Why Explaining Complex Concepts with Animation Works

Marketers already know that video is a captivating, engaging tool for businesses. Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic than non-users and video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%, if not more. But video is such a broad over-arching medium that spans many different formats, which can make it difficult for a company to decide which format fits their needs. But one thing is for sure when a topic is complex or needs to be relayed at a fast pace, animation can be far more useful than live-action.

Animated video gives you limitless freedom to convey anything, no matter how complex or how dry the subject matter, in an entertaining, light-hearted way. Here are six key ways animation can be an asset to your brand’s marketing efforts.

You Can Always Change the Video’s Direction

It’s common that a video will go through a few passes before getting the stamp of approval. Most people in business can’t imagine how the video will ultimately look so making edits, and rearranging sequences is a common occurrence. If you have an animated clip, rearranging moments or elaborating more on a specific point, can be a quick and easy process. After a few hours, a new draft can be ready for review. If these edits need to be made to a live-action video, however, this can become a tedious, long and drawn out process of scheduling reshoots and redrafting scripts.

Simplify Concepts

Animated video can simplify as well as personify your subject matter. With animation, you can give the chalkboard eyes, or the gargoyle speak, in order to explain the dryer points in a captivating manner. Because ultimately in storytelling, the number one rule is to show, not tell, and the beauty of animation is that you are fully able to show, rather than tell, what you want to convey with colorful imagery and interesting characters.

Condense the Copy

When doing a live-action video, talking heads can re-cover a topic again and again. It’s hard to edit a person to say the exact lines you need in the exact way you need them. When employees or business heads are placed in front of the camera they need to come off as natural and this generally happens by allowing them to speak off the cuff. Unfortunately, this can result in overly lengthy explanations or unengaging dialogue. When you’ve chosen to animate the subject matter, however, you can get the video script down to a science. Your animated video can include the best keywords that condense the explanation and make it memorable. This also cuts down the length of your video considerably, which is an incredible asset to retaining your audience.

According to ComScore, the average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. Of that time, videos that run 1 minute or less receive a retention of 80% up to halfway through the video. If your video runs between 3 – 5 minutes, your viewer retention drops to 50%. These figures show clearly that the shorter the video, the bigger audience you have; thus condensing the copy is a huge asset.

You Can Color It Any Which Way

As Quicksprout shows us with their infographic, color and visual cues can directly impact a video’s conversion rates. Colors are tied to many connotations: cultural, social, and emotional. Thanks to animated video, your color options are endless and thus so are your options for conveying your content in a way that best suits the subject matter. You can use blue to convey security and integrity, or you can use green to convey freshness. Kimberelysnyder.com states that 20% of their revenue comes through using a bright red Hellobar that they placed at the top of their page because this color conveys urgency and importance.

Mobile-Friendly

Mobile devices reduce your video to a 2×4 inch screen. Most times mobile video will be watched on a morning commute or while waiting for a friend at a coffeeshop. The animated format can increase the chances of a click, in the midst of multitasking, because it appeals to the eye as lighter content that can be watched quickly. Blame it on the color or the cool animation, but the kid in all of us sees an animation and associates a lightness with the subject matter instantly. Audiences don’t want to watch an entire five-minute live-action explainer video while they head into the office, but they will click on a short, one-minute colorful video; even if the five-minute live-action video and the one-minute animated video cover the same information. Animation packages content in a user-friendly wrapper and since 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others, you want your video to be mobile-friendly.

Comedy Is Easier to Include

According to Burst Media, comedic content is by far the most popular form of online video, followed closely by news content (33%) and music content (31%). Talking heads in a live-action clip won’t always be funny; in fact, frequently they won’t be funny at all. Humor is a hard skill to call upon at a moment’s notice, especially on camera. Making humorous animations is a far more attainable goal. Have a baby talk about your low-interest rates, or show a monkey trying to use your mobile app. These examples might not be comedic gold, but you get the idea. Animation opens up your options for presentation and delivery in your videos to allow you to put complex ideas into a memorable and enjoyable style.

Utilize animation in your video marketing strategy to engage your audience with complex subject matter and you’ll see a rise in conversions.

 

This article was written by Anish Patel from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Fashion Forward: Social Media Strategy from a Fashion Blogger

Note: Jena Gambaccini from ChiCityFashion joined Shirley Yang from StyleHaul and Riana Dadlani from Meltwater at Social Media Week in Chicago on November 18, 2015, on what B2B marketers can learn from fashion.

What do fashion and social media have in common?

  1. Social media is fashionable.
  2. Fashion world has pioneered brand-building on social media.
  3. Keeping up with either can feel like a full time job. The reality is that both fashion and social media are constantly changing, and just when you think you’ve landed on the next big thing, it’s moved on. So how has Jena Gambaccini from ChiCityFashion been so successful as a social media arbiter of what’s hot?

Jena started building her brand on Twitter. Today she has a successful blog and more than 18,000 followers on Instagram. As the title of her blog would suggest, she showcases Chicago fashion. But she does more than that. You could say she’s the city’s fashion ambassador, showing off what Chicago has to offer, but also travelling to NYC and Europe to bring home her latest finds.

While the blog still sparkles with the same enthusiasm that she started off with, Jena has turned her blog into a business and now partners with global brands. During a recent chat, I asked her to explain how she knows when it’s time to pick up a trend, whether in fashion or as a brand. As bold as her personal style can be, Jena uses her shopping habits to explain that she can be cautious: “I try not to adapt to trends too quickly, especially if it’s going to be an investment piece. For example, I loved the Celine luggage tote when it came out. I was so excited to get one, and I saved up for months. By the time I got mine, everyone had one. I hated it. If something seems overly trendy, like sneaker wedges, I usually don’t buy into it. I ask myself, ‘In five years from now will you think of it as being dated and embarrassing’?

Luckily, she was able to sell her Celine tote, and even made a profit. But when it comes to investing in a social media presence, her trust that the world of fashion is a pioneering force has helped guide her. As she explains, “When it comes to branding, the fashion industry is always ahead on social media. Instagram is a great example. When I started reading about Instagram on fashion blogs, my friends had no idea what it was. I joined at least a year or year and a half earlier than my friends. Fashion people are ahead of the trends in many ways.”

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Even though Instagram doesn’t allow her to link back to her blog, it’s where the fashion folks are right now. Jena has focused on building a presence here in order to reach a new audience. She’s even been able to develop partnerships on Instagram that created opportunities she never considered. Here’s her take on the grid.

The world of fashion is known for not being afraid to try new things. This fall, Misha Nonoo was the first designer to debut her collection on Instagram. In fearless fashion world style, Jena offers a prediction, “I’m sure most brands will use Snapchat eventually.” Though, without missing a beat, she acknowledges, “For a company that’s been around for a long time, it’s difficult to have to change drastically because of social media.”

As a B2B PR specialist, I agree with her and wonder, is it just a matter of time before business software or services get their launch on Instagram, or even Snapchat? What would that look like? Pondering these questions, I steer the conversation to her partnerships. After all, collaboration between bloggers and global brands was completely uncharted territory not too long ago.

I ask how she works with her partners (including Burberry, Neiman’s, and Macy’s) and how she’s managed to keep them from taking over her site’s very personal, curated sensibility. She responds, “I appreciate that you can’t tell what’s sponsored on my blog. I try to organically incorporate my partnerships. I value my readers, and I don’t want to write about things that I don’t care about. The money isn’t worth it if it means not being myself.” She tells me about one of her favorite partnerships: “It was with Chambord. I loved working with them because they let me do whatever I wanted. I had a really fun photo shoot with my photographer. I was wearing a hot dog costume and jumping with the bottle. I took a picture talking on a banana phone with the bottle.” On the other hand, staying authentic isn’t always simple. She’s also worked with companies with strict guidelines, who didn’t seem to get that connecting with Jena’s audience means doing things the way Jena would do them.

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Fashion fun with a favorite sponsor.

What lesson can Jena teach to brands trying to connect with their audience on social media?

Social media has made trend following, spotting, and making into a kind of sport. In the same way that Jena gets her readers excited about a new look, she has helped her partners understand that trying something new is a blend of personal brand building and purposeful investment. She gives brands an important lesson too: Know your style, and stick to it. It’s just as important to connect and engage with influencers like her, as it is to be authentic. Don’t just ride the wave; put your unique spin on it and don’t lose your voice. After all, the 70s might be back (and as Jena points out, the 90s too), but if you don’t give them “an updated twist,” you risk getting caught wearing low-rise culottes.

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Jena’s take on the right way to wear culottes. As she recently reported in her blog, “I love my clothes big, so why wouldn’t I be into extra wide pants? So now that we’ve established I no longer hate culottes, let’s see how I like to wear them.”

B2B PR Tips: How to Use Earned, Owned, Paid, and Shared Media

You’re always looking for positive ways to promote your B2B company. In your search, you’ve likely come across the following terms: earned media, owned media, shared media, and paid media. Whether you realize it or not, chances are you’re using at least one of these top PR strategies.

However, if you’re a bit fuzzy on what these terms actually mean, or if you just need a refresher course, read on — it’s coming your way.

In this post, I will:

  • Define paid earned, owned, shared, and paid media
  • Provide you with tips on how to utilize each method individually
  • Give you some B2B PR tips on how to combine all four methods to generate leads

Earned, Owned, Shared, and Paid Media Defined

1. Earned Media

“A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

In a nutshell, earned media is:

Publicity gained from word of mouth, online reviews, and blogger, press, and influencer relations. It’s a third-party endorsement of your brand.

2. Owned Media

Owned media is content that you have created and that you own. Examples of owned media include:

Blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, case studies, ebooks, and your website.

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3. Shared Media

Shared media, also known as social media, has become one of the most popular and cost effective PR platforms. It includes:

Postings to social sharing sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

4. Paid Media

This one isn’t too difficult to figure out! However, it has changed over the years. While you might think of paid media as print, TV, or radio advertising, it has evolved into something much more digital and direct.

Today, effective means of paid media include:

Native advertising, social media campaigns, Google Adwords, and retargeting.

How to Leverage Earned, Owned, Shared and Paid Media

1. Earned Media

We’ll start with earned media because it can be one of the trickiest to master. The reason is that you have less control over this type of media. You can’t simply ask someone to plug your product or service. As the name suggests, you must earn it.

How can you do this without sounding, well… sleazy, clingy, desperate?

Simply put, you need to to be a friend to get a friend.

If you want to get noticed by bloggers who will promote your brand, start by reaching out to those whose work you truly admire. These are the ones that whose email updates make it past your trash file. The ones who get you thinking about your industry and who inspire you.

Reach out to these bloggers via social media and leave comments on their posts.

Next, join HARO (help a reporter out). This service notifies you when a reporter is looking for an industry expert to quote in a piece.

Lastly, make it easy for others to like you by responding graciously on social media sites, leaving positive LinkedIn endorsements for those you’ve collaborated with on projects, and promoting thought leaders on social media.

2. Owned Media

Owned media is your PR paradise. You have complete control over how to create and use each piece of content you create. However, there has to be a method to your madness.

“Think like a publisher, not a marketer.” – David Meerman Scott, marketing and leadership speaker

Here are a few tips to get your owned media going in the right direction:

  • Create a purpose for each piece of content. Are you trying to get new leads? Nurture existing leads? Increase brand awareness?
  • Include plenty of visual content, such as videos, images, GIFs, infographics. Mix it up a bit.
  • Write for both search engines and people. When you write a headline, ask yourself if you would click on it. Better yet, ask someone else.
  • Attach analytics to each piece of content in order to gauge interest in the topic you’re promoting.

3. Shared Media

With new changes to social platforms coming in almost daily, it can be hard to keep up. However, there are a few good rules of thumb that remain unchanged. I think the online marketing team at Gryffin conceptualizes this very well in the following infographic:

B2B PR Social Media Ettiquette

4. Paid Media

Paid media is the one method many don’t want to acknowledge. Perhaps it’s because they see so many other effective PR methods that are virtually free.

However, paid media is equally important. One reason for this is because paid media is a better bet when searching for new buyers that never heard of your brand.

Paid social media campaigns for example can reach those who are interested in your industry, not just in your personal brand. These prospects may not be searching for you online, but now Facebook has made them aware of your presence without their ever navigating off the same page they use to communicate with loved ones.

Likewise, paying to have your blog posts distributed via native advertising allows your expertise to reach a wide audience. Learn more about how that works in my recent blog post on native advertising.

How to Integrate Earned, Owned, Shared, and Paid Media Into One Awesome Lead Generation Campaign

Each PR method can certainly be used as a stand alone product. However, they really shine when combined into a single effort. Let’s take a look at how that might work.

Let’s start with a great piece of owned media, say a blog post. In a perfect world, this blog post would attract your best leads and prospects all on its own. However, the truth is that it’s unlikely to be noticed unless you put a little effort into its promotion.

Next, you’ll want to promote the post on social, or shared, media. This isn’t a one-time deal, either. Rather, you need to promote the post over the following days, weeks, and even months in order for it to gain decent traction.

Once you see that your piece of content has been well-received, you’ll know that you’ve hit a hot topic. You can then begin to promote it using paid media, in the form of Twitter or Facebook campaigns.

Carefully gaining traction in this way adds to your credibility as a thought leader in your industry. It’s then that you’ll start to see your earned media come through for you.

In addition, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to make sure your LinkedIn company page is on par. Once your PR efforts start seeing the light of day, you’ll want to make sure your B2B firm stands out as a reputable and trustworthy place to do business.

This article was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, it was originally published on the B2B PR Sense Blog, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


4 Key Ways to Use B2B PR to Get Leads

Is your B2B PR a perpetual fixer-upper? That is to say, is it something you constantly pour money into, without seeing your business grow? If so, then it’s time for a complete rehab – right down to the very studs.

The end goal of all B2B PR, among others, should be lead generation. Let’s talk about a few effective ways to accomplish  this – with paid, shared, earned, and owned media.

What is Paid, Earned, Owned, and Shared Media?

Paid Media

Paid media is a simple concept to understand: It’s PR that you pay for. This includes Google AdWords, retargeting, social media ads, and other advertising. It boosts the performance of your “free” media.

Earned Media

Earned media includes word-of-mouth (WOM), online reviews, influencer relations, blogger and press relations. This is perhaps the most enviable type of media since others are essentially doing your PR for you.

Owned Media

Owned media is content your create. This includes blog posts, whitepapers, videos, ebooks, and all the other goodies on your website.

Shared Media

Shared media primarily encompasses social media – using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social platforms to distribute content.

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Misconceptions About Using B2B PR for Lead Generation

Occasionally, when you strip a fixer-upper down to the studs, you’ll find structural issues; a crack in the foundation here, a termite infestation there. Before you proceed to correct aesthetic issues, you’ve got to clear up these major ones.

The same goes for your B2B PR. You need to fix any misconceptions or roadblocks in your PR that are hindering a beautiful end product: lead generation.

