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Savvy marketers are always on the lookout for new media through which to promote their companies. From print media, to radio, to television, to the Internet, it hasn’t taken long historically between the development of a new media technology to the adoption of that media by marketers.

In an article for Entrepreneur, Aj Agrawal makes the case for podcasts as the next potentially lucrative marketing channel. While not really new, podcasts are making a comeback. “Commuters have traded in their playlists for podcasts, and consumers everywhere are tuning into online talk shows,” Agrawal writes. “In fact, some 24 percent of Americans over the age of 12 now listen to podcasts on a monthly basis; and Statista projects that, by 2021, there will be more than 100 million podcast listeners in the United States alone.”

Driving Forces

Two big driving forces behind the growth in popularity of podcasts cited by Agrawal are the rise in the use of mobile technology and the time crunch so many of us feel on a daily basis. For example, Agrawal notes that many search engines are even changing algorithms to give mobile priority. At the same time, while we as a nation have been feeling crunched for time for years, that trend seems to be continuing with no end in sight. Podcasts are much easier to consume on the go than reading a book or even reading or watching content on a smartphone.

Impact on Marketing

So what will be the impact of podcasts on marketing? Here, we differ a bit in our analysis from Agrawal. “With podcasts,” he writes, “there’s actually no need for a written blog post (although some blogs offer podcasts transcribed word for word).” He goes on to argue that: “podcasts are easier: Businesses can use them to put out high-quality, relevant content without the same effort and ability that writing requires. Podcasts inspire conversation, while blogs tend to provoke thought.”

While we certainly agree that podcasts are a great potential avenue for getting content out there, as with any new medium, they should be seen as a complement to, not a replacement of, existing tools. Just as television didn’t completely eliminate the radio, and the Internet didn’t completely replace television, podcasts aren’t likely to entirely supplant the online blog.

We simply have a wide array of options to choose from and should make the best strategic use possible, repurposing content for various media whenever possible to be most efficient and cost-effective.

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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Most small business owners are heavily focused on their core skillset. They are bakers, event planners, lawyers – insert job – first, and accountants and marketers second. As Pamela Slim writes for Entrepreneur, “Most small business owners aren’t marketers by trade, but almost all (95 percent) do some form of marketing for themselves, and many need to master what can feel like a very steep learning curve quickly. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners (64 percent) are self-taught and less than half (46 percent) consider themselves ‘marketing savvy.’”

This means that “basic” concepts of marketing might not be obvious to very capable and intelligent people. One area we see this a lot is with professional firms. Accounting, legal services, consulting, etc. are service-related industries, and services are provided by people. Because of this, when marketing, it’s important that steps are taken to market the professionals behind those services, above and beyond the firm itself. When seeking professional consumers want to connect with people – not companies. One of the best ways to market professional services is through thought leadership.

How?

There are many ways to work towards gaining acceptance as a thought leader, but some are easier than others, particularly at the outset. For example, appearing as an expert panelist on a national news network would be great publicity for anyone trying to become a thought leader, but those gigs aren’t exactly easy to come by. A good place to start is content marketing, where you provide valuable content – whether in the form of blogs, whitepapers, podcasts or other media – for free.

What?

Make it more about them, than about you. While your experience and credentials are certainly important in attracting clients, be careful about being too overtly promotional in your communications and marketing, especially from a content management standpoint. The content you produce should be focused on answering potential client questions about accounting and how they are impacted by working with a solid adviser. The more value you can provide the more likely you will become a go-to resource for them.

Where?

Content marketing is all about establishing a strong presence online in places where their target audience is likely to be, and likely to be looking for the information the professional has to provide. For instance, if focusing on accounting for individuals and families, this might be Facebook. If focusing on accounting for businesses, this would more likely be LinkedIn. Thought leadership might also include writing blog posts, PR/media outreach (e.g. contributing articles to publications and media outlets that reach your target audience, etc.).

Professional services are all about the professionals (i.e., people) providing the services your firm is offering. And a big differentiator for professionals is the perception of that professional as an expert in their chosen field. Thought leadership through content marketing is a great place for any professional to start.

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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Every small business owner knows that the path to success is fraught with many challenges. From managing staff, to financing, to marketing efforts, small business owners often feel overwhelmed with the ancillary yet critical activities they need to succeed at in order to pursue their love of event planning, or flower arrangement, or owning their own medical practice, etc. In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Pamela Slim discussed “How to Overcome Common Challenges and Help Your Small Business Grow,” and one of the topics Slim focused on was the concept of “reacting versus looking ahead.”

