Facebook Algorithm Changes: What Content Marketers Need to Know

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Content Marketing, earn a certificate in content marketing from PRSA: https://bit.ly/prsacontent

Lisa Arledge Powell, President, MediaSource

When Facebook announces changes to the News Feed, communicators straighten up and listen. The most recent changes were sudden and significant, affecting the lives of social media strategists and content marketers overnight—even forcing once-flourishing publishers to shut their doors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the most recent News Feed tweaks, but many brands are still struggling to understand.

So what exactly does this mean for communicators? Here’s the run-down:

Friends & Family First:

Facebook kicked off 2018 by announcing they would make changes to their algorithm in an interest to better promote users’ mental health. Their studies have shown that genuine interactions between friends—not viral video content or national news—is what promotes a strong well-being. This, according to Zuckerberg himself, means, “…you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” If your business, brand or media page wants to remain visible, your posts will need to garner meaningful engagement.

Local News > National News:

Facebook announced it would prioritize local news over national news so that users can see content that has a direct impact on them and their community. According to Alex Hardiman, Head of News Product, and Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships, local publishers are defined as “those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friends share a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in your News Feed.”

Trusted News Sources Only:

Facebook surveyed a wide range of Facebook users across the U.S. to determine their level of trust in various news sources. The results of these surveys, which remain private, affect the overall ranking of posts on the News Feed. Pages considered trustworthy by users may see a boost in their visibility, while Pages deemed untrustworthy will likely see a drop in audience reach.

How the changes apply to your brand:

As a Page manager, you’ll likely see your post reach, referral traffic and average video watch time decrease in the short run. But the overall impact to your page’s performance will be determined by important factors such as the type of content you produce and the level of engagement it garners. Those who produce thoughtful, compelling content void of clickbait and tailored for a specific audience will survive these changes—and may even benefit to a degree.

Here are a few suggestions to make sure your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle:

  • Know Your Audience & Understand Their Interests: Do you have a good idea of where your likes and engagements are coming from? Decode this information easily using Facebook Analytics, or whichever social tracking service you use. Once you know this, fine-tune your content for your specific audience. Once again, Facebook is focused on a user’s well-being and interests. 

  • Incorporate Multimedia Content & Try Live Video: Multimedia remains a powerful driver of engagement on the platform, so avoid executing Facebook posts without multimedia content. Add a photo, video or link to content that will spark conversation among your followers. Consider testing live video to interact with viewers and inspire that much-coveted engagement on your content. Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos, according to Facebook. Don’t just add generic multimedia for the sake of adding it, though. Be strategic and thoughtful—the goal is to catch viewers’ eyes and spark meaningful engagement.
  • Boost Posts & Consider Geographical Audiences
: Facebook’s boosted promotions allow you to get very specific with targeting. Given the platform’s preference for local news and content, it’s a great idea to run post promotions targeted towards population subsets. Target specific cities for whom your content is relevant. This will inspire engagement from specific, localized geographic areas, register on Facebook’s algorithm and ultimately boost the visibility of those posts. Boosted posts will also increase your page’s relevance to the viewer. Make sure the next piece of content that follows the boosted post is relevant to the targeted audience from the boost; you need to maintain these engaged users’ interest.

  • Keep It Fresh
: If you need to recycle content, do it as infrequently as possible and avoid using the same messaging, or else risk having your posts demoted. Look at your page as an outside user and think about what would be the most engaging content and when that content should be posted. Too much of the same content will get boring to users – Mix it up! 


Keep It Real
: With the news that Facebook will prioritize content that drives high levels of engagement, avoid trying to goad readers into liking or clicking your content with disingenuous tactics, ie. “Like if you agree,” or “Share if this applies to you.” Facebook’s algorithm will automatically demote clickbait posts on the News Feed.

This is not the first time Facebook has tweaked its algorithm, and it likely won’t be the last. Content creators, communicators and social media teams who stay informed of the changes, understand what they mean, and adjust their strategy accordingly will still be able to thrive in this newest News Feed era.


Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, an award-winning creative agency that specializes in content-focused public relations, content marketing and national media exposure for major brands. Connect with Lisa on Twitter: @LisaArledge


To learn more about Content Marketing, earn a certificate in content marketing from PRSA: https://bit.ly/prsacontent




The Content Marketers Secret Weapon

Scott Fedonchik Discusses the Content Marketers Secret WeaponScott FedonchikSenior Vice President of Marketing, Business Wire

There is an easy, affordable, trusted and effective tool to promote your communications that you might not be thinking about…post it as Business Wire News Release. Why? Here are a few highlights.

1) By reframing your content as a news release (and including supporting materials like a headshot, author bio, graphics, research data, a video, etc.) your piece can take on a life of its own as source material for journalists and influencers. Your content is searchable and archived, so you can become a recognized thought leader as reporters do research on your chosen topic. A recent study by Business Wire found that 53% of journalists refer to newswire content daily, so we know they are looking at our material for story ideas.

media blueprint2) Using a newswire provides a halo of credibility to your content. Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, has been distributing industry news and information for over five decades, establishing a leadership position with journalists around the world. Placing your content within our feed, among other blue-chip organizations, industry thought leaders and brands, add to the relevance, authority, and visibility of your ideas. These factors are hard to measure but are incredibly important for content marketing success!

3) A wire release for your communications content gains broad reach to leading media points, direct posting to major news sites, search benefits from the major portals, as well as social media distribution through Business Wire’s turn-key sharing tools. We distribute directly into the editorial systems of digital, print and broadcast newsrooms, individual reporters and editors, consumers, financial and news portals, websites, news syndicators, bloggers, social media networks and more, so your amazing content will be seen!

4) You can select targeted distribution channels (by geography, industry type, trade category, demographics, language, etc.) to insure your content gets seen by the right people who can engage with it and share it with their audiences. Business Wire reaches over 160 countries in 20 languages and offers 193 industry trade verticals to reach the audiences you want to impact. From broad, global reach to micro-targeting, we have your content covered.

5) Your published piece comes with measurement reports that show the number of views, link clicks, websites that published your articles, social media engagement and a list of influencers who amplified your post. Honestly, try getting that level of reporting from a social media site or programmatic media firm. It’s not going to happen…and certainly not at the costs of working with Business Wire.

So, my guess is that these points were probably not what you were thinking when you clicked on this post. As a fellow content marketer, I hope I have opened your eyes to the “hidden gems” of the wire.

Pound for pound there is no more effective (and surprisingly affordable) tactic to add to your content marketing strategy than newswire distribution.

If you are interested in learning more, email me or click here to set up an information session. (www.services.businesswire.com/press-release-distribution)

 

 

 




Content Hub Optimized for Content Marketers: Contently Live

contently200A Commpro News Update

Content marketing tech company Contently launched Contently Live, a customizable content hub specifically for marketers. The site is designed to avoid the hassle of having to build a website or microsite, by driving business results itself – like lead generation, audience attention, and revenue.

“Simply publishing content isn’t enough these days—marketers need to be able to show results,” said Shane Snow, Contently’s co-founder and chief creative officer. “Everything we’ve learned from our own content marketing optimization is built into Contently Live, so users can focus their attention on telling their brand’s story. This turnkey content hub will turn great content into leads.”

In beta tests, marketers who made the switch reported a 45 percent increase in attention time, and  saw the conversion rate on e-books increase by an average of 34 percent. A half-dozen major brands are set to launch content hubs on Contently Live by year’s end.

“Other systems are fine for publishing content, but it’s a much more involved process for a marketer, especially if you want to track your lead funnel and optimize for conversions,” said Contently VP of Product Paul Fredrich. “Contently Live is built for the marketer who wants to have everything set up and optimized for lead generation.”

Contently Live was designed with several guiding metrics in mind: attention time, pageviews, social shares, SEO, email capture, lead generation, and conversions. It is integrated to work with the rest of Contently’s technology, allowing users to plan, create, publish, amplify, and analyze content on one platform.

Increases site traffic and visitor engagement through:

  • Access to Contently’s network of freelance content creators and workflow tools to increase the quality of content
  • Data-driven recommendations within the platform to create better-performing content
  • Custom tagging and infinite scroll for easy and flexible content organization, discovery, and SEO

Optimizes lead generation and capture through:

  • Custom call-to-action pop-ups and slide-ups that integrate with marketing automation, CRM, and email marketing platforms
  • Built-in Document Analytics for embedding and optimizing lead forms in downloadable content like white papers and e-books
  • Smart ad units that recommend relevant content to visitors
  • Analytics that track lead captures and conversions back to the content that works



Script Writing 101 for Content Marketers

Script Writing 101 for Content Marketers

A blank page is to a script writer what a blank canvas is to an artist.

