Tag Archives: andi narvaez

The Obvious Thing to Do in Austin While You’re at SXSW

fbcb1b3aAlthough I am a local, I did not want to write a “Things To Do in Austin While You’re at SXSW” blog post. But I did want to offer valuable insight to the 27,000 people headed this way for the event before it kicks off next week. Here it is: The thing to do in Austin while you’re at SXSW is, in fact, SXSW.

Duh, right?

The reason this hardly-an-epiphany merits a blog post is that the unique nature of SXSW — the fact that it’s expansive in every possible way including geographically, topically, demographically and programmatically — makes it almost impossible to avoid the pitfall of getting distracted, as well as spreading oneself out too thin.

Below is some advice from yours truly and excerpts for the best SXSW Survival Guide I have seen in EVER, mostly because it’s so very short and not really that sweet. Courtesy of TechCrunch.

From Me

  • Attend Sessions.  Do take the time to figure out your schedule and come eager to learn from speakers and share thoughts with peers. Because isn’t that first and foremost the whole point? Don’t kill yourself waiting in line to go to a party or feast at Franklin’s BBQ. You can always come back to Austin another time. Related: TechCrunch’s FOMO tip below.
  • Keep It Real. SXSW is the perfect example of Austin’s wonderful ability to twist and transform into any shape imaginable. Last year, Nokia built a three-domed structure that occupied over 4,000 square feet of floor space and featured “immersive” projections and interactive visualizations. My point? Some brands are going to go over-the-top in a misguided attempt to “keep it weird,” but you’ll be better off sticking with those that keep it real.
  • Put Your Feet Up. The SXSW Interactive Lounges will be great for that because they are strategically dispersed and they are designed to protect you from all the madness without you having to completely remove yourself. You may not get the chance to put your feet up on a chair… but sitting on the floor, with your back against the wall, sharing a charger with a fellow SXSWgoer is what it’s all about.

From TechCrunch

  • Pack for the worst and hope for the best. We’re expecting rain over the weekend. This excerpt updated with latest weather forecast (see below).
  • Take a night off. Pick your night, turn off your phone, and SLEEP.
  • Pace yourself. The thing about Austin is that it’s cheap. Beer? $2.50. Wine isn’t too much more (…) But nights are long and we’re not as young as we once were. (DAMN IT.) Take your time, drink water between your (free) drinks and you’ll thank me later.
  • F*ck FOMO. The only thing you’ll be missing out on by skipping that “hot” party with the gigantic line is serendipity.
  • Grab a friend and go off-grid. Duck out and go hang out somewhere less crowded. This may result in an afternoon full of unexpected, pleasant conversations.
  • Don’t wear your company’s brand on your shirt every day. Makes you look ridiculous.
  • Exercise. Do it. There’s a running trail around Lady Bird Lake and likely an (empty) gym at your hotel. Even if you’re exhausted, a 30-minute workout will rejuvenate you.
  • Say hello to a stranger on the street. Find out their story. Share yours. That’s what SXSW is all about. And I promise you, it’s not that hard.
  • Advil. THE BIG BOTTLE.

If you’re not making it down to Austin for SXSW this year, you have none of this to worry about!

You Say B2C, They Say B2B, I Say B2X

In a recent conversation with a colleague, we agreed that most B2B companies don’t look to B2C companies for examples of out-of-the-box content marketing programs that can be translated to the B2B communications lifecycle and customer experience. I think  two primary reasons why this is the case are that:

  • Most B2B companies don’t think they products are “sexy” enough to merit the use of content marketing strategies that they still see as non-traditional and even unconventional.
  • B2B companies are under high pressure to send leads down the sales funnel and they don’t associate content marketing with strategies that directly impact the bottom line.

Perhaps we are too focused on the differences rather than on the similarities between B2B and B2C companies, as it pertains to business communications.

  • A top challenge for both B2C and B2B companies is the need to reach prospective customers and convert leads into sales.
  • Both B2C and B2B companies are concerned with engaging customers/buyers and influencers to create loyalty and turn them into advocates. It costs more to secure new customers than to nurture existing relationships.
  • Both B2C and B2C companies want to create brands that are memorable and to establish them as leaders in their product or industry category.
  • Both B2B and B2C should be capturing better analytics and leveraging insights to refine communications strategy.

content-priorities-curata-200114

These are  things content marketing can do for companies – regardless of whether they sell to individuals or to other companies. And here is where I’d like to note that B2B also sells to individuals who turn to peers and others for recommendations around enterprise solutions. This is why I propose using the term B2X to refer to the type of company that implements content marketing strategy tailored to effectively reach a highly targeted audience – university professors, chocolate lovers, care providers, CIOs, community managers, orange juice drinkers…

I recently read this great post on why the “human” story behind  a company’s product can make for better products and content marketing experiences. I couldn’t agree more. The true power of content marketing  lies not  on how it can sell consumer or enterprise products, but on how it can tell the story behind them and, in so doing, help target audiences relate to the problem the products help address and – of course – to the solution, which are the products themselves.

