Tag Archives: media

If You Build Remarkable Content, the Readers Will Come

This is the first installment of a two-part interview with content strategy extraordinaire, Rebecca Lieb.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come.

It may seem like a basic principle, but according to Rebecca Lieb, many companies still just don’t get it. Rebecca is an author, columnist, journalist and digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group. In this interview she answers some important questions regarding content marketing strategies, going beyond how your organization should create content and into how it should be published and on what channels.

hrh media: Before we dive in, would you mind sharing with us a little bit about your content marketing journey and how you became interested in the industry?

I think you encapsulated it very well when you enumerated some of the positions that I’ve held prior to my current role as an analyst. I’ve effectively only done two things in my life. On the one hand I’ve worked as a marketer, always for media companies; and on the other hand I’ve worked as a journalist, as a content creator. So when you combine content creation, editorial acumen, running a newsroom (which I’ve also done) with marketing, I think content marketing and strategy is a very logical outcome of those two skill sets.

hrh media: Could you define what content marketing is, and furthermore what differentiates content marketing from public relations and even advertising?

I’m so glad you asked that. I’ll even take it a step further and differentiate content marketing from content strategy; first and foremost, because I think those terms get conflated very often. Content marketing is the art and science of marketing with media that a Brand owns; as opposed to advertising that you buy. That’s almost the definition of advertising, there’s a media buy associated with an ad. Content can be created in all sorts of ways, shapes or forms – on a blog, on websites, and certainly in offline channels if you publish newspapers, magazines, etc. What the digital revolution has really enabled is for any brand or any marketer to become a publisher and to become a content provider. You no longer need to buy media when it’s so easy and so accessible to create media yourself.

I really divide content marketing into three different categories: there’s content that is entertainment—this is your typical viral video. It makes people laugh, cry, or pass along. There’s content that’s entirely informative—this is used a lot in high consideration purchases such as a mainframe computers, another piece of technology, or a car that you have to do a lot of studying up on before you’re comfortable buying. The third form of content I’d like to call utility content. It’s things like mobile apps that help you deposit a check into the bank without visiting the bank—you take a picture and you zap it. It’s a vertical search engine that helps you find nearby restaurants or choose the right wine to order. So those are the forms of content marketing and effectively what it is.

The underpinning of content marketing is content strategy. Content strategy is planning for content marketing. Not just how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to create it and who’s going to create it; but how you’re going to publish it, in what channels, and what’s all the rules, processes, technologies and procedures are around the governance of that content. Just like the New York Times has a staff and that staff is specialized at doing different things, and the staff has an editorial calendar that says we publish this sort of stuff on Monday, this sort of stuff on Tuesday, this at the end of the year, this around the holidays, so too is content marketing very calendared, very seasonal. Without a plan you’re just looking at the proverbial white sheet of paper and you’re not going to know what to do next, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing new thinking around content strategies at the conference this spring.

How to write a press release

Chances are you want to get in front of the media if you’re a business owner. Not only do national and local news media boast a captive audience, but they also have the potential to send you along on their upward trajectory.

It’s frightening talking to a journalist. I know this because I am one and during my career I’ve had people literally flee from me after I introduce myself. But, I’m people, too. I’m not the boogie monster. Likewise, the media is not the enemy. Once you realize the next step in marketing yourself is to do so through the media you may become overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of approaching the press.

As always, the key lies in your preparation.

The best way to contact a mediaperson remains via email. (I will elaborate on this in another post.) But first, let’s get you started on a rough draft of your first press release.

1. The Five W’s

Raise your hand if you remember the five W’s from English class? It seems obvious, but many business owners, and even public relations professionals, forget to include these equally important aspects in their press release. Who are you; What do you do/sell; Where are your headquarters (this is especially important to local media)/Where is your product or service distributed; When did you open/expand/relocate; and Why are you contacting me?

2. Define yourself clearly

The biggest mistake you can make in a press release is not clearly defining your business. Be careful not to use industry jargon. You should be able to state what your business does or provides in one sentence. This sentence should be contained in the first paragraph of the press release. You can further expand on your company’s background at the end of the press release in the “about us” paragraph.

3. What’s the benefit to the public?

This should be a part of your business plan, so if it’s stumping you, it is time to take a look at your business model.

4. Highlight the hook

Journalists are as attracted to large Fortune 500 companies as they are small businesses. This is in our blood. We write about corporations because they’re sexy and increase our SEO, and we report on small businesses because we want to beat our competitors to the next new thing. Mid-sized businesses tend to get lost in the fold because they don’t have the resources to market themselves but they also don’t need us as much. Journalists want to know how you’re different from everyone else. You know how you’re better and different, so outline the facts without selling yourself.

5. Include contact information

Always let the journalist know who they can contact if they’re interested in more information. It’s wishful thinking — but journalists prefer to speak directly to the C-suite executives over the public relations professional. No hard feelings, we just want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Finally, always, always include your website URL.

Watch out for more on the nitty gritty of writing a press release in a later post.

How to write a “How to” article

During a presentation on “How to Market Yourself to the Media,” an elderly architect and his wife were stupefied when I suggested they start a blog.

“Well, we don’t have anything to say …” and yada, yada, yada the conversation turned into how small business owners — and media companies alike — believe that potential clients outside their industry share their expertise.

Enter the “how to” article/blog post. One can literally write anything in “how to” form … from “how to tie your shoe” to “how to preserve vegetables” to “how to increase SEO by repeating ‘how to’ as many times as possible within a blog post.”

Don’t sell yourself short by assuming your clients share your knowledge. Instead, impart upon them, in the most conversational tone as possible, the wisdom you’ve incurred through the many years you’ve spent in your industry. Here’s a three-step guide on “‘how to write a ‘how to’ article:”

1. Name the problem.

Newspapers are printed on paper + kids these days haven’t seen a sheet of paper their whole lives = newspapers are dying.

2. Find the solution.

Teens are always on their phone + many professionals 35-60 years-old sit in front of a desk all day = capture an online audience and sell digital ads.

Provide tips:

1. Start by posting relevant content

2. Write to your target audience

3. Write posts frequently. Then more frequently. Then all the time.

4. Share photos.

5. Join Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest …

You get the picture.

The all-important “what NOT to do”

In any situation, there are definitely ways one should not behave. You’ve made mistakes along the way, so why not make sure others don’t do the same? Save them from common errors if you want to truly provide them with invaluable knowledge.