It’s often so challenging to keep up with the challenges and crises that pop up every day, that it seems like there’s no time or opportunity to sit down and plan for the future. “Every business owner knows how important it is to stay on top of day-to-day operations,” Slim writes, “but survey results [from a survey conducted in collaboration with Constant Contact] suggest ‘short-termism’ is a common problem amongst small business owners. The survey found that most small business owners (63 percent) plan strategically just a year or less in advance, which is understandable — business owners often need to prioritize issues of the day and immediate objectives over longer-term plans — but strategic opportunities may be missed when you are only looking at the business challenges that are right in front of you.”

So how do you manage everything (the here-and-now AND the dreams of tomorrow) at the same time? Slim recommends setting – and sticking to – a schedule. Making time periodically to revisit your short, medium and long-term goals. She suggests three intervals:

Monthly Plan

Pick three goals for the month, and define clear metrics on how you will gauge success.

Weekly Plan

Each week, select specific projects related to your monthly initiatives and decide how many activities you can do that week to work on them.

Daily Plan

Review your weekly tasks and pick small, specific things to do that day in support of those weekly tasks.

We’d add another plan to this list—an annual plan. That plan can help to set the stage for business success and serve as a roadmap for mapping out monthly, weekly and daily activities.

Running a small business can be incredibly time-consuming and stressful, and it’s easy to get so lost in every day activities that you lose sight of the bigger picture and the long term. But to be truly successful, it’s key to keep an eye on your long-term goals. You’ll be happy you did down the road.

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For any business, getting your name out there in the marketplace and in front of potential customers is crucial for bringing in revenue. This is particularly true for new or small businesses that don’t have much, if any, name recognition. This is where public relations, or “PR,” can be extremely beneficial; it’s a low-cost, high-impact means of generating awareness, preference and driving business to your doorstep or website.

Here are some important things to know about PR and how you can put it to work for you.

What’s the Difference Between PR and Advertising?

While both PR and advertising are means of getting your name out to the market, there is a key difference between the two. “Advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media,” writes Robert Wynne in an article for Forbes. “This means you convince reporters or editors to write a positive story about you or your client, your candidate, brand or issue.  It appears in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website, rather than the ‘paid media’ section where advertising messages appear.”

That’s exactly right and an important distinction to remember. The use of social media also can be a great way to generate PR—those who share your posts are helping you spread the word about your company, your goods and your services, at no cost to you.

Why is PR Important for a Small Business?

PR is important because, in essence, it’s third party endorsement for what you have to offer. Only personal experience and word-of-mouth are, in our opinion, more impactful in terms of influencing consumer perception. Advertising, what we say about ourselves, certainly has a place, but PR has more influence simply because it is generally perceived to be non-biased.

PR isn’t Really Free

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking PR is an easy way to get name recognition. While many would say that another benefit is that it’s “free,” that’s not really the case. It takes time and effort – which equals cost – to be effective at generating media coverage in a strategic way.

Implementing a PR Strategy

When putting together your PR strategy, here are a few basic things to keep in mind:

  • Have a strategy, with aligned goals and objectives, for what you hope to achieve.
  • Identify the media outlets that reach your desired target audiences.
  • Get to know the people associated with those outlets (editors, writers, reporters, etc., and work to build strong relationships.
  • Pitch topics that are focused more on the needs/interests of the reading/viewing audience than on you. The biggest misstep here is to be too self-promotional. If you want a promotion, run an ad.

Running your own PR operation can be done, but it can also be challenging, especially if you don’t have a background in this area, or you’re trying to reach a large metro, regional or national audience. We have a number of blog posts that offer specific tips and guidance here.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you gain exposure through PR. Get in touch!

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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There’s an old saying that has been used to describe exceptional salespeople: “They’re so good that they could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.” The point being the Eskimos, leaving in a cold climate, really don’t need ice cubes, and are likely an audience that is going to be tough to crack. But, great salespeople could crack them.

Our perspective: Why?

In our opinion, the best marketing achieves maximum impact with minimal effort (time and money). Marketers should always be looking for the most effective ways to reach audiences and resonate with them quickly and with relevant impact. That means thinking not only of the communication channels the target audience may engage with, but also of the frame of mind they’re in when they access those channels.

