Whether or not your role is strictly in PR or it overlaps with marketing, when you communicate on behalf of a brand, you must think of yourself both as a publisher and as a media producer. It’s a war out there to gain the increasingly shrinking attention spans of existing and potential customers. In creating content, either for your organization's blog or your client’s main Web site, you can not only increase your search rankings, but you can also consistently feed your social media channels.
At the 2012 Content Marketing World event in Columbus Ohio, C.C. Chapman, author of Content Rules and prominent dad blogger/content creator, offers five tips that communicators need to know for using content to build their business.
Develop a strategy: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe" —Abraham Lincoln. “People want to just jump right in and start with their handful of ideas and expect results right away, but it’s crucial to take the time to develop a strategy,” says Chapman. “Why are we doing this? Are we doing this for the right reason? What is our budget? How can we make content creation sustainable?”
Get your house in order: Every social network is simply rented land; you don't own it, says Chapman. Get your house (Web site) in order by downloading or buying an intuitive content management system (CMS) that enables you to post content on a regular basis. “Make sure you can update it and publish, not the flaky tech intern or the IT guy that seems to work in an undisclosed closet location,” says Chapman.
You also must establish a social media presence, especially on Facebook. “Even if you only use social platforms to drive traffic to your Web site, that's a start,” says Chapman. “You can at least use them as beachheads, to send customers to your site to up-sell them and have them buy products.”
Develop an editorial calendar: Applications and interfaces like Google Docs and Google Calendar are especially useful for team collaboration, says Chapman. “Start with the next month and go from there—figure out your next seasonal sale period (or find your business’ equivalent) and lay out whatever that time frame is and figure out what you can do content wise,” says Chapman.
Think visually: “It kills me that it took something like Pinterest to make everyone realize we need pictures,” says Chapman. “Words are great, but pictures are even better.” Remember that when you share any piece of content on a social network (aside from Twitter), it's going to pull a picture from the content and show it as a preview. Chapman also warns against using a lack of technology and money as an excuse. “Your smartphone can take beautiful pictures. Take a picture, Instagram it and slap it in your blog post,” says Chapman.
Play to your strengths: If you're a writer or if you're into photography, build on your skill sets and talents and figure out how they can best fit into your strategy, says Chapman. Remember, if your content campaign is successful you will have to keep feeding the beast with more content. If you can consistently create content around or via something you enjoy or have strength in, it will be easier to manage on those tougher days.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg