Posts Tagged ‘branded content’


How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

How to Build a Brand Using Compelling Content BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Tressa RobbinsAs public relations and communications professionals, we all create content. Writing is a core competency to this profession, and is frequently discussed with and emphasized to those preparing for a career in PR.  While it’s still true that writing skills are critical, and are no less important than they were, storytelling is now more than just words.

At a recent IABC St. Louis and PRSA St. Louis joint event, Dave Collett, EVP and GM of Weber Shandwick St. Louis, and Chris Vary, VP digital at Weber Shandwick Southwest, offered examples and tips on how to create compelling content that stands out.

The world’s digital content is increasingly findable and sharable. There is a volume explosion occurring in social and digital content!  Using content from an EMC Study called “Extracting Value from Chaos,”  Collett and Vary showed a chart demonstrating the growth—about nine times what it was five years ago. In 2011, that was 1.8 zettabytes (new word for me—one zettabyte is approximately one billion terabytes, which in bytes is a one followed by 21 zeros).  The study also estimates that by 2015, there will be 7.9 zettabytes of data in existence.  These numbers are more than staggering, they’re overwhelming! With the amounts of content filling up cyberspace, your content must be as compelling as ever.

What makes content contagious?  According to Vary and Collett, you should ask yourself why would people care, and why would people share? The answers should be that the content is:

  • Educational, but in a different way
  • Entertaining
  • Emotionally Engaging

They offered up several examples of wildly popular campaigns. Red Bull’s Stratos –  Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128,000 feet – which broke all kinds of records (and not just the physical ones). This demonstrates Red Bull’s success with promoting a lifestyle, not just a product.

You don’t have to have those kinds of numbers for your campaign to be a success. Vary and Collett presented another example–Stratasys, a company that makes 3D printers. They “printed” a robotic exoskeleton for a little girl who couldn’t raise her arms. She dubbed them her “magic arms.” There was lots of media coverage and I dare you to watch the YouTube video and not get a little misty-eyed. (Note if you’re in a hurry, after the first two minutes, jump to 2:55 for the rest.) This is an emotionally engaging example of focusing on the human side and the product’s effect of on people.

Content doesn’t always have to be serious. Content doesn’t have to be expensive, either.  It can even be irreverent—depending, of course, on your industry and organization’s business mission. Just take a look at DollarShaveClub.com’s brotastic and amusing  “Our Blades are F***ing Great” campaign.

Vary and Collett stressed that while these are all YouTube examples, and video is a great platform, compelling content doesn’t have to be video.  Mappings have been trending in the past year or so. Haven’t we all done the New York Times Online questionnaire that asks you questions about your vernacular and then predicts where you live or are from? Facebook offered up its own version of mapping with the NFL team allegiance charts. You can create features like this yourself by using the Facebook graph search, using U.S. census data, or another data source—the key is to package it in a compelling manner.

The bottom line is, it’s not just about awareness anymore. PR now creates awareness and engagement—actions, enrollments, sales, whatever—to support the overall business objectives of the organization.  What are some of the most compelling pieces of content you’ve seen recently, and what aspects have you applied to your own content? How do you continue to create compelling content, and where do you find your inspiration?

Content and Corporate Storytelling: Lessons From Coca-Cola Part 2

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Flickr User ReillyButler

Flickr User ReillyButler

Mapping the new territory of content marketing is an exciting challenge, and at this year’s PRSA International Conference, Mallory Perkins, social media analyst at Coca-Cola, shared how she and her team launched Coca-Cola Journey. In yesterday’s post we looked at the goals for the site and Coca-Cola’s approach. Today, we share Coca-Cola’s tips for crafting a great story.

Coca-Cola’s analytics showed that their consumers love stories about food, innovation, careers, and feel-good topics, so a bulk of the content is geared to one of those topics. Perkins and her team also answer a set of five questions when considering topics for stories, before the stories are written:

  • Does it answer the “Why should I care?” test? Think about what the story’s interesting nugget is, and picture whether you would actually pick up the phone and tell someone about this story if you read it.
  • Does it surprise? When you’re gathering content for the story, think about it as a person, not as an employee. Whatever it is that you react to is what’s worth pulling out and highlighting.
  • Does it reflect the company’s brand values and voice? Your content could be just one photo, or a song, or a video, not necessarily an entire story, that needs to come back to the brand values and the brand’s voice.
  • Is it compelling with universal appeal? What’s the heart of the story and what kind of insight does it offer? Perkins says that the best stories tend to be the ones in which the reader leaves knowing something they didn’t know before.
  • Is it being measured systematically? You must have a way to track your story’s performance and determine whether it was worth the time and whether you should create more content on a similar topic.

One question asked during the session was why Coca-Cola is creating all this content if it’s not about their products. Perkins pointed out that in fact, about 70 percent of all the content on the site relates to Coca-Cola in some way, in reflecting the brand’s values, promoting one of their campaigns, responding to media criticism, and sending out more narrative press releases for smaller promotions.

It all comes down to continuing to engage and connect with their audience and consumers, and it’s working. In the first year, the site has received 30.3 million page views, over 9,000 comments, and has expanded to international sites in five other countries. The company has seen an annual growth of 166 percent on Twitter, 190 percent on LinkedIn, 157 percent on Google Plus, and an 89 percent on YouTube.

Would you like to see your organization create more user-engagement-oriented content? How does your organization already work to engage users through content?

Content and Corporate Storytelling: Lessons From Coca-Cola Part 1

Monday, November 4th, 2013
By Flickr user Bev Goodwin

By Flickr user Bev Goodwin

In the dawning age of content marketing, it’s up to PR professionals to make that content work for them, but leveraging that content and making it work for your organization is an unmapped challenge.  At last month’s PRSA International Conference, Mallory Perkins, a social media analyst at Coca-Cola, shared how she and her team launched Coca-Cola Journey, the organization’s content blog, grew a massive following and created an online community.

Coca-Cola Journey launched in November, 2012, as Coca-Cola’s response to the recent heavy shift in communications. The organization realized that digital consumers are strong influencers with the ability to respond, shape, and take part in conversations with companies and the products they value, using tools like social media, video, and online forums. Coca-Cola seized the opportunity for consumers and companies to have one-on-one conversations in a meaningful way, which Perkins stressed was key to earning relevance and success in business and digital arenas.

Coca-Cola Journey was launched with several goals in mind: to be a hub for the company’s content; to share stories and connect with consumers; to provoke, inspire, and engage the Coca-Cola community; to prompt action of some kind, and to cultivate a deeper level of brand loyalty, ultimately supporting business growth.

The site was imagined not as a website or blog, but as an e-magazine. Its goal was to be the digital heart and soul of the company, and reflect in each story the brand’s values. Stories are targeted to be consumer-facing stories with a “behind-the-bottle feel.”

The key behind the site’s success? Great content, says Perkins. Coca-Cola created an internal editorial team and a group of freelancers solely focused on creating original stories. How does one create great content? Start by knowing your audience. Coca-Cola prioritized their audience thusly: existing consumers and fans, potential customers, investors, partners, media, and critics.

“Make sure your content captures the essence of your brand,” advises Perkins, and ensure the type of content you create and how you communicate with your audience varies with company values and different product lines. The reason for Coca-Cola Journey’s launch was to engage with consumers and target content to what the data shows they like. Investors and media are still important audiences to consider, so ensure they have the information they need, but craft a separate section for their content that’s easily accessible.

Check back tomorrow for the guidelines Perkins and her team folloow to ensure they’re crafting the most relevant, reader- and brand-friendly content.