We discussed this topic recently in a PR class, using the example of attempting to sell business products on Facebook which is primarily a social channel. People on Facebook, scrolling through news and updates about and from their friends and family, aren’t likely to be highly engaged by posts related to purchasing business services. LinkedIn, however, which is a more business-oriented site, is likely to be a better channel for B2B messages.

One student raised a very good, question, though:

“Shouldn’t it be the job of a good content writer to be able to create a message that is compelling enough to engage an audience regardless of their frame of mind or the channel they’re on?”

Yes, but…

Yes…the ability to get inside the heads of a specific target market to understand their needs, preferences and values is critical. Moving a market involves connecting with both their hearts and minds—a combination of logos and pathos. The ability to convey messages in a compelling way through words and images is certainly the hallmark of an effective marketer.

But…if we have multiple channels to choose from (and we do), and some are more closely aligned with target audiences in the right frame of mind to be amenable to our messages (and they are), we’re better off investing our time and money focused on those channels rather than flexing our creative muscle to resonate in a less relevant channel.

Are you investing time, effort and money attempting to connect with an audience in a channel and an environment that simply isn’t gaining traction? It may be time to stop spinning your wheels. Nurturing thousands of Facebook followers who aren’t interested, or in the right frame of mind, to pay attention to your messages and take some desired action is far less effective for your business than nurturing hundreds (or fewer) hot prospects in another channel.

If I’m selling ice cubes, I’m going to target an audience that’s suffering in the sweltering heat without access to ice. They’re going to be the easiest sell. Effective marketing isn’t all about demonstrating to your boss, your clients, or your colleagues how clever or creative you are, or how—if given enough time and money—you could crack even the most resistant market. It’s about getting results in a cost-effective way.

Don’t spin your wheels. Don’t invest marketing dollars chasing after leads that aren’t likely to materialize. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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In the world of sales and marketing, we often hear the terms “value” and “price” used interchangeably. Specifically, many people think that the lowest price option is the best “value” because it’s the cheapest. That may be true in the narrow context of commodities – $100 for X amount of ABC grain is a better value than $150 for X amount of XYZ grain, because for true commodities, there is no difference between ABC and XYZ brands. But for non-commodity products and services, value and price mean very different things, and marketers need to be aware of the difference.

Price

Price is the more straightforward of the two terms. Price is simply the amount of money that must be exchanged to acquire a good or service: $25,000 for a car, $10 for lunch at a restaurant; $300 for an airline ticket, etc.

Value

Value is a bit more complicated than price, but a fairly basic concept. As Ralf Leszinksi and Michael V. Marn write for McKinsey & Company, “’Value may be one of the most overused and misused terms in marketing and pricing today. ‘Value pricing’ is too often misused as a synonym for low price or bundled price. The real essence of value revolves around the tradeoff between the benefits a customer receives from a product and the price he or she pays for it.”

Benefits

A key word in the definition from McKinsey is “benefit.” That benefit can come from a number of different sources: re-sale value, status symbol, functionality usability, customization, durability, consumer taste, relatively scarcity, superior service, etc.

Application

So, how do these two terms differ in practice? Let’s take the example of a $25,000 car. If that car is a used 1990s-era sedan with 200,000 miles, paying $25,000 for it doesn’t provide a very good value. But if the car is a brand new Lamborghini, that’s a great value. In both cases, the price is the same, but the benefit the customer receives is vastly different. The Lamborghini conveys greater functionality, durability, status symbol, resale value, etc.

It’s important for marketers and salespeople to fully understand the difference between price and value and be able to speak in the language of both, especially value. Being able to show superior value to a customer allows you to justify a higher price and retain and attract customers with comparable or higher prices than your own.

Be cautious, though, about making assumptions related to what you market values—or attempting to convince them that what you value, or believe to be exceptional, about your product or service should also resonate with them. You must take a consumer-centric approach to defining and conveying value.

It’s not about what you want to sell. It’s about what they want to buy!

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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You may have recently noticed a podcast renaissance of sorts. The success of Serial woke many brands, marketers, journalists, and more up to the power of the podcast. As a result, podcasts are popping up in almost every facet of business with renewed purpose, and targeting new audiences.