Each key stroke might compare to a brush stroke. Like a painter who pulls from his imagination, you might draft a script drawn from what you already have in mind before you ever head out into the field to shoot and grab the elements.

The downside to that approach is you run the risk of tunnel vision – keeping your eyes peeled for only those “scripted scenes” and overlooking more natural, fun moments you never could have anticipated.

It’s these moments in video marketing that can transform a data- or information-heavy message into compelling, easy-to-understand, and profitable content, as seen in our Intermedia-MultiVu Creative Services case study.

To get there, though, you need to tell your brand story in a creative way. Start with these five steps to write a script that impresses viewers and converts leads.

Organize Your Script’s Elements 

Generally, a simple video script is divided into two columns: the left side for video, the right side for audio.

On the left side, you also create notes for the editor. This will include shot selection, text that should appear on screen, and special effect instructions or transitions.

The right side is where your script appears. It includes everything that your voice-over talent will eventually record into a microphone.

The more detailed and precise your script, the better for everyone involved.

Identify a Likable Character and Open with a Good Lead

Give your audience someone with whom they might identify. The character should be likable. Let your imagination run wild here; your character doesn’t have to be a person.

In a world where viewers can skip your video after the first five seconds, you want to make sure you snag their attention. Talk to your shooter (or if you shot it yourself, think back).

What was the most visually appealing shot the crew gathered? What about sound? Did one of your interviews provide a soundbite so profound it made the hair on the back of your neck stand on end? Use it!

E-CO-1.11.3B_Intermedia-Creative-Services-Case-Study

Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.

 




Tech Marketers Need Strong Focus on Lead Nurturing in Content Marketing Strategies

CommPRO News 224x180CommPro.biz Editorial Staff

IDG Enterprise — the leading enterprise technology media company, comprising CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World — explores the role of content consumption in the technology purchase process in the 2017 Customer Engagement research. Digital transformation is putting more emphasis on technology driving the business forward. In turn, IT decision-makers (ITDMs) are seeking more relevant information resources to meet their business needs. On average, ITDMs download seven assets during the purchase process, outlining the need for tech marketers to spend as much attention on lead nurturing content focused further down the sales funnel, as they do content for lead generation.

Building Relationships through Content

Over the past six months, 83% of ITDMs have registered to receive tech-related content. The leading reason for downloading content is a need for information to help make informed buying decisions. However, the type of content needed varies throughout the tech purchase process (view image), from tech news as they determine the business need, to product testing and reviews as they recommend and select vendors. It is vital that tech marketers consider the content types ITDMs need to make a purchase decision, as 85% of ITDMs are more likely to consider a vendor that educates them throughout the purchase process (Click to tweet). Once content is created, distribution is just as important, since 79% of ITDMs get a negative impression of a tech vendor if they cannot find content during the research process.

“Despite all of this content being created, 79% of tech decision-makers find it challenging to locate high-quality content on B2B tech products and services,” Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer, IDG Enterprise. “This opportunity to stand out through quality content can help position tech vendors as a resource, in turn leading to new business.”

Marketing and Sales Alignment

As ITDMs research solutions, they are aware of the experience derived from the multiple touchpoints vendors establish, in fact 74% of ITDMs notice and appreciate a consistent omni-channel experience. Half of ITDMs go even further, saying that quality design and easy website navigation can increase their trust in information read online.

A positive omni-channel experience needs to extend to sales follow-up. Understanding how to educate the sales team, and what tools they need, is a key way tech marketers can increase engagement. Almost all (98%) ITDMs have responded to vendor outreach. Knowledge sharing plays a key role in why ITDMs respond, whether it was sharing valuable content (56%), showing an understanding about their business or challenges (53%), showing respect for their time (51%), demonstrating honesty and transparency (51%), and reaching out at the right time (50%).

Most of the communications between ITDMs and vendor sales people are email or online based (60%), compared to on the phone (22%) or in-person (18%). But, no matter the form of communication, 76% of ITDMs say their likelihood of purchase is impacted by the sales person contacting them within their desired time frame. Moving the conversation from exploration to a sale, there are many factors that play into making the short list, but the leaders are cost and terms (78%), quality and reliability (74%), and features and functionality (69%). Just under half (45%), mentioned having a previous working relationship gives a leg up, offering an opportunity for new solution providers.

Beyond Text Based Content

Video and events continue to play an important and unique role in ITDMs education process, as these media allow for complex topics to be explained more easily and encourages conversation. ITDMs are responsive to video, and 95% watch tech-related videos. The three platforms with the greatest tech videos views are vendor websites (71%), YouTube/video channels (65%), and tech content sites (64%). ITDMs looking to transform their businesses want to connect with vendors; over the past year 83% of ITDMs attended events where they had the opportunity to directly interact with vendors. Events provide a unique platform for conversations and learning, and ITDM attendees participate to try new products, meet new vendors, ask questions of current vendors, meet with industry experts, and connect with peers at their level. Whether tech marketers incorporate video, events, or both, into their content marketing plans, product demos should be a consideration for either format. The majority of ITDMs (98%) have found value in product demos, with a particular interest in limited time, full function trials (65%), video demonstrations of a product (58%), and in-person demonstrations of how the product works (56%).

“Tech leaders and tech vendors need to have a symbiotic relationship, especially when businesses are relying more on technology to thrive and advance,” said Glynn, continued. “Tech marketers can reinforce their value in this partnership through the creation and distribution of informative and unbiased content. When tech decision-makers find content valuable, they take proactive steps to further educate themselves — whether that be visiting the vendors’ site, reading additional articles and reviews on tech content sites, or contacting the vendor for a product demo.”




5WPR CEO On What Marketers Should Know About Younger Generations

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

Vangar generations are the people that were born between the 1990s and the 2000s, and these are the first generation of people who are considered to be digitally native. These are the people who are constantly connected through various devices, and this is what makes them easily accessible to marketers.

However, this is precisely what makes them very digitally savvy, and it means that they have very clear expectations of social media platforms and their uses. This is why marketers should craft specific marketing strategies that can target what’s important to these generations and resonate with them regarding their personal values. 

When it comes to marketing to the younger generations, marketers usually only have a few seconds to convince the consumers that whatever it is that they are promoting is worth their time. Fortunately, when convinced, they are able to focus long enough to complete very detailed research on any topic that interests them. 

Email 

Most of the time, marketers think people only care about social media platforms, which means they tend to focus all of their marketing efforts on those platforms. However, according to recent studies, the younger generations are actually very active email users. According to research, these younger generations check their email several times per day, which shows that the younger generations continue to see email as an important and valid communication method. 

Social Media Platforms 

Additionally, these younger generations don’t have one preferred platform, and instead, they are far more likely to use multiple social media platforms across multiple devices. However, they aren’t consuming and posting the same type of content on each platform; for example, on Instagram, they tend to show their ideal selves, while on Snapchat, they share their real-life moments. They tend to get the news from Twitter and mostly use Facebook too to connect with older family members. 

Connections 

The one thing that the younger generations crave is an authentic connection with the brands that they want to purchase products or services from. Most of the time, these consumers are looking for brands that tend to appear human. In fact, when the younger generations have a connection with the company, they aren’t just going to convert into consumers, but they actually become brand advocates. Most of these young people are very brand conscious and then stick to the brands they like for a long time. 

All of this information means that the young generations are looking for connections both through email and on social media platforms. This is why brands should create a kind of cult following with the potential consumers, as they are going to like everything about the company itself, along with all of the products and the people working there. This can be done through personalized content, allowing the public a glimpse into the daily life at the company, and using artificial intelligence to anticipate the needs of these buyers.


About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading digital PR agency.




The Impact of Blockchain: Its Potential in Digital Marketing across Consumers, Businesses, and Marketers

Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Practice Lead and Evangelist – North America, Wipro Limited

Beyond the blockchain hype lies its true potential, leading to new pathways towards implementation and real usage of the underlying technology set (most notably distributed ledger, smart contracts, crypto-assets, and encryption). These are being realized across supply-chain, financial services, and manufacturing with potential adoption in digital marketing prime to become the next key example. The opportunities and areas where key issues are being sought for remediation, as well as market enhancements, are best discussed in three buckets: (1) digital marketing companies advertising to potential consumers on behalf of their corporate clients, (2) corporate clients looking to market to consumers and optimize their spend on digital marketers, and (3) the consumers themselves.