Let’s clear up a few of those right now.

Misconception #1: You need to only try one channel at a time.

This may be tempting if you’re on a tight budget. You might think that pouring all of your resources into say, paid media, is the best way to go.

The reality is that paid, earned, owned, and shared media need to work in harmony to see a significant boost in lead generation.

Misconception #2: Shared Media isn’t important when it comes to B2B PR for lead generation.

You may think that since your B2B brand isn’t glamorous, no one will want to hear from you on social media. However, this just couldn’t be further from the truth!

No matter what your service or product, the bottom line is that people, not businesses, are buying your product or services. And people are on social media. It’s where we research, it’s where we get product assistance, and it’s where we socialize. It’s our culture.

Misconception #3: Content is not that important in my industry.

In fact, B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those who do not. Notice we’re not talking about B2C, but B2B. Yes, your prospects are asking you for information. Will you give it to them, or dismiss them so they can move on to another business that will?

Now that we’ve cleared up those structural issues, let’s move on to how to increase those leads!

4 Ways To Remodel Your B2B PR For Lead Generation

1. In Owned Media

This is perhaps your prime opportunity for utilizing calls to action and landing pages. You have total control over the bread crumbs. A word of caution regarding owned media:

Owned media exists to educate, inform, and even entertain your prospects. It is not your branded Home Shopping Network, where you hock your wares and services.

Whitepapers, ebooks, blogs, and other content should have education as their main thrust. Your end game is, of course, to convert, but you need to give your prospects the dignity of making that decision themselves. Your content should compel the viewer to want more, to take action.

This is where calls to action and an effective landing page become your digital salesperson. 

What will a good great landing page include? Neil Patel, has eight tips for you to write great landing page copy:

  • Use customer testimonials
  • Emphasize the benefits, not the product or service
  • Spend time writing a killer headline
  • Keep your writing simple
  • Write like a human
  • Use numbers and get specific
  • Ask for readers to take action
  • A/B test your copy
2. In Earned Media

Although you have little control over what others say about you or your business, you do have much control over the fodder they use.

Being notoriously generous with your resources will earn you a reputation others are drawn to. For instance, making your original content easy to share, such as we’ve done with the above mini infographic, allows others to easily spread your message.

Make sure the content is attributed correctly, as we’ve done by branding it with our logo.

3. In Shared Media

Again, here is where compelling content, effective calls to action, and motivating landing pages come into play. Being active on social media is not enough. Simply sharing content for the sake of visibility will not in itself generate leads.

No, social sharing should connect your audience with a call to action.

For instance, I recently began following Company X on Facebook. They posted a congratulatory message to a new team member. When I clicked on the link, it simply took me to a bio of that person. And… boom! I’m dropped in the middle of nowhere. Nothing to click on, no way to explore their site any further. How could this have been improved upon?

Ideally, this link should have taken me to his bio, with a call-to-action to connect with this person. The call to action button should have lead me to a landing page where I would fill out a form to get more information on what this person is offering. This, in turn, should lead me to a thank you page, where additional suggestions for content are offered. At the very least, the bio should have been hosted on their website, with links so that I could explore their site.

4. In Paid Media

Paid media is a great way to increase visibility of your earned and owned media. Save it for last once you know what content you’ve created is performing best. That content is what warrants putting some dollars behind it.

Be sure to test  your paid media. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter often perform well for B2B media. But start with a small budget and see how you do.

`Also evaluate paid syndication sites like Outbrain to see if it’s worth the cost. You can also try syndicating your content yourself by knocking on the virtual doors of sites in your industry that you know prospects read.

Using Content to Create A Mean Lead Generation Machine

If you struggle with creating original content, you are by no means alone. According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers face a number of challenges when it comes to content creation:

And as Robert Rose says, “The reinvention of marketing is a road, not a door.” Do those statistics hit close to home? It might be time for a content boost!

This article was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 


The New Age of PR: Getting Your Brand Noticed

PR is dead. Long live PR.

Okay, so maybe the old school public relations techniques and tricks haven’t completely lost their power.

But in the modern digital world, submitting press releases to journalists and hoping for the best is no longer the most effective way to drive attention for your brand.

With the current state of the internet, companies have a variety of more effective ways to get their message across.

These include:

  • Using social media to connect directly with customers.
  • Inspiring fans to become amateur brand ambassadors.
  • Directly addressing customer concerns in a public space to build a stronger reputation.

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In short, the internet has removed the middle-man in public relations: companies can now talk directly to the people who matter, inspiring them to develop greater brand loyalty.

Say Goodbye to the Old Ways

In the olden times, before social media, companies that were looking to drum up free publicity needed to befriend an established news platform.

  • Company PR staff would write a press release about their upcoming product.
  • This would be distributed to journalists and media agencies.
  • An outlet would write an article about the product (if they felt it was important enough).
  • The public would read the articles written by journalists, and maybe be inspired to take a closer look at the product.

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Sometimes, for the sake of time, journalists would use the PR press release word-for-word, but generally there were several layers of commentary and discussion before the public found out about the product.