“As we carry these smart devices with us all the time, and as they not only become faster, have faster internet connections, and battery life becomes less and less of a problem, it’s easy to just listen to a podcast as you do other things,” says John Turner, CEO/founder of Pittsburgh-based Users Think.  But as podcasts proliferate are they making their way into organizations as a trendy employee communication tool that could, potentially, replace the ubiquitous employee newsletter? Not quite, says Turner. “Email still holds a unique place for distribution,” he notes, but he does believe that podcasting has some advantages over traditional text-based messaging.

Donna Papacosta is a communications consultant and the owner of Trafalgar Communications, based in Toronto. In 2005, Papacosta launched the Trafcom News Podcast, one of the first business-related podcasts in Canada. She’s an expert on podcasting, including the use of podcasts to communicate with employees. “Organizations are increasingly using podcasts internally,” she says. “The human touch of audio makes podcasting an engaging communication tool that can augment traditional face-to-face, print, and online media for company news, investor relations, marketing, product announcements, employee recruitment, training, and more.” But, she adds: “I don’t think podcasts will replace newsletters; they are complementary.”

Like any other of the newly emerging communication tools, podcasting is more of an add-on, than a replacement, for other existing tactics. For some employees, podcasts will be a go-to source of information; others will continue to prefer more traditional formats and, of course, from an internal communication standpoint, face-to-face is still the best way to communicate, when possible.

Still, podcasts have their place and for those organizations interested in exploring this option there are a number of best practices that can help ensure their effective use. First, says, Papacosta: “Be sure you have a plan so you know you can produce fresh, compelling content that will engage employees. Know your goals and how you will measure success.”

What do companies use podcasts for? She offers some suggestions:

  • Peers interviewing peers
  • Interviews with leaders
  • Communicating benefit information
  • Education and training
  • Recordings during or before conferences and symposia
  • Helping geographically dispersed employees keep in touch with happenings at the head office

There are any number of organizations that might find podcasts to be a good tool to connect with employees. One driver, of course, is the mobility of the workforce as James Alisch, managing director of Wow 1 Day Painting notes; those who spend a good deal of their day driving around are a natural audience for information delivered via podcast. Wow 1 Day Painting uses podcasts, he says, “as a means to cover topics ranging from how to deliver estimates to building strong crews.” The format, he says, “allows us to deliver content in short, manageable and actionable pieces.” An added bonus? “Recording is inexpensive and non-time intensive; during our last recording session we completed three episodes in less than an hour.”

Podcasts are relatively easy to produce, can help to connect more “personally” with employees, and offer portability that fits nicely with the proliferation of mobile devices in a world where information consumption is taking place in a growing number of settings. Podcasts could be just the right communication option to add to your internal communications toolkit to ensure that employees are able to access information in ways that best fit with increasingly busy lifestyles.

(Note: This piece was originally published by EContent.)

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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While there are plenty of dire-sounding discussions taking place these days around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning—and their potential to disrupt the world as we know it—this isn’t technology of the future. It’s already gaining traction across multiple industries and professions, including with content creators. New technologies are promising to upend the traditional ways in which content is conceived, produced, and disseminated. Examples already exist. 20th Century Fox used IBM Watson to create a trailer for Morgan. A Copyblogger article from as far back as 2015 noted that both Forbesand the Associated Press were producing machine-generated content.

These examples are likely to both thrill and chill content marketers, depending on where they’re perched along the content creation continuum—including the need to generate an increasing volume of content and to make a living from creating that content. For now, though, there is fortunately less to fear than there is to cheer, says Natalia Markova, senior web content strategist with Jellyfish, a global digital agency.

AI tools such as predictive analytics, natural language processing, and generation algorithms, Markova says, “allow us to get smarter not only about content production, but also about making it work more effectively. We expect the most impactful changes in the ways organizations use content for their business objectives to come precisely from such collaboration between human talent and AI.”

Currently, Markova says, machine-generated content is being widely used by blogs and news aggregators. But, she notes, it only works in some very specific instances. “First of all, it requires a structured dataset and a clever, detailed template—created by a human—to automate content production. Second, the type of content this approach typically works for is limited to pieces that intend to be informative and accurate, rather than creative or empathetic.” A lot depends on the subject matter and type of content being created, she notes. “For example, machine-generated content is often used in business, financial, or sports reporting.”