Many companies who frequently face a twofold issue related to how their marketing companies typically hire a plethora of third-party companies to ensure the content gets to consumers, and further, must then ensure that those consumers are good potential customers, and more critically, that they are real people. A rise of bots over the past few years, combined with a glut of websites and services setup purely to produce clicks and views to drive digital advertising revenue has created an incredible minefield of unreliable data for many large corporate clients who can’t quantify their actual marketing ROI as a result.

Distributed Ledger (DLT) could allow communications professionals to track and authenticate consumer data as the technology enables secure and trusted transactions between parties, thus creating much more scrutiny around the need and role of third-party data-mining vendors. Where verifying data becomes easier, the benefits of decentralization will beget workflow changes and the very nature of marketing teams and their metrics, while the touchpoints by which marketers track consumer interactions and metrics will be altered by blockchain’s transaction management, interoperability, and data verification capabilities. With these workflow changes, marketers will see long-term benefits in working with higher quality and more verifiable data by working directly with consumers versus third-party data-mining vendors.

Today, consumers are expected to log their personal data (name, number, email, password, etc.) with every company they engage with online for account verification and this year we saw some of the largest and most damaging consumer data breaches which could have been better mitigated through decentralization and encryption. Distributed networks with encryption protocols support decentralized digital records of secure transactions meaning that each digital transaction is securely logged across several locations across an entire distributed network with the data fully masked with blockchain acting as the consumer’s personal identification and authentication key to unmask or access said data.

Distributed ledger’s value of transparency could allow consumers to double-check the status, condition, lineage, or authenticity of a product they purchased. Foods claiming to be organic and locally sourced, medicines requiring temperature-controlled storage, unique artwork, and high-end luxury goods like diamond jewelry are all examples of product areas where we’ve begun to see this radical movement towards customer accessibility that implicitly compels companies to be held accountable. This increased transparency works in two ways because as brick and mortar stores become eCommerce platforms, they are at a growing risk of counterfeiters selling fraudulent products and hackers breaching their consumer databases. These vulnerabilities put corporate profits, reputation, and consumer confidence at risk.

At the end of the day, to fully realize the potential of blockchain in digital marketing, marketers will need to embrace the fact that in essence, all marketing is becoming digital marketing, while blockchain hype brought an influx of people, ideas, and experiments and its initial impact has been fragmented – what’s left are real-life and sustainable solutions to current needs and problems.


Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Practice Lead and Evangelist – North America, Wipro LimitedAbout the Author: Joshua Q. Israel Satten is the Director for Wipro’s Blockchain Practice and the leader of the Blockchain Financial Services practice in North America. With over 15 years of global diversified experience, Joshua has been instrumental in creating, managing, and scaling transformational growth for several top-tier financial services companies over the past decade. In his current role, Joshua holds a dual position – one he serves as the leader and evangelist for Blockchain for Financial services in North America. As part of this, he closely works with our financial services business unit, various consortia and partners, advising and leading the blockchain journey for Wipro’s financial service clients. Two, he is responsible for Wipro’s global Blockchain Center of Excellence team (COE). In this role and as a face to the industry, he represents Wipro in various industry forums, builds connections with Business / IT Leadership across industries and geographies, and works with Industry Analysts to gain mind-share in the global blockchain ecosystem.

 

 




Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2019 Super Bowl (As We Approach The 2020 Game)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

A credible argument can be made that the Super Bowl craze began, not because it featured two teams battling for the U.S.A. Concussion Football Championship, but because it was touted by marketing, advertising writers, PR and ad agencies and TV commentators as featuring the best, most, enjoyable products of the advertising industry – TV commercials with superior creativeness and entertainment value – as well as shameful hype from sports writers. Cynics not associated with the promotion of the game and telecast believe that the commercials were never so superior. (Once in a while there was a brilliant spot). But what is actually responsible for the massive media hype is the cost of the commercials.

Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2019 Super Bowl There have been many Lessons Learned by marketers who have shelled out the Big Bucks so their commercials can be seen during the Super Bowl and, hopefully, have enough legs to receive extended media coverage. Unfortunately for marketers, PR people and ad agencies, for the past decade or so more news worthy events than the cost of a TV spot have often over shadowed the commercials, as it did during the lead-up to last years telecast, when the cost of a 30 second spot was reported to be in excess of $5-million, as it will again this year.

Politics, violence against women by NFL players and health matters related to football are subjects that both sports marketers and the NFL would rather not be the subjects of news stories during Super Bowl week (or any other time). But as the football family and President Trump has learned the media doesn’t give into the wants of powerful people, either in the White House or in the NFL’s commissioner’s office, and all three subjects received major media attention in 2019, as they again did in the lead-up to the 2020 game between. the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February. 2.

As usual, there will be many lessons that sports marketers will learn from this year’s Super Bowl. But unexpectedly there was three idiosyncratic lessons learned just a couple of weeks after last year’s game, one that dated back to 2018. They concerned the relationships between employer, employees, public relations practitioners and the media. 

Lesson 1Not even Bob Costas, the longtime voice of NBC Sports for nearly 40 years, could escape employer punishment for expressing his opinion about the concussion problem in the NFL. Because of his comments, he was removed from the 2018 Super Bowl, he said, and subsequently left the network in early 2019.

Lesson 2 – The second lesson should be remembered by employers: The more powerful you are in the business world, the greater the media coverage when a wrong doing is exposed. An example was the headline coverage on February 22-23 regarding New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft being charged in a sex sting, which he has denied.

Lesson 3 – This one relates to people in our businesses, who work for individuals or entities that have been involved in PR crises, like Mr. Kraft: Despite the work of self-designated PR crises specialists, once a reputation is lost, it will forever be remembered by the media in subsequent stories of the same nature. (Believe me, Mr. Kraft will long be remembered in football circles for reasons other than his team winning Super Bowls.)

Of course, there were loads of lessons that are more mundane than the above ones:

Despite not knowing what the efficacy of the mega-costly TV commercials will be, along with the number of concussions and other bodily injuries players might receive during the 2020 game, one thing is certain: The Super Bowl will always provide lessons for sports marketers.

Here are some of the most important ones from 2019:

  • Arguably the most important one for marketers is that politics in now ingrained in the Super Bowl’s DNA, as it is in all entities and individuals who have experienced a PR crisis, because of President Trump’s S.O.B. remarks about football players who kneel during the National Anthem and the NFL’s obvious blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick for fomenting the kneel strategy as a means of highlighting racial injustice. Try as the NFL and marketers may, it’s now impossible to separate the NFL from politics. Even though Kaepernick was not on the field during the 2019 game, his presence was felt during the lead-up to and on Super Bowl day: A barrage of news stories contained quotes from entertainers explaining their positions about not taking part in Super Bow activities. And during the game, Kaepernick posted pictures of athletes and celebrities supporting him.
  • All the hype didn’t stop the media from questioning NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about violence against women committed by NFL players, specifically, Kareem Hunt, the Kansas City Chief’s running back, and the San Francisco’s 49 ers Reuben Foster.
  • While the NFL and its sponsors attempted to flood the media with “Super Bowl Fun Facts,” there are other statistics that they would rather not have received coverage: The mental and physical damage to their gladiators – the football players – both during their active careers and after. What has become a staple of the lead-up to the Super Bowl is media coverage detailing the physical dangers to those who play “America’s Sport.” And 2019 was no exception.

Here are several examples:

  • The first major article I noticed regarding the negative life altering affects of playing football caught me by surprise because of where it appeared – not on the sports pages or medical columns, but as a huge lead editorial in the January 19 New York Times. The author, Alex Kingsbury, cited examples, of injuries to players and research from medical journals that should be required reading by every parent before deciding whether to let their child participate in what should not be called a game. Astonishingly, the article also quoted New England quarterback Tom Brady as saying, “Your body gets used to the hits…my brain is wired for contact. I would say in some ways it has become callous to the hits,”(making me think Brady took one hit too many). 
  • Then, surprisingly, a new element that described the adverse health affects from playing football at all levels was reported on January 20 in the NYT. It was about how high school, college and NFL coaches encourage linemen to gain weight so they can better protect the quarterback from pass rushing defensive players. The story, headlined “The N.F.L.’S Other Scourge: Obesity” described how coaches encourage obesity, a life-threatening condition, by telling linemen to bulk up in order to play in the NFL. Because of the “gain to play” requirements, NFL linemen have higher rates of hypertension, obesity and sleep apnea then other players or the general public. As the Times reported, “blocking for a $25-million-a-year quarterback, it turns out, can put linemen in the high risk category for many of the ailments health experts readily encourage people to avoid. On Super Bowl weekend, the Times published two articles that detailed the horrific nature of what is dishonestly called a game, when rightly it should be called legalized assault.
  • On February 2, a two page article beginning on page one of SportsSaturday told how a former NFL player’s anxiety about his worsening C.T.E. symptoms caused him to commit suicide. The next day, beginning on page one of SportsSunday, another huge article told of how football players become addicted to painkillers, so they can continue playing, and then how the craving follows them when their career ends. (President Trump and football controversy seem as tied together as are laces and shoes. In a Super Bowl day “Face The Nation” interview, when asked if he would want his son to play football, he said “Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t. I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out   having to do with football. It’s a dangerous sport and I would have a hard time with it,” he said. Trump is the second president who voiced misgivings about having their sons play football. Obama said that if he had a son, he would not let him play football.)
  • An article by nutritionists at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, MN, said pizza, fully loaded nachos and fried chicken wings are among some of the most popular, yet most fat-laden offenders, at Super Bowl parties. They all have around 800-1,000 calories and about 50 g of fat in a typical party-sized portion. For example, two pieces of all-meat pizza contain 940 calories and 56 g of fat. (A meal that only people who have stock in makers of cholesterol -lowering meds might endorse.)

