Eight Reasons the Media Hate You (And How You Can Fix It)

June 4, 2014
By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New York

If you’re like most public relations professionals, you have a list for everything – a to-do list, a client list and, of course, a media outreach list. When time gets tight, you may occasionally succumb to the temptation to send out a blanket pitch to your entire press list, and then cross your fingers while hoping that all your clients’ dreams come true. A word of advice: don’t. The key to garnering coverage in 2014 is by helping reporters help you. Otherwise you risk landing in the junk folder – permanently.

8 Reasons the Media Hates You (And How You Can Fix it) By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New YorkTo help you connect with the press who really do need your input, we compiled comments from editors, outlining the top eight reasons why reporters occasionally hate you – and how to make them love you.

1)      You Didn’t Tailor Your Pitch: “It’s hard work, but work worth doing: tailor your pitch to me. Know who I am and what I cover and exactly what might interest me about your product/person/idea other than just ‘IT EXISTS!'”  says Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, and freelance journalist for NY Times and other publications.

In other words, make sure you’ve at least looked at the publication and understand its audience and news stance. Are you pitching a local publication about a product launch and including a general press release and product sheet? Fine, but find an authentic local hook – don’t just say “people chew gum in New York, so your New York publication should cover our national launch of chewing gum.” There needs to be an honest connection with the reporter’s readers, and the issues covered by the media outlet – find that connection, and use it as your lede.

 

2)      Your Headline is a Snooze and Your Lede is MIA: “If the subject line of your email pitch isn’t interesting and concise, you will get deleted before you’re read. Same goes for your press release headline: if you leave the meaty stuff at the bottom, it will never get read,” says Nicole Bode, Deputy Editor of News, DNAInfo New York.

It may seem self-explanatory that brevity is the soul of wit, but we dare you to review your last few press releases or press pitches. Could you read the headline or subject aloud without the need to gasp for air? Are the most crucial details easily found within the headline/sub-head or first paragraph? If not, get cracking – and revising. Same goes for voicemails, elevator pitches and topics for short meetings.

3)      You Had Truly Bad Timing: “Not understanding a publication’s production schedule is a problem. If a magazine goes to print on Tuesday, Monday night is not the time to say ‘Ok, we’re ready to go on the record now!’” and think that you’ll make it into that issue. There are always exceptions, but they are not made with ease. Get to know the publishing schedule of a media outlet you hope to do lots of work with. It’s not an excuse to say that you waited to the last minute because you were afraid it would get out before an agreed upon date. If you think a writer or editor is that unprofessional, you shouldn’t work with them anyway,”says Xania Woodman, Senior Editor, Vegas Seven Magazine.

If you don’t know your key outlets’ timetables, start gathering them now, and act accordingly. No sending press info about a Super Bowl-related product two days before the game: No editor will have time to review and your client will be shortchanged. Similarly, unless it’s breaking news or you specifically know the editor or reporter is working that day, don’t pitch press on a major holiday. Take a break yourself – the media will respect you more if you’re not emailing them while they’re BBQing for Memorial Day or July 4th.

 

4)      You Were Too Chummy: “Among my pet peeves are publicists who address me as Mr., and others who write to me as if we know each other, when we have never before spoken or met (e.g. ‘Hi Jamie! Hope you’ve been having a great week…’ How about just ‘Dear Jamie, I represent Tazo Teas, and I would love to get to know you. I have a new product that I thought might be an excellent fit for your publication…’” says Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, Editor-in-Chief of CarleyK.com.

A simple LinkedIn search would reveal that Ms. Kiffel-Alcheh is in fact, female, and yes, sometimes the simplest declarative introductions can be best. Does your client watch its channel’s daily segment on XYZ, and you think the client is a perfect fit for this reason? Say it clearly and professionally, and you may be surprised at the very pleasant response.

5)      You Ignored the Media’s Main Requests: “In business journalism, some publications require that I find out the revenues of a company–or they won’t accept a story from me about that firm. Every once in a while, a publicist will, after hearing this, go around me to see if they can persuade an editor at the publication to bend that rule, which will usually annoy the editor. Or they will set me up on an interview with a business owner who clearly has no intention of sharing financials, even though we’ve agreed ahead of time that this info will be part of the interview. It’s not always the publicist’s fault, but it ends up being a waste of time for all concerned, since I can’t use the interview in the end,” says Elaine Pofeldt, a contributing editor at Crain’s and a contributor to Money, Fortune and Inc. 

