How to Develop Content Marketing Metrics & KPIs

No matter how large or small your marketing budget is, if you want to optimize marketing spend, it’s vital that you measure your content marketing performance. Measurement allows you to see what’s working and what isn’t, empowering you to make educated decisions about the future of your campaigns. Below, we’ll discuss how to develop content marketing metrics and key performance indicators, or KPIs, that help you adequately measure your content marketing campaign performance in order to adjust your tactics for improvement.

1. Start by identifying your content marketing goals.

Many marketers jump into measurement without a clear idea of what exactly they would like to accomplish with their content campaigns and assets. Ultimately, this can lead to using the wrong content marketing metrics, which can be a waste of both time and resources. To set your organization up for success, you’ll want to first identify what your content marketing goals are and then tie these specific goals to content KPIs and metrics.

Lead Generation

According to Content Marketing Institute, 85% of marketers says that lead generation is one of their most important business goals. If you want to measure how well your content is working to generate more leads, look to the following metrics:

  • Click-Through Rate: Click-through rates help you better understand how your content is generating and converting leads. Each blog post should include a clear call-to-action that leads readers to take a desired action. Whether the CTA asks readers to view another web page, download gated content, call the company, or some other desired action, looking at the click-through rates for these CTAs will allow you to determine how many leads each post is generating.

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  • Conversions: You can go beyond click-through rates to see how many of the leads become qualified and convert into paying customers. Looking at conversions allows you to see which pieces of content are not only generating the right types of leads but generating leads that are most likely to convert.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness itself is not a KPI, but it is a goal that many brands hope to achieve with their content marketing. To measure how successful your content is generating brand awareness, you might look at the following KPIs:

  • Article Views: Though it may be difficult to determine this metric for content that is not housed on your site, it’s quite easy to access analytics for owned media on your brand blog. Looking at the number of article views can help you better understand how many people are viewing your content.
  • Social Shares: Social shares is another KPI that you can use to determine your success in generating brand awareness. Measure how many shares each post receives to better understand which types of content are most successful at engaging your audience and creating awareness for your brand. The more content your audience shares, the more your online reach increases.

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Audience Engagement

Once you build brand awareness, you then have to engage the followers, leads, and fans that have started to take notice of your brand. Though general brand awareness can help you gauge how familiar consumers are with your brand, genuine audience engagement helps you better understand how consumers feel about your brand. Not to mention, engaging with your audience can help you get to know more about them. To track how successfully your content engages your audience, take a look at the following metrics:

  • Click-Through Rates: If your content is compelling readers to click on your link, then you know that it has been successful in attracting their attention. By monitoring how many people click on your content and what types of content they are clicking on, your brand can get a better idea of what is interesting and useful to your audience.
  • Social Shares: The number of social shares can help you understand how many of your readers have found your content valuable enough to share with their friends and family. However, you’ll want to go beyond the number of social shares and monitor who is sharing your content. Identify how many people within your target audience or influencers in your industry are sharing your content to get a better idea of its value.
  • Comments: Though not all comments are valuable, you will want to monitor your comments section for engagement and feedback to see who is contributing to your content. You will also want to see which types of content are generating the most engagement.

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Sales Enablement

While lead generation, brand awareness, and audience engagement are great content marketing goals to track each month, you also need to be aware of sales. Content marketing can be a valuable tool for moving your leads through the sales process. If you want to track your success in using content for sales enablement, monitor the following metrics:

  • Sales Conversion Rate: Leads that receive your content on a regular basis through the various content channels will often convert at a higher rate. This is because as leads consume more of your content, they start to trust your brand more and learn all of the ways that your company’s solution meets their needs.
  • Length of Sales Cycle: Measuring the length of your sales cycle helps give you a better idea of how well your content is working. Great content helps your brand decrease the average sales cycle length. If your content is effective, you should see that leads who consume your content regularly close at a faster rate than those who do not.
  • Contract Size: Effective content should also make it easier for your brand to sell more to each lead. By comparing the contract size of clients who were nurtured through targeted content marketing vs. those who were not, you can see how well your content marketing is working to build trust, answer your leads’ biggest questions, and address their concerns.

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2. Make distinctions and connections between on-site and off-site metrics.

When you are measuring your content marketing campaign success, you will need to distinguish between your on-site content assets and those that are off-site. For instance, your on-site content assets are platforms such as your website and blog where you have complete control at the domain level. Whereas off-site assets are those pieces of content that appear in areas such as guest blogs or social media sites, where you have less control of the asset.

There are areas where these assets will overlap and interact with one another. For example, you may drive traffic from your social media profiles to pieces of content that are housed on your website, such as a blog post or e-book. You will want to make sure that you measure this overlap to have a better understanding of the relationship between your

3. Remember that establishing content marketing metrics and KPIs is an ongoing process.

Even after you have identified which content metrics you’ll use to measure your specific business goals, you are not quite done yet. Your organization’s needs will develop and change over time, meaning that establishing content metrics is not a one-time event, but rather a fluid and ongoing process. If you want to continue to optimize your marketing budget, it’s important that you assess the data, look for important insights, and find new stories within the analytics to help you better measure performance and understand where you are in achieving your organization’s overall business goals.