    As the above article revealed, the lead-up to the 2019 game showed how damaging to a person’s health football can be to individuals who never even played a down and watch it on TV. Instead of being subjected to the big life-altering hits on the grid iron, the food served at Big Game parties can do the damage to internal body mechanisms. 

    Football has been called “America’s Game,” baseball it’s “National Pastime.” Both have a checkered marketing history, which includes proud sponsorships from tobacco, all sorts of alcoholic beverages and foods that health experts deem unhealthy. So it’s only natural that the 2019 game ushered in another activity that is detrimental to many Americas – legalized betting.

    “Now fans are able to play the game within the game,” Lisa Kerney, formerly of ESPN, was quoted as saying in a January 30 Times story. Now part of a sports betting show, Kerney, the Times reported, now “rattles off N.F.L. point spreads and money-line odds as easily as a CNBC host talks stock prices and P/E ratios.” Also during the 2019-2020 season New York’s Fox 5 shamefully sold time to DRAFTKINGSSPORTSBOOK, a half-hour tutorial on how to bet on-line. Missing from the show’s script is a line saying that “anyone who has bet at a casino or with a bookie knows the house always wins.” (I’m certainly not puritanical in my beliefs. I’ve done my share of gambling and enjoying an occasional drink. But I find it hypocritical and deceitful to have sports leagues hawk their charitable activities and position athletes as role models and then permit products that can be detrimental to viewers’ before, after or on game telecasts, knowing that a large part of their audience are youngsters or other impressionable  people.)

    As usual, there was the always debates over the goal of Super Bowl ads: Is it to build brand awareness or drive product sales? Leslie Zane, founder and president of Triggers Growth Strategy, argued in an op-ed for Ad Age that Super Bowl ads should lead to sales and that far too many advertisements during the Big Game aren’t built to actually change brand preference.

    An article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that even self-designated marketing experts disagree about commercial strategy. Some brands think commercials are more impactful by keeping them under wraps until they are seen on the Super Bowl telecast. Other specialists advise releasing the ads before the telecast so the brand can get the most free viewings of them

    Clients and the creators of Super Bowl TV commercials also hope that their multi-million dollar ads will long be remembered by consumers and the media after the game. That’s what Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brew ad achieved, ever since its commercial disparaged Miller Life and Coors Light for using corn syrup in its brewing process. The “my beer is better than your beer” ad battle resulted in MillerCoors suing Bud Light for misleading advertising.

    Newspaper articles regarding negative aspects of playing football, like the ones above before the 2019 game, usually begin a few weeks before the Super Bowl. But in 2019, on November 8, months before the February 2, 2020 kickoff, the New York Times launched a series about “footballs hold on America.” which included articles about the dangers to players’ health associated with playing football and other societal aspects of the game.

    Examples of negative football articles leading up to the 2020 Super Bowl:

    • The initial article told of the decline of participants in high school football and a meeting of NFL executives in 2017 that tried to create a strategy to save the game. The story said that “Over the last decade, the numbers of high school boys playing tackle football –  the heart and soul of the sport – has dropped  more than 10 percent.”
    • On November 13, the Times reported on how “More Players Question Injury Treatment.” The story told how players are now questioning treatment by team physicians and are seeking second opinions.
    • In an Op-Ed in the December 8 New York Times, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown wrote that the National Football League is far behind the National Basketball Association in providing adequate pensions and medical insurance for players who helped build the sport, resulting in some past players not having enough money to cover their football associated medical bills.
    • On December 12, the New York Times published an article about researchers at Stamford University who are trying to develop a football helmet filled with water that can prevent brain injuries. The story included the following quote: “My fear is that a better helmet will give false reassurance,” said Dr. Lee Goldstein, a psychiatrist and researcher with the T.E. Center at Boston University, which has carried out pioneering research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. “It’s like developing a better cigarette filter. It’s smoother and it might not give you a hacking cough. But you still get lung cancer.”
    • “An exceptional special Times article on December 19, and updated on December 22, about the NFL at 100 by James Surowiecki included the following graphs: “Fans express outrage about the threat of brain damage to their heroes, so there must be at least a feigned effort at reducing hits. Where the league once celebrated violence, it now plays it down.” …“Of course, it’s impossible these days to treat the N.F.L. as simple entertainment. Watching football is necessarily an exercise in cognitive dissonance: Enjoying a game requires us, on some level, to ignore everything we know about brain injuries, the shortness of most players’ careers and the physical toll the game takes on their bodies, the team owners’ intolerance for some social commentary and the disregard for domestic and sexual assaults.”
    • In its January 4, 2020, edition, the Times ran a feature about the how the NFL wraps itself around the flag. It detailed the history of how the NFL has attempted to make its product synonymous with patriotism, which is evident at every game. But the story included a few lines that the league, its networks, commentators and friendly sports journalists never mention: “Military personnel in uniform, fighter jet flyovers, field-size flags, and red, white and blue festooned N.F.L. jerseys have become part of the game’s landscape. Despite criticism from certain corners about politicizing the game, the league has continued to embrace symbols of patriotism. Certain teams even accepted money from the Department of Defensefor patriotic displays during games, with the league eventually returning more than $700,000 following an audit.”

      The Times wasn’t the only pub to print stories about injuries suffered by football players:

      • A study in Annals of Neurology,by a team of researchers from the Boston University CTE Center, published on October 7 and reported in numerous publications, said that for every year of playing football the risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) increases by 30 percent. And for every 2.6 years of play, the risk of developing CTE doubles, because of repeated head collisions.
      • The December 2-8 Sports Business Journal ran a full page article on lower extremity injuries that “have plagued players for years.”
      • Even articles extolling the virtues of football, like the one by Sam Walker in the December 21-22 Wall Street Journal, in which the author said that its “positive influence on kids will continue to outweigh the risks” if the right adjustments are made, noted the decline of high school participants in tackle football. The story included statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations showing last season football “suffered its steepest loss of players in 33 years.” The pro-football article also mentioned the dangers of repeated brain concussions.

      Even before the Times launched its “footballs hold on America”” series, stories about the negative health affect of playing football actually began in August, when a study published in Science Advances, a peer reviewed scientific journal, published an article regarding a study showing that even one season of playing football without a concussion can cause brain tissue damage. The results of the research, conducted with University of Rochester football players, received coverage in scientific and consumer pubs, including a August 20 New York Times article.

      Of course, the above were only a fraction of negative football stories that were published.

      (The sum of the negative articles? Football is not all fun and games. The message? With apologies to Waylon Jennings, “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be football players.”)

      The Times also ran an article on January 17 about how the seamy side of football is whitewashed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The impetus for the article was the announcement, on January 15, that Paul Tagliabue, the NFL commissioner from 1989 to 2006, was voted to the Hall. To all but the most fervent football junkies, and, of course, the team owners, Tagliabue is remembered for his denial that football-related concussions can cause brain trauma and for having a non-brain specialist MD defend his position. The story also named past players that the Hall inducted, despite their having been suspended for unsavory conduct, or worse.

      And in a new variation of the Hail Mary pass, the Associated Press reported that the New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

      This year’s Super Bowl telecast will unveil new twists for viewers – the “Three-card Monte” or “Flimflam” advertising approach. The Wall Street Journal’s’ May 6 “CMO TODAY” column reported that the telecast will reduce the number of national commercial breaks per quarter from four to five, but the total amount  of ad time is not to be diminished. To put things in perspective: There were 49 minutes and 45 seconds of national commercials last year (2018).The actual amount of playing time in an NFL game is between 11- and 15 minutes.

      Also, in addition to TV viewers getting soused and filling their bodies with unhealthy foods during the commercial special known as the Super Bowl, there will be a new destructive element added for viewers: They will be able to bet on individual plays while having “just one more” and maybe get cancer, according to Japanese scientific study reported in the New York Times on December 24.

      As someone who has been involved in numerous mega sports marketing campaigns over the years – both nationally and internationally – but doesn’t bet on the outcomes, I can confidently predict, and be willing to put a few bucks on the following: 1 – Even before sales figures or audience surveys and attitudes are in, sponsors of the 2020 Super Bowl will say, “We’re pleased with the reception of our ads.” (Even if they’re not.) 2 – The Jennifer Lopez-Shakira  half-time show will draw a greater audience than the commercial-laden few minutes of actual football play, and, 3 – Despite marketers spending  more than $5-million dollars for 30 seconds of commercial time, all the ads will fall short of gaining the publicity that Michael

      Bloomberg’s one- minute national ad criticizing Donald Trump will receive. Both Bloomberg and the president announced on January 7 that they will advertise on the Super Bowl. From what I saw, Bloomberg’s announcement generated much more media coverage than the Trump disclosure.

      As soon as the Bloomberg-Trump commercials were made public, other advertisers became fearful that their ads would be shuffled to the practice squad, according to various news reports. And they were correct, as the pre-game publicity showed. So Fox decided to run the ads in close proximity to their own promotional ones. (In football terminology, that’s known as the “prevent defense.” But as football fans know, it often fails.) 

      The politicization of sports – especially the Super Bowl – is not a new story. Neither is the news that Facebook profits from permitting political lies on its site. What is new is a story that CNN broke on January  24 saying that, “President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has run more than 200 misleading political advertisements on Facebook in the past day claiming the “Fake News media” will attempt to block the campaign’s upcoming Super Bowl ad — despite federal regulations that require the TV spot be aired.” (Is it only a matter of time before Facebook will run NFL ads saying that new scientific proof shows that football concussions help improve cognitive ability.) 

      Advertising on the Super Bowl, or any mega sporting event, instead of doing more targeted advertising, is like shooting craps. You roll the dice and hope for the best.

      A sure to happen discussion about whether the cost of producing and publicizing a TV commercial is the best way for a marketer to advertise will surely occur after this year’s game. But on January 14, one opinion was already in: In her daily run-up to the Super Bowl advertising column, Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor,  reported that, “After advertising in both 2010 and 2000, the last two times the census was taken, the U.S. Census Bureau will not run a commercial in the 2020 game.” “It isn’t an efficient spend of tax payers’ dollars,” says Alex Hughes, census program director at VMLY&R, which is handling the bureau’s 2020 ad campaign.

      I’ve been told in confidence by some sports marketers who are pressured to advertise on sports mega events that they feel the same way as the census people. Before committing to advertise on next years Super Bowl at the very least brand managers should have their agencies present them with alternative options before agreeing to spend more than $5-million for a :30 spot.


      The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net.

       




      The Future of Content Marketing and What We Should Expect

      Nick Galov, HostingTribunal.com 

      There is no doubt that content marketing holds the number one spot for the most efficient and beneficial method of promotion and advertising in the world of the internet and social media. This marketing method has been around since the late 19th century and has revolutionized the way marketers connect and engage with their audience.

      Here’s a brief overview: 

      The first recorded mention of this kind of marketing in history books appears somewhere around the year 1885 when The Furrow magazine provided a guide for farmers on how to grow and improve their business. The next mention was in 1912 when the French tire company Michelin released a 400-page informational guide for drivers, which contained travel advice as well as information about auto maintenance services.

      The key point is – content marketing has been around for quite some time. We know how it contributed to the historical development of several industries.

      But now comes the $64,000 question: 

      What can we expect in the future?

      Nobody knows exactly how or in what specific way content marketing will continue to develop. But thanks to several studies and a bit of research, we can put the information side by side and dive deeper to get an idea of what we can expect.

      According to a study conducted by the CMI (Content Marketing Institute), as many as 87% of brands are currently using content marketing, with 53% of those claiming they aim to further increase investment in the next few years.

      What’s more, further information reveals that, at the current rate of development, the industry will see an annual growth of 16%, skyrocketing from $196.58 billion to $412 billion by 2021. This report highlights several contributing factors, such as global smartphone adoption, loyalty and brand objectives, lower cost of advertising than usual, and increased conversion. 

      Content marketing is also expected to be dominant in two major sections: video and evergreen content. On the one hand, evergreen content has compounding returns which are much higher than temporal content.

      On the other hand, video content represents 82% of all IP traffic. Marketers have already started and are expected to continue using video to personalize the marketing process for each buyer.

      All in all, experts believe LinkedIn will see one of the largest growth in brand and user engagement among social media networks and websites. In turn, this will provide a rich opportunity for brands to grow and leverage a presence.

      The famous “Alexa Voice Search” is also going through accelerated growth, offering new opportunities for marketers to build higher integration with both delivery services and ecommerce.

      Numbers speak for themselves, but there is only so much information we can gather right now. All we can do at the end of the day is to sit back and observe how things are going to develop in this billion-dollar industry.

      We hope you learned something new and are going to find this information useful in some way!

       




      Attention B2B Marketers: Why LinkedIn Rules

      Mike Orr, COO, Grapevine6

      With 650 million professional members, LinkedIn must be considered in any social marketing strategy. LinkedIn is often overlooked by marketers because its professional ‘personality’ does not lend itself to glitzy consumer campaigns that win awards and attract press coverage. As marketers we would be wise to explore the untapped potential of LinkedIn to drive revenue.

      The starting point in any marketing strategy is to think about the nature of your customer’s journey. It matters less who you sell to (businesses, consumers, or governments) and more how your customers experience your company. Is it a one-off experience (transactional) or is it a long-term relationship (relational)?

      Relational experiences in B2B is where LinkedIn shines brightest. In fact, LinkedIn is consistently ranked the number one source for B2B lead generation by marketers. The success of LinkedIn as a marketing platform is directly related to its success as a recruiting platform. Members are incented to complete detailed profiles to increase their attractiveness as potential job candidates. LinkedIn profiles give marketers an unparalleled ability to target a marketing message to a very specific professional audience, enabling ABM and other advanced marketing approaches.

      But limiting your thinking to advertising misses the big opportunity in relational businesses. Marketing needs to think beyond the buyer’s relationship with the brand page on LinkedIn. As buyers begin to engage with your company they’ll start to check out your company’s leadership team and research the profiles of the sales people with whom they come into contact. LinkedIn is the platform that sales professionals use most often to research buyers. Understand that this goes both ways. Modern buyers are also researching those who represent your company.

      Marcom teams need to help customer-facing employees, especially sales and executive leaders within your organization, project a professional brand image on LinkedIn, commensurate with that of your company. Instead of building one brand, marketers need to think about building hundreds or thousands of individual brands for those people who are in contact with your customer base. The common thread for all of those individual brands will be the content marcom produces. Marketing must get creative in producing and curating content that makes their customer-facing teams look smart.

      What content strategy will drive value in social? According to Forrester analyst Laura Ramos, buyers are looking for short content, ideally from credible sources, and reflecting peer experiences. These principles apply to B2B content generally, but are also useful when creating content for your teams. Our clients also find that sharing third party content along with branded content generates the highest engagement rates.

      When social marketing meets sales the result is a social selling program that produces the highest ROI for marketing spend. LinkedIn is B2B’s dominant network, hands down, as a gen source and ultimately as a revenue generator – Numbers don’t lie.  Case in point, SAP, a Grapevine6 client, attributes over two billion Euros in pipeline revenue to their LinkedIn social selling program!


      Mike OrrAbout the Author: Mike Orr co-founded Grapevine6 with four long-time friends to make content valuable to sales. They developed the G6 mobile app and content engagement platform that applies AI to accelerate sales and marketing efforts. Mike applied design thinking to develop an app that delivers relevant content for business professionals, in an easy-to-use experience. Before launching Grapevine6, Mike worked with the team that would eventually found Grapevine6 to create a martech startup that was acquired by Cundari. As the strategic leader of Cundari’s digital team, Mike’s work won a number of global awards including two Cannes Lions, a Fast Company Innovation by Design award and Best of the Best in World from MAAW (Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide). Mike earned a B.A.Sc. from UW and an MBA from Rotman.  Contact Mike at Morr@grapevine6.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

      Social Handles:

      Twitter: @mikeorr8

      Twitter: @Grapevine_6 

      LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

      LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/grapevine6-app/

       




      Memes Mean Business for B2B Marketers

      Aidan Paringer, Marketing Director, BNTouch CRM

      For many B2B marketers, there’s a feeling of dread that comes with trying out of the box ideas. After all, search, display and LinkedIn have typically been strong drivers of quantifiable results. This is particularly true in industries that are generally regarded as slow movers. By way of example, Geico and Progressive are trying their hardest to make insurance advertising memorable for consumers, but there’s no “Gecko” or “Flo” in the worker’s compensation insurance market.