Reporters get frustrated when people set up follow-up interviews without all the information at the ready – so unless you are prepared to burn a bridge, don’t offer a brick wall. Pre-plan and know what information you can offer and to whom. Even if you have limited resources, come up with a Plan B. If the editor says it’s super important, believe it and get that info, or simply decline and come back another time when you have everything he or she needs to build the story. If you build a good rapport, you may wind up quoted in a trend feature or commenting on another company in print. But don’t ignore their original must-haves.

6)      You Sent a Wall of Text: “I might be different than lots of publications. I don’t want to copy/paste/print your release. I want the mechanics to find my own angle. That means links, bullets, bites. I could care less that ‘We are pleased’ was quoted by this or that important person. I agree deeply with David Meerman Scott’s jargon buzzword bingo opinion, where it seems that every solution is ‘next generation, world class, scalable, blah blah blah.’ Skip the adjectives and save me some time in finding my own angle into the story,” says Chris Brogan, Publisher of Owner Magazine, and New York Times best-selling author of six books, including The Impact Equation (with Julien Smith).

Stop calling your client “ground-breaking,” and please do take care in how you set up a press release or a pitch, with easy-to-grasp formatting, so the reporter can review it and figure out if it’s a good match. Business Wire releases are distributed in XHTML, so use bullets to focus on key points, send your release with boldface and italics to highlight issues, and make sure you include multiple relevant and easy-to-access hyperlinks. It’s not just for consumers to engage and generate click-through data for your client (although that’s a plus), but for reporters who need to know very quickly how to reach you, your client, or get more information about the product/event/issue you’re promoting. Adding a photo to your release also helps paint the clearest picture – just make sure to include a proper caption in case it’s used.

7)      You Gave Way Too MUCH information:   “You’re likely not to get any coverage if you send over so much stuff that it won’t download, or if you send a giant press release that’s too long. Simplicity works best for me. Instead of a huge file, I’d click through to see media at a link,” says Tara Cox, Managing Editor, Men’s Journal.

 

While each editor and reporter will have different needs and timetables, crashing someone’s computer with your pitch is never a good idea. Whether you’re sending a well-crafted email blast or a wire press release with well-chosen multimedia, use these digital missives to clearly show your assets and pique interest. Video, images, and multimedia are great, but make sure the links work and files are easy to open.      

 

8)      You Were Boring: “Journalists are busy and some get hundreds of press releases a day (I know I do!), so use a bit of humor in your email to me and include a story with some passion so it can really stand out. A press release can be more than a collection of data. Make me truly excited about what you’re trying to promote. If you were a reader, what story would capture YOUR attention?” says Katherine Brodsky, freelance writer for publications like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend, Mashable, and MovieMaker Magazine.

 

Media professionals face tight deadlines and tough demands, but the ones you hope to reach for coverage are people, not robots- they do respond to genuine feeling. Don’t forget what the R in Public Relations means and try relating and connecting for a change, and yes, add some style and interest where you can. If you can use that to establish trust and connection, and deliver on your promises, anything can happen.

 


10 Public Relations Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2014 Technology Trends Report

May 29, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, a coworker swung by my office to alert me that KPCB’s Mary Meeker’s Technology Trend Report of 2014 was finally out.

Christmas, my data loving friends, has arrived early! For those unfamiliar, this report outlines global and United States-specific mobile, internet and technology trends that impact corporate decision making in a wide range of industries.

At first glance, this report is a fascinating look at how mobile, internet, and human behavior trends have all collided in 2014.  However, as you read further, you start to see that these trends tell a very interesting story for today’s communicator.  Today’s news consumers are moving away from traditional text only news, and consuming more than ever, a blend of text and multimedia to tell a story. While this report has a wide number of very interesting data points, we pulled out the 10 key trends directly relevant to public relations, investor relations, marketing and communications professionals.

1.  Customized internet-based learning opportunities continue to grow, allowing people who learn in different ways to find the one that fits for them.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As noted earlier this year, more than 63% of the world’s population are visual learners, making traditional text only press releases cumbersome to digest. Press releases that integrate images and/or video allow the reader to digest in their own way.  (What a great way to build fans!)

2.  Mobile phones and mobile internet are here to stay, with mobile data traffic increasing a whopping 81 percent!  The biggest use of that mobile data is consuming video. 

PR IMPLICATION:  Mobile video consumption is at an all time high.  When your audience reads your news, are you including a video clip?  Why not?

3.   Mobile ad growth is seen as an almost $30B opportunity while print advertising is over-indexed by 5%. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As news consumption continues to move online, include images and videos with your press releases to increase the potential and decrease the turnaround time of online news coverage.