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Marketers should evaluate content marketing metrics and KPIs for relevancy for each unique project. Being flexible in how you measure the results of each content marketing campaign will open new opportunities to help you grow your business goals and achieve maximum performance. For instance, in reviewing your metrics, you may see that the findings that suggest there are new areas that you should emphasize in your content marketing campaigns. Once you adjust your campaigns to account for these new topics, you will also want to review your metrics to ensure that you’re still using the best KPIs to measure success.

As time passes and you make changes to your campaigns, you will want to revisit your KPIs and metrics. If you are still using the same KPIs that you were when you started using content marketing, then you may want to ask yourself why and consider whether or not they are still valid for effectively helping you measure success. There is a good chance that as you develop your content marketing campaigns and make changes to your approach that you will need to make changes to your KPIs as well. The same is true as you begin to increase marketing spend.

This article originally appeared in Seven Atoms, was written by Andy Beohar from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Reasons Why Listening to Your PR Team Could Save Your Company’s Image

Your PR team will spend much of its time on social media monitoring your image and brand name. The average business will spend 11% of their budget on social media marketing alone this year. The power of PR has the potential to completely reinvent your brand image.

It can help you win back unhappy customers and repair your company image when it’s in the doldrums. This guide is going to show you five of the reasons why you should be listening to your PR team.

Maintain the Reputation You Already Have

Making ill-timed remarks can back you into a corner, leaving you on the defense. Businesses are never going to feel comfortable in this position, and your PR strategies are not going to cater to it. The PR professional will help you to get out of this corner and stop you from being on the defensive.

You have to work with them if you’re going to get through a crisis relatively unscathed. They’ll also act to stop them from happening in the first place. The fewer controversies associated with your name the stronger your reputation is going to become going forward.

Getting Your Message to the Right People

Your public relations team will help you to eliminate any inconsistencies within your messaging. Once you say something your PR team is going to act to make sure your meaning isn’t obscured anywhere along the way. A misinterpreted comment can do a lot to deflate your company. Boost team morale by making sure your PR team is ensuring the right message is getting across.

The danger with the Internet these days is your words can be misinterpreted. Even perfectly innocuous comments can be taken the wrong way, whether unintentionally or maliciously. Getting your message across with the help of your PR team will stop this from happening.

Don’t Let Negative Momentum Wash You Away

Take a look at Donald Trump for a master class in how to stop negative momentum from washing you away. Negative press can build and build until the pressure becomes too much and your company’s reputation is left in tatters. Donald Trump might be able to get away with it, but it’s far from an ideal situation to be placed in to begin with.

A solid PR team can make sure the news coverage you’re getting is leaving the right impression on the audience. They’ll make sure your name is being built based on substance, as opposed to a PR stunt that left you with a few minutes of fame. PR specialists will hold you to a higher standard that will preserve your reputation in the long-term.

Not All Attention Is Wanted Attention

The biggest misconception marketers have is that all press is good press. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even the greatest marketer can’t spin absolutely everything into something positive. There are many figures in the business world that have said the wrong things at the wrong time and found themselves unable to cope.

Believe it or not, the best press is the inane press you find in the business pages. Controversy can work for you, but you never can tell which way it’s going to go until it actually happens.

Your PR team will stage manage exactly what you’re saying to make sure you’re not making any big mistake. They’ll allow you to present the vision and goals of your company without burning bridges.

Make Your Goals Clear

A lot of figures outline their views and get in the news all the time. Not all of this coverage is necessarily contusive to achieving an end goal. The fact is the press time you do get should be used to contribute to your long-term future. There’s little point in wasting your marketing content on something that isn’t going to lead to a better company in the long-term.

The goal of any PR team is to make sure your marketing material is consistent with your views. The last thing you want is to have lots of content that says entirely different things. Mixed messages are an easy way to confuse your customers, and it’s unlikely to lead to any sales.

Conclusion–Getting Marketing Right

Your PR team doesn’t have to be a huge team that eats up most of the company’s budget. A single PR specialist can help you to fine tune your marketing strategy so you know you’re hitting the right people. Getting this right will ultimately be a boon for your company in the long-term.

A big part of managing your reputation is in the case of possible crisis management. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but the time to prepare for crisis, is before it hits. To always be prepared, download our free ebook, Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications.

Media Intelligence for Crisis Comms

We originally published this post to our site on August 19, 2016. On Saturdays, we republish content, in case our readers missed them the first time around. This article was written by David Wither from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

8 Innovative Ways to Think Big in Your B2B PR

No matter your size, thinking big is pivotal to success in B2B PR. That is how you achieve thought leadership and brand recognition.

It’s easy to think small-—to stay in your comfort zone, where you knock off a press release every once in awhile, and call it good. Successful PR, however, is all about pushing boundaries, embracing new techniques, and staying ahead of the curve.

Learn how you can take your B2B public relations to the next level, and think bigger for your company. The following are 8 ways that you can amplify your company’s content, and meet your B2B public relations goals.

