Content development has always been an important part of an integrated PR and marketing firm’s mission. Clients have long tapped their agencies’ knowledge and writing skills to help deliver bylines, press releases and assorted corporate communications.
Today, content has moved up on clients’ priority list to the point where they’re using it as a strategic differentiator to engage in the marketplace. PAN’s B2B tech and healthcare clients are generating more bylines, blogs, eBooks, case studies, videos and social collateral than ever before, and they’re looking to PAN to provide direction on their content initiatives.
As an integrated agency, we partner closely with our clients on a wide range of content programs. Part of being a dedicated, responsive content provider is learning about how others in the industry are delivering on their own initiatives. So, recently, a few of us here attended a Publicity Club of New England seminar on content marketing. During the session, content specialists Amber Plante, from The Weather Company, Manny Veiga, from March Communications, and Adam Ritchie, from Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, shared some insights about creating content that resonates with key audiences.
Here are the top 9 takeaways from that content marketing session.
1. Establish the right tone
Prior to publishing any content, develop a style book that will guide the overall tone of your company. You should base the tone off of specific adjectives you think best represent the company. Are you clever? Professional? Young and hip? Having these key words in the back of your mind while creating content will ensure you have a consistent voice and personal embodiment of the tone you are trying to get across to the audience. Remember that this also applies to audio. If you are creating a podcast, for example, make sure that the music and voice you use is consistent in every episode.
2. Know your audience
In order to create content that stands out from the rest, you need to first hook your reader. You can do this through having a clear idea of the audience you are targeting and understanding what is most important to them. By regularly publishing content that adds value to your reader’s career and/or personal life, you will give them confidence in your brand and, over time, they will start to view you as an expert in a particular space.
3. Get your content seen (and shared)
It’s important to have discretion when deciding which platforms are best for your content. Not all platforms will be appropriate and choosing which platform(s) serve your content best will be the difference between getting it shared widely within a network and having it sit without eliciting much engagement. Next time you create a piece of content, think about the innate properties of it and then determine which platform serves it best (i.e., if it’s visual, consider Instagram; if it’s a video, consider YouTube or Periscope). It’s key to understand what users on a particular platform are looking for and only publish content that aligns with what they want to engage with.
4. Leverage Facebook Live
Echoing the sentiment of #3, while Facebook Live has its time and place, there is no one-size-fits all solution. While it shouldn’t be used to replace video tutorials, informative resources or other assets which require a longer shelf-life, it can be a good way to create a sense of urgency around your content. This can be particularly effective for highlighting event sessions, unique interviews or webinars that can later be repurposed. Alternatively, Facebook Live can be a strong outlet for a monthly, weekly or even daily video series, so long as it has the consistency that viewers know when they need to tune in.
5. Find the right partner
Ritchie’s line “Partnerships are a lot like dating” earned a few good chuckles from the audience (ourselves included). But that sentiment is right on the nose. When exploring opportunities to partner with an influencer for a campaign, it is important to get a feel for each other, understand who you’re working with and what they may bring to the table. You may find after a few conversations, that initial Prince Charming was really a frog in disguise. When investing in either limited paid influencer relationships or a full partnership, take it slow. A joint LinkedIn Pulse post is a good starting point to get a feel for how a larger relationship can take shape.
6. Don’t be afraid to pivot
Experimentation isn’t a dirty word; some of the most successful content campaigns are the result of lessons learned from previous undertakings. When exploring a platform or new type of content, however, be sure to set expectations for a trial run. You may find you’re not getting the desired results, and that’s okay! Keep a detailed record of insights as you go, so if/when you need to sell the decision to pivot, you can clearly demonstrate what you know now compared to when you started, and how that will inform the next stage of your campaign.
7. Establish a way to measure success
The success of a content program doesn’t always have to be measured in the number of clicks or leads. These are good representations. But before you settle on a metric, determine realistic goals and outline what you want to accomplish. For example, say your brand is getting hammered on social channels about the ineffectiveness of a product or service. A blog explaining how that product works or what pain points it addresses, could be the solution in reducing the number of negative comments. It is important to set the bar early, so you can clearly map outcomes back to your objectives. That’s success.
8. Take more chances
These days, the barrier to entry for content is lower than it used to be. Take videos, for example. Years ago, producing a high-quality video could run well into five or six figures. Today, using iPhones and other consumer technologies, a video costs a fraction of what it used to. This gives marketers the flexibility to try new things. If one initiative doesn’t generate the numbers you’re expecting, try something else. If you don’t have to commit a whole annual budget to one item, you can take more chances and position yourself for long-term gains.
9. Create that golden content item
There’s no one right answer for creating a perfect piece of content that engages everybody you want to engage. But the panelists had some tips. Deep, thorough thought leadership is great – but, they said, take a tip from outlets like People magazine. Listicals, brain tweaks, life hacks, and bulleted takeaways tend to do very well. And, they said, always do an odd number of bullets. We listened. Our bulleted list stops at 9.
How do you create great content? Let us know in the comments below.
This article by Michael O’Connell, Cameron Brody and Olivia Beckwith, originally appeared on the PAN Communications blog, reprinted with permission.