Content Marketing is the New PR

April 4, 2013

That is the title of a recent Aberdeen Group report, Publish or Perish: Content Marketing is the New PR, which you can download for free (registration required) here.

Content Marketing Leaders and Followers

According to Aberdeen’s report, the companies it considers leaders in PR and Brand Management achieve greater performance metrics than followers, such as:

  • 23% of their marketing-generated leads are sourced through inbound or content marketing (vs 10% for followers)
  • 12% growth in year-over-year company revenue (vs 3.5% for followers)
  • 20% year-over-year increase in media mentions (v 2.7% for followers)
  • 15% year-over-year increase in social media mentions (vs 2% for followers)

The Changing Role of PR

One of the key insights from the research has to do with how PR has changed in the past few years. While the key mission for Public Relations in most B2B companies is still related to brand recognition and market credibility, the increasing role of content marketing in assisting PR with such efforts is now being seen as critical at most leading companies. The research points to 63% of respondents indicating that content marketing is being used as part of an overall PR strategy at their companies.

Companies considered “leaders” are the first ones to understand the importance of integrating content marketing into a broader PR effort, as their report points to 94% of leading companies stating that their PR function is now a component of their integrated marketing communications efforts and showing also that leaders are 50% more likely than followers to indicate that PR has evolved into a content marketing role.

Recommended Actions

Aberdeen recommends the following actions as you develop or reconsider the role of PR and your PR strategy:

  1. Align PR and Marketing: this involves a shared editorial calendar and unified web strategy
  2. Content Rules: you have to change how external PR firms and agencies are hired and evaluated, and also pay special consideration for SEO
  3. Search Engine Optimization: having PR work closely with the SEO team to navigate the new waters of content marketing, like correlating inbound website traffic with PR activity
  4. Measure what Matters: new measures for PR (inbound site traffic, web analytics, etc.) should be carefully considered in combination with more traditional ones (media mentions, advertising equivalents, etc.)

If you have been adopting content marketing strategies at your own company, the research results are probably not surprising but rather reinforce the notion that content marketing is here to stay. If your company has a traditional PR department or agency, now is a good time to start re-thinking your public relations strategy and how you approach it with content marketing.

To access the report click the image below.

Aberdeen Group Content Marketing Is the New PR

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Best Companies Don’t Need Marketing

August 5, 2010

Interesting set of articles on Inc’s Magazine June Edition “Inside America’s Best Run Companies”, showing how the best small business companies run and the perks and benefits they have to attract and retain top talent. Take for example the following stats mentioned in the magazine:

  • 75% of companies offer educational assistance to its employees
  • 83% of companies practice open-book management
  • 28% of companies pay 100% of employees costs for health insurance
  • 95% of companies offer flexible work arrangements

On top of that, they highlight some of the nicest perks some companies offer, like:

  • On-site pickup and return of clothes that need laundering (McGraw Wentworth)
  • Subsidized meals delivered at employee’s desk (Dealer.com)
  • Two weeks of full-paid leave to work for a nonprofit (Patagonia)
  • $5,000 spending money if you travel abroad plus one extra week vacation (LoadSpring)
  • Professional cleaners go to your home every two weeks, at no cost to employee (Akraya)

If you come from the typical 9 to 5 job where being there is what is expected and you look forward to vacations like a prisoner eager for his 1 hour outside in the patio, then the list above is nothing short of a paradise. The reality is, more and more companies are adopting practices like these (especially telecommuting and flex hours) because technology is such that not only allows you to do it, but makes you more productive.

But companies don’t offer these nice perks just because they are run by nice people. They offer them because the market for talent is fierce. Finding and retaining the best people has always been a challenge, no matter your industry. When you have a little bit extra to offer, being that the free lunch or whatever, you are a step above the competition. And the word gets around and your hiring costs are reduced because people are now finding you for a change.

The best marketing ends up being what the employees tell their friends about their companies. How they like (or don’t like) the perks, and when magazines like Inc pick that up and write a story.


Taming Your Brand Mascot

May 10, 2010

From Tony The Tiger, Trix Rabbit and Energizer Bunny to Ronald McDonald and even John McCain (?!) brand mascots are a common tool to promote your product or service. More recently even Twitter mascots have been showing up as a company’s public face.

The good ones are those that you don’t even think about until you decide to wear your marketer hat. That’s what makes them memorable.

A recent article I read on Harvard Business Review, “ Aflac’s CEO Explains How He Fell For The Duck” made me think about brand messaging and the use of mascots. The article is great because it gives you an insider’s view of how the famous Aflac duck came to being and the challenges Aflac’s CEO had to overcome to get it adopted.

The first Aflac duck debuted in 2000. The company reported $9.7 billion (US and Japan combined) that year, up $1 billion from the previous year. In 2008, revenues were up to $16.6 billion. Amos credits this increase mostly due to the branding initiatives related to the duck, an amazing feat for any brand mascot. Here are some highlights of the Aflac duck’s impact:

  • First year after the duck’s introduction, sales were up by 29%.
  • Name recognition increased 67% after two years of running the commercials. Today the name recognition is 90%.
  • The duck has 165,000 facebook fans in the US.
  • In two months 100,000 people posted spoofs of the Japanese duck’s song online.

