Content That Connects – Building a Content Creation Strategy

CONTENTI think a lot about content creation. All marketers do. All marketers have always thought about words and images that connect with consumers- whether on a package or on TV or on the side of a horse drawn buggy.

 

But the absolutely ferocious, voracious need for content that brands have in the 21st century is mind- blowing!

Great content drives engagement and ultimately sales.  We need it. We need a lot of it. and in the typical manner, when a need hits the spotlight, brands are rushing willy-nilly to fill that void, sometimes at the expense of strategy and organization.

Let me give an example. Brand A embarks on a website redesign with a need for blog posts, video and some How-To’s or recipes. Brand A reaches out to everyone with a keyboard or camera and some skill in their network – bloggers, interns, employees, etc… and request content. Content of varying quality starts pouring in.

 

The streams of content, much of it time sensitive, gets uploaded to the website, blog, and social media channels haphazardly tagged and barely indexed. Some have typos. Content is written in a variety of different voices…only some of them the brand’s. Those closest to the brand struggle to take off their “sales person hat” in their writing. Very little of the content is repurposed.

 

Let me suggest a smarter way. Content development, like any marketing initiative should have a strategic focus. Take the time to develop a plan and execute it slowly. Great content written by professional content writers with the knowledge of keywords and some HTML goes a long way. With an understanding of the value of backlinks, search, how to edit a video for YouTube, what photos work best on Intsagram and how to use consumer networks to promote a post, great content creators develop end product that can be used in a multitude of ways- on blog posts and Facebook, as pins and tweets and discussed and promoted through brand advocates. Higher quality content, executed flawlessly goes further…less is more.

 

Building a content program that includes all of the various types working together under one theme goes even further. I’ve found the greatest success for my clients working from an editorial calendar to develop video, photo and written content around a theme, then repurposing it in creative and interesting ways across social media network while integrating it into marketing plans.

 

The framework is the key, but not the end all, because speed and timeliness makes a difference too. Editorial calendars in the digital world need to be flexible and strategic opportunities need to be exploited, so while I advocate a framework, I encourage flexibility. A professional content creation program requires a bit of art and a bit of science and a long term goal. Doesn’t everything?

 

professional content creationMaryanne Conlin draws on her years of blogging, posting, tweeting, shooting and editing experience to create great content for her clients and sometimes for herself.

 

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Storytelling -Write Like a Fifth Grader

writingThe very best storytellers draw you with evocative language and immediate imagery. But it starts with a simple road map, an outline, a trail…

Intro – say what you are going to say

Body – say it!

Ending – say what you said.

Without this basic framework, as we all know, everything from blog posts to e-books begins to resemble a trail of breadcrumbs already half eaten by a flock of pesky sparrows.  As homework helper in chief though, I have to say, a dose of middle school English has made me a better writer by not only focusing me on those key points, but also by providing a way to take my writing to the next level.

It’s amazing what a rubric can do to improve your storytelling! While I think, as professionals in the business of writing, we all know how to break down a piece into main idea and supporting points. What we, at least I, don’t always do in any systematic way is review for what makes an essay a story – language!

Excerpted directly from a fifth grade rubric:

Sentence variation:  Does the story include a variety of compound sentences, independent clauses, appositive phrases and introductory adverbial and prepositional clauses?

Figurative language: Is there extensive use of similes, metaphors and personifications?

Word choice: Does the story include vivid and lively verbs? Imaginative and unusual adjectives? Too many vague or overused words?

The first time I used this rubric, I must admit, I had to review what exactly some of those words mean . I always get similes and metaphors mixed up; what exactly IS an adverbial clause?  But, the process, of course gets easier and admittedly more fun. And an essay becomes a story.

These days, rather than channeling my inner Irish, I draw on my inner English teacher. Though we prefer to believe otherwise…all the best storytellers do.

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital. Though she prefers to believes she has an the Irish gift of gab, she finds finding and following the rules of effective writing probably has something to do with her writing ability.

Missing the Mark With Millennial Moms

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Photo courtesy Business Insider

Earlier this year, while executing plans for a major food client, an opportunity to pair with a lifestyle mobile app came up.  The client reaction could be described as, “huh?”  A nudge and a resounding success later, it had the unexpected effect of  starting  us thinking more about targeting that consumer of the future, the younger, Millennial Mom.

In one of those marketing illuminating moments, we realized that while most of our programs targeted moms 25-54, when we looked around and started asking our brand advocates and digital vendors about the average age of the moms we were reaching, it seemed heavy on the 35-54 and light on the other end. This didn’t seem to be a prescription for exponential growth.

As I wrote about this month, in MediaPost, we’re remarkably better informed on the psychographics of our online target market these days than their actual demographics. At the same time there are some significant differences between Baby Boomers/Gen X-ers and the Millennial generation that follows – the new cadre of moms we’ll be targeting for the next 10 years or so.

More culturally diverse, living a wider variety of “family” lifestyles and more often the family breadwinner than older generations, they also are more collaborative decision makers when it comes to buying the family groceries. This last, I suspect has to do has a lot to do with growing up online where eliciting the opinion of 20 different people can be accomplished in record time.

So, while it’s easy to connect with Millennial moms, it’s not so easy to engage without better insights into their needs, wants and lifestyle. And Millennial Moms do feel neglected by brands, as this study shows. So, take some time to learn more about the moms with whom your brand connects – it just might surprise you.

headshot new Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter @maryanneconlin

Content Creation, Curation And PR

As usual, when reading Gini Dietrich’s latest post, I started thinking about the topic (in this case, whether creativity is lacking in PR) and veered off on a tangent as I followed commenters’ links.

On one of those tangents, I read an interesting quote in an article by Danny Brown, titled Lack of Real Vision is Stalling the PR Industry. While I was not fond of the title of the post, I did find an interesting quote:

Ken Eudy, CEO, Capstrat: “The PR firm of 2017 will increasingly help its clients become publishers and broadcasters… communicating directly with stakeholders without having their messages filtered through traditional media.”

This vision of the PR firm as not one that “gets the word out” but one that gets closer to crafting the word that gets out… gets sort of to the point, but just misses. Brands are already publishers and broadcasters, in their advertising efforts.

From a PR perspective, what brands need help with is getting a new legion of publishers to broadcast their message for the brand. This means working with publishers of all sorts of new media….blogs, YouTube videos and Tweets, as well as, Facebook posts, texts and several new publishing ventures that we have not thought of yet.

This quote gets to the meat of how to successfully do that.

– Maril MacDonald, CEO, Gagen MacDonald: “The successful firm of 2017… will be interested in relationships, not transactions. It will think about the long-term strategy, not short-term tactics. It will add value through a technology-driven collaborative dialogue…”

But, both quotes miss the role of the vastly greater number of curators, those that take the content developed by the publishers and amplify it on Pinterest, or Twitter or on their own blogs, many of which feature more curated information than created.

Approaching curators and content creators is not so different than traditional, relationships matter. It’s just…there are a LOT more relationships to develop in the new world of PR!

For our clients we use a mix of third parties who maintain relationships with key content creator and content developers. They bring us new opportunities as they develop their business models. But we also create client specific relationships with key leaders in the category in which they operate and they too bring us opportunities to promote the brand through events, activities and new relationships with other brands.

PR in the digital world is not so different, in terms of relationship building to build a brand. What’s different is the sheer number of players.

Maryanne Conlin, CEO of RedRopesDigital likes maintaining relationships especially when they lead to good conversation and good food.