Our 12 Months of Giving program allowed us the opportunity to work with three Cleveland-area nonprofits during the third quarter of 2017.
In July, we had the pleasure of assisting the Malachi House, a home that serves those who are terminally ill and provides them with a comfortable place to spend their final days. The Malachi House has a full-service kitchen, family dining room, living room, chapel, atrium, and incredible volunteers who help provide care to their residents in a comfortable and compassionate environment.
Our August pro bono client, Slavic Village, is a community located in the heart of Cleveland. Its rich history draws in people from all walks of life. People of all ages go to Slavic Village to experience all that it has to offer. From recreational activities to an abundant amount of housing opportunities and top-notch educational offerings, there’s something about Slavic Village that encourages people to stay once they’ve planted their roots.
In September, we worked with the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Since 1994, the Conservancy has been doing wonderful work to help protect our beloved national park. Through their youth programs, volunteer opportunities and more, they truly live their vision — “Connecting you to your national park. Preserving it for future generations.”
We thoroughly enjoyed supporting each of these amazing organizations. They are doing tremendous things and we can’t wait to watch them continue to make a difference.
As you finalize your content strategy for 2017, it’s important to recognize the value and importance of earned media in your plan. According to BullDogReporter.com, earned media placements “are regarded as the most influential sources of news and information when it comes to driving consumer opinions about brands and products and when driving sharing across social media and other platforms.”
So what is earned media? Brandwatch defines it as “the content and conversation around your brand or product that has been created by somebody else and published somewhere other than your owned channels.”
A white paper from Outsell, Inc. shows that “pull” methods are the most effective marketing methods, resulting in a shift away from intrusive tactics (“push” methods) to user-initiated behavior (“pull” methods).
Telling your story and explaining your ‘why’ is important, but having an influencer advocating for your brand builds credibility. Content published about your brand and secured media coverage give your brand third-party credibility. Earned media can also help your brand build trust with your community. When a consumer trusts a brand they are more likely to engage with it.
So how do you secure earned media? You need to go a step above sending out blanket press releases and media alerts. The first step is to do your research. Look at what your targeted influencers have covered in the past. What kind of stories have they published? What are they tweeting about?
Next, create a tailored pitch. Explain exactly why you think your brand or story idea will resonate with their audience. Then, build positive relationships with leaders in the industry. Ideally, by building a relationship with an influencer they will begin to reach out to you, making it easier for you to secure future coverage for your brand.
Leveraging earned content
So, you have valuable earned content. Now what? It’s important to consider how to leverage your earned content. After receiving permission to share, promote the earned content across all of your brand’s marketing channels to continue to increase the reach and impressions.
Focus on what happened after the earned media content was digested. Did readers to go the website? Like you on Facebook? Sign up for your newsletter? Make a purchase? Focus on engagement. You can also look at your share of voice. This will show you where you stand within your industry and against your competitors.
So what exactly does this all mean? Brands need to focus on content that engages their audience, and builds trust and credibility for their organization. Earned media has a proven track record of being able to do just that.
What role does earned media play in your strategy for the coming year?
We’re finally able to wrap our heads around the wealth information we obtained from the always amazing Content Marketing World conference, which was conveniently held in our hometown in September. Immersed in a sea of orange, top content marketing minds from around the world shared with us the latest trends for delivering valuable content – from sales to social media to metrics to messaging and more.
We learned more than we could properly process during the two-day conference, but with time to reflect we now bring to you our top five takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016.
- Document your content marketing strategy. One thing that was reiterated throughout the conference was the importance of documenting your content marketing strategy. Your content strategy should be accessible, detailed and easy enough to understand by anyone. When documenting your strategy, include the architecture of your content (like website navigation or pages), the end goal of the content and how your strategy will be governed. And don’t forget about measurement! Set specific goals that can be measured to determine your ROI.
- Emotive messaging connects your brand to the consumer. Developing content that speaks to consumers on an emotional level can create a special connection with your brand and your customers, differentiating you from your peers. When creating or searching for content, put the customer at the center of everything you do. Make your customers feel good about your brand, and they’ll want to share your content.