Cost also impacts use. To justify an investment in this type of technology, companies have to regularly and frequently produce similar types of content, she says. AI and machine learning, at least for now, represent more of an aid for, rather than a replacement of, human inputs. Read more about AI applications, implications and potential disruption here.

(Note: This piece was originally published by EContent.)

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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Webinars are still widely promoted online, but does the format still resonate with end users and, if so, which ones? Can webinars reach, and influence, a B2C audience or are they primarily used for B2B outreach? What emerging technologies are moving into the webinar space? These are questions marketers need to be asking themselves.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has been conducting research on content marketing in the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) environments since 2013 and 2010, respectively. B2C usage of webinars, perhaps not surprisingly, has been lower than B2B usage and has also declined slightly since the first survey, while B2B use has increased. (In 2013, 32% of B2C marketers were using webinars, compared to 31% in 2017. In 2010, 42% of B2B marketers were using webinars, compared to 58% in 2017.)

In both the B2C and B2B space, the tactics most used, according to CMI research, are social media (85/83%), blogs (75/80%) and email newsletters (75/77%).

Especially when combined with video, webinars offer the ability for organizations to “get personal” with their audiences. Live formats allow for interactions through polls and online comments/Q&A. And there are a wide range of tools across multiple price points allowing marketers to easily and cost-effectively bring webinars to their audiences—from WebEx and GoToWebinar, at the high end, to Zoom and Join.me, which offer more budget-conscious options.

While there is a tendency to think of webinars for making traditional presentations, businesses are using this interactive tool in other ways as well.

Beyond the Norm

Webinars work not only for presenting “canned” presentations to audiences. They can also be used for customer service, says Walt Bayliss, a software developer and internet marketer. Webinars work well for online follow-up and lead management, says Bayliss. “All the customer needs to do is provide the time and date he is available, some initial information on whatever trouble he is experiencing with the product and then wait to be provided a webinar link. Both parties can communicate and work on a resolution. In my experience, it’s a great customer engagement and retention tool.”

Anna Daugherty, a digital marketing manager with PITSS, agrees. “We use webinars to discuss our tools and solutions. These types of CRM webinars help us connect with our customers about the latest ways that customers can use our tool for their business.”

The functionality offered to marketers through various forms of webinar technologies is continually changing and emerging to incorporate new delivery options but, while the tool itself seems fairly entrenched, particularly with B2B marketers, there are some new delivery options emerging.

New Formats That are Competing with Webinars

Content strategist RaShea Drake, with Frontier Business, has taken part in several webinars and says that “most seem to experience technical difficulties in the beginning and the interfaces are clunky.” Clearly Drake is not a fan of webinars. Instead, says Drake: “Facebook Live, in my opinion, is the best format around at the moment.” Facebook Live offers a range of benefits for participants and presenters says Drake:

  • Participants can access the video from a mobile device or desktop
  • The present can present from a phone or desktop
  • Audiences can interact in real time, adding “likes” or comments to spark conversation
  • Those who missed the live presentation can watch the taped version at their leisure—and still continue to add comments and engage in the discussion

Instagram also offers an Instagram Live option. A number of brands—both B2B and B2C—are using these tools to connect and engage their audiences including Starbucks, AirBNB, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Bloomberg has been an early adopter of Facebook Live in the B2B space but, unlike with webinars, B2C marketers seem to have more heartily embraced live video.

Whether using traditional webinars, or new live video options, the big benefit of these options is the ability to connect with audiences in engaging ways without having to travel, or leave the comfort of home or office. For delivering messages to large audiences, or engaging one-on-one with customers or prospects, webinars are likely to show up on both B2B and B2C marketers’ lists of tactics for the foreseeable future.

(Note: This piece was first published by EContent.)

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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Content is always changing shapes, morphing into something new. Long before there was the written word, people gathered to tell stories around campfires. Before there was a printing press, there were handwritten books. Then, of course, came ebooks. Now, our content comes to us through a dizzying array of devices and platforms. Smart creators are using the growing number of delivery options to continue to reshape content into new—and sometimes improved—forms.

Small bits of content delivered through text, audio, and video address the shortening attention span of consumers, says Matt Babineau, VP of product marketing at TVPage. “In today’s digital landscape, consumers have an impressive lack of attention—just around 8.25 seconds,” he says. “This is forcing publishers and content managers to use technologies that captivate those consumers or to risk losing their audience.” Brief, real-time videos are one way of doing this, he says. “The barriers to entry have never been lower and, with emerging tech such as augmented or virtual reality, the opportunities to engage have never been greater.”