How B2B Companies Can Use Twitter to Make an Impact in 140 Characters

Over the last few months, I have conducted a qualitative assessment of 18 B2B Twitter accounts. This involved the evaluation of activity over a 3-6 months period of time (depending on the number of tweets sent each month). Research was my favorite while I was in graduate school, so I’m ashamed to admit that this was fun for me.

B2BTwitterAs of June 2013, Twitter has 232 million active users, so I know my research was not at all exhaustive. In fact, those 18 Twitter accounts are not a big enough sample of B2B accounts on Twitter. However, in light of the fact that 85% of B2B marketers use Twitter, I felt compelled to share some of my observations with you because several things continued to repeat themselves even across this tiny pool of B2B accounts.

The big takeaway is that B2B companies are using Twitter to a limited extent – at best, they are acting mainly as content curators; at worst, they are simply broadcasting content and failing to add any value. These corporate accounts seemed overly cautious and they demonstrate a limited understanding of Twitter’s potential as a platform to relate to and connect with key B2B publics. Still, several of these accounts have anywhere from 1,000 to 8,000 followers on Twitter. But my graduate professors always encouraged me to ask… So what? If most of those followers are not strategic for the company (or worse, bots!) then every tweet is a wasted effort and will not bring results that are aligned with the company’s business communications objectives.

Here is a short list of the biggest no-nos I observed throughout these assessments, as well as best practices B2B companies can implement in order to move their social media programs forward, in the direction of their business communications goals.

B2B Twitter No-Nos

  • Publishing way too much content, especially at bad times
  • Sharing content that is mostly by or about the company
  • Sharing content about topics that are all over the place and not timely aligned with the company’s message or strategy
  • Not sharing third-party industry content with added-value commentary
  • Sharing content that doesn’t address customer pain points
  • Using a broadcast approach that doesn’t drive engagement
  • Not sharing compelling visuals or other rich media that tell a story
  • Using hashtags that don’t add context to tweets around industry trends
  • No calls to action, but lots of rhetorical questions instead (Isn’t it annoying when someone asks a question they already know the answer to? Are they really asking for your opinion or just using the question as click-bait?)
  • Using a one-way corporate vs. a unique brand voice
  • Making few mentions of publications or influencers to drive engagement
  • No RTs of other’s content or replies to mentions

Best Practices for B2B Companies on Twitter

Content Inventory. Invest some time to assess what “evergreen” content is currently available on your company blog or website that can be repurposed in light of new context and shared with key groups so as to amplify reach.

Twitter lists. Create Twitter lists for key groups or current and desired followers and spend 30 minutes to one hour at least three days per week to skim through to retweet and reply, even if influencers are not mentioning your company directly.

Industry hashtags. Monitor and leverage key industry hashtags when appropriate in order to remain part of searchable industry conversations and to leverage as social SEO.

Adding value. It is OK to share content by and about your company, as long as it is balanced by industry articles. When doing so, share rich media, photos (directly uploaded in order to display better on the channels), videos and blog content with the aim to add value to industry conversations, rather than solely promote your brand.

Engage Influencers. Share industry articles, mentioning influencers and publication when possible, and adding thoughtful/provocative commentary or follow-up questions to cultivate thought leadership and drive engagement.

Social voice. Share interesting data points, accolades, use cases, customer stories, etc. using a tone that is upbeat, refreshing and doesn’t feel like corporate speak or headlines. This voice should always remain aligned with strategic brand messaging.

Drive conversations. Vary your approaches for sharing content using calls to action, questions, data points, trivia, true/false, quizzes, etc. while still leveraging industry hashtags and sharing original and third-party content that is in line with the corporate communications strategy, themes and messages.

Practice balance. Find a balance between creating new content and sharing with the audiences that will help amplify its reach. Moreover, consider sharing individual content assets multiple times, using different approaches, based on follower personas.

Paid content. As you expand your owned content repository (blogs, infographics, eBooks, white papers, etc.) consider leveraging paid social ads (promoted tweets, sponsored Facebook posts, paid LinkedIn posts, etc.) in order to amplify the reach of your digital assets to highly targeted audiences.

Social monitoring. Consider adding the top 100 influencers participating in relevant industry conversations and those talking about your company to separate Twitter lists in order to monitor those groups more closely to interact with them on a more regular basis.

Empower Ambassadors. Transform corporate executives into Twitter ambassadors by establishing a corporate social media program that enables them to share thoughts around industry trends, breaking news and technology innovation in a refreshing way. RT from the corporate account to showcase your company’s leadership and industry thought leadership.

B2b-content-marketing-benchmarks

(Source: MarketingProfsB2B image via Shutterstock.)

A Recipe for Owned-Earned-Paid-Shared Content Strategy

This post was part of a holiday-themed campaign I developed for Lois Paul and Partners, which culminated in the publication of this free eBook containing 13 PR recipes with best ingredients and practices required to achieve great PR results. See it here >> http://bit.ly/LPPcookbook

Just as “foodies” have made us care more about what we eat, the increasing number of socially-savvy consumers – from bloggers to C-level decision-markets – have made us care more about what we say and do online. While the foodie culture has resulted in more sophisticated dining experiences, companies are implementing more sophisticated business communications programs via an owned-earned-paid-shared approach that focuses on delivering unique experiences through digital content that tells a consistent story,  inspires engagement, drives conversations, and reaches key audiences throughout the communications lifecycle and the customer journey.

dinner-party

The analogy for implementing an owned-earned-paid-shared strategy is not a recipe, but rather a hectic dinner party – Some items will be ready to serve while others are still in the oven. Some people may already be sitting down while others are still walking in and spending time greeting other guests. Or there may be more than one chef in the kitchen. But if your agency can be trusted to lead the orchestration of all the moving parts of your strategy, you are in good hands.

