The Rise of Predictive Scanning: PR Isn’t Dead, It’s Poised for a Comeback

October 30, 2014

By Neelima Yelamanchili, Business Wire DC

Cutting Through The ClutterHow people want to interact with a brand has changed. For brand and content communicators, timing the message delivery can play a crucial role in enhancing perceptions and encouraging favorable behavior change.

Citing data that audiences are bombarded with 5,000 messages a day, Adele Cehrs, CEO, Epic PR Group, explained that when they are faced with so much information, important details are likely to be missed or simply forgotten. The challenge for the communicator is to break through this information clutter and pinpoint and highlight for their audience what is most important.

- 62% say social media has no influence on buying
– 91% rely on word of mouth for brand recommendations
– Just 2.7% of people are willing to recommend a brand across their social media channels for fear of being negatively associated with a brand

To ensure their message reaches through this clutter, Cehrs recommended today’s communicators focus less on engagement metrics and focus more on timing – specifically when there’s a spike in the conversation around a particular topic or issue. SPIKE is defined as “a sudden, point of interest that kick-starts exposure good or bad.” To increase the impact of the news, Cehrs recommends communicators focus on outreach during the spike, “when the messages will be most important to the audience.”

How can you monitor for a SPIKE? Perhaps a particular topic is trending on social media that relates to your brand or industry. Consider that a spike. Perhaps there is new legislation or some issues-focused topic that is prevalent in the news that relates to your message. Again, use that SPIKE.

And while bad news might be a popular cause of SPIKES, don’t automatically assume that’s a bad thing. If handled tactfully, you can make positive waves for your brand in the wake of a competitor’s missteps.

Other ways to monitor for spikes include:
– Competitor wins
– Contrary opinions, from e.g. bloggers, pundits, etc.
– Previous industry/company issues
– Trends in the news cycle

Using social media
Trying to internally sell the importance of social media to your C-suite or executives who distrust social platforms or believe it can be done successfully for free? First, make them understand that there is no such thing as free social media. It’s unrealistic to dedicate around-the-clock staff to monitor social media. Having a team prepared to monitor for the SPIKE and take necessary real-time marketing actions is a more effective use of resources. This is especially true with social media responses being an immediate avenue to connect with audiences.

Be prepared to strike at the SPIKE– you’re likely to get better results, increase your ROI, and might just earn respect from the C-suite!


When it Comes to Online Newsrooms, Give the Media What They Want

October 27, 2014

By Sarah Drake Boerkircher, Assistant Director, News & Communications, Wake Forest Universitysdboerkircher

At the PRSA 2014 International Conference in Washington, D.C., I participated in the public relations professional development workshop “Content, Social Strategies and Online Newsrooms: Managing Communications in Higher Education.” As a PR professional for a university’s news and communication team, I was eager to hear how journalists were interacting with online newsrooms. These are the takeaways that I found to be most helpful:

So… what do media really want in a newsroom?

  • First and foremost, an online newsroom must be mobile-friendly. If a newsroom isn’t responsive, this will only cause annoyance, causing the reporter to leave your site as soon as possible.
  • Press releases, which are categorized and easy to search.
    • Experts with biographies and up-to-date information.
    • Media contacts that include email addresses, phone numbers, mobile numbers and Twitter handles.
    • Fact sheet(s). Note: a fact sheet is not the university’s history.
    • Images, photo galleries, infographics and videos.
    • In the News” section, which includes the most current university coverage.
    • An archive. Up to five years of information can be included, but must be easy to search. Major university milestones that fall outside of the five-year window can also be included.
  • Finding an answer should be easy. When media visits a university homepage, more than 80 percent are looking for the newsroom. Reporters do not want to spend hours (let alone minutes) searching a university site for an answer, so make the newsroom reporter-friendly by easing the search features and incorporating the content outlined above.
  • Content needs to be searchable. Often public relations professionals use corporate / university speak that is not easily searchable, which prevents a press release or story from gaining traction. Use language that people will most likely use when they conduct a search. This is as simple as calling a spade a spade.
  • Use a story in multiple ways, so impact can be measured. Storytelling is key in public relations, so being able to measure the impact of a story is important. Repurposing content through a blog post, tweet, video, infographic, photo or Instagram post, increases the chances of a story to be shared. Once content is shared, which is often easiest to do so across social media, a story’s reach and spread become measurable.
  • There is always room for improvement. After major or minor changes to a newsroom, do not be afraid to ask media to take a look at your site. Feedback can help to make the newsroom that much more efficient and only help get media the content that they want when they need it.