      And maybe marketers are missing the point. 

      We’re all familiar with internet memes, from the deluge of “One does not simply…” images (based on Boromir in Lord of the Rings explaining that ‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’) to the usage of Kermit the Frog explaining it’s “none of [his] business.” However, very few B2B companies have made attempts to understand how memes can play a role in their marketing initiatives.

      With this in mind, the marketing team at BNTouch, a CRM platform that helps mortgage originators connect with their real estate broker partners, created a campaign to mirror the NCAA College basketball tournament; we launched March Memeness. The concept was simple, we’d post a new meme every business day, as a way to get our clients and prospects to smile a bit. Most of the images were created using common meme generators (you can find lots of options on Google).

      The results were impressive.

      On the social media side of things, our stats essentially doubled. Instagram follower count grew 160%, and our Twitter follower count also more than doubled as well. Organic daily reach on Facebook was also up more than 100%.

      • Perhaps more importantly, we saw dramatic upticks on web traffic as a result of the initiative. Organic web traffic was up 23% (driven by a 42% increase from social media traffic. Our quality leads measurement was also up more than 40%.

      Of course, this all leads to the question, “is this replicable?” 

      The answer is yes. However, to make it work, there are a few critical takeaways marketers can learn from our experiment.

      The first is that operating slightly out of your generally accepted industry-wide comfort zone  can have a profound impact. For BNTouch, that meant trying humor in an industry that’s generally seen as buttoned up and slow moving. The same effect can be used in any number of industries. In car insurance, Progressive and Geico have incorporated humor for years, perhaps the approach an insurer can take focused on the serious nature of being protected when it’s necessary. The important thing here is to zig when others are zagging.

      The second is that it will require consistency over time. For BNTouch, we created an image for every business day of the month. While a one-off image or .gif can “go viral,” it’s important to not rest your laurels on one positive result, and to realize that success builds upon itself.

      Finally, it’s important to understand what the results you garner mean for your business. Our web traffic from Instagram went up more than 220%, but overall leads from that platform were still below those we received from LinkedIn. This means that there might be a tremendous opportunity on Instagram for a B2B sales cycle, but that we need to remember LinkedIn as an important component of our approach.

      Make no mistake, March Memeness was incredibly fun for the team at BNTouch, but it also demonstrated how the willingness to go outside industry norms can have profound effects.

      Full results of March Memeness can be found at https://bntouch.com/mortgage-blog/mortgage-memes-grow-business/


      About the Author: Aidan Paringer is the Marketing Director at BNTouch CRM, the mortgage industry’s most feature rich growth platform, which operates as a standalone solution while seamlessly integrating into the day-to-day operations for enterprise, team and individual brokers. In the last two years, the company has worked with thousands of mortgage brokers, enabling them to close more than $43 billion in loans. BNTouch removes friction and increases agility in each touch point of a mortgage life cycle for customers, agents and regulators alike. For more information, visit www.bntouch.com

       

       




      Breaking Down Silos: Why Brands Need to Align PR and Content

      Content Marketing and PR: Breaking Down the Silos

      Brandon Andersen, Chief Strategist, Ceralytics


      Today, communicators have ample opportunity to engage their stakeholder audiences, but results have stagnated for many. Communicators excuse middling performances with laments of tight budgets, boring products and increased competition for audience attention. Quite bluntly, those explanations are cop-outs and generally misguided.

      Throughout communications departments, there exists a critical lack of alignment – and nowhere is it more costly than between PR and content marketing. Those who have aligned media relations and content creation drive success repeatedly. Those who haven’t find themselves working harder and harder just to stay in the same place, says David Chapman, founder and CEO of franchise marketing agency 919 Marketing.

      “A failure to align PR and content strategies leads to a failure in effectively engaging your target audiences,” says Chapman, who has enhanced communications alignment for startups, emerging companies, and global brands for two decades. “Once aligned, you will find that PR and content marketing have a synergistic effect – giving you more results from the same investment.”

      In this article, I will dive in to the factors that frequently drive misalignment, how your audiences view earned and owned content, and the benefits of an aligned communications strategy. Of course, I will sprinkle throughout tips for better aligning your PR and content strategies including:

      • How content marketing will get you more media hits
      • How this alignment will help you prove the value of PR
      • How SEO is positively impacted
      • How PR becomes an organic amplifier to owned content

      The source of division

      Many organizations are missing out on fully optimizing their PR and content programs because those departments are effectively siloed. Ideally, your content marketing and media relations teams should go hand-in-hand and be best friends.

      The concept of earned and owned media working together is not new. Gini Dietrich, for one, has evangelized communications alignment for years and years, even coining the widely-adopted term PESO to cleverly illustrate how paid, earned, shared, and owned media should work together.

      While many recognize PESO’s value, communicators still often rely on scattershot strategies driven by individual departments within the same organization working asyncronously. Consider that two-thirds of respondents to the State of Content and PR survey by Version 2.0 Communications said their organization has a short-sighted strategy that is often focused on developing content one piece at a time.

      So why does communications remain so siloed? It generally stems from internal politics and misaligned near-term goals.

      The first step to aligning content and PR is to separate yourself from the politics and create consensus among your colleagues and leadership that these two teams should be unified under a single strategy that maps to organizational goals.

      Then, the directors of both teams can work collaboratively to produce the near- and long-term goals that will set expectations, help both teams stay on path, and create more aligned messaging. Yes, this will require time and, likely, unprecedented collaboration. However, this short-term pain will produce future gains.

      When beginning to align your communications, Dietrich advises to start with your owned content because you have greater control of the messaging. For an in-depth look into how to kick off and sustain an aligned communications strategy, I refer you to her PESO manifesto for which there is little, if not nothing, to add.

      How do content and PR align?

      Both PR and content marketing are in the business of enhancing the reputation of the brand and engendering trust to particular audiences through targeted and engaging content. Of course, conversions and sales are the mother of all metrics, but trust is an essential ingredient in our quest to earn and retain customers. According to the indispensable 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, 63% of consumers agreed that “unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it.”

      Your content marketing and public relations teams have an outsized role in garnering trust with key audiences, they just do it in different ways. Whereas your public relations team utilizes earned media placements to build trust, your content marketers rely mostly on creating an owned channel that is as trustworthy and reputable as any earned media publication.

      It may seem like PR has a leg up when it comes to trust building and reputation enhancement, and historically that has been true. However, the landscape is shifting.

      The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 60% of consumers trust the content created by companies with which they already have a relationship and from which they purchase goods and services. Compare that to the 51% and 27% who trust journalists and celebrities, respectively.

      Edelman Trust Barometer Content vs Press 2018

      Source: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

      However, this data comes with caveats. Only 31% of people trust content from brands they don’t use. Additionally, people may not trust journalists as a whole, but they typically trust particular journalists or publications. You could say the same about celebrities. After all, many brands have had success on social media with influencer marketing.

      Consider a vilified brand like Enron. Even with the strongest content, the company would likely be unable to generate trust from anyone after its well-known antics. On the other hand, John Deere, a pioneer in the space of content marketing and a revered brand, has earned the trust of farmers and homeowners across the country – producing a well-respected magazine, The Furrow, for well over a century.

      With an aligned PR and content marketing strategy, you will more effectively engage your target audiences.

      As you endeavor to achieve greater alignment, it is essential that insights and data flow freely between the content marketing and PR teams. This process will further the understanding of your audience and the influential content that will endear them to your brand and drive them to conversion.

      Other benefits of aligning PR and content marketing

      As mentioned earlier, overhauling we’ve-always-done-it-that-way strategies will require upfront effort and organizational buy-in. When making your pitch, consider presenting these other benefits.

      Create more media hits

      Pitching media can be thankless. Consider the fact that 57% of top-tier publishers receive between 50 and 500 pitches per week, but two-thirds of writers and editors write at most one story per day. Your owned content, particularly insights unearthed about an industry and packaged as a survey, research report or white paper, will stand out to reporters. Engaging visuals, such as infographics and video, also are attractive to journalists and bloggers.

