Let me let you in on a little secret… Sometimes when we post here on the AirPR Blog, it’s a test! Over the summer, I published three LinkedIn Pulse articles, a series focused on busting the myths even the most data-driven PR professionals tell themselves.
As an experiment, we republished those articles with new titles and imagery here on the AirPR Blog. We found that the series garnered more likes and shares on LinkedIn Pulse. Does that mean that we won’t share this type of content on our blog anymore? Hardly!
While the articles provoked more engagement on LinkedIn (what read at surface level as the “real” success), being able to compare the data we gathered from publishing the articles on two different platforms allowed us to develop a range of new insights to fold into our evolving content strategy.
The point is that just because you perceive the outcome of one PR move as less impactful for your business than another doesn’t mean that the less impactful of the two wasn’t worth doing, a theory I echo in the first piece in the myth busting series.
So in an effort of “rewiring” our mentality about PR, let’s review those pesky myths.
PR Myth 1: It’s not okay to fail.
IMHO, trying new things and being okay with if they fail is a valiant commitment to learning. Think about marketers! They basically live and die by testing. If they go up to bat and strike out, there’s no pouting. They’ve already moved on to the next experiment by lunch time. What if PR professionals were this scientific? [Read the full post here.]
PR Myth 2: Once the story publishes, your work is done.
Far from it, my friends. Once you land or publish a piece of content, your work doesn’t stop there; some of the strongest signals lie within the responses to that content. Furthermore, there are a million ways to extend the shelf life of your content beyond what a reporter writes. [More on that here.]
PR Myth 3: More is better!
Just like with hot sauce, more is not better when it comes to PR measurement. The bottom line is that it’s no longer good enough to report on impressions, headline views, and AVEs. While these metrics are well and good activity-based metrics, they do nothing to help PR people understand what’s working or what to do next. [Let’s discuss… ]
Are we missing a PR myth? Tweet it to us @AirPR. We will be first in line to debunk!
Earlier this year, I was a guest on the #DigitalPR Twitter chat in a conversation focused on the use of Big Data by public relations professionals for content success. The first question chat host Sally Falkow asked was whether or not the participants believe Big Data is the future of PR.
Being a PR Engineer, I strongly believe that thoughtful use of data is indeed the future of PR. But in order to avoid data intimidation and data fatigue, PR pros must know how to best leverage this information. Knowledge of how to collect, analyze, and interpret data allows for the identification of key performance indicators based on past successes and failures, rather than subjective suggestions for how to determine success.
So how do you begin using data to ensure content success and make sure you’re working toward the outcomes you want? Here, I share three tips inspired by Nate Silver.
1. Make sure you’re identifying the correct signals.
Many marketers measure results against the KPIs they and their colleagues are used to — such as impressions — and not necessarily against the metrics that truly show successful performance. We get it. Changing your measurement and reporting structures is scary. But making sure you’re tracking the right signals is basically the difference between doing what’s asked of you and doing what works.
AirPR Data Shows: You are likely missing between 75 to 80 percent of the data that shows the result of PR efforts in terms of how potential customers engage on your website after reading press. How? Often articles do not link back to any of your web properties, and if they do, people will still visit your site via search or typing your domain into the address bar half of the time.
2. Separate the signals from the noise.
Once you are measuring the right data, review the results on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of the month or quarter. Adam Singer advises, “…think critically about your measurement plan and remember to consider success for clients, campaigns, and programs up front. And then don’t just measure, have goals and predictions before you begin.” Set benchmarks so that you have a barometer by which to gauge success during ongoing review.
AirPR Data Shows: After working with our customers to identify benchmarks, we consistently see that about 10 to 20 percent of their PR output is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of their business outcomes. The 10 to 20 percent are the signals to look and listen for.
3. Follow the signals to success.
After proving or disproving your predictions of what’s really driving the results you’re seeking, use those performance indicators to inform your strategies and tactics. Too often we inhibit this process from becoming circular by failing to make the final connection that closes the loop. Don’t just separate out the signals so that you can see them clearly, use them as a guide for the evolution of your efforts and embrace the way PR has evolved in recent years so you’re focusing on “…the speedy distribution of content and driving leads to digital real estate.”