Communications Week Recap: The Role of Paid, Earned and Owned in Public Relations

October 24, 2014

By Joe Curro, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire

This past Monday, Business Wire’s New York team was proud to partner with Communications Week 2014 for our State of the Union: Living in Times of Media Disruption breakfast panel.  Attendees joined us at Thomson Reuters’ beautiful conference space overlooking Times Square to hear from an elite panel of communications professionals: Chanel Cathey (Director of Corporate Communications, Viacom), Ben Trounson (Director of North American Communications, Tata Consultancy Services), Jordan Fischler (SVP Technology and Digital Media, Allison+Partners), Nelson Freitas (Chief Strategy Officer, Wunderman), and our moderator, Steve Rubel (Chief Content Strategist, Edelman).

Panelist 1

(Panelists left to right: Chanel Cathey, Nelson Freitas, Jordan Fischler, Steve Rubel, Ben Trounson)

Built as an active and lively conversation between the participants, the event provided insight into a wide range of topics from the balance between owned, earned, and paid media, to navigating the opportunities and pitfalls of real-time communications, to the questions on the horizon that we’ll all be talking about in the coming months.

Here are a few of the insights that were shared:

Rethinking measurement?
The volume of available measurement data is overwhelming.  How do communications teams make good decisions based on the available data?  How do you decide what data is relevant?  The goal of your data collection should not be the quantity of information gathered, and decisions should not be made on numbers in a vacuum.  The data you collect may be the response to a question, but it’s not the end of the conversation.  Talk about your findings, use the data to inform how you interact with your influencers, and keep them engaged and giving their feedback.

Risks of paid content?
There is an eternal danger to relying on paid content – of damaging the trust you’ve established with your consumers – so how do brands make the most of this amplification option?  By always staying active in the communities that are discussing the brand.  Paid content, for all its dangers, allows for a greater degree of control.  The more control you have over your message, the more responsive you can be to anything unexpected.

Managing the flood of content?
Consumers are bombarded by a constant flow of content.  We have access to immeasurably more content than we’ll ever be able to consume.  So how do brands compete for valuable attention?  By being a curator of its own content, a brand can keep conversations on topic.  Engage with your audiences, and commit to creating original content of your own.

Real-time responses?
Perhaps one of the most terrifying prospects to communicators is the real-time fumble.  With great risk comes great reward, right?  But while the successes are some of the industry’s holy grails (Oreo in the dark, Arby’s and the hat, etc.), the failures can make anyone shy away from the very idea.  So what’s the answer?  Trust and an honest voice.  Traditional publications are competing with individual creators for the public’s attention, but your brand can empower its own creators with solid and responsible training, multiple voices participating, and open lines of communication between all parts of the team.

Panelist 2(Panelists left to right: Nelson Freitas, Jordan Fischler, Ben Trounson, Chanel Cathey, Steve Rubel)

As you can see from the above, the answers to the questions on communicators’ minds are increasingly interrelated – useful data leads to relevant content leads to managing your voice leads to learning from an engaged audience.  With the goal of activating and influencing audience behavior, this feedback loop supports an increasing trend towards more innovation and more connection between creators and consumers.

