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When State Street Global Advisors wanted to make a statement about boardroom diversity in companies around the world, they settled on a PR ‘stunt’ that captured public attention and ensured millions of dollars in publicity for their company and their cause.

 

What they didn’t bargain on was themselves being subject to action for a gender-related issue with their own employees to take the gloss off what was a well-executed installation.

 

The bronze statue ‘Fearless Girl’, with hands on hips in a defiant pose, was commissioned and installed near Wall Street in front of the famous Charging Bull statute which itself was commissioned following the stock market crash of 1987 to signal the American people’s strength and power.

 

Fearless Girl was originally installed on Wall Street on the eve of International Women’s Day 2017, accompanied by a call on the companies in which State Street Global Advisors invests to increase the number of women on their corporate boards.

 

Since that day, State Street – which has assets under management of nearly $3 trillion — has focused on more than 700 publicly-traded companies without a single woman on their board. Among those companies, 152 have since added a female director to their board and another 34 companies have pledged to do so. The firm has also voted against more than 500 companies that failed to take action.

 

The statue dominated social media from its launch, garnering more than one billion Twitter impressions in the first 12 hours, eventually reaching 4.6 billion impressions and 745 million Instagram impressions over 12 weeks. Millions of dollars in news media value has also been generated.

 

The statue and campaign has been successful in sending a strong diversity call into boardrooms not just in the US but around the world. She is soon to be relocated to Wall Street, opposite the New York Stock Exchange.

 

What wasn’t factored into the campaign was action against the company itself discriminating against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than male colleagues, according to US regulators.

 

In late 2017, the company announced it was paying $5 million to settle charges that it underpaid about 300 of its own female employees. Whilst it has disputed the findings of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programmes relating to salaries back in 2010-11, it decided to cooperate and settle in order to bring about a resolution.

 

The irony in the timing of the settlement of the charges was not lost on many as it occurred while Fearless Girl was still gathering massive attention for its gender-equity goal.

 

It shows that despite the best intentions, such a high-profile marketing ploy ensured intense scrutiny of the company and its own operations and would have caused many red faces at the Boston-based financier.

“We feel comfortable that the issue of gender diversity within our own company is an area where we are very committed,” State Street Global Advisors vice-president of marketing communications and global marketing Liz Serotte, who was part of the team who created the Fearless Girl campaign, told The Australian Financial Review.

 

“We’ve made steady progress and we can point to a lot of the advances that we’ve made in the past five years or so in hiring women at executive levels, [and] promotions of women at executive levels.”

 

Fearless Girl also was met with criticism from the American-Italian artist who created Charging Bull, which has stood south of Wall Street for nearly 30 years, alleging that Fearless Girl breached his copyright and distorted his artistic message and vowed to sue.

Main image credit: Flickr Anthony Quintano | quintanomedia

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When it comes to content production and marketing, one of the biggest traps businesses fall into is trying to communicate through too many channels without a clear goal in mind. Thanks to the digital landscape on which we live, there are so many ways to create a message and even more ways to engage with people.

It’s a tremendous opportunity, and one that should not be taken for granted. However, therein lies the issue – many businesses fall under the FOMO spell (Fear Of Missing Out) and try to communicate through too many channels at once in in fear of failing to get their message across.


The end result is a waste of time and resources, and a number of KPIs that may never be met.


When I was a younger PR practitioner, there were times when my competence was judged on how many channels I could come up with to engage with our audience. For a while I was sure that the key to business success was to launch a message through every form of content known to man. The result was an audience who felt they were being spammed.


I soon realised that there was a difference between being strategic and being lazy. In order to ensure your message, and your business, succeeds, you must first ask ‘Why’ – why is this an effective medium for my message? Why will people respond to this form of communication?


I believe in using more than one channel for content production and marketing, but being strategic is vital.


So, how do you choose the right delivery for your content?


While it’s not fun to fail, experimenting with certain content marketing mediums is useful to find out how your audience engages with your brand. Pay attention to the data and take note of open rates, clicks, views and responses to ‘call-to-action’ prompts.


