Aug 21, 2013

Create Discoverable Stories Using Editorial Calendars

Story timing plays a crucial role in determining whether or not your story is discovered by your audience.  For years and years, media outlets have been publishing their editorial calendars, to help brands manage ad buys and PR pitches.   Those same editorial calendars are a rich resource for content marketers, too.

Time = Opportunity

As you peruse editorial calendars, you’ll notice that the lead times are generally pretty long, even for daily newspapers.  Special sections are planned and “in the can” well in advance of publication. There is opportunity for smart content creators within these timeframes, including:

  • Earned media:  Reporters covering the space will be starting to develop story ideas.  If your brand’s content plans will generate newsworthy content, get your PR team involved.   Surveys, market research and tips/advice are examples of owned content that can earn media when pitched to the right outlets.
  • Accelerating audience interest: In the run up to an event or season, audience interest increases.   Savvy brands can tune into early conversations to identify hot-button topics, and build content around those topics.  A well-structured content plan can also help the brand get ‘out in front’ of the conversations as well.
  • Opportunity to trigger and shape discussion:  As audience interest swells, brands can also trigger and shape discussion with content derived from research, polls and surveys.   Trends pieces and related tips can surface new topic angles with audiences and trigger new conversations.

Developing content that supports the brand’s key themes credibly can create the foundation for shaping the direction of the conversation. The relationship between timing and the ultimate discovery of brand messaging is clear.  There’s a lot to be gained for the brand that is prepared and catches the wave of attention around an event or topic as it’s developing, not waning. However, it’s also important to remember to seed discovery with distribution of message components.   Tactics you’ll want to have in your toolbox include:

  • Social and traditional media monitoring:  Keep tabs on conversations, stories, influencers, new trends, and new players.
  • PR savvy:  Don’t overlook the opportunity to generate valuable earned media.  Pitch relevant journalists newsworthy facts, data and trends.   Generate more visibility for assets you produce, such as surveys, white papers and infographics with a press release that outlines a few key points and offers readers a link to the rest of the information.
  • Visual development:  Don’t forget to develop visuals.  An infographic is more than just a great way to illustrate a trend or make data more tangible.  Multimedia assets attract more viewers, and can develop lives and audiences of their own.

One final note:  a strong social presence for the brand is especially helpful for capitalizing upon ultra-timely, news-driven topics.  Make building and bolstering your brand’s social presence and the relationship with the audience an ongoing priority – these are important assets that deliver tremendous value to the organization and provide ongoing visibility for the brand.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books “Unlocking Social Media for PR and the soon-to-be-published “New School PR Tactics.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

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