4. A massive increase in the global messaging ecosystem continues with a strong increase in sharing within smaller groups.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  More and more tools are launching to aid communications. This increase in peer-to-peer communication tools makes word of mouth recommendations more important than ever.  Provide your fans with short  news bites and smaller multimedia clips so they can easily talk about your brand, and these messaging tools will help them share it with others.

5.  Multimedia sharing is rising rapidly.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Today’s consumers are not only creating and sharing their own images and video, they watch and share third-party content.  Are you providing compelling content they need to effectively engage and share out your multimedia?

6.  Social media traffic referrals continue to grow with the sharing cycle for social media articles averaging 6.5 hours on Twitter and 9 hours on Facebook.  Buzzfeed continues to receive the honor of content most shared on Facebook, while the BBC holds the top spot on Twitter. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Meeker’s chart (which lists the top 10 content sources on both social networks) is a reflection of what piques the interest of consumers on each platform.  This provides a strong media list for you if you are looking to grow engagement on one or the other.  In addition, the stories these outlets publish provide valuable insight on the images they use and their writing style. Adapt your press releases accordingly.

7.  2014 is the year of the Internet Trifecta:  Critical mass of content + community to give it context + commerce.

PR IMPLICATION:  Skip writing vague press releases and start writing for your core audience. As more and more content continues to be upload (1.8B photos uploaded and shared PER DAY globally), the best chance you have to stand out, and drive ROI is to activate core audiences.  Include calls to actions, like Click to Tweet, to move people through you sales funnel.

8.  13ZB (that Is Zeta bytes) of content will be created and consumed this year.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  To stand out from the noise, you need good writing and compelling assets. Arm your brand fans with your news to increase word of mouth sharing.

9.  Re-Imagining User Interfaces (UI):  R.I.P. Bad User Interfaces; today’s consumers are much more willing to leave companies for their competitors due to bad web or mobile interfaces.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Company news pages have changed drastically in the last few years. Have you updated yours?  Today’s sites include social interfaces, access usable multimedia, and historical information and are readable from any device. Is your company news page keeping pace?

10.  Massive increase in video views, long and short form. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Create videos!  Not sure where to start?  How about a video showcasing a key decision point in the development or launch of your product or initiative? Or ask us! We’ve been distributing multimedia for years.

By providing your news in both a textual and image/video format, you are effectively giving the consumer the choice to read your news in the format they prefer.  By meeting their consumption needs, you create a higher likelihood of news sharing, or word of mouth marketing.  And nothing is more effective than that!

Want to learn more about how you can adapt your press release process to meet these new technology and behavioral changes?  Let’s set up a time to talk.


PR Trends for 2014 Focus of Business Wire Houston Event

March 28, 2014
By Cindy Cantu, Senior CSR, Business Wire Houston

All things social

This is the year of the empowered customer, according to Business Wire’s Director of Social & Evolving Media Serena Ehrlich. “It is up to YOU to create your brand differential and up to US to guide you through how to do it,” she told the audience at Business Wire Houston’s event, “All Things Social – Maximize Your PR in 2014” on March 26th.

Attendees from various industries including energy, biotechnology and pharmaceutical, as well as numerous media and marketing professionals, heard all about how social media is having a major impact on today’s press release. The old method of packing in keywords and hyperlinks in your press release to boost your Google ranking was made obsolete after Google launched its Hummingbird and Penguin updates, Ehrlich said.

Now, the focus is on a well-written, quality press release that can be shared via social media by you and other readers, plus will attract coverage from journalists and bloggers. One tip to consider is to add helpful links to your owned media (website, Twitter handle or blog, etc.)  at the end of every press release. Adding a ClickToTweet link, embedded with a Google URL Builder is also a good idea. If you do receive additional coverage from other media, it’s important to share those articles through your own social media channels too, she added.

Another sure-fire way to increase your readership and overall PR success is to add multimedia to your releases. Research shows releases with images or video receive three times more engagement and impressions than plain-text news on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, making multimedia no longer optional for today’s releases. Ehrlich said.

All-things-social-pic-2-lo-res

Serena Ehrlich explains “the year of the empowered customer” using social and multimedia.

One recent example of multimedia having a huge impact happened at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Surrounded by all of the giants in the technology industry, a relatively small company named mophie sparked major interest in their “space pack” product by simply adding a photo to their press release. They had one of the most popular releases among all CES exhibitors, Ehrlich said. Both release views and multimedia downloads surpassed 20K shortly after the release was issued.