Ingredients:

  1. Channels
  2. Content
  3. Conversation
  4. Conversion

First, get your house in order. Refresh you social channels by scrubbing the “about” section, links and other information. Organize existing content into albums, playlists, etc. to make it accessible and searchable. Work with your design team to give your channels a makeover.

Owned Content

I consider Betty Crocker one of my best friends because she keeps me from starting from scratch. Likewise, you should assess and create an inventory of your existing content and determine what is “evergreen” and can be repurposed and leveraged via social channels around industry trends, future announcements and specific phases of the customer lifecycle. You should also meet with your PR and marketing teams to determine what original content can be created on a quarterly basis or around major news, events or milestones. Plan ahead to ensure the message behind the content truly tells a story.

Earned Content

You wouldn’t just invite anyone to your dinner party. The key to succeeding in an owned-earned-paid-shared ecosystem is to find the balance between producing new content and putting that content in the hands of the right people who will help amplify it to your key customers to drive conversations. Develop a list of top influencers to track regularly and target with your content to secure coverage. You should also explore other ways to earn content – empowering customers to become brand evangelists, turning your executives into contributors, speaking opps at industry events, etc.

Paid Content

There is a misconception that putting things online is free. But the reality is that it takes time and definitely money. More brands are using promoted tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts to target audiences who use social media to discuss topics associated with their brand’s products/services. Imagine that you are selling a new men’s razor and you pay to place a billboard on a highway where ONLY bearded men drive their cars. Social advertising works just like that. The challenge today is the number of options have broadened – from YouTube ads to entire sections within publications (WIRED Innovation Insights is sponsored by IBM, among others) – your choice of paid content vehicle, of course, should be determined by the goals of your program.

Shared Content

This is the fun part, but only if you have successfully managed to implement and orchestrate the other moving parts – created original owned content, leveraged that content to secure earned opportunities, and paid to amplify the reach of that content to key audiences. This last part is your guests sitting down and enjoying the dinner party so much that they ask you for the recipe, they stick around for drinks later, they call to invite you to their house, they friend you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter and – all along the way – meaningful relationships develop.

PR Implications of Publications Embracing All-Digital Futures

6a00d83452b15969e20191040c070a970cFollowing an announcement byNetwork World a couple of weeks ago that they would be killing their print publication, Information Weekannounced last week that they too are leaving print for an all-digital future.

We already know that newsrooms are short on staff, with individual reporters covering several beats. Staff cuts and tight budgets have also led to decreased media attendance at industry and vendor events. And as more publications move to an all-digital format, fewer reporters are now responsible for publishing more stories on an even more regular basis.

And, as publications compete for money from advertisers and sponsors, many reporters are now tasked to help increase readership.

What impact does this have on PR programs and on how we can best continue to cultivate relationships with reporters and publications undergoing significant changes in format and business models?

  • Expect more dynamic annual editorial calendars. Some publications have already abandoned their annual editorial calendar and have announced other coverage opportunities throughout the year, as well as requests for more dynamic content such as slideshows, etc. This means PR pros have to keep in better touch with reporters year-round and be more proactive in our approach to identify media opportunities.  The next best opportunity may be a brand new one just announced.
  • On a related note, there are increasing numbers of more nontraditional opportunities for coverage in these digital publications, including slideshows, video, audio podcasts, Q&As, etc. PR pros need to develop materials such as bylines, product images, videos, blog posts and other digital-friendly content that we can share with media on behalf of our clients. One of our contacts said they appreciate receiving “interesting factoids” about the industry or uses of technology.  This content also can be leveraged via social media channels, which is a great way to close the coverage loop and maximize reach.
  • As noted above, the pressure for smaller editorial staffs to publish more stories in an all-digital format creates more opportunities for bylines and contributed content. This is a great way for PR pros to extend their clients’ messages and storytelling.  But just because the content is contributed, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to meet editorial standards of relevance and objectivity.  The PR teams who produce on-target materials for key outlets will open doors for their clients and build strong relationships with the editors and reporters.
  • Finally, as more reporters are being judged on the amount of traffic they are driving to the publication’s website, we will see more of them leveraging social media as a way to promote their work and build closer relationships with their audiences. PR pros should continue to share coverage via our social media channels and mention reporters to help increase their reach. We should also look at opportunities to create content with reporters and influencers.  Invite them to host Twitter chats or to serve as panelists in online discussions.  Maybe even switch things up a bit and interview them for a video or blog post focused on industry trends, etc. They are industry experts after all.

How are you approaching PR given the ongoing changes in media and journalism? What other implications should PR pros be aware of?