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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Posted by 

Edelman Digital, Melbourne

Follow on Twitter @trevoryoung

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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2013 Social Media Stats

If you are not getting desired results from your engagement on social media, it may be that you are using the wrong medium to communicate to your audience. Below is an infograph courtesy of Digital Buzz  to enable you to create more effective social media strategies or campaigns this year. Once you know the facts and figures the rest should come easily.

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What does your website say about you?

What your website says about you is not limited to the content but rather the impression it gives your users. There are a lot of articles regarding this topic and after research, this article will reveal some of the most important aspects that companies should consider when creating a website. This may also serve as an evaluation sheet to better your company’s image.

melanieclarkcommunications.com

melanieclarkcommunications.com

Illustration

If you show up to a board meeting in jeans and a t-shirt while your colleagues are in business suits, the attitude that you convey (intentional or not) is that you do not care how those in the room perceive you. They in turn will be less inclined to have you participate in the meeting as they will deem you unprofessional and not trustworthy.

The design

Before a user reads your content, no matter how life changing it may be, they first notice the design then place a judgement on your company. If your presentation is simple and crisp (like Apple.com) then they will know your company is professional and high-end. If your information is cramped (little white space) then a user will assume your company unprofessional or inexperienced.

When choosing a look for your company, keep two things in mind: the essence of your business and your audience. The site of a company that offers services and that of a company that sells products will not have the same design. Once you have the design, be consistent. Also, value user satisfaction above all else; if your users need brain power when accessing your site then you have it all wrong. Lastly, do not forget to add your company logo to the design.

Visuals are also important but be mindful of how you arrange them on the page.

The content

However, do not focus too much on your design and forget the content. People do come to your website looking for content, not admire the design.

promobubble.com

promobubble.com

Content should be simple, clear and precise. Use headings and bullet lists to make your site more user-friendly. If you have bad grammar or are not confident in your ability to write good content, consider hiring a professional. That way they can use SEO (search engine optimization) to increase visibility on search engines. After all, you have to send money to make money.

The website and its accessibility

Invest in a good website. If your website looks cheap then people will view you as cheap and prone to shortcuts. If your content is out of date, people will wonder if you are still in business. Get someone with knowledge and skill in web design; people can tell when a site is not professionally done.

Make sure that the visitor can access information within the first few seconds: elements like introduction, products or services and contact details should be clearly indicated. If not, the visitor will go to other pages or links.

Some websites are accustomed to having pop-ups advertising a product or asking the user to sign up for newsletters. As a company you should avoid such as it tells the user that you are more inclined toward sales and traffic rather than user experience. This interruption or delay will put off a user and have them looking for another site that contains similar content. Also, websites that force you to log in using an app such as Facebook or Gmail should be reconsidered. Though a user may choose to do as asked, any design that obscures information or delays a users access to information takes away from the experience. Not unless your content is one of a kind, visitors will not be quick to return to your website.

Web designers should also consider web accessibility when designing a page. Many times we have to access a website through our phones. That said designers need to work to enable all users to access a website, not just those with expensive smartphones.

If your website resembles this site in any way, it is time for an upgrade.

world's worst website

http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com/

New Year’s Strategy

glasshousej

wallives.com

Mwaka mpya mambo mapya (new year, new things)- is that not how the saying goes?

The Kenyan business landscape is becoming increasingly competitive especially so with many start-ups, and success stories, emerging in the past year. For both the veteran and the start-up, evolving and adapting to the times is essential or face the possibility of being phased out in 2014.

Visibility is important and any PR practitioner can tell you that. How many people clicked on the link? How much traffic did the website/blog get? How many people saw the post? When trying to promote a brand, many people think in terms of social media vs. traditional media. One should consider all available channels and platforms including online communities, specific media, forums and offline events. The channel or platform used will be dependent on your target audience.

Also before embarking on a launch or campaign, list all the possible ways you can reach any given member of the demographic and use a combination of listed methods to inform and eventually motivate said member to take action. You can also consider more subtle techniques of propagating a message other than traditional media purchases and ads. Social media now offers paid content promotion. These techniques should be coupled with traditional PR tactics.

