Content marketing has transformed traditional notions of public and media relations, as content-hungry audiences are less interested in the source of content as they are in the quality and utility of the content. Chad Melton, manager of digital media at Ingersoll Rand, and a speaker at PR News’ Feb. 27 Digital PR Summit in San Francisco, leads the interactive strategy and creative direction for the B2B manufacturer. That includes websites, social media channels and mobile plays.
In the following Q&A he discusses his content strategy and offers a preview of his presentation at the Digital PR Summit.
PR News: How does content creation mesh with a traditional PR strategy?
Chad Melton: Today, the traditional press release feels like a formality. When we launch a product I am much more interested in conversations our customers are having about real-world issues than how many people read our bulleted list of features. A delighted customer posting a positive endorsement to his friends on Facebook is the best influencer you can find. However, when we tweet, post to Facebook, converse in message boards or put out a QR code, we're often linking users to an online press release or news article. So, even though there is still a need for traditional PR—we strive to think digital.
PR News: What are Ingersoll Rand's goals with content creation?
Melton: Our goals for content creation are varied depending on whom you ask in the organization. Building the brand is only one piece of the puzzle. For customer service the goal may be to make product support information discoverable and easy to access. Sales channel management needs product data and multimedia content in multiple formats to supply to retailers. Our product managers need online conversations to spark innovation and elicit feedback from users.
PR News: What are the common content needs of your key stakeholders?
Melton: As a B2B manufacturer, the important consumers of our content are the various partners that sell our products. While the creation of content has become easier in many ways, distribution of product information can be challenging. It’s not enough to send out an Excel document with a title, description and list of specifications. Online retailers like Amazon are thirsting for product tours, how-to videos and testimonials. We are constantly under pressure to produce more content to keep pace with the competition.
PR News: Which forms of content do you think will have the biggest role in 2013?
Melton: Anything mobile. Be it video, blogs, interactive media—all successful content strategies must concentrate on mobile delivery for 2013. What this means is that the content we produce has to be optimized for that platform. Producing content that does not conform to the technical and functional requirements of mobile will be content wasted. Drawing the line between traditional devices and mobile will become impossible. Users may start reading an article on Flipboard on their iPhone, save to Pocket and finish reading on their PC, then view the related video on their Internet connected TV.
PR News: What’s one concept/idea you want to leave conference attendees with?
Melton: The content that is being produced by marketers today is not that much different than any other time in the last 20 years. What is different is the delivery method and volume of content vying for attention. Years ago, we were creating multimedia content such as video, product tours and interactive experiences. But those experiences were expensive and delivered in very much the same ways as traditional media. They were printed on a CD and delivered by hand or shipped. Today, content is immediate, yet fleeting.
The ease of content creation and the speed of delivery through mobile have created a sea of digital noise that can be very overwhelming. Standing out from the crowd is very important.