How Good Brands Become Media Darlings

How Good Brands Become Media Darlings. 

Media-facing brand spokespeople are often refined and have a certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes it look effortless. While few may be born with that X-factor, it’s most often the result training, practice and polish.

Whether the interview opportunity is being televised, heard on the radio or your expert commentary included in an online article, the right amount of preparation is paramount.

No matter how the media evolves, television is still a coveted medium. While many other video opportunities are giving brands more opportunities to be heard, TV can have a major impact on a brand, and it’s important that each appearance is met with meticulous preparation and rehearsal.

There are a few key elements that can ensure a seamless televised appearance:

  • Messaging: While any speaker should always feel comfortable on camera, it’s important to make sure that person has a rock-solid knowledge of their topic. The best interviews are running dialogues, not a series of static Q&As. The speaker should be very well-versed and make sure their delivery is natural and not robotic. The quickest way to be cut from a segment or not asked to return is by being cold and sterile. TV loves charisma so practice often, even if it’s with your smartphone’s camera.
  • Questions! There will be a lot of them from the production team, and you should be asking many more. Most national shows have rounds of production meetings, and you’ll need to provide a litany of press materials, bios, collateral and video links, so be prepared. TV production can often move quickly, so be flexible and willing to pivot on a dime
  • Details: Everything from transportation, timing, contacts (and their cell numbers), location, body language and especially attire needs to be considered. While most production teams will have a lot of this information ready, it’s critical to ask even the smallest questions. Knowing that your client won’t blend in with the green screen and be a floating head (yes, we’ve seen it happen to other people!) will ease most fears for all involved and allow the speaker to be relaxed. Tension always shows on camera! Above all else, remember to smile and enjoy the moment!

Radio and podcast are still a fantastic way to have your message heard and can often live on the websites of the outlets for great ripple effects. While many of the same principles above still hold true, paying special attention to the voice is the key to a great interview. Paying attention to things like inflection, pitch, speed and breathing are much more important than the clothes you’re wearing. Avoiding a monotone and labored breathing are nearly equally as important!

Finally, when being interviewed for an online or print article, communicating your messages in an effective manner is the only way to become an influencer in a journalist’s eyes. By not only providing useful information and avoiding excessive industry jargon but also giving soundbites the journalist can extract will go a long way in establishing authority and also making the journalist’s life easier!

The PB&J of Digital Marketing: Content and SEO

Content Marketing has become a buzzword seemingly overnight—but there’s one elusive marketing goal that many marketers don’t realize content marketing can achieve for them: SEO.

Why is this?

Most folks in the marketing space understand that Google operates on a host of proprietary algorithms and ranks webpages in search results based on a number of semi-secret factors. While Google has never released exactly how its algorithms work, over the years, they have released general guidelines to help websites attract the best traffic.

For a great guide to the total history of SEO check out this timeline from MOZ, but as it relates to content marketing, here are the highlights you need to care most about:

  • 2003 – The Florida Update: This was the first time Google penalized sites that employed SEO ploys like keyword-stuffing.
  • 2005 – The Nofollow and Jagger Updates: Google used to rank sites higher that had many inbound links—even links that were left in the comments section of blogs. Nofollow and Jagger stopped giving low-quality inbound links credence.
  • 2009 – The Real-time Search Update: Google started crawling information available on Twitter and other social media channels to include in search rankings—the first time social posts impacted SEO.
  • 2010 – Social Signals: Google confirmed that social signals do impact search rankings.
  • 2011 Panda Update: This update was key in that it not only indexed the amount of content on websites, but actually began to measure the quality of that content.
  • 2012 Penguin Update: Google started penalizing sites still employing spamming SEO tactics such as link farming and key-word stuffing.
  • 2015 – Mobilegeddon: This update favored sites that were optimized to be read on mobile devices.

Overall, Google’s algorithm has become less robotic and reliant on quantitative data, such as how many inbound links you have, how many times you use a key word, how many pages of content you have on your site, etc., and more human by ranking sites through qualitative factors (yes, Google is now judging your blog the same way your high school English teacher would). But don’t freak out—this is actually great news for content marketers because Google’s algorithm is thinking more like us.

However, even as content quality has become increasingly important, we still can’t rely on our power of prose alone to boost our search rankings. There are three core pillars of SEO that factor whether or not your content will help boost your site in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages): on-page factors, off-page factors and social factors.

Let’s assume that the content in question is a run-of-the mill blog post on your company’s website.