8 Ways to Bring Big Ideas to Your B2B PR

1. Work Backwards from a Clear End Goal

Start with your end vision. What would you like to accomplish as a company? A great way to bring an idea to life is by starting with the end-product. A key component to your vision might be to write down that dream headline that you would like to see when your vision comes to fruition.

For instance, would you like to get press coverage for your involvement in charity? Then start big. Imagine the successful headline that will put you on the front page. It could be something like, “Local B2B Firm Meets Goal of Feeding 1,000 Hungry Families.”

Have you already thought of your dream headline? Once you have it, work back from there. Set smaller, more manageable goals that will help you reach that big headline. You’ll find it easier to get more people on board and involved when you have a set end-goal to pursue.

2. Invite Influencers to Contribute to Your Content

Influencers are a big deal in niche industries, and can amplify your content’s reach. While it may be difficult to get an influencer on-board for a full guest post, it’s a much easier task to get a blurb or pro tip from an influencer that you can then leverage within your content.
Imagine the power behind such blog posts as,

15 Pro Tips From the Security Industry’s Leading Experts

or…

[Influencer’s name] Weighs in on the Biggest Problem Facing the Security Industry

Once you have this content locked down, you can leverage your influencer involvement to promote it. Build anticipation for the content by talking it up on social media before it is released. Once it’s out, tag the influencers involved on social media so that they can share it with their audience. Share it several times to ensure that the maximum amount of people get a chance to read it.

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3. Make Your Content Recyclable and Magnetic

Your content shouldn’t have an end-date. Once you hit publish, there’s plenty you can do to extend its usefulness. For example, make it easily shareable. Create click to tweet links of several important snippets of your content that people can easily share on Twitter. Create social media images with influential parts of your content that others in your industry will be interested in sharing.

4. Find Content That’s Already Popular…and Make It Better

It can sometimes feel like your competitors have all the successful content. But you can use this to your advantage. Use programs like BuzzSumo and SEMrush to find what content is currently blowing up within your industry. Then take that piece of content and give it an all-star upgrade. Amplify its value with a more modern design, in-depth content, and even additional pro tips.

Once you have a superior piece of content, it’s time to distribute it like crazy. Use social media and email marketing to get as many eyes on it as possible.

And don’t forget to use this content to shine a light on new content. Include a link to just-published content within your popular post. Think of it as the virtual equivalent of hanging out with the popular kids. The goal is that some of that fairy dust will end up on the new content.

5. Focus on Big Pieces of Content

One large, high-quality piece of content is going to outperform 10 other lower quality pieces of content put together. To accomplish this, your content creation should begin with a solid content strategy that aims at truly high-quality content, as well as promotion of that content. In-depth content such as eBooks and guides may take more time to put together, but in the end, will lead to increased credibility and owned media potential.

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6. Leverage Special Content for Visitors Who Share

Sharing isn’t just for kids. When readers share your content on their social networks, this is PR gold. But how do you convince readers to share?

Instead of your traditional gated content that requires the user to input his or her contact information, why not make special content downloadable in exchange for a social share? People get the free e-book (or video, or case study) once they share their download announcement on social media. This gives them the content they want, and boosts the recognition of your brand at the same time—a clear win-win situation.

7. Test the Waters for Big Events

Events are a key way to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry authority. But this is sometimes easier said than done — it can be overwhelming to jump feet first into a large-scale event. Make it easier on yourself by testing the waters first with a smaller event.

It doesn’t have to be a large, fancy affair. Make it more intimate and less structured. Invite a wide range of people to participate — perhaps include an industry analyst, someone from the media, a business customer, and an author, to speak on a current industry topic or trend. This kind of environment can foster many thought leadership quality discussions that you will have been responsible for creating.

Then, if all goes well, you can start planning a larger-scale event that will no doubt garner more attention.

8. Become Part of a Niche Community

While it’s great to participate in larger industry communities, don’t ignore the power that the smaller niche communities (such as on LinkedIn) hold for your content promotion. Oftentimes, participating in smaller, niche communities can give you more of a chance to engage with and provide value to others in your industry.

Participation in these communities allows you to establish yourself as an industry expert, create brand awareness, and share your valuable content. There’s even a chance that your content may be chosen for syndication by other blogs and publications in your niche. In short, these smaller communities are a great stepping stone on your way to bigger, thought leadership opportunities.

Key Points to Remember in Your B2B PR

  • Include influencer input in small ways to attract more attention from a wider audience.
  • Use popular content from competitors to create even better, more in-depth content.
  • Prepare yourself for hosting a large event by starting with a small, intimate one.
  • Get involved in smaller, niche communities where you will have more opportunities to engage and be heard.

Just because you are a small B2B business doesn’t mean that your B2B PR ideas have to follow suit. Use these 8 B2B PR tactics to start thinking big and you’ll amplify your content’s influence and achieve thought leadership success.

This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog.

This article was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Massive Trends in PR and Communications Your Brand Needs to be Dominating Right Now

The marketing world is constantly changing, and the environment we operate in today is entirely different from what we were working in even just two or three years ago.

