Public relations firms are in the business of creating narratives for their clients. Tell the right story and it will positively affect a target audience’s decision-making process. Narratives come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is consistent. Crafting powerful content requires care and forethought.
Telling a compelling story about your company or organization’s work is easy if you make your audience top of mind. In our daily lives, we tell stories all the time, whether it’s making a joke or sharing an anecdote.
With this in mind, consider these three principles as you plan and write content:
- Authority means that you are writing with confidence. You know you’ve got the goods to back up your points because you’ve done the work to provide relevant statistics, examples, and expert commentary. Storytellers with authority have taken the time and have asked the right questions to understand the subject matter, and it shows.
- Clarity is about clear communication. You’re writing in a direct, informative manner, and you’re also showing all your work. Your audience doesn’t put up their guard as if you were selling to them, because you’re being straightforward and upfront about what you’re doing.
- Authenticity can’t be faked. Being authentic to yourself, your mission, and your audience, peers, and the community pays off. Developing your own conversational voice and laying out real-world examples show your audience that you’re not wasting their time.
Good content creation isn’t as simple as endlessly recycling or tweaking one blog post across different platforms. It’s also different from marketing or advertising, which use related skill sets but with separate goals. When developing your public relations content strategy, build around these key pillars for engaging, structurally sound results.
We instinctively tailor what we say to our audiences already. You’d use a different tactic to persuade your boss, a client or a family member. The way to effectively communicate your message is by knowing your audience inside and out.
Only a few corporations in the world have a truly universal audience. Unless you’re Coca-Cola or Amazon, you will be much better served by narrowing your focus to the most relevant segments of that overall audience. Determining which geographic regions, professional circles, existing media outlets and interest groups will benefit from your content can lead you to quantifying the kinds of results you can expect to generate. We recommend choosing two or three audience segments to focus on first.
You should also keep an individual in mind. Always ask yourself how your content can help a particular kind of person, and how you can make it interesting to them. Advertising a bank’s CD rates, for example, would simply list some reasons the potential investor should keep that bank in mind; content, on the other hand, might offer tips to consider on how to plan for rising interest rates. By creating such an article, the bank is seen as a thought leader and potential advisor on the topic.
The best way to generate exciting and trustworthy content is to cultivate your own curiosity about the subject matter. Being able to draw on a deep well of expertise is great if you have the knowledge, but knowing how to learn about something you don’t know much about will lead to content that helps your audience.
Remember that you’re not going to lose respect by admitting that you’re new to a topic, but you need to be strategic as you ferret out your sources. If you have access to a company’s vice president, that may not be the best person to approach with introductory questions. However, someone who works more directly with customers has a ground-level view of the whole enterprise. Then, when you’ve learned about the basics, you can approach higher-ups with more complex questions.
Plugging into what’s going to be of interest to your audience can also help you avoid creating copy that feels like spam or an ad. Content that stays honest about the facts not only wins your audience’s trust but gives you the opportunity to offer tips or advice.
While a certain amount of consistency will help with branding, not all content is easily interchangeable. Part of your audience research means figuring out where to reach your core target and how to adjust your content for each channel. On social media, for example, the voice you’d use on LinkedIn may not match the voice you’d use on Twitter or Facebook. Also, it may not translate between a social media network and another format, such as an e-newsletter.
While it’s tempting to take excerpts from a blog post or a white paper to repurpose for other content or shareable copy, you’ll be better served by thinking about what makes each type of channel unique. Your research and interviews can be adapted into a variety of different formats while leveraging what makes those formats valuable.
Remember that different audiences respond to different formats. A younger audience might prefer video messaging, while an older audience may want to digest a written article. Both could find value in a well-designed member magazine tailored to their interests — the key word being tailored. The information you’re working to share, the message you’re disseminating and the overall goals you’ve set for your content are platform-neutral. But to achieve those overall goals, customize that content by format.
It's also important to constantly consider why your audience wants to engage with your content. Search engine optimization is an important component of online communications, but deploying it seamlessly and productively is an art as well as a science. Readers will be turned off by the inauthenticity of clumsy SEO. Remember which processes are tools vs. strategies.
Have an end goal in mind when you create your content. It’s certainly wonderful to get a lot of page views or clicks, but it’s most important to get meaningful engagement. That doesn’t necessarily mean social media “shares” – it can also be measured through such metrics as the time a visitor spends on your website, or how many people click on a newsletter item to read a blog post.
Keep going back to your audience and determine what they want. If the content is done well, it might help convert relationships from a lead to a sale, or it might help change the narrative about your organization. While this can be harder to quantify than tallying leads from an ad, engaging messaging is nonetheless invaluable. This is one of the reasons why quality public relations and content creation should be a critical pillar of your overall marketing program.
Good content will always be interesting to your target audience if it’s done with that audience in mind. And content that’s genuine and intellectually curious can motivate members of your target audience to follow through with the action you’re hoping to spark. Content creators work hard to deliver the authenticity, transparency, and authority that define good content, and these qualities tend to fall into place when creators approach their content as an opportunity to explore and serve.
Are you effectively using content in your communications or marketing strategies? Contact us to discuss how B2 can help crack the code on your content success.