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This model had two major flaws:

  • Companies couldn’t talk directly to customers
  • Customers couldn’t respond directly to companies.

That said, it’s important to point out that this method of PR isn’t gone: lots of big companies still rely on it because it’s familiar to them.

With the internet age, though, there’s no need to structure public relations efforts so rigidly.

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Companies can talk directly to customers, and customers are able to quickly and easily give feedback or opinions.

  • Moving these conversations into the public means PR has become a lot simpler.
  • That said, there are plenty of new problems that companies are facing as a result of not understanding the best way to reach out to customers.

So, let’s look at some of the pitfalls of new online PR, as well as how you can use quality content to get your brand noticed by the right people.

Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master

This new approach of talking directly to customers is certainly working well for brands who put their all into online PR:

  • 80% of internet users prefer to connect with brands through social media.
  • 28% of 18-34 year olds say that they’re ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely to make a purchase based on solely on reading a reading social media post.
  • 27% of young people turn to social media first for their customer service needs.

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But there are a couple of downsides to the ease with which companies can reach out to customers:

Together, these problems mean that new age digital PR can be difficult to perfect.

Grabbing Attention

The first problem that companies face in marketing their brands online is simply one of catching people’s attention.

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  • The reason old PR relied on media companies to work as middlemen was because this was the only way to get audiences’ attentions.
  • If a message made it onto an established media channel, there was a good chance that a large audience would see it.
  • With the internet, there’s a lot more content available online as everyone seeks to engage with users.
  • This means that a message can be easily drowned out among a lot of other voices that are constantly shouting for attention

So what’s the key to success with online, unmediated PR?

High quality content.

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The problem that users face online is the ever-flowing tide of distractions.

Some online content is good.

But most isn’t.

With so much content online that’s been quickly thrown together just to grab attention, audiences are becoming more savvy and cynical.

The only content that floats to the top of public consciousness – the stuff that gets shared on social media and produces viral success – is content that’s well produced, interesting, and engaging.

  • This is probably why so many larger companies still rely so heavily on old PR channels: it’s a lot easier to throw together a quick press release than it is to create high quality, unique content to market a brand.
  • Considering the growing popularity of social media advertising, though, it’s clear that even the world’s most powerful brands are aware of the importance of good new age PR.

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For this reason, it’s important not just to advertise online, but also to produce good content that gives people a reason to look at your brand:

  • 67% of B2B buyers are increasingly relying on content to help drive their decisions.
  • 66% of B2B buyers believe that too much online content is full of filler, and lacks quality.

Making Good Conversation

The second big problem that brands can face online is misjudging their content and getting attention for the wrong reasons.

  • It’s important to get internet users looking at your content.
  • But on the internet, not all publicity is good publicity.

There are plenty of examples of companies who bite off more than they can chew online, ending up leaving their brand with a less than stellar reputation.

Take, for example, a tweet from IHOP advertising their pancakes.

The tweet said that a pancake is ‘flat but has a GREAT personality’.

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While the IHOP social media manager probably thought this was a clever reference to a common saying, many internet readers were less than impressed.

Many tweeters took offense to the expression, arguing that it was misogyny and sexism in action – referencing the expression perpetuated the idea that a woman’s worth in society is connected to her bust size.

Sheepishly, IHOP removed the tweet soon after, and issued a public apology.

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No matter how carefully a brand monitors its promotional materials, in the online world it’s often difficult to spot issues that might offend people.

  • This is made more difficult because of the volume of content that companies need to produce in order to be seen online.
  • Companies often also have to produce content quickly to respond to a particular issue of public interest, and it’s easy to hit the wrong tone in the rush to capitalize on an important event.

There’s no easy solution to this problem: no marketer can possibly foresee all the possible responses to an article.

If there is one thing that can be done to make sure a piece of content sends the right message, though, it’s this:

  • Place quality of work over speed of delivery.

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Sounds simple, right?

But so many marketers get greedy and rush content out the door without taking a second to look it over.

  • This can lead to small errors (such as typos) that can damage your brand’s credibility.
  • It can also produce bigger problems such as user backlash, if an article isn’t up to an appropriate standard.
  • At the end of the day, internet users are only going to react positively to content that’s well produced, which is why cutting corners in content development can seriously harm your content’s performance.

In order to inspire audiences online and generate a healthy discussion about your products, you need to make sure that the content you produce is top notch.

With online PR, it’s easier to get an article published, but it can often be a lot more challenging to get it noticed among the chaos online.

Encouraging Brand Ambassadors

A big part of modern PR techniques involves developing a cult following around your products.

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  • We’ve all met someone who’s so dedicated to a brand that they’ll happily tell everyone they meet that their favorite company is better than the competition.
  • This is the kind of loyalty you want to inspire in your customers.
  • Doing so means gaining a legion of unpaid salespeople who will tackle a lot of your PR needs for you and will spread the good word about your products.

In the modern age, no company has succeeded in creating a loyal fanbase more than the electronics giant Apple.

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We all know at least one Apple loyalist who spends every waking moment telling other people how great their latest iPhone or MacBook is.