The field of marketing communications doesn’t have quite the same fast, flashy developments that are emerging in many fields of digital marketing. But it’s still evolving at a steady pace, driven by constantly-shifting consumer habits and expectations. The brands that fail to keep up are at risk of fading into irrelevance.

How well is your business executing on these increasingly critical PR and communications trends?

1. Influencer Relationship Management

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Many traditional communications channels like mass media, celebrity endorsements, and product placement are quickly taking a backseat to an explosion of wildly popular “influencers.”

An influencer can be nearly anyone with a widely-heard voice and respected opinions, like a hot radio DJ or talk show host. But today the most popular and effective influencers tend to be online: bloggers, YouTube stars, podcast hosts, social media entertainers, etc. These individuals may not always have the largest audience, but they often carry a lot of respect and sway within a very targeted niche.

Earning the attention, favor, and trust of influencers either organically or through paid means is an incredibly effective (and usually very cost efficient) way to get your brand and products associated with whatever thoughtful insights, hilarious comments, valuable information, or unique personality quirks that make them popular. But engaging and interacting with influencers requires a unique strategy; they’re frequently not experienced public figures with agents or established systems for brand partnerships. Often they’re just busy professionals who run a podcast in their spare time or young bloggers that aren’t even old enough to have a career yet.

Creating and nurturing relationships with these kinds of personalities requires a delicate touch and a thorough understanding of an influencer’s audience, niche, and content.

Many PR and brand marketing executives are realizing this and recruiting digital marketers specifically to manage their influencer marketing campaigns and relationships.

The world of influencer relationships is still immature and wide open to proactive brands. But the longer you wait, the harder (and more expensive) it will be to get the attention of the right influencers that engage your target audiences.

2. Online Reputation Management

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When people Google your business, what do they see on the front page?

For most organizations, the first result will hopefully be the company home page (if it’s not, you have bigger problems to deal with). But unfortunately, the rest of the SERP is often filled with less-flattering content, like negative news coverage, a Yelp page packed with unfavorable comments, or a Facebook wall littered with customer complaints.

Over 80% of buyers do research online before making a purchase decision. Rest assured they’re not only reading about your products; they’re also evaluating your brand.

Unsurprisingly, they’re more likely to buy if they like what they see. But if they encounter unflattering content, reviews, and news associated with your business they’re likely to look elsewhere.

Good online reputation management doesn’t mean just covering up any non-positive mentions of your business and products online. It means putting yourself in a position to avoid that negative attention, proactively generating positive stories and press to balance out unfavorable content, and responding appropriately to criticism and complaints. A deft PR leader brought in with a public relations executive search can even turn negative experiences into powerful, positive press.

3. Tracking and Analyzing Your Communications Initiatives

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There was a time, not long ago, when businesses didn’t really expect to know how impactful their PR and external communications efforts were. They’d just issue some announcements, publish some press releases, maybe have a press conference, and hope for the best.

Today you should expect much more from your communications team. The PR industry alone will be a more than $13 billion dollar industry this year, yet many business and marketing leaders will have no idea whether those investments are paying off.

If you’re not tracking the impact of your communications, you’re probably wasting your time. An exact, hard dollar ROI value might not always be possible. But you should at least be able to have a good idea of basic KPIs like brand awareness and favorability, social engagement, quality traffic driven, etc.

Just as importantly, you should see active efforts to test new communications tactics and improve your strategy over time.

Need some help measuring your communications success and building analytics systems? Work with a good marketing analytics agency or bring in some analytics staffing.

4. Internalizing and Streamlining Communications Teams

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Matters of public relations and communications have often traditionally been handed off to specialized agencies. However, in today’s fast-paced media environment many brands are finding more success insourcing their communications teams, bringing in new leadership through communications executive search, and cutting out the middle man.

A communications opportunity–or crisis–can appear and spread in the blink of an eye. Your brand’s window to respond to them in the most effective way is often very short.

But when you need to be fast, agency channels slows things down with an extra layer of internal processes, approvals and gatekeepers. And as important as a time-sensitive opportunity might be for you, there’s no guarantee your agency will have the interest or ability to prioritize it over their obligations for other clients.

That’s why it’s best to be prepared with aggressive marketing communications and PR recruitment to stock your business with a team that’s intimately familiar with your brand voice and strategy and can act directly under the direction of your communications executive.

Third party partnerships still have a place in the world of marketing communications as buzz generators or connections to valuable media relationships (though a PR executive search might be needed to find a leader who can choose the right agencies). But it’s probably wise to ween your business off reliance on someone else for your own communications strategy.

To learn how to spot trends in PR, download our latest ebook and add these valuable skills to your public relations toolbox.

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This article originally appeared in MarketPro, was written by Mark Miller from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Niche Communities Where PR Pros Gather

PR can be a tough business. Whichever area you specialize in—investor relations, community relations, media relations, executive communications—the days can be long and fraught with the need to put out a fire or two.

All of this can get, shall we say, a little stressful. So, where do PR pros turn when they need to ask questions, learn something new or just need a little support?