AirPR Data Shows: When reviewing a visualization of a subset of our own content marketing strategy, we realized how powerful a connected web of influence can be. Aim for ubiquity in your niche market.
To ensure content success, answer this question posed by Seth Godin on his widely-read blog: “What does it mean to ‘win’? Is maximizing the convenient number actually going to produce the impact and the outcome you wanted?”
Last week, Director of PR Engineering & Ops Leta Soza kicked off our Optimizing PR Fundamentals series with tips for writing press releases that don’t get deleted. Next week, PR Engineer Rachel Kirschen will share how to write emails that your customers will (actually) give a crap about.
For decades, PR has been *relegated to a position that oft leaves us “last to know first to blame.”
*dismissed, made to feel inferior, downgraded, lower in rank/status
But now, ladies and gents, the tides are a’shifting (not sure what accent I’m going for here, but it’s really working for me right now)…ahhh yes, PR is about to have it’s day in the sun.
Before I go on waxing poetic about how data and analytics have enabled this to a degree – that story has been told, has it not? – the REAL shift is that the really really smart people on the Comms side of things have started talking to the really really smart people on the Content side of things and figured this out:
PR is good at communicating messages and stories
All Content is, actually, are stories and messages put into a format which is then distributed on some channel (did I mention “convergence”?)
Thus, PR is probably a likely candidate to drive the Content machine
And as Lee Odden astutely stated during last week’s PRSA International Conference panel session hosted by Marketwired:
“Content is the future of PR.”
YEAH IT IS. And guess what happens when PR owns Content?
Welp, you guessed it: We are the first to know. We are in the driver’s seat. We get to set agendas. We are no longer asked to put together some bullshit press release in order to satisfy a quota set by some arbitrary upper completely removed from the sitch.
But first…yes, always with a catch…it’s going to require a rather sizable shift in thinking. In fact, it’s basically an entire reversal of our former systematic approach to PR.
How to think about PR in 3 steps:
STEP 1: Stop thinking about pitching a publication, start thinking about pitching a channel.
STEP 2: Stop thinking about a pitch or press release, start thinking about the best format to communicate with your audience, customer, employees, etc.
STEP 3: Stop thinking about sheer volume of outputs, start thinking about the how you’re going to measure the performance of the formats you put out through channels.
If you’re reading this, you likely already know that Content is empowering PR like never before: it is the mechanism by which PR lives or dies. It is how we communicate with key stakeholders which include customers, media, employees, and of course…the general public.
So now that we have re-framed the relationship PR has with Content, the question is…what are YOU going to do about it?
Tell us @AirPR. Also feel free to take us to task. We like that.
In the past decade, perhaps the biggest shift in Internet technology has been the rise of video content. From commercially produced material to the explosion of self-directed content via smartphones, video is everywhere.
While text content will always have a place, stats show that more and more traffic volume is driven by video content. The time is now to embrace video as your content driver, and here are five big reasons why.
1. It creates a unique emotional connection.
Video offers an immediacy that can translate emotionally unlike any other medium. It’s the reason why a well-made, 30-second commercial can nearly bring someone to tears or inspire them toward action. The images, audio and narrative all become a compelling and engaging experience that speaks to the core of who we are as human beings.
As the web is trending towards a denser volume of video-based traffic, both content creators and content-platform managers must realize the unique opportunity they have to connect with their audiences through video — and that connection can build the foundation of brand loyalty and long-term appeal.
For a great example, check out Saucony’s “Find Your Strong“ video, which was used to launch a multi-channel campaign that pushed the running shoe company ahead of the pack.
2. You can repurpose content.
From a practical perspective, video offers unique repurposing abilities that aren’t available in other media. Single images can be used for promotion. Behind-the-scenes footage can be distributed as bonus content to further engage the audience. The source material can be edited into promotional clips or other spin-off material for marketing purposes.
Short-form video platforms such as Vine can utilize micro-clips to promote content on a grassroots social-media level. Video is a flexible medium, and smartly combining creative flexibility with marketing muscle can repurpose one solid piece of content into endless offshoots.