      As a cohesive unit, you will improve your odds of pitching success. The PR team can offer insights into gaps in media coverage while the content marketing team can use their expertise to discuss how best to package the content.

      Improve search visibility

      The total equation for search rankings are more closely guarded than Area 51, but we know that inbound links from strong domains such as media outlets play a significant role. When brands leverage the relationships of PR and the keyword data from the content marketing team, you can better engage publications to craft relevant and powerful inbound links to your owned content.

      Inbound Links

      Source: Ceralytics

      Clear a path to conversion

      The reach and trust that people place in earned media is terrific for engaging new audiences, but it won’t move them through the sales funnel. Owned content aligned with the messaging of your media placements can address the concerns of this new audience and highlight the differentiators of your products and services.

      Prove the value of PR

      Less than half of PR professionals have a measurement program in place, according to the 2019 JOTW Communications Survey. This statistic illustrates how challenging it is to put a bottom-line value on PR. However, aligning public relations and content marketing efforts enables communicators to track earned media results back to actions taken on the website, including what campaigns convert best. It doesn’t show the entire value of PR efforts, but it pulls back the curtain a bit more.

      Strategy improvements

      While PR has a finger on the pulse of what works in media, content marketing tends to have the hard data that illustrates content effectiveness. Each of these insights can benefit the other department – validating existing strategies, inspiring tweaks, or even creating whole new avenues that hadn’t been considered.

      Amplify content

      Going back to the State of Content and PR survey, half of respondents said that their organizations don’t use the expertise of PR pros to promote or amplify content once it’s created. Not only does this inhibit the chances of a media hit, it hamstrings your organization’s investment in content marketing.

      Get started yesterday

      The time to align your communications was yesterday, but the good news is that a large swath of the industry has yet to leverage this opportunity.

      Once you break from this misaligned strategy, you will wonder what took so long. Greater alignment not only produces strong results, it can make you more efficient and creative. It’s a win-win.




      Employees as Marketers: Thoughts From 5WPR Founder

      Employees as Marketers-Thoughts From 5WPR FounderRonn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

      Employees as marketers? Who would have thought?  

      Ever go out for a bite and encounter a server whom you know right off the bat hates where she works?  What does that tell you about the company’s culture?  Would you consider working there or collaborating with them? Today’s generation of workers is a lot different than the boomers who are retiring in droves. Smart employers are engaging and empowering their younger employees. The result is loyal employees who are ardent ambassadors for their employer. You can’t buy that kind of credibility. 

      Recent reports reveal that generation Y, those born between 1982 and 2000, are more family-centric and more likely to hop from job to job. They’re also more prone to view their supervisors as equals, unlike the boomers. But when given a voice that’s heard, the results can be very positive for a company. 

      Take the example of a company based in San Francisco whose employees in Munich, Germany said they wanted to start a refugee orientation program. The CEO not only agreed but also allowed employees who volunteered to develop and conduct this program on company time. Think about the positive impact on morale and attitudes! Empowered by that decision, these employees told friends, relatives, and people in the community about their program which has also been very successful and well-received in Munich. The program has also garnered positive press there as well as abroad. The message is more powerful than any paid one. And because employees are empowered and happy at work, employee attrition is below average. 

      Employee ambassadors who seek and are granted permission to volunteer or perform community chores on company time are some of the best marketing tools one can have and it doesn’t cost any more than what the company is already paying them. This isn’t to suggest, however, that all companies should permit their employees to volunteer on company time. 

      The key point is that employers need to listen to their employees more and encourage input and feedback on matters relating to work and business. Those that do and also suggest to employees key areas that matter to the company will experience not only greater employee satisfaction but also less turnover. Some of these key areas could be with nonprofits whose mission or by-products align with those of the company. 

      So while a marketing budget and department are essential to a company’s success, so, too, are the people who live, toil and breathe the organization daily. Be honest and transparent. Support and communicate openly and frequently with them for they will be the greatest compliment to your marketing program. 

      Marketers often rely on surveys and polls before starting a new campaign and to measure their success. Consider the same for company ambassadors!


      About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.




      LGBTQ+ Media and Influencers Share Advice For Marketers This Pride Month

      LGBTQ+ Media and Influencers Share Advice For Marketers This Pride Month

       

      Mike Morra, Senior Account Executive, Taylor

      June marks Pride Month, and this year WorldPride, a global celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, is being held in New York City in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising

      Pride is a powerful societal tool that is being increasingly embraced around the globe and, in the marketing and communications space, is often associated with a story of progress and triumph… The narrative focuses on how far we’ve come as a society, the celebration of love around us, as well as the hardships the community faced and overcame.

      Indeed… every day it seems as though we’re taking another step in the right direction, but for every step forward, it feels like we’re uncovering a few more hurdles that we will need to overcome.

      Last year, Samantha Allen, former Senior Reporter at The Daily Beast and author of The New York Times critically-acclaimed new book ‘Real Queer America, pushed me into a space of reflection about how Pride initiatives are discussed and treated in our industry.

      Allen noted: “the commercialization of LGBT Pride seems like an age-old topic of debate—even though it wasn’t that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that none of these companies would want to be seen touching anything queer with a ten-foot pole.” And I think that’s important to remember… LGBTQ+ pride initiatives can seem to be more of a branding exercise than catalysts for change that directly benefit the LGBTQ+ community.

      This past month, I had the opportunity to ask six LGBTQ+-identifying media and influencers what advice they have for marketers trying to activate in the LGBTQ+ space.

      1. “Do not lose sight of how much further we have to go” – Ryan Fitzgibbon

      Ryan Fitzgibbon is the founder and creative director of former gay lifestyle magazine, hello mr. It was seen as one of the first magazines to spark LGBTQ+ conversation in its space before larger publishing houses emerged in the market.

      It’s easy to get caught up in the current landscape of the LGBTQ+ community and compare it to years past. Yes, the community has achieved some equality and increased equity in recent years, and we’ve come a long way since Stonewall, which is great, but the community and world still have a ways to go.

      According to a recent article from Money.com, 26 states in the United States do not have state-wide protections for LGBTQ+-identifying people, and Wisconsin has only state-wide protections for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual-identifying people, explicitly excluding people who identify as Transgender, Queer or other (Source: Money.com,2019). 

      That is SCARY. Marketers and communications practitioners should direct attention to this fact and help to bring exposure to other issues like this that our community faces. Ryan further argues that “the budgets spent on Pride floats and the revenue made from sales of rainbow-painted merchandise during the month of June should find their way into to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ rights.”

      2. “Hire Queer People” – Adam Schubak

      Adam Schubak is the partnerships editor for a number of publications under Hearst Magazines including Men’s HealthElle, and Redbook. He is also the founder of Hearst’s first LGBTQ+ group Q+A, standing for “Queer + Allies,” which offers information to Hearst employees and editorial assistance on LGBTQ+ topics for the publishing houses’ brands.

      “The only way to truly understand the wants and the needs of the LGBTQ community is to work with people who are members of that community who can be the voice of your brand in that space,” said Schubak.

      Hundreds of brands have come out with Pride campaigns this month, and every day it seems another ten campaigns are announced… At this point, it feels like brands who are not supporting LGBTQ+ Pride this month are in the minority. If you are working in the marketing and communications space, you or someone you know is likely working on one of these campaigns.

      It’s great to have everyone involved, but it is essential to hire and consult an array of LGBTQ+-identifying people throughout the stages of a campaign. “Understand that we’re all different,” Schubak added. “LGBTQ+ covers a lot of people and we’re not all about glitter and drag queens.”

      3. “Pride cannot just be a celebration. It has to be a resistance and call to action” – Adam Eli

      Adam is a New-York based LGBTQ+ activist. He is also the founder of the LGBTQ+ activism group Voices4, a group fighting for global LGBTQIA+ liberation.

      LGBTQ+ visibility and celebration are important inclusions in a LGBTQ+ initiative or campaign, but so is bringing light to those who do not have the visibility or are not able to freely celebrate who they are or how they identify.

      I repeat… 26 states in the UNITED STATES!!! do not have state-wide protections for LGBTQ+ people, and Wisconsin only has partial state-wide protections. What can marketers do to encourage acceptance, inclusivity, and the adoption of laws that protect LGBTQ+ people?

      In order to be recognized as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, it is vital for marketers to ‘fight the good fight’ alongside LGBTQ+-identifying people and help to uncover the real issues that the community faces.