Some have found that being a part of a community can benefit them in a myriad of ways. But which communities should you participate in?

Sometimes, communities originate on Twitter. Ragan Communications hosts its weekly #RaganChat, and many of the participants tend to turn to each other for various reasons, to ask questions or bounce ideas around. There’s a Facebook group for participants, as well as a LinkedIn group for PR Daily.

SpinSucks provides a free Slack channel for members of its community to congregate. On the welcome page, they mention that it’s for those in “modern PR” to share ideas and learn from like-minded pros.

For those going it on their own, SoloPR is a thriving community. It hosts bi-weekly Twitter chats and offers a LinkedIn group with more than 5,700 members. The community also offers options for paid members such as professional development, support for managing proposals and clients, and a directory where you can list yourself to find new opportunities.

For women in PR, the new community The Organization of American Women in PR USA recently launched. Billing itself as, “the only organization across the USA dedicated to advancing women in the field of public relations,” it seeks to provide opportunities for women to thrive in their PR careers. It has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as webinars, online courses and events for paid members. Its sister group, The Organization of Canadian Women in PR, offers reciprocal membership.

There’s also the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS). It has a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as has chapters around the country that host live events.

Then, there’s the Hispanic Public Relations Association, a membership-based organization that hosts a Twitter chat and webinars, along with in-person events.

PR pros who do a lot of writing and content development may tend to hang out in the content marketing communities. For example, #CMWorld, sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute, hosts a popular weekly Twitter chat and an annual conference, along with frequent free webinars. They also publish helpful articles on their site.

A Meltwater contributor and marketing consultant, Erika Heald, also hosts a weekly Twitter chat (#ContentChat) to discuss anything content-related.

The Public Relations Society of America, or PRSA, offers members free webinars on a variety of topics, as well as in-person events. It also invites PR pros to join a specialty area when they sign up as members. Each of these offers an exclusive online community with specialized content and networking opportunities. There are 14 “Professional Interest” sections, including entertainment and sports, technology, public affairs and government, and travel and tourism.

Then, some pros are turning to Reddit, where there are communities such as PRpros, and PublicRelations. There is a learning curve with Reddit, so be sure to do your homework before jumping in.

Of course, LinkedIn offers many options that public relations practitioners gravitate toward. There’s the PR Professionals Group with 94,000+ members, the Public Relations and Communications with 295,000 members, and Public Relations Professionals with 64,000 members, among others. Here, community members post questions they may have and articles of interest to the group.

Beyond finding a community where your fellow communications professionals hang out, there’s value in finding communities that apply to the industries your clients are in. Specialize in fintech? Find a community where fintech pros gather. Are most of your clients in beauty or fashion? Look for a community to which industry influencers might gravitate. (Meetup is a good resource to find where local communities gather in real life.)

Keep in mind that being part of a community means more than just joining. Be sure to engage and participate in some way once you’ve committed and feel comfortable. Most communities are ready to warmly welcome new members, so don’t be shy about introducing yourself and getting involved.

How to Keep Press Releases Fresh Day in Day Out: 6 PR Tips from Doctor Who

Nowhere is brand loyalty, and it’s corollary, fandom, more on display than at San Diego’s Annual Comic-Con, which is taking place this weekend. If you work in the television, film, or the comic book industry (or are maybe a voracious consumer of the aforementioned) you probably were there or at the very least, pressing refresh on your search bar.

The kind of brand loyalty on display at Comi-Con isn’t easy to come by. Keeping journalists and fans excited about our brands year after year (or in Doctor Who’s case, decade after decade) takes determination and creativity. Having a perennial hit like Doctor Who, known for originality and quirkiness, to play off of might make things easier, but for many of us it feels that we’re mired in telling our brand stories in exactly the same way as we did last time and not all that differently from how other companies are telling theirs. In Whovian parlance, the Daleks, old skool nemesis of Doctor Who, whose annoying and repetitive cries of “Exterminate! Exterminate!” give voice to our own creative frustrations as we continue running in circles.

Press Releases DaleksDaleks with their cries of, “Exterminate! Exterminate!” have the most repetitive and boring lines of the Doctor Who universe.

After all, if you’re not amped about your PR campaign, how can you expect your audience to sit up and take notice?

At times like these, it’s helpful to take a step back to ask: How would Doctor Who break out of the usual brand story narrative?

