How to Make Your Content Stand Out

Let me begin by thanking you for taking time to read this post. You could be watching a video of grumpy cat or looking at photos of your BFF’s children on Facebook.

That’s the reality of content today. As someone who produces content I know that I am competing against “an infinite ocean of content.” Sarah Skerik, vice president of content marketing for PRNewswire, discussed the topic during a recent webinar.

Whether you are producing content for your company or for yourself as a freelancer or author, it’s critical to recognize that you are competing against much more content than ever. So what do you do?

Florence, Italy

Images make content stand out, which is why I included this one of Florence, Italy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Begin by finding different angles to appeal to different audiences. For example, best-selling author Adriana Trigiani writes books that are set in New York and Italy.

Her readers want to know more about the settings so working with a close friend, they established a tour company that takes readers to the locales so they can learn more about the settings in the book. That’s an extreme example, and it works.

Author Ellen Crosby wrote a series of mysteries set in Virginia’s wine country and her social media posts often included information about vineyards and wine. She not only appeals to those who enjoy her books, but also to wine lovers.

Another step is to rethink the press release. You want to make it easy for bloggers and others to tweet about your press release so keep the headline short. Keeping the headline short also ensures that the release can be properly indexed by search engines. Character length should be about 65. If you need more, use a subhead.

The key is to make the press release something that people want to interact with. Interaction, Skerik says, is worth measuring. Measurement includes the number of times it is shared and how it ranks when searched, for example. Shares are a measure of engagement and can influence purchase decisions, according to Unruly, a marketing technology company that created an infographic about the Super Bowl and shares.

One way to encourage interaction is to include visuals in a press release or blog. These visuals can then be pinned on Pinterest or other social sites, creating more play for you.

Writing the press release, blog or online story is just the first step. It’s important to take the time to think about how you can get people interested in your content. How do you ensure that your content is noticed?

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Content Is King

Today everybody is a content expert.

DSCN2216“Years ago we used to just call that communications,” said Jon Newman of the The Hodges Partnership. He was speaking to a group of PR practitioners about how content is king.

He challenged the audience to consider several questions, including:

  • How are we going to spread out the content?
  • How are we going to manage it?
  • Where are audiences getting the content?
  • What is competing for their attention?

Newman cited one study that said 90 percent of information comes from screens, whether it’s a computer, tablet or smartphone. People spend 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of screens.

“Think about what that means for your content,” he said.

One of the challenges for many is that with all the screens, more content is needed. Jon challenges that notion and suggests that most of us actually have more content than we realize. His recommendation is to conduct a content audit. One way to track is to use an editorial calendar. At least 20 percent of your content should be original and the rest can be from other sources. “Then it doesn’t look like you’re simply selling or pushing your content,” he says.

Once you know your sources of content and you know that people are using more screens, think about how you deliver the content. It’s okay to repeat content on different platforms because someone who follows you on Twitter may not read your blog. Sharing content visually is important, too, especially on screens. Most importantly, content must break through the clutter – quality counts.