Ease of content creation, enhancements and new tools for targeted distribution are on the rise.  Available reaction times are falling, and smaller teams are being tasked with greater and greater responsibilities.  Each of our amazing panelists touched on solutions for the future.  The ultimate answer, as our Moderator Steve Rubel said, is making “constellations – not just putting stars in the sky, but connecting them.”  When all parts of the communications team are working together toward a clear goal, the combined whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Panelist 3(Moderator, Steve Rubel, Chief Content Strategist, Edelman)

Photo credits: Ingrid Ramos/Triangle Below Canal


Case Study: Press Releases Increase Awareness, Sales of Lakemaid Beer

October 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this month, Business Wire launched the first in a series of case studies showcasing how clients are utilizing press releases to increase awareness, message permeation and, ultimately, sales.

In this CommPro piece, we speak with Pocket Hercules to find out how one press release, video and image resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in media coverage, views and ultimately, sales for Lakemaid Beer.  This program is one that many PR professionals can duplicate to support a wide range of products, services and more.

Click here to read the entire article and then ask yourself, how are you utilizing traditional PR tools to support your organization?


Case Study: Utilizing Press Releases to Reach Canadian Media and Consumers

October 14, 2014

Earlier this month, Business Wire spoke with HOOPP, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan about their use of press releases.  In this CommPro podcast, Martin Biefer, the Director of Public Affairs at HOOPP to discuss HOOPP’s press release success story and his opinions on how to rise above the news clutter.

In just 8 minutes, learn how a single press release caught the attention of an entire country.  Click here to read the article http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/media-relations/wire/ or watch the video below.


11 Things Marketers Should Know from the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

October 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Last month hundreds of marketers, communicators and social media experts met in Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit to discuss the latest trends in all aspects of marketing and best practices for increasing engagement, sales and ROI.

In this piece, we will look at the top 11 marketing predictions for 2015, including the rise of the social CMO, a movement away from real-time marketing to right time marketing and the increased importance of the online newsroom.

  1. The rise of the CSMO (chief social media officer): Social media has evolved from short form messaging communication tool to a program that directly affects every part of a business.  As the real-time customer engagement platform, data generated can directly impact the future of one’s organization.  This role will be a hybrid between creative and analysis.  Those social media teams focusing only on outbound communications, ignoring the data available will not succeed.
  1. Multimedia is here to stay: More and more studies are showing that multimedia is now considered a mandatory element when looking to increase the response rate of any communications program. In addition, we will see a huge increase in mobile video investment as mobile device penetration continues to skyrocket
  1. Paying to engage with your social audiences: As Facebook, Twitter and other platforms mature, their business models are moving quickly into revenue generation and profit.  Look for these platforms to continue to roll out paid opportunities such as geographic and demographic targeting to increase the ability for a brand to reach their brand fans.
  1. A refocus from real-time marketing to right time marketing: Thanks to the meme that the Oreo Superbowl ad was created on the spot and thus is real-time marketing (completely false by the way, the ad was created months in advance), there became a push in 2014 for brands to jump into real time marketing.  Instead thinking about “real-time” organizations in 2015 will move towards “right-time” which involves the use of data to determine how and when to distribute each piece of created content – from social updates to press releases – to maximize the result.
  1. The rise online newsroom: As it becomes harder to get media’s attention, more and more organizations are building branded newsrooms – or including within their existing newsroom a section for brand-created content.  This content allows brands to tell their story, utilizing their own voice.  However it is important to remember that the only good branded content is seen branded content, many of these organizations are not only setting budgets aside to build these newsrooms and create this content, they are putting budget aside to distribute the content as well via press releases, coverage amplification services and more.
  1. A breakdown of internal siloes: As more and more data is becomes available through various marketing channels, it is imperative that marketing work with more and more internal teams to improve processes, define customer expectations, provide stronger customer service, increase sales, build corporate reputation and more.
  1. A better understanding of the ROI of a communications program: Marketers are moving away from “last click” attribution to multi-touch point attribution, allows brands to track customers through their entire journey ensuring that every touch point along the way is credited.
  1. A big shift from content creation to content distribution: As content marketing becomes a staple for most marketing programs, more and more marketers are turning to paid tools including press releases and amplification tools to ensure their created content is seen content. After all, there is no reason to pay for content to be created, if you aren’t paying for it to be distributed.
  1. The growing importance of social customer service as more than 50% of customer service interactions begin on the computer, well before the customer has engaged the brand.
  1. Look to smart devices and wearables to change news consumption from tweets to bursts. How can you increase the impact of your news as you decrease the amount of space needed to tell it!
  1. Sharing corporate sustainability responsibility news will continue to increase in 2015 as more and more consumers are choosing to align with brands and organizations that reflect their own beliefs. Organizations of all sizes from Nike to Honest Teas have connected with customers and build entire brands by focusing and staying true to their CSR message.