  1. Get outside of your surroundings (to get outside of yourself). Doctor Who has a time machine in the form of a blue British police box, and when feeling listless, he’ll take off to a faraway planet and time to explore. At least that’s his intention. As PR pros, we can follow his example by changing up our surroundings. If you can, take some time out—even if that’s only 20 minutes—to walk around the block or grab some coffee at a nearby cafe. Anything to pull you out of your immediate environs. Sometimes a new location can help with fresh perspectives.
  2. Mix things up. The Doctor is known for consistently regenerating into another body (and as another actor, now on the show’s 12th). When this happens, the new Doctor changes up his moral and dress code, which informs his values, his choice of companions, and how he uses his sonic screwdriver, the interior of his TARDIS, and his catchphrase(s). Taking a page from this playbook, consider approaching your campaigns and press release from different points of view. Tell your brand story in a different way. Could you tell your story more visually, instead of with the traditional press release format to win your audience over? Can you draw from new data sets, or expand your referral base?
  3. Make sure you have the right toolsThe Doctor has his trusty TARDIS and sonic screwdriver to help him solve most problems. In circumstances where things seem bleak, like in “Blink” as the Weeping Angels descend around Sally Sparrow and it looks like there is no way out, he can count on his tools to come through for him. In this case, the TARDIS suddenly appeared to save Sally from certain time erasure. The modern PR pro needs to have a trusty wire service and a media monitoring platform to rely on. Sometimes looking at trends in your industry or via a social listening platform can surface stories and interests that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to detect. That’s why you need to have alerts set and frequently scan your listening software.
  4. Partner when it makes sense. Offscreen, the Doctor mostly travels alone. As a time traveler from a faraway planet who has been alive for thousands of years, he invariably gets lonely. When he meets inquisitive and adventurous people that he feels a connection to, he’ll ask them to accompany him on adventures. As PR people, we can also seek out partners to share our burden. Coauthoring press releases show we’re engaged in our industry-at-large while reinforcing each partner’s respective thought leadership positions. We not only expand our reach by partnering but also broadcast an implied mutual trust. By this, our partnership makes it easier for new audiences to feel this same way.
  5. Keep on brand, but allow yourself to change and grow. Every reincarnation (or regeneration) of the Doctor has a uniform and catchphrase that acts as his stock brand. The leather jacket wearing 9th Doctor would never don a light sports coat and celery in his lapel in the vein of the 5th. And as far as catchphrases go, the 10th Doctor uses “Allons-y!” (French for “Let’s go!”), when racing to prevent the certain annihilation of modern day earth, unlike the 11th Doctor, who prefers, “Geronimo!” when in similar situations. Can your brand change and grow without alienating your core audience? Don’t forget old customers as you try to create value for new ones.
  6. Once you make the leap, be sure footed. When faced with a new challenge, sometimes the Doctor is uncertain of what tactic to take to solve overcome it. But once he makes up his mind, he stops hesitating. When you start down the path toward making your campaign happen, choose active words. If, for instance, you’re writing a press release, throw your message down and edit and re-edit. Remove any expression of doubt or uncertainty from your language, eliminate words like “just” or “might”. Don’t refer to the act of writing or reading (for example, “we’re writing you to let you know,” or “we thought you might be interested in reading about”). You’re speaking directly to your audience, feel the power of your message and they will too.

TARDIS Press Releases
Doctor Who’s TARDIS in Cardiff, Wales

Being inspired by a time traveler from a faraway planet can help you get outside of your PR comfort zone, yielding engagement with an injection of creativity and newfound commitment. Allons-y!

We originally posted this on our site on July 24, 2016. On Saturdays, we repost articles that our readers might have missed the first time around.

5 Ways to Keep Your Social Media Team Motivated This Summer

Summer is upon us, which means your social media team has a barrage of big days like Father’s Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day to plan content around.

During this busy season, social media teams are tasked with generating a wealth of new content on short deadlines, responding to hundreds of comments, and being available to tackle last-minute requests for posts on evenings and weekends.

How do you help your team stay motivated when you know you’re asking a lot?

Here are a few simple tips for equipping your team to do their best work during a challenging time.

Bring the Entire Team on Deck

You hired (or outsourced) your rockstar social team because they’re great at what they do, but even they can benefit from some fresh perspective from time to time.

In fact, the majority of social teams are comprised of just one to three people.

Don’t be afraid to invite other team members to brainstorm sessions to foster new ideas and ways of thinking if your small, overworked social team is feeling the threat of burnout.

Some companies choose to adopt an all-employee social media strategy, providing incentives to encourage all employees to post about work on their personal feeds.

Whether or not you choose to take it this far, a few new faces around the brainstorming table could push your social team in new and innovative directions at a time when they really need it.

Make Shut-Eye a Social Media Team Priority

Over the course of one month, five percent of adults admitted to falling asleep while driving in 2015. It’s not a stretch to say that sleep deprivation is a widespread issue across the U.S. right now.

Plus, the myriad consequences of being sleep deprived can have measurable effects in the workplace.

Far from just being drowsy, overtired employees are more prone to irritability and shorter attention spans—far from ideal during the demanding summer season.

Excessive stress during busy times for the company can trigger insomnia for some, which leads to fatigue and reduced productivity during the day, starting a cycle of sleep deprivation and sub-par performance.

Whether your team’s poor sleep habits are directly related to work or not, reminding your team to make healthy sleep habits a priority can help ensure that inadequate sleep doesn’t impact their ability to create quality content.

Have a Laugh or Two

When your social media team has a lot on their plate, team bonding and other downtime activities often fall by the wayside in favor of longer hours and truncated small talk.

In fact, it’s during these times you should be striving to maintain and strengthen your team’s bonds. Though you may not have as much flexibility, you can still encourage your team to come up for air from time to time.