- Thought leadership takes content to another level. A buzzword desired by most but understood by few, we learned the true meaning of thought leadership. Thought leadership is the product of your brand’s chief storytellers or evangelists, who bring your content to life. Thought leadership goes beyond the status quo to provide consumers with content that identifies new opportunities or shares exclusive insights that relate to a pain or solution.
- Hug your haters. Haters are not the problem – ignoring them is. Instead of ignoring criticism and complaints from consumers, embrace the negative comments. Good customer service is rare and memorable. By being honest and providing answers to your customers, you are increasing transparency and ultimately building trust that will differentiate your brand from others.
- Find your why. Day two of the conference kicked off with a hilarious address from comedian Michael Jr. But behind the laughs and lightheartedness was a serious message any content marketer needs to hear: find your why. Michael Jr. expressed the importance of knowing your purpose and explained that knowing your “why” will help develop your “what” in content creation.
These words of wisdom only scratch the surface of what we learned at #CMWorld 2016. Thanks to the Content Marketing Institute, who puts together the largest content marketing event on the planet, we are armed and ready to create content that matters in 2017.
You’ve just launched an incredible new product—your brainchild that you’ve been dreaming up for years—but instead of feeling successful and proud, you feel defeated and confused. Inventory isn’t moving like it should be. But your website hasn’t crashed from a sudden influx of online sales. And it’s not that your product isn’t great—because, let’s face it, it’s perfect and you should be proud—so what is it?
Or maybe this sounds familiar: You’ve just graduated from college with a hard-earned degree. You busted your behind to master the subjects and prove that you are ready to further develop your education as a professional in your chosen field. You’ve carefully constructed a witty yet intelligent cover letter, spent a little too much time analyzing the font in your email signature and applied for dozens of positions, yet you haven’t landed your dream job. It’s not that you aren’t qualified—your degree and that perfectly punctuated cover letter prove you know your stuff—so what is it?
In a world where we’re routinely flooded by classified ads and perfect jobs are few and far between, there’s a secret sauce that can help differentiate you from the competition: networking. It seems so simple, but networking can help your personal brand grow exponentially in a variety of ways.
Now, for clarity, when we say brand this could refer to a company that sells a product or service, or it could mean you as a professional. Either way, networking provides the same benefits to individuals and organizations and is something we should all spend more time doing.
So, first things first: Grab a cup of coffee. (A blog post should always be read with coffee.) Now, prepare to learn how networking can help your brand grow.
- Connections. You hear it all the time: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While nothing can replace having the appropriate knowledge, experience or skill, the reality is that people recommend people they know, like and trust. In fact, many of the best job opportunities are never advertised to the public, but are instead shared through networks. Having an ‘in’ can open the door to your dream job or create a new line of opportunities such as client leads, speaking and writing gigs, joint ventures and partnerships.
- Promotions. Having a solid foundation of people who like you and your brand is invaluable. Your network is your brand’s cheerleaders and they advocate for your success among their other networks. With their help, your brand receives a boost in reputation or sales, and ultimately your circle of influences widens.
- Resources. A network of like-minded professionals gives you access to a directory of amazing resources—for free. Your contacts become your advisors, offering information and advice you would normally have to pay a consultant for. They can keep you on track or share how they overcame challenges similar to those you’re facing. And, on the flip side, you can build a reputation as a knowledgeable and supportive resource by returning the favor.
- Friendships. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have someone who understands what you do. There are proven psychological and emotional benefits to having a friend in the business. In addition, a friend in your field can serve as a sounding board for new ideas or be there for a much needed pep talk. Plus, there’s an added bonus to having work friends: You have someone to take coffee breaks with during the day!
“But I don’t have time to go to networking events.” No problem! Not all networking requires attending an event. Social media platforms make for a simple and effective way to network not only with other professionals or audiences, but also with other businesses, making the possibilities of new connections endless. Five minutes and a few messages a day can get you in touch with individuals who can provide a wealth of knowledge and, of course, more connections.