      4. “Ask Questions” – Maxwell Poth

      Maxwell Poth is a photographer and founder of the LGBTQ+ youth project, Project Contrast, an organization aiming to educate individuals on mental health and teen suicide within the LGBTQ community. Project Contrast depicts stories of what it is like living as an LGBTQ+ person in America today.

      Ask people in the community why something would be impactful to them or what their needs are. Make their voices heard.

      Maxwell’s project, Project Contrast, works to shed light on stories of LGBTQ+ youth in the United States through his photography. By being curious and asking questions, Project Contrast depicts and shares the stories and lives of LGBTQ+ youth in America.

      There should be a curiosity factor in all marketers to enhance and strengthen their respective marketing strategies toward the LGBTQ+ community.

      5. “Show Your Work” – Samantha Allen

      Samantha Allen is the author of Real Queer America, and was formerly a Senior Reporter at The Daily Beast. Samantha holds a Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University, and has been awarded the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article.

      “Don’t just say you’re donating a portion of the proceeds from certain products to LGBT charities. Specify the portion, and state your company’s commitment to the cause,” says Allen. When activating within the LGBTQ+ space it is imperative to show how you’re impacting the community.

      Are you bringing exposure to black trans women of color in an advert, who have been subjected to a growing number of hate crimes and fatal violence, and donating to causes that protect them? Are you exposing LGBTQ+ youth and the hardships they face, while supporting organizations that provide that group vital resources? Prove your follow-through and commitment.

      LGBTQ+-identifying people want to know exactly why you’re supporting X charity or organization, and how much you’re donating to said organization. LGBTQ+-identifying people will see through any work that solely allows a brand to capitalize on their share of the market and will call marketers out for it. This is proven time and time again when brands try to activate around any marginalized group.

      Allen also added, “I think LGBT people generally don’t like it when a company tries to market us when they don’t fully support their LGBT employees, so it never hurts to boast a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index… or [shine light on] other LGBT-focused initiatives and work the brand has done.”

      6. “Sustain Engagement” – Joshua Allen

      Joshua Allen is a queer/trans artist, writer, speaker and model, who speaks and writes about race, gender and LGBTQ+ justice. Joshua has given a TEDx Talk and has written for the likes of Them and AfroPunk.

      “I would suggest that brands invest in a long-term, sustained-engagement strategy with LGBTQI+ communities throughout the year to maximize impact during Pride Month. In my opinion, the brands that have built the most loyalty amongst LGBTQI+ communities are the ones who show sustained support, appreciation and honor for our communities year-round,” said Allen.

      Don’t stop here, marketers. Be an ally and remain an ally. Show the LGBTQ+ community that you are here because you care about us and are willing to stand with us as we conquer those hurdles that seemingly never end.

      Making change in the world and being profitable do not have to be mutually exclusive. In the marketing and communications space, let’s set the example for the next 50 years of LGBTQ+ Pride and inclusivity.


      About the Author: Mike Morra is a Manhattan College alumnus, who currently works as a Senior Account Executive at Taylor, an independent PR & digital strategy agency for the world’s leading consumer brands. Named “Consumer Agency of the Decade” by The Holmes Group, Taylor has partnered with the most influential corporate marketers, utilizing lifestyle, sports, and entertainment platforms to drive consumer engagement. Founded in 1984, Taylor is headquartered in New York, with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Charlotte. Taylor’s current portfolio of client partners includes AMB Group, Capital One, Diageo, DraftKings, P&G and Panini America.




      Report: Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content

      Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content

      In the industry report, Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content, learn how marketers are navigating today’s growing demand for visual storytelling.

      Read on here…

      This content is part of Digital Asset Management Month, a month-long series presented by Libris by PhotoShelter to help you manage your visual assets and connect with your followers.




      Copyright 101: A Glossary for Marketers

      Copyright 101 - A Glossary for Marketers

      Use this glossary to dig into must-know copyright terms — and help avoid pricey lawsuits or damaging PR that can happen when you misuse a photo.

      Read on here…

      This content is part of Digital Asset Management Month, a month-long series presented by Libris by PhotoShelter to help you manage your visual assets and connect with your followers.




      Copyright Crash Course: What Marketers Need to Know

      Copyright Crash Course: What Marketers Need to Know

      In this webinar, you’ll learn all about image copyright, including the dangers of using free content and  how to navigate copyright in the age of social media.

      Read on here…

      This content is part of Digital Asset Management Month, a month-long series presented by Libris by PhotoShelter to help you manage your visual assets and connect with your followers.




      What is Content Intelligence? How Can it Help You Create High-Quality Content with Confidence?

      ci-coverThe supply of online content has outpaced demand, leaving content marketers in a position where they are getting less effective each year. Despite being less effective, over 76% of marketers plan to create more content this year than last year.

      To be effective, marketers can’t rely on only creating more content. The cycle is unsustainable, ineffective, and creates more of a problem than it solves. Instead, marketers need to embrace data-driven methodologies that tie to business results.

      Content intelligence is the science of identifying and predicting the content topics and themes that provide the most value to your audiences. It answers the question, “What content should I write?”

      Content intelligence brings together many different practices – content audits, buyer personas, channel optimization, website analytics, social listening, competitive intelligence, and more – into a single process.

      The evolving state of content marketing has left communicators at a crossroads where they can either embrace content intelligence to make data-driven decisions, or simply hope for the best as the world changes around them.

       

      REGISTER




      8 Keys to a Successful Content Marketing Campaign

      Great content marketing campaigns don’t just happen

      Content marketing, when done well, has a long-lasting impact on the success of an organization.

      But this success does not come easily.

      Competition is fierce, audiences are hard to reach, and without a well-defined approach to campaigns, content marketers are essentially just relying on luck to drive business results.

      This guide gives you the foundation to outmaneuver your competition, deliver real value to your audiences, and drive audiences through your marketing funnel to attain well-defined business objectives.

      And it shows you how to prove your success every step of the way.

      This infographic is the abridged version of the full content marketing campaigns guide.

       


      Content marketing campaigns infographic




      Local Content is the Path to Global Audiences

      Peggy Chen, CMO, SDL

      Marketers know that a consistent brand image is crucial when it comes to customer retention. But what’s the best way to build on your global brand equity while providing your customers with a local experience? There’s no single answer, of course – a company can use a wide variety of tools to ensure its brand is consistent and its content is personal.

      The challenge is to create a personal and local online experience while maintaining a consistent brand identity. When creating a personalized brand experience, companies must bridge the gap between local personal content and global brand impact.

      Location, Location, Location

      To target different cultures, language is table stakes. A study by the Common Sense Advisory found that more than 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product using information presented in their own language. This means providing content in a local language is really the most basic requirement when reaching new global markets.

      Sounds simple, but beyond just assigning different languages to different regions, international campaigns also need to take into account local language preferences within a location. For example, the US Census reports that 38.4 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home, representing a massive potential market that can be better reached with Spanish content. The most intricately designed, well thought-out campaign that perfectly adheres to the culture of a particular region also needs to represent your customers’ preferred language to capture the market.

      9687015_sWhen Local Meets Global

      Seasonality, local holidays and regional variation also present tremendous opportunities. Take, for example, an advertising campaign tied to spring cleaning. While consumers in the northern hemisphere are focused on this seasonal tradition, those in the southern hemisphere are preparing for winter and looking for products that align with the opposite seasonal shift.

      Local holidays and celebrations provide perfect occasions to provide campaigns that align with local culture. End-of-school celebrations, national holidays and local events connect with customers in ways that generic global campaigns may not.

      A company that addresses a global audience must be able to juggle multiple campaigns not only in differing languages, but also for relevant seasons, holidays and traditions.

      The Specifics

      How can brands begin to create content for such personalized experiences around the world? Choosing the right web content for each customer’s unique preferences and background is no small feat.

      Effective web content programs can be broken down into a two components: optimization and management. Content needs to be optimized to provide an individual customer experience based on location, targeting and customer data. Content, likewise, needs to be available across devices (mobile, tablet, PC) and channels to meet customer expectations. Ultimately, cross-channel digital content that reaches customers wherever and whenever – in the right language – is the sign of a successfully managed digital presence.

      In today’s digital world, your company’s website is the key to sharing your brand with your audiences around the world. The content you produce is essentially worthless if it is not localized, personalized and relevant to each visitor – keeping in mind their region and culture. The bottom line is this: content cannot be created in a vacuum. Your global brand begins when you think local – so what are you waiting for?


       About the Author: Peggy ChenAs Vice President, Marketing at SDL, Peggy is responsible for driving global go-to-market strategy for SDL’s Global Content Technology portfolio of solutions.