Staying on trend is a huge part of your social team’s job, and if they spend all of their time responding to comments and creating content solo, they won’t be exposed to new ideas.

A simple discussion about a new restaurant or a weekend getaway could foster the spark of creativity needed for another round of rich, relevant content.

Plus, researchers have found that laughing as a team fosters bonding and feelings of contentment, with laughter-filled meetings leading to “more productivity and more innovative solutions.”

Take a Look at the Big Picture

Spending hours editing and fine-tuning individual posts can leave your social media team struggling to understand how those smaller tasks are impacting the business can be difficult, especially when more demanding workloads reduce communication.

Be sure to take the time to let your team know how social campaigns and strategy fit into broader marketing and overall goals for the company, and try to remind them that they’re making a difference as individuals and as a part of a team.

A sense of being valued, especially for new or smaller role team members who may feel their contributions are nominal, is a powerful one.

Recognize Your Social Media Team

On small social media teams with loosely defined roles and the expectation that everyone will “pitch in,” the importance of communication and recognition is paramount to employee motivation.

Starting from as far up in the organization as possible, effective communication helps everyone stay on the same page, even when the workload is heavy.

By recognizing your hard-working social media team, you can solidify a sense of appreciation for teams both among their peers, who may not know just how much they’ve been doing, and upper management.

Pushing through a summer heavy on social demands doesn’t have to leave you with drained and overworked team members.

With a few simple strategies, you can equip your social team with what they need to stay creative and focused through a tough time of the year.

Challenge yourself to address your team’s needs, and you’ll all reap the benefits.

This article originally appeared in The B Squared Media Blog.

This article was written by Alice Williams from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

From Digital to Brick and Mortar: Why Some Brands Are Making the Move to Physical Retail

E-commerce is taking over the way we shop. If you need proof, just look at the retail stores that are downsizing. Staples. Payless ShoeSource. Macy’s. JCPenney. Even Sears. Shopping malls are quickly becoming ghost towns.

But wait—not everyone is turning their backs on a physical retail presence. Some e-commerce merchants are making a move in the other direction, going from digital to brick and mortar.

Why?

In a recent Forbes piece, Nitin Mangtani makes a case for physical stores because consumers want the personal interaction and hands-on experience when buying certain products. It’s tough to buy apparel online if you need to try it on first, for example.

Then, there’s the instant gratification that shoppers seek—if you’re waiting five to eight business days for your shipment to arrive, chances are you may wish you’d driven over to the local store and bought it off the shelf.

So, how do brands who have a digital presence successfully transfer that to a brick and mortar presence? One example is Warby Parker, which started as an online-only retailer of prescription eyewear. They’ve since opened some small physical locations where customers can try on frames. By starting out slowly and growing its physical presence, the brand has been able to straddle both worlds. They plan to grow from 50 to 75 stores this year.

“I don’t think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead,” said Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker’s co-founder.

Sophia Perlman, an experience strategist for George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, contends that the rise of online shopping makes in-person experiences even more valuable to consumers. 85% of shoppers say they shop in stores because they want to “touch and feel” items before they buy.

Making an even stronger case for digital merchants to have a physical presence, research firm IDC says that consumers that shop both online and in-store have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.

Even e-commerce giant Amazon seems to want to bring back brick and mortar stores. It’s opened physical bookstores in San Diego, Portland, and Seattle, with another set to open in San Francisco.

Could it be that there are some things consumers would rather buy in person?

Men’s clothing brand Bonobos thinks so. After building its online presence, Bonobos opted to open showrooms to provide personalized service to consumers. While they continue to process online sales and shipping, the service appeals to their customers, with their in-store sales per square foot average $3,000, more than six times that of a national retailer.

Some online retailers view the physical presence as a way to move beyond simply selling goods to providing an experience. An example of this is Ministry of Supply, a Boston-based merchant who sells high-performance men’s business attire. It offers a co-working space for its customers featuring Wi-Fi, free printers, phone chargers, coffee, wine, and beer.

Another example of a brand providing an experience in a physical space is dating app Bumble, which has opened a “hive” in New York City where people can meet their dates. It offers complimentary drinks, snacks, and entertainment and is the “first in a series of experiential destinations.”

While some brands have succeeded at marrying an online presence with a brick and mortar approach, Google’s pop-up store, Made by Google, was open for only a short time over the holidays last year in New York City. Consumers could try—but not buy—technology such as Google phones, home gadgets, and VR headsets. Google used the pop-up experience to gauge consumer interest and build hype before deciding to make the leap to a permanent physical presence.

“For marketers and retail executives of digitally native brands rethinking the traditional brick-and-mortar model, perhaps the smaller pop-up experience for new products or services would be a smart test that can gather audiences, provide instant feedback, and also serve as a way to create brand evangelists without spending too much on labor, rent, or advertising,” says Haniya Rae, Forbes contributor.

It seems the successful merchants will be those who innovate by blending their growing online presence with state-of-the-art brick and mortar stores. We’re sure to see more brands follow suit as retailers continue to compete for shoppers’ attention—and dollars.

5 Ways to Maintain Brand Consistency As You Grow Your Business

If you’re like many leaders, the early stages of your business required a lot of decision-making, from fundamental decisions like your core services or products all the way to decisions about design. Whether you put a ton of time into each and every choice or quickly call the shots to move on to the next one, it’s safe to say that your business evolves—and as it does, the look and feel of your brand can change, too.

If you could get your hands on it, you probably wouldn’t even recognize Influence & Co.‘s first logo. Graphics, colors, fonts, logos, and messaging change over time, and that’s normal. But after a while, the customers who stay with your business year after year expect a certain look and feel. With 90 percent of buying decisions made subconsciously, that consistency is key to quickly and emotionally connecting with customers as your business grows.

Brands like Coca-Cola and Nike have managed to maintain consistency over decades in business. Even with subtle changes in design over the years, there is a basic look that remains consistent.

But your brand is more than a logo. It’s everything that represents your company, from your personal branding and the content you create to your mission, the employees that humanize your brand, and everything in between. As you grow your company, maintaining your brand’s consistency can be a challenge. Here are six tips that can help:

1. Understand your mission.

From the start, your brand image should be tied to your core values, which often relate specifically to what you want your venture to do for your audience and become over time. Even if you already have a logo and have designed your company website, you can make small tweaks to ensure your branding sends the right messages to your audience members about what you do and what they can expect if they engage with you further.

You might even be able to drastically change your logo once, but if it happens much more than that, you’ll risk appearing flaky. Put your mission statement and core values on paper, and conduct an audit to make sure your visual materials align with them.

2. Build a foundation.

Templates and guidelines that you can personalize as you need to can make things easier for you and your employees by giving everyone a consistent jumping-off point as you create content for your brand.

You can use (and personalize) simple templates for everything from your emails to your company’s blog posts to business cards. A business card template can be used for hundreds or thousands of employees as they join your organization. Best of all, you’ll ensure your branding remains consistent over the years for any print or electronic publications you generate.

3. Set up a solid approval process.

In the early days, your approval process was probably pretty simple: You signed off on everything. Every branding choice your company made, from letterheads to business cards to content on your website, was given the go-ahead by you and your co-founder.

But as your team grows, this becomes more complicated and, honestly, kind of wasteful. You don’t need to spend time calling every shot when someone else on your team can take the lead — as long as he has the right information to make those decisions.

It’s important to set up an approval process that protects your image without creating a ton of additional work for your employees and contractors. Establish a small committee, and use collaboration tools to avoid delays that come from relying on group emails to get things done. Your marketing director is likely one of your best resources in this area because she oversees many of the impressions your brand has on customers. If you have a creative director, that person can also be an important asset.

4. Don’t forget products and services.

Over time, it can be easy for the products or services a business delivers to begin to deteriorate. Upper management may cut corners to reduce budgets, or a business may switch manufacturers or outsource services to an unreliable third-party provider. It’s sad to say, but it can happen, and if it does, your brand can suffer as much as (if not more than) it would if someone used the wrong font or made a big change to your logo. Set up quality assurance procedures, and regularly conduct audits to make sure you’re upholding your own high standards.

5. Keep your branding authentic.

Your branding extends beyond what your customers see; it’s also about everyone on your team. If your internal communications have the same messaging and overall tone as your external communications, you’ll maintain consistency all around.

Not only will your team be better equipped to deliver what your messaging promised, but they’ll also feel more connected to your brand. In addition to your content and the look and feel of your interactions with employees, ensure your work culture mirrors your company’s image, whether that means you’re buttoned-up and professional, casual and breezy, or something in between.

Doing this requires your branding to be authentic; people can see through BS, and your employees will probably see through it faster than anyone if your messages to your external audiences are different than those to your internal ones.

Consistency is critical to any marketing effort. Whether your business has created its overall look or you’re still working on it, take time to ensure you understand your mission and convey it clearly in your messaging. Over time, your own team will come to fully understand your business’s image and consistency will come naturally to them.

This article was written by John Hall from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

3 Essential Ways to Evaluate Your PR Job Candidates

As a hiring manager, you’re not only looking to fill your PR job requisition. You’re also trying to identify PR job candidates who will fit your company’s culture and the role’s demands.

Even when you’ve designed a solid recruitment process, including writing a job description that brings candidates an insider’s view of the job, you can still end up with a new hire that doesn’t work out. Like the PR director who lacks strategic planning and budget management skills. Or the entry-level PR person who can’t write a strong press release or backgrounder. Sometimes, a candidate talks a great game, but doesn’t have the practical skills to deliver.

If candidates who ace interview checkpoints lack what it takes to make the day-to-day job work, how do you filter them out before making an offer? Here are three ways to get a better feel for a candidate’s skills and capabilities before committing to bringing them on.

Conduct Skills Testing During the Interview

A PR professional needs to be able to communicate well at the moment, and on-the-spot. Unfortunately, when you evaluate a portfolio and writing samples, you can’t be sure how much third-party editing and strategy went into it. This makes having on-site skills testing an important part of the interview process.

A few