They’re the kinds of people who will happily fix any problem you have on your iPad, though you probably don’t want to leave them alone in a room with a Samsung user for too long…

So what’s the secret to Apple’s PR success?

How has the company turned so many users into brand evangelists?

  • Apple doesn’t just market its products, it also markets the ideology of simple, sleek devices.
  • Apple successfully turned the company’s founder, Steve Jobs, into a cultural icon: a visionary businessman and tech expert who could be trusted to produce excellent devices.
  • Apple provide personal, approachable tech support in the form of their ‘Genius’ store employees.

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These techniques are directly responsible for the success of Apple’s PR efforts over the decades. Use their example as a model for your own PR practices.

Communicating Your Message Simply

It’s important to note that Apple didn’t create their powerful brand overnight.

As early as the 1980s, Apple was trying to convince customers that their brand had a unique style and design that made their devices stand out from the crowd.

Take, for example, the 1984 Superbowl commercial for the first Macintosh computer.

In this ad, Apple:

  • Portrays their brand as being the only bright, inviting and exciting option in an otherwise cold, dull world.
  • Shows a colorful character destroying the established system, freeing the population from a world without diversity.
  • Uses imagery from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 to argue that the Apple brand is the only resistance against a tide of conformity perpetuated by then-market leaders in computing.

While the 1984 commercial is hugely different to more modern, simplistic ads, the same brand identity is visible in this old advertisement. Apple is about vibrancy, color and energy.

It took Apple 20 years from the release of their Superbowl Macintosh ad before they found a way to communicate their brand image that really resonated with viewers.

Their bright, colorful dance ads for the iPod communicated the same message as their 1984 ad, but did so in a far more simple and powerful way.

I don’t know about you, but even just watching an iPod ad makes me want to get up and dance.

The iPod commercials, which feature silhouettes dancing to upbeat music in front of colorful backgrounds, easily communicate the central Apple ideology:

  • Their technology is exciting, colorful and vibrant.
  • Anyone, regardless of taste, can use it.
  • Apple is a brand of creativity and originality.

By communicating this ideology, rather than focusing on the specifics of their products, Apple has built up a fanbase of users who personally identify with the brand, rather than those who are just making use of their products.

In a similar way, brands looking to use the internet for PR purposes ought to focus not on promoting individual products, but on spreading the ideology behind the brand, to help users associate the brand with a particular message or life view.

Providing the Personal Touch

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Traditional PR has always been about managing relations between a company and its customers.

  • Because of the structure of old school PR, there wasn’t always a lot of opportunities for customers to pass feedback up to the companies they bought from.
  • Certainly conversations between customers and companies were less publicized in a world before social media.

A large part of online PR in the modern era means making use of social tools to publicly engage with audiences.

This has many benefits:

  • Companies that openly reward their most loyal supporters gain popularity, as online users love to see a brand making an effort to be friendly.
  • Brands that engage online are able to address the challenges and issues that customers may have, lessening the blow when an inevitable problem arises (such as when a user has troubleshooting issues or requires additional support).
  • Online interactions means customers start seeing brands less as big, unfeeling companies, and more as friends – this means customers have a greater desire to stay loyal and promote a brand’s products to their other friends and family.

For all these reasons, one of the big keys to successful new age PR efforts is making sure that a brand’s social media presence is warm, friendly, and true to the brand’s image.

Avoiding Off-Brand PR Fails

Keeping a company’s media image intact online can often be difficult; this is especially true if a brand’s social media team isn’t entirely in-sync with the company’s core marketing image.

  • In the case of large companies, the brand can also be hurt when employees publicly vent their frustration with customers over social media.
  • It’s not always easy to control what representatives for your brand are going to say online – even messages published through personal channels can reflect badly on your company.

Take, for example, the case of three Ryanair employees who took to the internet to insult a blogger in 2009.

In booking a flight, Jason Roe discovered a bug in the Irish budget airline Ryanair’s website which set prices to ‘0.00’. He blogged about this, telling readers to pass it on.

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Ryanair employees were less than impressed.

Calling Joe an ‘idiot and a liar’, three different employees of the company hurled abuse, refusing to admit that there was anything wrong with the booking system.

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Their continued online abuse took many readers by surprise, and the incident was reported on by a variety of popular online media platforms.


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One spokesman for Ryanair compounded the PR disaster, telling various news outlets that ‘Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves’.

Obviously, this is exactly the kind of public relations nightmare that most companies are eager to avoid.

 

In the case of Ryanair, this kind of behavior from staff fit neatly into existing perceptions about their customer service practices, leading to the strengthening of their public image as a company that willfully ignores their customers.

  • My favorite comment on the matter came from one responder who asked Ryanair, ‘I’m curious; is defensive aggression something Ryanair provide training in, or is it something they explicitly look for when hiring someone?’

As a rule, just in case this wasn’t clear already, letting anyone associated with your brand scream abuse at your customers online is a bad idea.

Beware Restrictions

In the face of these kinds of potential PR snafus, many companies keep a close watch on their employee activities online, insisting that the content they publish cannot be demeaning or insulting, lest anything they post negatively affect the company’s brand.