Navigating through the current changes in the PR world can be daunting. Business Wire works hard to stay on top of the latest news and trends so it can share the information with its clients. Visit the Business Wire Newsroom and read the BusinessWired blog to be informed.

 

Like this blog post?  Tweet it out by clicking here: http://ctt.ec/m74wd

 


Editor’s Corner: Putting Faces with Names: Getting The Most Out Of Personnel Announcements

January 7, 2014

By Dara Khan, Business Wire Editor

 When you submit a personnel announcement to Business Wire, our editors are the first eyes on your staffing news. Our talented and experienced newsroom team reviews hundreds of news items per week, and we have developed a pretty good sense of what elements make them successful. Here’s one editor’s take on putting together a winning press release for announcing hires, promotions, or other staffing changes in your organization.

Natalie

The best piece of advice I can give is to include multimedia with your press release.

When you meet people for the first time, you remember them by both their names and faces. This is true in press releases as well; by including a photo of the person, you make it easy for reporters, analysts and others to put face to the name. We editors know from experience that releases with a photo—whether of a new executive hire or a retiring founder—instantly capture readers’ attention, and our research has shown that releases with photos or other multimedia generate five to ten times more pickup than those without them. That is just from adding a photo or video to your news release!

However, there are other ways to increase your press release’s visibility.Broader distribution of press releases allows for reporters and other brand fans to find and share your news.  But why not consider adding a targeted specialty circuit to increase visibility within highly specific target markets? If you’ve made a prominent minority hire, consider the Asian-American Media, African-American Media or LatinoWire circuits, which all heavily target media in markets that can be difficult to reach through broader channels. If your release is about someone who has made significant contributions through nonprofit and charity work, consider the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) circuit. If you’re running a cutting-edge startup and just added a big name to your team, congrats! Now is the perfect time to take advantage of BW’s new partnership with VentureBeat.  Each of these distributions reaches a highly targeted list of reporters and media outlets, all viewing and sharing these kinds of announcements on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, the foundation of a good personnel announcement is a concise and well-written press release. This may seem like a very basic tip, but it is surprising how often we see releases that are unnecessarily long, overly wordy, or lack quotations from or about the personnel in question. That last part is especially important.  Why? Because including quotes is another great way to capture the human element—and the attention of readers. These quotes are so frequently sought after that Business Wire’s system actually automatically generates highlighted pull quotes from those sections!  These pull quotes appear on the businesswire.com version for your release (as well as via our PressPass media news service), so be sure to use that to your advantage by making them shine.

Lastly, do not hesitate to call your local Business Wire newsroom or account executive to discuss more ways to get the most out of your personnel announcements. One thing that sets BW apart is the degree of hands-on, personalized service from our 24 local news bureaus. As the only commercial newswire with this many editorial offices, Business Wire has editors and a sales team who are always ready to help you send your press release out to the biggest possible audience. We always look forward to hearing from you!


Password Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know for a Safe Secure 2014

December 26, 2013
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire

Many large businesses, including Business Wire, mandate password changes on a regular basis to ensure corporate security, a practice that has yet to catch on with the average internet user. In fact, not only do most people NOT change their passwords on a regular basis, they use the same password for all of their online portals, leaving them and their accounts in a vulnerable position.  So what can you do to protect your password and what do you do once your account has been compromised? What is the proper password etiquette going into 2014?

silver-padlock-security-icon

The latest line of defense against hacking used by sites like Apple, Google and Twitter include password authentication systems too sophisticated for hackers to infiltrate using encryption software. While Twitter and Google send passwords directly to the users’ cell phone via text, Apple is introducing two additional ways to utilize passwords.  The first protection is a password generating system that creates a sophisticated password stored in the cloud that auto fills when the user is prompted for a password. The second protection layer Apple introduced was fingerprint technology for mobile phones. Other systems are using USB password devices that unlock the authentication process by using a key.  Each of these processes were designed to increase security without increasing work on the customer’s end.

Of course, all of the new technologies have some issues. One of the problems with Apple’s icloud system is that you cannot access your passwords unless you are connected to the cloud network and the passwords the system creates are too complex for memorization. USB keys can be stolen and there have been reports of iPhone users not being able to set up the fingerprint reader properly on their phone. So what are some simple tricks that you can use to create a complex password without purchasing a new technology?

