Oct 17, 2011

Tips for Developing a Content Distribution Strategy

The clever video above, produced by JC Penney, acknowledges the shift in marketing strategies from the strictly promotional to content-based.   Over the weekend, SEOmoz  published a post titled “You Can Pay for Attention or You Can EARN It,” featuring this video, and in which author Rand Fishkin succinctly outlines the evolution of messaging  and, in parallel, the changes in consumer behavior.

As I’m preparing for the upcoming webinar PR Newswire is producing, titled Streaming Your Brand: Managing Brand Conversation & Cohesion in a Real Time World, I’ve been thinking a lot about the content production and distribution required of a brand to create the experiences (and capture the opportunities for attention and engagement) Rand outlined in his blog post.

A secret to success in today’s communications arena is not just the actual production of content (though goodness knows that is the bedrock on which today’s campaigns are built) but the dissemination of content, achieved via different channels, and with audiences and search engines firmly in mind. (Mind you, Rand Fishkin, is the founder of SEOmoz, a leading SEO services company, and is a bonafide SEO guru.  The impact social content has on search engines is undeniable, hence, his continued interest in this topic.)

There are a wide variety of ways a brand can disseminate content.  Of course, a newswire is one such tool – and one I’ve used successfully to promote this blog on an ongoing basis.   However, the press release is just one type of content, and the wire (despite its reach to thousands of online outlets, bloggers and journalists) is just one distribution mechanism.  There are many more ways a savvy communicator can promote content.

  • Online groups:  All over the web you can find people who gather to talk about the subjects near and dear to your brand’s heart.  Look for them on LinkedIn, Facebook, discussion groups and forums.  You can seed these groups with information that can keep your brand top of mind among enthusiasts.  Focused communications with a targeted group who are well and truly interested in a particular topic area can have a powerful follow on effect – many of the people within the group will be influential in and of their own right, and many more will have their own blogs and other platforms which can contribute to the amplification of your message. However, do be sure to engage appropriately with the group.  Here’s more information on developing traction within these types of groups:  Virtual Focus Groups for Communciators.
  • Twitter:  Yes. Of course.  Twitter is a great channel for atomizing messages and building visibility for the content your organization produces.  But there’s a lot more to it than issuing a tweet via @YourBrand.
    • Don’t just tweet the headline or title. Pick out interesting facts and conclusions – the meaty bits that will whet your audiences’ appetites – and tweet those.
    • Spend a little time researching related hashtags that are related (ahem – strongly related – no spamming allowed!) to the topic you’re promoting.  Correct hashtag use will increase the audience for the message.
  • Social channels that store content:  YouTube, SlideShare and Flickr are examples of social networks that are based on content – videos, powerpoints and documents, and images respectively.  These channels are all extremely search engine friendly, and can become highly visible repositories for interesting and rich content.  Just be sure to fill out the descriptions of the content you upload using good keywords (not impenetrable jargon), and link it back to the web page related to what you’re promoting.   Your company blog (or a guest post on another blog) can play important roles, too.  (Case in point: JC Penney wisely uploaded their clever television commercial to YouTube, which I’ve embedded at the top of this post. )

We’re just scratching the surface of content distribution, and it’s not going to be the same for every brand – or even every project.  Consider this an invitation to spend some time finding (and noting for future use) all of the different outposts for your audiences and the subjects related to your brand, and challenge yourself to keep growing that list – and using it in your future communications campaigns.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

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