pain, where they learn about solutions, how they work, and how technology fits into their workday. It’s basically the information you’d uncover when developing a customer case study, but with an important difference.

When you talk to a client’s customer they know who you are, whom you’re working with, what you’re doing, the kind of information you’re looking for, and what you’ll be doing with it.

Sometimes it’s better to get the unfiltered story with no assumptions or expectations.

Most of my clients are involved in ad tech. It’s a great market with lots of strong competitors, big issues, and a well-informed set of media and analysts. I have opportunities to talk with client customers, and I find the discussions helpful. I’ve also had opportunities to talk with non-customers and have found those discussions to be even more helpful.

There are three questions you might be asking yourself: (1) Where and how do I meet these people? (2) What kind of information should I be looking for? (3) How can I use what I learn? So, how do you find people to talk to? First, attend relevant industry events. Not the big ones where everyone is doing the grip-and-grin, but smaller, local ones where people have time to talk. Get cards, grab drinks, and have fun. Learning new stuff is cool, and this is a great way to do it.

A more structured approach is to tap your networks. I didn’t have any first-degree connections to media buyers, but found I had a LinkedIn connection who had a ton and was willing to make introductions. You can meet people anywhere, though. I was recently at a party and met a media buyer for an ad agency, and we chatted for ages.

Now that you have some people to talk to, what kinds of questions should you ask? Ask them how they do their jobs. Walk through it with them step by step. In my example of the media buyer, I wanted to know how she thought about channels, what was working for her clients, how she and her team designated audiences, etc. It was totally great to hear her perspective on things. It was different from what I’d come to expect based on working with my clients. I’m hoping to sit down with her again to watch the process in action. It should be very interesting.

So, you’ve connected with people in your clients’ industry, now what? First, remember that a conversation at a party or at a trade show is a focus group of one and shouldn’t be used to make decisions or shape strategy. They provide anecdotal information that you can share with your clients. These conversations can be helpful in working with journalists. To be able to say, “I was talking to a design engineer the other day about X,” or, “I had drinks with a media buyer the other night and . . .” helps make you a more credible and valuable contact.

These discussions help you understand the markets that matter to your clients. To understand the process people go through in using technology is incredibly helpful.

Knowing which words people use in describing their work can help you avoid marketing buzzwords. Common interests can help you forge a connection that will become invaluable in ways you might not imagine.
I can’t say enough about the value and benefit of taking the time to talk to people in this way, and I hope you’ll try it for yourself.

Greg Peverill-Conti is vice president of InkHouse Media + Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregpc. A version of this story first appeared on the Inkhouse blog

Art of Presentation Making

Presentations are an effective way of relaying information to your audience as compared to speeches. There are certain elements in presentations that allow for audience engagement and the retaining of information long after the presentation is over. Here are eight things to keep in mind while creating your next corporate presentation.

1) Use Key Phrases

On your PowerPoint, Flash or Keynote presentation, use key phrases and add only essential information on the slides. Choose three or four important points regarding your topic and emphasize on them throughout the delivery. Limit the words on each slide and reduce the bullet points to three per slide; the surrounding ‘white’ space will make reading easier. Use simple language for quick reading.

2) Slide Layout

Slides need to be easy to follow. Put a title page where it should be and the remaining slides should have a coherent flow. Important information should be put near the top of a slide especially if you have a large audience. Those on the back rows are usually not able to see the bottom portions of slides. Pick slide designs that appeal to your target audience.

3) The writing

Punctuation clutters the slide while using all caps makes statements harder to read. It also causes you to lose the audience attention as they will feel they are being shouted at. Use simple and easy fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana. Calligraphy will make statements almost impossible to read. Use a maximum of two different fonts; one for headings and the other for content. Fonts need to be large (24-30 pt) so that those at the back of the room can read easily.

4) Colours

Avoid white backgrounds and use lighter colours like beige because they are easier on the eyes. You can use a dark background if your main corporate colour is dark but remember to use a light text colour.  Experimenting with patterned or textured backgrounds is not advisable as it reduces readability. Also, keep the colour scheme consistent in all slides.

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5) Slide Number

On average, a slide should be change every minute. Keep your slides to a minimum to avoid distracting your audience with constant changing of slides.

6) Visuals

Break up your presentation every ten minutes with demonstrations to re-engage the audience. Relevant photos, graphs and charts keep audiences interested in your presentation and provide another way for them to process information and keep them actively engaged. Use more pictures as they increase the retention of the message being conveyed. However, adding too many transitions and animations can be distracting.

7) Compatibility

You may not always have your machine with you so ensure your presentation can be viewed from any computer before you copy your presentation onto a flash disk or a CD.

8) Audience interaction

Ask for questions or feedback at the end of your presentation.