This past week, I had the honor of being a panelist for two separate (but related) events.
First, I joined Pam Moore, CEO and Founder of Marketing Nutz, and Pawan Deshpande, CEO of HiveFire, in a lively Q&A type webinar on the topic of content marketing. While we each had our own unique thoughts and contributions and were each coming from separate viewpoints, we could all agree that one of the biggest challenges in content marketing is finding sources, time, and topics to create content. There are tools to help with some automation and there are certainly an increase number of subjects to write about, but at some point, you have to sit down and "put pencil to paper", as it were.
The next evening, I was part of a co-panel with Sally Falkow from Press-Feed, and joined Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications, and Valerie Simon, one of the co-founders of the #PRSTUDCHAT Twitter chat that I was taken part in. Although the topic of this panel was online newsrooms, there was certainly a lot of talk about content - what content is appropriate for an online newsroom, where to find the time to create content, how to distribute the content once it is created, and where to find inspiration and sources for content.
Two completely separate events about two really different topics, yet the same questions kept coming up surrounding the creation of content. It seems that the PR practitioners and marketers that made up the listening audience were frustrated and looking for answers on how to find the time and the resources to create this content that the panelists were saying was so vital to their success. Content is king, as it has been for a long time. With the rise of social media and with the notion that more and more organizations are taking content marketing more seriously, it appears that the king is here to stay, at least for a while.
I began to look at our clients' online newsrooms and was researching several interviews that I had conducted with thought leaders in the PR space and compiled a list of ideas that you can use to help generate content for your organization. Obviously, not everything will apply to everyone, but it is my hope that this list will at least help some of those that participated in the recent events address their challenges.
Ask those who love you the most. No one has better things to say about your organization than your existing customers and brand loyalists. Create content from their testimonials and reach out to them for stories about how your product and service provided them value. A well crafted story about how a product helped someone save time or money or just "made their day" can go a long way. Setup phone interviews and record the audio to turn into podcasts or digital audio snippets to feature on your online newsroom. Ask your most loyal customers to submit YouTube videos or audio testimonials and make them part of a PR campaign. Create stories about how your product has worked well for these customers, provided value, or helped them solve a problem. This tactic can work for either B2C or B2B.
Leverage your supply chain. Gather stories from your vendors, partners, and suppliers talking about the ease-of-use or value of your products with their customers. This also provides promotion for your vendors, partners, and suppliers and lets them tell the story of why they use your product or service. This works especially well with B2B organizations and provides a great resource for journalists looking for success stories to highlight within certain industries. On your online newsroom, you can post these stories that highlight your suppliers and how they are having success using your product. Ask them to link to the story from their online newsroom or syndicate it across their digital channels.
Look within. All organizations have great stories to tell. Meet with your HR, R&D, IT, sales & marketing departments regularly to ensure that you are in tune with what is going on inside your organization. Interview them and find out things that they are doing that are innovative or providing a distinction for your organization. Perhaps your IT team is using green technologies or part of a recent patent award. Turn job openings into news content that highlights why you'd want to work at your organization. Let your R&D team provide a "behind-the-scenes" look at the things they are doing to develop products that are already in the market. There are many stories that are waiting to be told from within your own organization.
Listen. One of the most beneficial uses of social media, in my experience, has been to setup listening channels looking for questions people are asking. Questions about my company, my products, and also about the industry in general. We've not only found credible leads this way, but also have found topics and issues that people are interested in and then generated content that is relevant to those subjects. You can use existing FAQs, marketing materials, and PR materials to help in addressing the answers to these questions and then fashion a story that highlights the particular issue and how your products and services address these issues. Use sites such as Quora or LinkedIn Groups to find people asking questions in your industry or about your company and products.
Analyze your analytics. Religiously check your Google Analytics to see what people are searching for to get to your site. This can be found in the Referrer or Source area and then search under Keywords in Search Engine. This changes every day as people are searching for different content on your site. Find what is popular and then generate more content on that topic and ensure that you use SEO for those keywords. If you have a particular digital press kit that gets downloaded frequently, then you could create additional video, image galleries, and news stories surrounding that product that offers additional details. If people are searching consistently for a particular executive, then think about highlighting speaking engagements or perhaps interviewing that executive on a social media channel or let them address some questions from your customers.
Trend tracking. Use Google Trends and Twitter Trends to look for up-to-the-minute trends and then mold some content around that. by monitoring trends in your industry you also become aware of issues and problems that potential customers are talking about. You can immediately address and offer relevant content that positions your company as a leader in this area. David Meerman Scott recently penned an e-book called "Newsjacking" that discusses this tactic in greater detail and offers some great case studies in this area.
Curate, aggregate, and annotate. One newer trend that is very powerful in the social media space is curation. Sometimes aggregating a set of valuable content and then offering your own opinions, thoughts and annotations can be useful and help position you as a thought leader in a particular industry. Start by curating content within your industry (including your own) that highlights certain areas or perhaps your partners. With curation, you can be very selective in the content sources, so consider only curating content from your partners, vendors, suppliers, and other industrial organizations and trade associations initially. Be sure to include your news as well as part of the content that you are curating. Some good tools in this space include Curata and Scoop.it.
Reuse, repurpose and recycle. Some of the best content for your organization might be "evergreen", meaning that it is not necessarily time sensitive. Consider repurposing speech transcripts, marketing presentations, or any audio/video that you may have from trade show presentations, webinars, seminars or any other content that you've already generated. Take some of those larger content pieces and break them into smaller content chunks that can be easily shared across social media channels.
Subject matter experts. The use of thought leaders both inside and outside of your organization as sources for popular content is increasing. News consumers appear to relate to content that comes from a "deep source" within an organization much more than traditional press releases cranked out by a PR department. Also, consider reaching out to subject matter experts outside of your organization for possible content about your industry or about your organization's place in that industry. Prudential and Ameripriseare two organizations that are currently taking advantage of subject matter experts in a successful manner.
Journalists on social media. It is quite easy to begin to monitor journalists using social media such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn either directly or in groups and forums and see what questions they are asking relating to your industry. Perhaps you could address a story they are researching and that can become content for you as well. Offer story ideas or assistance in providing research for those stories and in turn create content for your own site. Do not only focus on traditional journalists but also follow bloggers in your industry that might be seeking story ideas or content.
In the news. Promote and highlight news stories about your organization. Also known as media mentions or press clippings, these stories can be highlighted in an "In the News" section on your online newsroom. Feature the media outlet that covered you and offer a brief summary and link directly to the outbound media outlet web site for the full coverage. Restaurant.com and CIGNA do a great job of this content generating tactic.
As you can see there are many, many methods and tactics for generating content and finding story ideas and sources for your organization. Certainly the above list is not exhaustive, but hopefully provides some thought provoking ideas for you to consider when creating news and marketing content going forward.