Content Marketing Word: The Discovery Track

I’ve devoted a lot of time this summer to the concept of driving content discovery.  When you work for PR Newswire and have a content marketing role, that also comes with a license to experiment, and the keys to the content candy store.

Over the last few months, I’ve been playing with this and that, combining multimedia distribution with social platforms, plugging news releases into the mix and in general pulling levers and pushing buttons.  And some of it’s worked pretty well.

I’ve logged my adventures under the Discovery tag on the PR Newswire blog ( and will be drilling into the topic – and tactics – at Content Marketing World in September.  I’ve never been so excited about a trip to Cleveland.  (And for the record, I used to live in Cleveland and love the place.  No scoffing here.)

3 Tips for Formatting Press Releases for Maximum Online Readership

Originally posted on Beyond PR:

Summary:  There are 3 important lessons for public relations professionals  in crafting effective press releases and other digital messages to be gleaned from the Financial Times’ launch this week of FastFT, a short-format news service. 

A news summary on the site grabs attention and creates a perfect tweet.

A news summary on the site grabs attention and creates a perfect tweet.

The Financial Times this week launched FastFT, a nimble and ultra-short-form news service publishing extremely short (<250 word) stories.  The reasoning behind the new service?  While the 140 character limit on Twitter is a bit too confining, nonetheless, it’s clear that readers prefer short snippets rather than long-form.  The FT is adding the short-format service to their mix, in order to, according to an interview with FastFT’s chief correspondent Megan Murphy that was published by PaidContent, “Create more portals and routes for readers to consume the publication’s content.”

The idea of using alternative content formats to create portals…

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Chicago Sun-Times Decision to Cut Photography Staff Signals Opportunity for Brands

In a move that is raising eyebrows amongst media-watchers, the Chicago Sun-Times today announced the layoff of its entire photography staff.  While the fact that the economic outlook for many traditional news media outlets is grim is definitely not new news, this strikes me as being utterly the wrong move.

Almost all of the new developments in content sharing, digital media consumption and social media are centered around visuals.  Entire social networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Vine are built on visual content.  YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. Facebook and Twitter have put digital content front and center for their users. The algorithms that search engines and social networks used to determine what we see all give visuals more weight.

These are just a few of the reasons why it is difficult to overstate the importance of visuals in today’s information environment and communications arenas.  Humans are visual animals, and if you want to attract a human audience, you need visual content, period.

But simply having a visual isn’t enough.  A bad visual will not generate good traffic or good engagement.  To be effective, the visual must serve the audiences interest. Traditionally, news photography has set the standard for compelling imagery and visual storytelling, thought that may be going by the wayside now.   According to reports today, the Sun-Times plans on asking reporters to “provide” pictures and videos to accompany the stories.

Journalistic sentiments aside, I smell an opportunity for PR, which was the topic of my post titled “Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off Photographers & Opens Door for Newsworthy Third Party Content” over on Beyond PR.


Confirmation: Social Authority does Influence Search Rankings

Sarah Skerik:

Thought Google Realtime has changed significantly (among other things, the deal with Twitter was not renewed) the influence of social interaction on the visibility of content is undeniable.

Originally posted on Beyond PR:

Earlier this week we published a post about communicating in real-time, in which we discussed how quickly search engines surface conversations in social networks, and, furthermore, how social relevance also contributes to overall visibility for messages in search engines.

Yesterday SEO guru Danny Sullivan was able to confirm with both Google and Bing that “human authority” authority is in fact considered by both engines as they index content.   In a nutshell, writes Rand Fishkin on the SEOmoz blog, this means that links shared on Facebook and Twitter do in fact have a direct impact on search rankings.

Fishkin’s post makes some educated guesses about what sort of metrics search engines are using to gauge social authority, including:

  • Diversity of the people you influence – more is better
  • Relevance of surrounding content to subject matter (probably an indicator of expertise)
  • Quality of friends/followers – whether or not you influence fellow…

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PR in the Moment: Lessons from Real-Time Search Pros

Sarah Skerik:

The conversation with iCrossing’s Rob Garner that fueled this post really sparked my understanding of (and interest in) the real-time opportunities the accelerated and connected world of social networks presented to communicators.  David Meerman Scott has since labeled a related opportunity “Newsjacking.”  PR Newswire is calling the concept (broadly) “Agile Engagement.”   However you describe it, the opportunities a heads-up, dialed-in communicator has these days are boundless.  But you have to be paying attention.

Originally posted on Beyond PR:

Google Hot Search Trends for Cyber Monday.

Last week I listened into a webinar hosted by Search Marketing Now on the subject of real-time search, featuring Rob Garner of iCrossing.  As is often the case with these things, I walked away bristling with new information, and some interesting insight for PR.

Real-time search (“RTS”) is the immediate inclusion of information from social networks in search results. Like traditional search, RTS is based on crawler based algorithms – the search engines actively go out, find information on web sites, and index it. But there’s a new twist.  Search engines are also bringing in content from the human driven social layer.  Google in particular is adept at integrating content from the social layer.  This is real-time content – Tweets, comments and other interactions.  And it’s changing what search engine users see in their search results – which is driving change in human behaviors.

Tweets and forum discussions about the Kindle on Cyber Monday

Sources of real-time…

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What’s stopping your organization from using social media effectively?

Sarah Skerik:

This was the first blog post I sourced from a conversation on LinkedIn.  I posed the question to a group of PR pros, and got some great insight.  Fast forward a year and a half, and many of the issues they highlighted still persist.

Originally posted on Beyond PR:

While many companies are using social media to build relationships with their customers, position their experts as thought leaders, deliver customer service and generate leads, many more are struggling to get started.  Commonly cited barriers to launching social media programs include:

  • Fear:  The perceived risks of being active in social networks have hobbled institutional will
  • Lack of resources or time:  Communcations and marketing departments are running on minimal budgets and lean staffs
  • Concerns about measurement and demonstrating ROI – especially important when budgets are constrained
  • Regulatory constraints

How to overcome intertia? A recent seminar by Michael Pranikoff, PR Newswire’s director of emerging media, offered some stats and tips.

One particular key to getting a social media program off the ground  is finding the internal champion to sell the program to internal stakeholders. You’ll need someone who can educate others and make the case across departments and budgets.   In so many…

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The importance of earnestly developing an audience

Originally posted on Beyond PR:

The latest doom and gloom forecast for traditional media came via a recent  Harris Interactive poll, which found that more than 55% of adults in the U.S. believe that traditional media will no longer exist as we know it in ten years.

I’d ask a different set of questions.  Like do you think there will be interest in investigative reporting 10 years from now?  Or, are you likely to want to see local news in the next ten years?  How about in-depth news analysis?  Or are you interested in watching more news in video format?

The overwhelming answer to these questions would have been yes.  And these are parts of the franchise that traditional media has not yet lost.  In fact the same poll found that 67% of respondents prefer to get their news via such traditional sources as newspapers, television and print magazines.

So the most important issue is…

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