This year’s speakers shared so many wonderful thoughts but it was these 11 that resonated with me the most.  Which of these surprises you?  Which does not?


Top Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2014? Creation, Marketing, Amplification

September 29, 2014

By Katie Kennedy, Business Wire Cleveland

CMI worldLast week we had the opportunity to attend Content Marketing World, hosted by Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute. CMI  brought over 2,600 marketing professionals from around the world to Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss a topic near and dear to Business Wire’s clients: content – how to create it, how to market it and how to amplify it.  After having the time to absorb and reflect on the sessions and review my many, many pages of notes, I wanted to share a few of top takeaways from the event:

Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships:  
Davis kicked off the show with an engaging keynote, “Inspired Content: How Brilliant Storytellers Create a Sudden Urge to Act,” urging marketers to rethink the marketing funnel and focus on what he calls “moments of inspiration.”

“Valuable content increases the demand for the products and services you sell,” said Davis. “If you want to own the consumer journey, create moments of inspiration. MOI leads to ROI.”

Julie Fleischer, Director, Data + Content + Media, Kraft Foods:
The theme of Fleischer’s keynote, “The ROI of Content: How Kraft Learned the True Value of Its Content and Rebuilt Its Marketing Around It,” can be summed up in three words: relentlessly pursue worthiness.

“Efficiency must be baked in. Content and data should be inexplicably linked,” said Fleischer. Kraft’s strategy focuses on maximizing the uses for any given piece of content and only producing content that they feel is worthy of the budget.

“If you won’t spend money to distribute it, then don’t do it!” Fleischer added.

Steve Rotter, Global VP of Digital Marketing Solutions, Brightcove:
Rotter shared  several very compelling statistics to stress the growing importance of using videos in your content marketing strategy in his session, “How to Drive Engagement in a World of Content Overload.”

The use of video is growing faster than any other type of content marketing because:

  • Video reduces page bounce by 12%
  • Video landing pages increase conversion rate by 75%
  • Consumers are 88% more likely to buy after watching a video product review

Rotter also reminded the audience that 70% of the time content is your first sales call. Stellar content can start the sales process before you pick up the phone or continue the conversation with prospects you’ve already touched.  So why is it that up to 70% of B2B content never gets used?

Mark Schaefer, Author, Return on Influence & The Tao of Twitter:
“We build relationships with brands just as we do with people,” said Schaefer in his session outlining “10 Reasons Twitter is Content Marketing’s Best Friend.”

To make the most of Twitter as part of your content marketing strategy, you need to be in the social media mindset and create meaningful content, make targeted connections and provide authentic helpfulness. Contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way that provides value. “Everyone can tell when you’re just trying to sell something,” said Schaefer.

  • Twitter is an ignition point. Twitter offers the fastest way to build an audience of relevant followers for your content and smart interaction on Twitter will lead people to your content.
  • Twitter is a source of content. We already know news breaks on Twitter, but it also provides a steady stream of content ideas and access to the web’s best teachers.
  • Tweets are powerful social proof on the internet. Using Twitter to build a relevant audience can ignite your content and produce rewards in the form of social validation and SEO benefits.

Beyond Storytelling

CMW embraced its overall theme and not only taught us how to harness emotion to tell a great story with content, but also focused on strategy and how content marketing can be successfully integrated into our organizations.  For more highlights and event recaps from CMW attendees:


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