“We can expect to see publishers leveraging new mediums like AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality), AMP (accelerated mobile pages), interactive shopping environments, and the IoT (Internet of Things) to share content in the moment consumers are in need of information or goods and services,” says Hanna Fritzinger, head of marketing with VigLink.

But transforming content isn’t all about catering to short attention spans or glomming onto the latest trendy format. It requires that publishers think about content in a different way. Ultimately, they must take the kinds of content we’re all used to and find new, engaging ways to present them to customers. And there are plenty of companies already doing just that.

Take, for instance, Great Jones Street (GJS), a literary entertainment app that curates thousands of stories, allowing fans to read, listen to, or stream small bursts of fiction. But what really makes GJS stand out is its acquisition model. The website explains it best: “We’re unusual in that we don’t take unsolicited submissions. That said, if you can get a recommendation from one of our writers, you’re in. Your story is in, the price is set, and you will get paid and published within hours. No haggling. No fuss.”

In other words, the company is relying on word of mouth not only to find new customers, but to find new writers. Kelly Abbott, CEO of GJS, says, “so many influencers are not corporations or publishers, writ large. They’re just regular people doing fun things online.” Digital content, says Abbott, “is so easily transferred, the speed with which we can share has increased. We rely heavily on word of mouth that way and occasionally pay for it with revenue sharing opportunities.”

The Sidewalk app is taking the idea of walking tours to your smartphone and letting you customize them. It allows users to create guided “walk experiences,” says Jason Donahue, Sidewalk’s co-founder and CEO. “The stories about a place can be experienced on location, in the moment, and interactively, which makes the content more relevant and contextual,” he says. “The cannoli crawl in Boston suggests what to look for in a perfect pastry shell before you take a bite. The architecture walk of midtown New York depicts the rivalries between skyscraper architects so users can better appreciate the design of the Chrysler Building when they enter the lobby.”

Ebooks, revolutionary enough in their own time, are now relatively staid. But even they are getting a facelift to offer enhanced consumption experiences, as Alina Adams, a traditionally published author of figure skating novels, has discovered. “It always bothered me that I couldn’t show readers the skating routines I was describing,” she says. “With new technology, I can. My skating novels were re-released as enhanced ebooks. A partnership with Ice Theatre of New York gave me access to their library, and I was able to match performances to the text.”

Adams is also exploring a new means of writing her fiction. She’s writing her next romance novel on her website and inviting input and commentary from visitors. She tells her readers, “I am going to type the story as it comes to me—and you’ll get a chance to comment on it, also in real time.”

The world of fiction seems to be ripe with examples of digital innovation. Carmela Orsini, director of communications for Novel Effect, an app startup, says, “The company’s mobile app platform syncs theme music and sound effects as a children’s book is read aloud. The resulting experience perfectly blends the engagement of new technology with the beneficial activity of reading books to children.” The company has partnered with publishers such as Hachette to add the immersive storytelling experience to traditional print books, including new releases and old classics, she says. The technology can also be used with audiobooks, videos, AR/VR, gaming, and presentations.

Doing digital well, of course, isn’t necessarily easy. “Technology is not easy for publishers. It really isn’t,” Abbott says. “Even well-funded publishers fail at this all the time.” His recommendation to publishers who don’t have ready-made bench strength in digital media is to partner with others. “If you want to learn technology, you have to buy good teams if you’re hell-bent on doing it in-house or partner with the current winners in your space.” GJS has partnered with Medium, which provides GJS content to its audience. It allows Abbott to get content in front of a much larger audience than would otherwise have been possible. Such partnerships serve to deliver not only technology, but also the eyeballs and ears that content managers need.

Today’s publishers are faced with an interesting conundrum. Many have plenty of content to share and ongoing relationships with content creators to feed the pipeline. What they may not have, though, is critical mass in the digital environment. That’s particularly true of smaller publishers and those new to the online environment. Even larger, well-established publishers may be lacking an audience, says Abbott.

“Traditional content providers have no direct relationship with their consumer. They rely on their distributors to maintain that relationship,” he says. They’re vulnerable, he adds, to savvier digital players, just as their brick-and-mortar brethren have been. Forming alliances with others can help to deliver an audience quickly.

(Note: This piece was originally published by EContent.)

 Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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