3. Video can enhance branding and marketing efforts.
Because video is such a compelling medium, it can both be the driver and centerpiece of branding efforts. Using a comprehensive and holistic approach, video can support a wide range of marketing initiatives. This stems from the storytelling/narrative capabilities of video via images, text, audio and identity. A video is capable of bringing all of these elements together and driving it forward into other marketing initiatives.
“Engagement is central to our success,” says Kaliel Roberts, senior vice president of product and technology at Discovery Communications, home to Discovery Digital Networks. “A key metric we evaluate across platforms is video views per session, which is an important indicator of engagement, and a great way to extend the value of our content.”
4. Its embedding capabilities.
Today, embedding videos is a standard feature that allows even the technophobic to propagate relevant content. This creates an organic syndication process for content, further spreading to blogs, social media profiles and websites.
Thus, the goal for content creators thus becomes two-fold: First, create high-quality content, then engage viewers through all possible channels to push syndication forward, hopefully to a point where it goes viral and takes on a life of its own.
5. Video has longer user-engagement periods.
The availability of video has created a cluttered ecosystem — it can be difficult to cut through the noise, and discovering desired content can leave viewers frustrated. In fact, according to a study cited by CNN, consumers give up on video content if it doesn’t load in two seconds.
Alternately, when a user has a clear path to appealing videos, this creates a longer user-engagement period, which is the top priority for any content platform. This means that platform managers must invest in both quality content providers and technology that enables accurate algorithm-selected choices to keep users engaged in order to turn a casual user into a brand loyalist.
Staying ahead of the video curve.
The numbers are pulling toward video and the benefits for both content creators and platforms are clearly there. The goal for both parties is then to project ahead of the curve and focus on what drives engagement. While creating high-quality, compelling video content is often a big financial as well as human-capital investment, if done well it can literally catapult a campaign or initiative forward unlike any other medium.
By prioritizing quality over quantity, the long-term dividends will include a better reputation, stronger loyalty and more monetization opportunities.
Can you name the last time you stopped to look at a spider’s web? Chances are, if you hate spiders, it was not recently. But there is much to be learned from these intricately designed feats of art and engineering.
Every part of the web is connected, making it both complex and powerful. If any part is weakened or disconnected, the overall value and strength of the web is severely compromised.
I started mulling over this idea after an AirPR data scientist came to me with a visualization of a subset of our content marketing strategy, which happened to look exactly like a spider’s web: expansive, intricate and continuously interconnected.
The overarching goal of any savvy content marketing strategy should be to build relationships and establish trust and credibility, while often filling gaps in “conversation” when media coverage is slow.
There is now ample opportunity to publish content on owned media channels, contribute to conversations, and participate in thought leadership circles. All of these actions fall under the greater PR umbrella and are powerful avenues that can boost a company’s digital presence/street cred while keeping momentum going during traditional PR lulls.
But what exactly is the best way to go about doing this?
Our data shows that content filled with “high quality” (note: not vapid, link-bating) information will exponentially increase the possibility of your ideas spreading. The reason is simple: readers and colleagues will value your writing as authoritative and will share and reference you in tweets, blogs, and other various content.
Simply put, the power to connect and strengthen the existing connections between owned and earned outlets is within reach. Can you morph last month’s authoritative editorial into a blog post by piggy backing on the existing narrative, adding a stimulating new conversation angle, and presenting it to your audience? The answer, hell yeah!
Digital is the most consistent and powerful channel available and a content marketing is a huge part of today’s PR puzzle. So, what is the recipe for success? To be truly effective, a content creator must consider 3 key elements:
1. Provide ideas and information in a charismatic way that doesn’t just push the brand’s own agenda
Content doesn’t always have to be the booming voice of authority stating “what you need to know” and “why company X is great”. Campaigns can also be an opportunity to acknowledge a struggle, face uncertainty, or spark a dialogue. Nothing screams engagement like inviting for feedback, thought, and input.
2. Include links to those who inspired your content, gave credence to your arguments, and advanced the overall conversation.