One school in Utah recently received complaints from parents that one of their teachers, Mindi Jensen, was posting photos of herself at the gym in revealing clothing on her Instagram.

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The school attempted to coerce the teacher into taking the photos down, or to make her Instagram profile private.

  • She was warned that, should she choose to leave the photos online, she might be fired.

After posting about her treatment online, Mindi’s story went viral and the school was forced to issue an apology.

At present, Mindi still teaches at the school, and has been allowed to keep updating her Instagram account – an excellent example of a company (a school, in this case) taking its online PR so seriously that it ultimately damages itself.

Attempting to be too controlling can produce such negative effects that online audiences may turn against your company entirely.

  • To truly get the most out of online PR efforts, brands need to give all users – both employees and customers – the space to express themselves and their concerns with the brand.

This helps to open an honest dialogue about your products, which makes customers more likely to respond positively to your online PR efforts.

PR in the modern age is a delicate art – a lot of things can go wrong, and it can take a lot of hard work and patience to build up an impressive digital presence.

  • With do many voices shouting for attention online, it can feel like an uphill struggle to even get your brand noticed.
  • It’s easy to make small missteps that can damage your brand’s reputation, and give people the wrong impression about your core ideology.
  • Even after all your efforts, some people will still look for flaws or weaknesses in your online presence.

If I could pick only one point to emphasize on how to succeed at new age PR, it’s that quality ought to be your constant goal.

Through high quality content, you draw internet users to your brand.

Through a carefully structured social media presence, you give your brand a smart, professional image that people will want to deal with.

This article was written by Aaron Agius from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Digital PR Measurement Lessons From News Analytics

News outlets are paying attention to analytics in an effort to learn more about what their audiences read and watch – and why. A recent report about a project conducted by the American Press Institute (API) reveals some interesting insights into what kind of content works, and why.

The main issue with news analytics is not, as many feared, that people only want to be entertained and don’t pay attention to serious issues anymore, but rather that the quality of data is not showing the true picture of news audiences and what they respond to. “News outlets mostly measure the wrong things,” writes Tom Rosenstiel, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and Executive Director of API. He points out the difficulties with counting unique visitors and page views and says that for journalism to understand and extract usable insights from the data it must learn how to turn bad data into good.

The API conducted a project of content tagging by topic with 55 news publishers. Here are some of the key findings:

Major Enterprise Stories

The biggest payoff for news publishers would be to produce more high-value major enterprise stories. These stories generate 83% more page views, 39% more time spent reading the content and 103% more sharing activity than other topics. Currently only 1% of news content is about major enterprise.

PR lesson: If your client or brand is a major enterprise, look for newsworthy topics to pitch to the media. If not, pitch stories that have a major enterprise angle or hook. Find a way to tie your story into a major enterprise news item or trend.

Take an Original Angle

News stories that are unique, not just the facts of a breaking story that can be seen in many outlets, attract readers and viewers. However, it has to be original, not just another “take” on a story that is being covered elsewhere. These unique stories capture 30% higher engagement: 62% more page views and 101% more shares.

PR Lesson: Invest the time and energy to produce original, unique content that no-one else is covering. Do the research and produce excellent, original work. Make sure it will resonate with your audience. Currently only 5% of news content is an original initiative story.

Go Long

Contrary to idea that attention spans on the web are shrinking and you should keep your content short, this study revealed that people are reading longer news content – even on a mobile phone. They respond to quality and depth. So a 1200-word article with real substance will get 23% more engagement and 11% more views.

PR lesson: Take the time to produce content of real depth and value. Instead of dashing off ten 250 word blog posts with not much meat, research and write quality long-form content on your blog or newsroom. Provide journalists with the material they’d need to write and publish such a story.

The Power of Visual Content:

Stories with one photo scored 19% higher in engagement than stories without visuals. When you add more than one photo the engagement score jumps to 43% more. Audio and video also increase engagement by 36%, which translates to 81% more views and 84% more shares. .

PR lesson: Always include original images, video and audio in your content. And when you pitch a story to the media it’s essential to offer original, compelling visuals (not stock photos or talking head videos) that extend and enhance the viewers’ experience of the story. People want to feel part of a story and the right visuals give them that.

This article was written by Sally Falkow from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


50 Delightfully Simple Video Content Ideas For Your Online Business

Suddenly everyone wants video. But only the smart few are really killing it with brilliant ideas and execution.

Does your mouth go dry just thinking about standing in front of the camera? Or maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the pressure to “go viral”?

Hang in there. I’ve collected some of the best and most engaging video content ideas for your creative projects. If there’s a way to make it work for you, it’s on this list!

Introduce your team

You have a bunch of brilliant people in your team, so why not use that to your advantage? Of course, not everyone loves the eye of the camera… so you need to find a creative way to introduce both introverts and extroverts and let the personalities of these people rub off on your brand. Add a sparkle of that peculiar human charm to your website and you won’t regret it.