When viewing through the lens of on-page factors— these are the things that you build into the structure of your content that allow Google’s crawlers to easily index the information provided. In other words, you need to write your content in such a way that Google can easily discern what that content is about—and what YOU want it to be perceived as being.

Here are some basic boxes you need to check when it comes to your on-page SEO signals:

  • Write metadata
  • Ensure your headlines contain key words
  • Format your headlines with H1, H2, and H3 tags
  • Give your URL string a custom name that also contains your top key words
  • Make sure that you’ve named your images with key words that explain what they are—that’s how Google ranks images in the “image” search function

Next—leverage your new piece of content to boost your site’s SEO through off-page factors. While having too many low-quality links to your site can hurt you, having the right high-quality links to your site can tremendously help you. To achieve this, try to get your content re-published on a site with a high Google PageRank—the score Google uses to quantify what makes a quality website. Aim to get links from sites that have a Google PageRank of at least 3 or 4. Any page rank above 6 is very good. Oh, and P.S. – any institutional site that you can get to link to yours—think .edus and .govs—can tremendously boost your SEO.

Lastly, we mentioned in our SEO timeline that Google takes social factors into consideration when ranking sites. The more people who share the URL to your content on social media, the better. Clearly place social sharing buttons next to your content on your website, making it easy for others to spread it into the social sphere. Also, be sure that you share it yourself to your company and personal channels and use a sticky, shareable headline! Social media is increasingly becoming measure by which Google says “this is a quality piece of content”. Wondering which platform Google gives the most “Google juice” to? Not surprisingly, the underutilized Google+.

There are many other complex strategies to amplify each of these SEO factors in your content marketing strategy, but every good content execution should be in compliance with these three basic areas. You’re already creating lots of content. Make sure it’s helping you win the SEO war!

Social Media: A Balancing Act

For a brand, finding balance in an ever evolving media landscape can be challenging. Mostly because the way consumers behave on social channels is unbalanced. To truly understand the market it’s important for any brand to acknowledge that some consumers are using social media as a means to make purchasing decisions and some are simply looking for the latest grumpy cat video.

Facebook, for instance, started as an online group chat between friends in specific colleges and universities. As it’s evolved, a surplus of content has flooded it. There was a time when one of the pages I managed received over 100 updates within minutes. Luckily, Facebook now has algorithms in place to serve users the content they want to see.

Facebook users (brands and consumers) created an oversharing problem that even Facebook’s most sophisticated algorithms can’t fix. Users started abandoning the crowded Facebook ship and switched to other platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. At the moment, organic reach dominates the “newer” platforms. While there are some paid opportunities, they aren’t as abundant as Facebook. One advantage Facebook does offer is the longevity of a post. With a simple search or click, users can find historical data on a Facebook page dating back to the inception of the page. Memories are key here.

On a good day, the average tweet’s lifespan is around 18 minutes. Lately brands and news outlets have adopted a new strategy that allows them to push the most important tweets on the top of their profiles multiple times throughout the day. They do understand the risk of overlapping audience, but in terms of perishable content, it’s likely that very few people will be served the same message more than once. Additionally, it doesn’t feel like an advertisement rather a reminder of what is important at that time. On the other side, Twitter is incredibly challenging to search and if you miss a post, good luck trying to find it. If Twitter really understands the fleeting nature of messaging, and the average consumer’s attention span, what other platforms could you possible need?

Instagram. Because, everyone is famous on Instagram. Instagram posts receive roughly the same lifespan of Twitter. On average users share over 58 million tweets and 58 million photos on Instagram per day. Right now, Twitter’s growth is slowing while Instagram is on the rise. However, Instagram recently launched a series of branded ads, which leads us to believe they are headed in the same overcrowded, overcluttered and over-advertised audience Facebook has experienced. So, will we leave yet another platform to find the most organic content?

In comes Snapchat… and leaves in 10 seconds or less. Snapchat’s effectiveness comes from its unique ability to share perishable content. It’s really grasped the here now, gone tomorrow mentality. Especially with younger audiences who live with the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). Snapchat allows the user to be the center of attention in his or her own story, which is one of the many reasons why Snapchat is more popular among the younger generation. As for the stories shared by friends, the user can skip them with a click. There are still Snapchat ads, but you’re not forced to watch them. Tap the screen and poof! They’re gone.

So what does this mean for a brand? It means balance. A healthy mix of engaging content, well placed and designed advertisements and a deep understanding of the longevity of your message can go far. The best social marketers not only update and engage multiple times per day, but they vary the content understanding each message can’t reach an entirety of audience. But multiple messages that are crated to target a variety of audiences can have lasting effects and achieve brand awareness.