How do you create a successful brand mascot? I particularly like the tips a FastCompany article, “Brands with character”, gives:

  1. Give the brand human traits
  2. Create a life, backstory to your character/mascot
  3. Plan for the long run
  4. Don’t overcomplicate

What mascots do you consider memorable and why?


The Fun Theory: How to Change Behavior

November 30, 2009

How do you change people’s behavior? Corporate America usually relies on some form of compensation system which basically uses a reward/punishment method that tries to coerce people into doing what the company wants. You have to fill out forms, get approvals, and meet goals otherwise there’s no pay raise or bonus. In other cases you try to get website visitors to navigate a certain path by placing links in strategically important places or enticing them with an offer. Books and theories exist on how to get people to perform their best or to change the way they behave (“Bringing Out The Best In People” comes to mind) but rarely we see those in action.

Volkswagen launched what became quickly a viral campaign with emails being forwarded, youtube videos with over 1 million hits and comments from all corners of the web. They call it The Fun Theory (www.thefuntheory.com) and the goal is simple: using fun to change people’s behavior for the better. The videos on their website (embedded below) are some great examples of what they mean.

How are you changing your customers and your prospects behavior? Can you make something fun that will entertain and educate them? And how about your staff or your company’s employees? Some food for thought.

 


The Six Minutes Challenge

November 16, 2009

Presentations can be boring. Yes, I believe you are nodding as you read this. You have sat through your fair share of hour-long PowerPoint displays that were accompanied with a not so good speaker. What if you could change all that and have the message, whatever is was, delivered to you in six minutes and forty seconds?

Welcome to the world of Pecha Kucha.

I recently attended the Business of Software conference where I participated in a Pecha Kucha competition. The rules are you have to present 20 slides with 20 seconds for each (total of 6:40). Sounds easy and I thought so too when I signed up for it, but is far from a walk in the park.

To present well in this kind of format you have to rehearse very well. More than your typical “and in this slide I will talk about X”, because since the slides are automatically timed, your delivery has to be on time all the time. What if we could change the way our companies treat presentations and just give everyone six minutes to tell their stories? We would certainly have shorter meetings and maybe better content.

So next time you prepare a presentation, think about how you’d do it if you had only 6 minutes. What is essential? What is just fluff? How can you present in a way that will engage the audience? Less is sometimes better.

Are you ready to present? 3…2…1… Go!


Suit over Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Big Marketing Ploy

November 6, 2009

In an earlier post I wrote about ZL Technologies lawsuit over Gartner Group’s Magic Quadrant, over what it considered “multitude of illegalities”.

And not surprisingly, the judge dismissed it.

Gartner’s comment about the decision focused on them being an independent research organization and denies they use “pay for play” in the publication of their reports.

So this should be the end, right? ZL lost and will go back to its corner. Well… not so fast! The way I see it, ZL had a minor victory here. Let me explain. Had the judge sided with them, the win would surely have been better but I have to think that they knew they didn’t stand a chance. So why go through the trouble? Because ZL can use Gartner’s arguments against itself and now have it documented by a judge to prove it. As they had stated on their website they were hoping to use the proceedings to get :

  • Fair Disclosure on Conflicts of Interest
  • Fair Disclosure on Evaluation Scores
  • Better Oversight

They won’t get better oversight (and that was a real stretch) but they did get from the arguments (which are now documented) that the Magic Quadrant is nothing but Gartner’s opinion about the market and not “hard facts” as some might believe. In recent emails they have started using this as proof that “(…) the market should take note that the defense on which Gartner prevailed was its argument that its reports contain ‘pure opinions,’ namely, opinions which are not based on objective facts”.

So how’s that for a comeback? I see as a great opportunity to market themselves and when talking to CIOs and decision makers that bring up Gartner’s MQ, they can simply point them to the result of the lawsuit and say “listen, as much as you like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, it is pure fabrication based only on their opinion. No hard facts. They said it themselves! So forget about it and let me show you the demo….”.

But how will ZL be viewed in the market? Can their tactic backfire? It seems that some people have already tweeted to this effect. Now is time for them to be very, very careful with the community they target.

Keep tuned because ZL can still come back to fight the court’s decision.


Magic Quadrant or Magic Numbers? A Judge Will Decide.

October 21, 2009

Gartner Group is known in the technology industry as a heavyweight analyst group that influences a lot of purchasing decisions. Big companies all turn to Gartner’s reports to help them on emerging trends and technologies. Software vendors like to boast when they are placed in a specific position on Gartner’s famous Magic Quadrant report. The Magic Quadrant (MQ) report has been around for years and is used to showcase key players in a certain industry, comparing them and ranking them against a set of criteria.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant is now on trial

Gartner's Magic Quadrant is now on trial

The problem? Gartner’s MQs have long been seen with suspicion by industry veterans and no matter what industry is showcased, it has always raised questions about why certain vendors were not included and why their view of the market is so different (like here about the DataWarehouse MQ,  here about the WCM MQ, and here when it tackled Cloud Computing just to name a few). Gartner analysts try as they might to correct what they see as misunderstandings again and again are facing an uphill battle.

That’s why I was not surprised when I read on Dave Kellogg’s blog that ZL Technologies is suing Gartner over the MQ. Is an interesting lawsuit because it brings up the question of whether these vendor reports can really help or hinder a company’s ability to grow. And it will help stir some debate about the usefulness of such reports to consumers in general and how relevant the reports are. From what some vendors say, depending on your space the analyst report won’t help you at all. Stay tuned!


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