Distribution of any given message through digital channels using photos, infographs and videos should not only be creative but also digital-friendly. Being a source of insightful, informative and high-quality content attracts potential users and makes you a source of authority in your niche.

If you are a start-up and have funding from one or more investors/donors, be sure to let them share their view on the product/ service you want to introduce to the market. This will earn you a community of supporters who will be particularly important during a launch. Be sure to remain accountable not only to the investors/donors but to your company as well.

Things to do before the year ends

Christmas is upon us once again, and while you may be tempted to close shop until the new year, there are things you can do to keep ahead of your competition.

The first is show appreciation not just to your internal staff but also to customers. While end of year parties or gatherings with awards and gift cards are important to maintain employee morale, showing gratitude to your clients is equally important. While many establishments are running promotions and offers, as a PR firm you could sent gift cards to those you have served in the past year. That said, you could put a special package together with discounted rates for services that you do not normally provide throughout the year. Do not be left out in the giving Christmas spirit!

You can also talk about charity. Though this comes with the added bonus of media exposure and a saintly reputation, Christmas season is a good time to send out press releases about a charity event that you support. It gets others to care about your charity as well.

Remaining relevant at all times is prime in the PR world. For this reason you can tie your services with something people need during this holiday. It could be advice on how to prepare for the coming year, a summary of the past year, or simply a side to your firm that people did not know about but is relevant to them. Circulate in on social media and let people know your firm is more than running campaigns, sending press releases and organizing events. You could also write a wrap-up article to give your clients and stakeholders a snapshot of the year that was.

Lastly do not forget to thank journalists and bloggers who covered your events this year. You don’t have to go all out with expensive gift or lunches. A handwritten card will make them more receptive to you next year.

 

PR Management

Today’s PR tips will serve as a refresher course of what you already know.
 
Management is an essential role that needs to be played in all organizations of the attainment of set goals. According to Mary Parker Follett, management is ‘the art of getting things done through people.’ This is through giving directions to employers, providing leadership and deciding how to use the organization’s resources to accomplish task and attain high performance.
 
There are four functions of attaining organizational goals in an effective and efficient manner through management.
Planning
 
During this foundation phase, the management analyses where the organization currently is, where they want to be in the future and how to get there. During this stage a deadline for has to be set and resources required for the task need to be identified. Remember; a goal is not a goal without a deadline. Lack of proper planning can hurt the organization’s succession and demographics not to mention waste company time and resources.
 
There are constant external factors affecting organizations positively or negatively and it is therefore not uncommon to find organizations changing their course of action when working toward attaining certain goals. Therefore, planning is an ongoing process.
Organizing
 
This will affect how the organization accomplishes the goal. After planning, the next step is to assign tasks to the different departments participating and allocating resources to them. During this stage, there should be a constant follow of information to ensure smooth running. A leader should allow members of the teams to self manage rather than micromanaging them. It allows for creativity and personal growth. Managers can also delegate authority for the duration of the task to avoid being stretched thin.
Leading/directing
 
Leaders can use their position to influence employee behavior and oversee their work. This will ensure that the organization is indeed working together to accomplish the goal. The leader also needs to ensure that the goal and how to get there has been effectively communicated and remind those who have veered off the set direction. A common vision is also important during times of competition, downsizing and mergers.
 
Poor leadership more often than not leads to employee being demotivate. It is therefore necessary for leaders to create a shared culture and values that seek to understand employee needs and motive them.  This way, employees can then accomplish both their personal and career goals. Motivated employees go beyond their job performance and even more so when there are reward and incentive programs.
Controlling
 
Monitoring of employee activities determines whether or not the organization is on track. This way necessary corrections can be made if the organization in not on target or are facing obstacles. The duty of managers is to ensure that employees are working toward organization goals and doing so efficiently and effectively. Good management allows for employees to self manage/monitor according to the company’s standards. When managers are not serious or do not share the organization’s vision, there can be repeated failure in achieving set goals.
 
Controlling also involves evaluating and reporting the company’s performance based on the set goals. If there are areas of under-performance, the manager should sort to address the department or employee rather than reduce the overall company standards. This, like planning, is also an ongoing process in that managers should be able to identify potential problems and take preventative or corrective measures at each point of the process.