Ideally you want to have a variety of complex passwords that can’t be hacked. Many people have weak passwords that contain readable words that can be figured out once the hacker deciphers the first few letters. Instead design a system that is easy to remember yet creates very complex passwords. One method that is very useful for creating passwords is to use acronyms from a simple phrase. For example, if the simple phrase is “I drive a red Toyota at work” the password becomes IdarT@w. Another idea is to use symbols and numbers to add to the complexity of your password. Some people will create passwords in another language to add yet another layer of protection. Taking preventative measures like changing your password often will pay you back in the future.

What if you lose your password?  Every company has a way of recovery if you have been compromised. This is where Gmail and Twitter’s two factor authentication becomes important. Update your security profile with a phone number or secure email address on file so that the provider can contact you in case of emergency before you are compromised. If email is not a safe option, have a text sent to you on your phone. Second, once you are aware of suspicious activity or if your account has been compromised, know how to quickly recover from a problem.

Here are some guidelines for some of the more often hacked social platforms:
Twitter

  • If you believe your Twitter account has been compromised change your password in the password tab in settings. Use the guidelines above for selecting a strong password. If you are unable to reset your password use Twitter’s Password Reset Form. If you feel your email has been compromised contact Twitter using Support Request and choose the option “hacked account.”  Make sure to revoke all connections to third-party applications; to do this, after you have created a new password and logged in, visit “Apps” in your settings and revoke access.  If you keep trusted third-party apps connected, don’t forget to update your password settings on each platform. Once you have regained full control of your account make sure to go back and delete any unwanted Tweets.  

Facebook

  • Very similar to Twitter, start with the basics; change the compromised password to a strong password. If you are unable to change your password or feel your email has been compromised use the Secure It Here Link. Take steps to revoke third-party applications until you feel the situation is secure. Delete any questionable photos or use the hide from timeline option for photos not posted by you.

All Google Accounts including email

  • Google has a network of sites that all tie in to the same password from email, analytics to social media and as a precaution Google lets you set an option in how you want to be contacted in case your account has been compromised. Make sure to keep this accurate and up to date. Google also provides a link to help you recover from a hack called Google Account Recover. Another resource is to go to the Google Apps Documentation and Support for recovering and resetting passwords.

When hackers compromise your email or social media their objective is almost always to gain bank account details. Sometimes accounts have been compromised and yet no action is taken for many months later due to the “lying in wait” attitude criminals have when stealing information. Here are some guidelines for bank and credit cards.

Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

  • All the same recovery rules apply for your bank accounts and credit cards with one major exception; if your money was compromised there is a good chance your full identity has been as well. If you want to know how to steal from your account do this simple test; call the bank and ask them what they need to access your account so you can check your account balance. In most cases they need your name, address, date of birth, email address and the account number. These items are usually found with little effort on the internet. Many times the account number from debit cards can be compromised by knowing all of your personal information and contacting 3rd party vendors like restaurants, hotels, rent a car vendors, etc. for information. This is why protecting a simple thing like a social media site is so important. The more information a thief has about you the easier it is to steal from your bank account. If your bank account has been compromised it may become a police matter and is a federal offense.

Of course, before changing passwords, scan your computer for viruses and malware and update all the latest security patches for your computer. A proactive stance in password security is always a good thing but make sure to have a plan in case your password is compromised.

Have questions about Business Wire’s commitment to security or how you can create a secure password? Let us know in the comments below.


Decoding the Media: National Journalists Divulge Best Way to Build Relationships

November 12, 2013

By Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

What does it take to land a signature placement? You know, the media placement that positions your company as an industry-leader with the smartest executive team and best products? According to speakers on PRSA Chicago’s recent panel, a heck of a lot more than it used to.

Business Wire team members recently attended “National Media in Chicago: Who’s Here and What Do They Cover?” featuring journalists from top national media outlets including:

  • Diane Eastabrook, Correspondent, Al Jazeera America (@AJAM)
  • Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal (@JasonRDean)
  • Flynn McRoberts, Chicago Bureau Chief and Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News (@FlynnMcRoberts)
  • Neil Munshi, Chicago and Midwest Correspondent, Financial Times (@NeilMunshi)

During this discussion the speakers divulged best pitch practices for PR professionals. In each case, each journalist reiterated the exact same advice – all good PR professionals must do their research before reaching out. This, they told us, is the number one way to create strong relationships and build trust in your company.

In this case, research does not mean referencing their latest article, post or tweet. In PR, researching the reporter means understanding both what they write about and who their audience is.  In today’s world, general pitches only slightly on target with the reporter’s beat and readership are unacceptable. It is better to write highly targeted press releases, with a highly specific audience. Not only will this support your internal business goals, you will provide better content to your beat  reporters.

