The term “content marketing” has become so ubiquitous that its radical nature sometimes gets muted, but it has transformed traditional notions of public relations. Content-hungry audiences are less interested in the source of content as they are in the quality and utility of the content, and brands must now arm themselves with a deep well of material to fuel their social media efforts.
Eliza Anderson, global PR manager of Intrepid Travel, and a speaker at PR News’ Feb. 27 Digital PR Summit in San Francisco, is a seasoned pro at creating content for the brand's customers and the media. Just a month ago her team launched a blog to provide updates to Intrepid Travel passengers about the situation on the ground during the Bangkok riots in 2010, which was then picked up by the media.
In the following Q&A, Anderson, who leads communications at the adventure travel company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, discusses her content strategy and offers a preview of her presentation at the Digital PR Summit.
PR News: How does content creation mesh with a traditional PR strategy?
Eliza Anderson: In our experience, online activity can be the hook that traditional media need to cover a story. More and more, we are breaking stories online through our own social media channels, bloggers or online news outlets before traditional print or broadcast media. We do this for three reasons:
We find that a strong interest from people online provides the evidence traditional media needs to convince them that the story is something people are interested in.
It allows us to monitor comments to see whether it’s worth developing/pitching the story further. This really helps from a resourcing point of view, making us more efficient.
We can also monitor the conversation to help mold and enhance our pitching so that it is consistent with what people want to hear.
PR News: How does your content strategy apply to crisis scenarios?
Anderson: From a crisis perspective, we have found that creating content is essential to ensuring that we manage the messages during difficult and risky periods.
For Intrepid, a crisis is generally a natural or political disaster that impacts the operation of our trips. Some examples are floods in Bangkok or protests in Egypt. If we don’t create the content, media will seek comment from other sources. All of our passengers have the ability to act as spokespeople by virtue of the fact that they can tweet or update Facebook from wherever they are in the world.
We are conscious of worried families at home, and sometimes the drama of a situation can be distorted by passengers who are unfamiliar with working with media. It’s important for us to provide comment and content in a crisis, so that a calm, consistent and truthful message is delivered. This will mean fewer worried family members calling our staff. It also means we are protecting our customers from landing themselves inadvertently in a bad position because their comments are taken out of context.
PR News: What are the common content needs of influencers and journalists?
Anderson: Video and images. They need content that is sticky and engaging, and words just aren’t enough. Unless you can illustrate a story with images (still or video) then it’s not going to be as engaging.
PR News: What’s one concept/idea you want to share with Digital PR Summit attendees?
Anderson: Talk like a real person. Digital PR is two-way in a way that traditional media generally can’t be. We can’t produce content that sounds like a corporation speaking. Use real language and a tone that is open and engaging. If you sound like a media release you are going to lose your audience.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg
To learn more from communications pros like Eliza Anderson, register to attend PR News’ Feb. 27 Digital PR Summit in San Francisco.