About us

It’s a similar concept to team introductions, however, in this type of video you should focus on the organisation’s mission and vision, its culture, goals and business philosophy. It’s a simple and easy way to give your prospective clients a great first impression. What makes your company unique? How are you better than everyone else? And why should they spend their money on you? Remember, authenticity always sells best.

Interviews with industry experts

Want to be recognised as an industry influencer? Then start building relationships with experts in your field. The interview format is wonderful in a way that you always get unique, fresh angle and can top up your video library with valuable content. Harnessing the potential of influencer marketing is a smart strategy for businesses that have ambitions to become industry leaders.

Video testimonials

Watch out for bland customer testimonials – they can do more harm than good. The sole purpose of video testimonials is to showcase your relationship with customers in a more believable and engaging format. Let them say what they want to say – using their own words and body language. A good video testimonial resembles a friendly conversation rather than a full-on serious interview.

Interviews with clients

Remember that your clients are a great source of content. Like you, they’re creating new projects, testing new marketing tactics, implementing new management methods… there are a lot of hard-won lessons to talk about! Find an angle that is most valuable to your audience and film a friendly tips & tricks interview that will help you nurture your relationship with the client as well as inject new content into your blog.

Case studies

The power of case studies is indisputable. Combining both hard facts and client testimonials, you can win a lot of new business. As a medium, video is incredibly flexible – sprinkle it with elements of typography, design, photography, music and special effects, and you have a strong, attention-grabbing piece of content. What’s more, it’s a convenient way to introduce your features and include screenshots of your product without coming off too salesy.

Information visualization

You’re probably creating a lot of written content – everything from newsletters to e-books to PDF guides. Why not repurpose this content visually? Depending on the information, you may want to go for infographics or data visualization in a video format. One of the flashiest trends in the video world is something called video scribing or whiteboard animation. It’s a creative way to convey information using both text and images, but you may want to hire a professional to do it for you to avoid disappointment.

How-to tutorials

It’s a pretty straightforward format that doesn’t require expensive props, acting talent or complex scenarios to produce high-quality material. I’ve recently written about various types of how-to tutorials that many brands experiment with to delight their audience, but, in a nutshell, if executed smartly, this type of educational videos can generate a lot of value.

Behind-the-scenes look

behind-the-scenes video

Tapping into people’s curiosity is always a good idea. Who doesn’t want to peek behind the curtain? Make a quick behind-the-scenes video to show your viewers the nuts and bolts of your ideation and video production process (or anything else, for that matter!). Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures and hurdles, and how you overcome them – it just makes you more human.

Company culture videos

This one is brilliant. You can go as bonkers or silly as you want as long as it captures the soul of your business. Time after time we’re reminded of how powerful a cult-like company culture can be in terms of driving sales and customer acquisition. Everyone wants to be part of something cool and special and it applies to your customers, too. They’ll pay not only for the quality of your product, but also for that lifestyle and vision you’re selling indirectly.

Video showreels

Have a lot of video content sitting in your library? Make use of it. Create a video showreel to pull together your best work and play to your strengths. It’s also a great format for end-of-year summaries or hitting-a-major-milestone kinds of announcements.

Market overview

50 Simple Video Content Ideas

There are some topics or themes that you discuss every day.You follow industry news, analyse competitor moves, produce reports and battle out innovation projects in team meetings. Your take on the industry’s status quo and future projections is gold. Use it to build authority and create a name for yourself and your company. In fact, push all your managers to be visible and share their insights online. The only way to be memorable is to give people a reason to remember you.

Product videos

The killer statistics of video marketing are on the first page of Google search – why aren’t you all over them? People are more likely to buy a product after watching a video, that’s a hard fact. No matter what you sell or where you’re selling it – there is a way to talk about your product like it was handed down by the gods. So just do it.

Making-of videos

Let your prospective clients and viewers watch you work! There is so much people can learn about you, the team, your business ethics and the general level of skills just by observing your journey from point A to point B. How and why you choose to accomplish various tasks in a way that you do is often more revealing than the final result. So don’t be afraid to share your work process – it’s definitely something that people are curious about.

Product reviews

There are various tools, apps and products that you use as a businesses. And then you also have a whole bunch of products that your team members are raving about. Why not put together a simple “Top 10 tools in our office” video (or something similar?) to share some product love and tap into this bottomless opportunity? Give first, ask for favours later 🙂

Event videos

If you’re one of those event lovers who attend at least a dozen different calibre gatherings a year, consider making simple videos to capture your highlights and share the insider’s views. It’s also likely you’re on the other end – organising weekly, monthly or annual events as part of your marketing strategy. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to let people get a taste of what it’s like to be in your audience (or on the stage!).

Educational content

A little bit like educational how-to tutorials, these videos fit nicely within any content marketing strategy. People are willing to learn to keep up with the always changing world, so jump in on this train of personal and professional development. Educational content can take many forms – from video quizzes to instructional step-by-step guidelines to simply sharing your personal best practices.

Animation videos

With many creative tools out there, animation doesn’t have to be a mission impossible. It’s a fun way to spice up intense (or let’s not be afraid to say boring) topics and keep viewers engaged. Experiment with new content ideas from time to time to stand out and tickle people’s curiosity.