By inviting folks into the web, you’ll be giving them props for their ideas and encouraging them to participate in the existing narrative. Talk about cultivating relationships!
3. Employ thoughtful precision through a wide lens when it comes to selecting the authority sources included in content.
YES! Don’t always pull from the same 5 sources. There’s a lot out there to spur inspiration. Try not to get struck in a rut.
When you give “shout outs”, the likelihood of others linking back to you and referencing you in future articles increases exponentially. By weaving webs, businesses build rapport and become a part of the conversation with other companies in their space. This in turn boosts digital visibility online and elevates the profile of the brand or company.
Conversely, when you opt to not think through a solid reference strategy or a partner publication isn’t willing to run links back to you, your web becomes less expansive and less impactful.
Case in point:
Compare the two side by side…and think about this visualization next time you set out to build a content marketing campaign.
Expansive Web A:
Not so expansive Web B:
Education is also key to building your “web”, so be sure partners see the potential synergies. Provide them links that support their proposed story angle or simply make sure YOU build a follow-on article to the final piece.
Another welcomed benefit of expanding and reinforcing your web’s threads is the increased likelihood of a potential customer getting “stuck” in the web. The more touch points leading towards the center aka your website the more apt a visitor is to land on your page and potentially turn into a customer.
To sum it up, I will leave you with a great quote from content marketing authority Ann Handley, “Content shouldn’t be created as one-off pieces, or even as a campaign. Rather each piece should become part of an ecosystem. The overall ecosystem produces a customer experience that dovetails back to the brand.”
Well said, Ann. Those pesky little spiders may just be onto something after all.
On June 25th, Medium announced the hiring of Steven Levy, longtime technology writer at Wired, to be the editor-in-chief of an unnamed technology site associated with their platform.
Back in April 2013, Medium acquired Matter. The publisher has since become Medium’s defacto product and functionality testing ground. If you’re curious to see what Medium might be rolling out next, just look to Matter.
These moves could signal many things, the least of which is the platform’s continued expansion plans into the realm of professionally produced content.
So what? Isn’t everyone producing content these days? Isn’t hiring a journalist to run your brand channel like, so en vogue?
Well, yes…but not everyone is making moves that might completely rewrite the definition of publishing and PR. It’s interesting to think about where this move places Medium in the larger landscape of publishing, journalism, and content.
Do these acquisitions move Medium more into the category of traditional media? Or does it place the platform squarely up against the burgeoning scene of owned media properties that are driving the oh-so-hot content marketing discussion? (e.g. CMO.com and TechPage One)
Maybe these moves are creating something completely new by carving out the space between a traditional media company and an owned brand platform: Theplatisher paradox, if you will.
Any way you slice, Medium is up to something we all should keep our eye on.
In full disclosure, I use Medium. And I love it. Here are the top 5 reasons for my unadulterated adoration:
#1 – Focus is on the quality of written content.
Sure you have options to grab peoples’ attention with header images, but really it’s all about quality writing.
#2 – It’s free, simple to use, and devoid of clutter.
No technical expertise required? Totally intuitive interface? Sign me up yesterday.
#3 – No advertising agenda getting in the way.
It’s so refreshing to consume information not driven by corporate agendas and whose focus instead is on offering significant content that enlightens readers.
#4 – Attaches to social properties AND Google Authorship.
Previously cultivated networks and communities increase content discovery and synced Google Authorship ensures better organic rankings for your content. That means more views!
#5 – Analytics are clean and easy to understand.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” (thank you, Geoffrey Moore), so this piece is a no brainer.
Medium aims to be the best place for people and organizations to publish their stories and ideas to the world, so driving innovation in the digital publishing world is an obvious component to achieving that aim.
If Medium launches its own brand publication helmed by Steven Levy, but still is just one publisher of many on the platform, what’s to stop them from building tools that empower other brands to then also launch and build out their own brand channels à la Forbes BrandVoice?
With a built in audience, clean interface, social channel connectivity, Google SEO ties and allowances for content discovery beyond initial publishing, Medium may just be revealing the blueprint for the publisher of the future.