A few other themes were addressed to give insight into their news process:

Newsrooms embrace social media…to an extent.

In April 2013 Bloomberg News introduced corporate and CEO Twitter feeds to their terminals, a huge step for highly-regulated industries that may not have access to social news at work

  • Business Wire Tip: If you delete a tweet archived in the Bloomberg terminal, you must call Bloomberg to have them manually remove it.  These tweets are not automatically deleted.

While social media is expanding, many journalists are still cautious.  Financial Times’ Neil Munshi was quick to point out that when a big story hits he shuts off Twitter so he can focus on uncovering facts vs. reading potentially false reports.

  • Business Wire Tip: For any communications, especially in times of crisis, it is important for companies to be transparent and provide as much information about the situation as possible in order to control the conversation.  Considering issuing a press release or utilizing your corporate blog to ensure the words used to describe your news are your own.

Content other than photos are rarely re-purposed verbatim; however these elements have huge value in showcasing the larger story to the reporter and brand fans.

In the age of videos and infographics, companies should include content elements that tell the brand’s larger story.  Video works well as it provides a face to the story, while images drive deeper emotional connections.

  • Business Wire Tip: Content marketing and distribution is an effective way to gain attention and influence key constituents; however, it’s important to ensure the story is relevant and timely to drive conversations. Check out on our recent post on this topic.

Press releases remain relevant to news gatherers.

The resounding feedback from speakers is “press releases are alive and well.” According to Jason Dean of the Wall Street Journal press releases remain one of the best ways share company news as it provides reporters accurate information, with links to supporting information, making it easier to do their jobs.

  • Business Wire Tip: If you’re looking to spice up the traditional release think about adding bullets highlighting “Just the Facts” and “Key Quotes,” which may catch the viewers’ attention. Consider adding a Click to Tweet in your sub-headline like this PRSA Austin story.  Or take it one step further like this Amazon release entirely comprised of Tweets each crafted with a different audience in mind.

These are just a few of the tips from leading journalists, but we have many more. Keep following the BusinessWired blog or contact us directly to learn more.


Learning Content Marketing From The Scarecrow

October 31, 2013
by Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

They say content is king.

If that’s the case, then the story is the castle. It’s the framework, the supporting component of any good campaign.

As such, it’s the story that advertisers, marketers and PR people need to sell, and all the other pieces (press releases, photos, videos, infographics, etc.) must work together to enhance that message and drive it home.

Nowhere is this concept more apparent than with Chipotle’s latest marketing push designed to jump-start a conversation about their brand by key constituents. Titled “The Scarecrow,” this campaign has received an immense amount of buzz not only for the sheer creativity of its content, but for the way in which it conveys the company’s story. (Disclosure: Chipotle is a Business Wire client)

The campaign consists of an arcade-style game for the iPhone and iPad supported with an animated film by Oscar-winning company, Moonbot Studios. The video features a disillusioned scarecrow who encounters a world replete of fresh, sustainable foods, only to discover that he has the power to choose how his food is created. Despite the stunning graphics and the use of a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination,” the video would not have garnered more than 7 million views, shares and commentary without a story that resonates across audiences.

Scarecrow

What is the takeaway for those tasked with writing press releases, editing pitches, creating content and sharing on social media? Very simply that the primary focus, and time, should be on creating a story arc that resonates with and engages your audience to the point that they want to be your brand advocates, sharing your content with their core and secondary audiences. This includes:

  • Identifying the goals you want to accomplish. Are you trying to drive awareness and brand building, content sharing, inbound traffic or purchase?
  • Understanding your target audience and the types of content that compels them to engage and share, while maintaining your brand voice
  • Thinking about how and where your audience will discover and share your story in order to tell it in a way that will drive conversations
  • Crafting your message and  ensuring it stays front and center throughout the campaign
  • Building tension with the storyline to deepen the connection between your content and the intended audience. Any reporter will tell you they want to cover an issue that has two—or even three—sides
  • Ensuring you have the right people lined up to speak about your topic. This could range from a mascot to the CEO depending on the audience and message you want to share
  • Amplifying your story once it is launched and creating a consistent cadence of communications activities (e.g. speaking opportunities, bylines, etc.) to ensure it is heard

And of course, as with any thought provoking content, “The Scarecrow” has sparked a debate. With that, cheers to Chipotle for achieving the goal of igniting a conversation.

For more information about the use of storytelling in jump-starting awareness, engagement and purchase intent, please contact us!


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