It’s also good to focus more on who you want to specifically engage with, rather than focusing first on how you wish to reach them. An internal newsletter, for example, via Mail Chimp or Vision 6 may be more effective for a mailing list of company members and sponsors.


Deciding on what to actually say should also be a priority over the medium. Would your message be more effective amongst the headlines of a reputable news source, or would it be better conveyed through a video shared through social media?


While there are certainly challenges involved, today’s landscape allows for great potential for the forward-thinking content producer with the ambition to properly utilise what is available.

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Producing high-quality narrative content can be time consuming and expensive. Whether it is based on research, customer testimonials or product focussed, your written content is the foundation of successful marketing.

Well-executed high-impact narrative content will address your buyers’ concerns at every potential stumbling block throughout the buying cycle, easing their worries and ushering them to the next step in the process. Despite its importance many marketers will make the fundamental error of utilising narrative content in too few channels, wasting the opportunity to supercharge their return on investment.

With some simple creative thinking every piece of content can, and should, be utilised across at least five different owned, earned and paid channels. Developing a simple strategy for each and every piece of content you produce to maximise its value across other channels should be a fundamental part of the ideation, planning and execution strategy. This re-purposing of content for alternative channels will supercharge your investment.

START WITH A FOUNDATIONAL PIECE

Over many years as a publicist I’ve learned that high-quality, proprietary research is PR ‘gold’. Insightful research packaged in a good media release can deliver many multiples of return from editorial coverage in the earned media.

But the story should never end there. The narrative essentials of a media release – strong headline, great lead paragraph, some quotes and background contextualisation – are often very specific to their purpose. However, like almost any piece of content produced for a specific purpose, it can form the genesis of countless other pieces.

While a media release is great for sending to journalists and storing on the news section of your website, the re-purposing of it it for other channels will significantly amplify its value.

CREATE A LONG-FORM, SEO-FRIENDLY FEATURE

Some of the most powerful content takes complex ideas and chunks them down into easily digestible bites – that is often the main purpose of a media release. For large parts of your audience, shortening narrative content down to a few hundred words or less is ideal. But for a small part of your audience, particularly if you work in the B2B space, long form content of more than 2,000 words can be extremely engaging and valuable.

Taking the time to expand your media release into a more detailed narrative and integrating an SEO keyword strategy with more of everything may take some time, it is these pieces that often become extremely valuable evergreen content that attracts traffic for months and years.

GO NATIVE

Many marketers often neglect using narrative content in paid media channels. Using narrative content in paid channels is primarily done using native advertising. For the uninitiated, native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look, feel and function of the media format in which they appear.  Native ads are often found in social media feeds, or as recommended content on a web page. Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads . They look like part of the editorial flow of the page.

READ MORE: Native Ad Spend Will Make Up Nearly 60% of Display Spending in 2018.

The key to native advertising is that it is non-disruptive – it exposes the reader to advertising content without sticking out like a sore thumb. Highly-engaging narrative content utilising the principals of narrative storytelling are most suited to native advertising.


TELL YOUR TEAM

The main priority of marketers requires that are often focussed exclusively on external audiences. Finding and recruiting new customers is their primary purpose. Sometimes, particularly in large companies, there can be a large disconnect between the way a brand is positioned externally and the way other, non marketing, functions within a company see the brand.

Sharing narrative content and explaining the how, why, what and where it is being used externally is a great way to build a commonality of purpose within an organisation. If product developers know how their work is being sold to customers there should be a much greater alignment of interests.

ADD INTERACTIVE VISUALS

Findings from the 2015 Content Preferences Survey show that a majority (91%) of buyers prefer visual and interactive content rather than traditional, text-based formats. This higher level of buyer engagement offers prospects a more valuable buying experience — while also providing marketers with deeper insights for future marketing initiatives.

Adding interactive elements to popular content formats such as video can boost engagement and lead to greater insights about prospective buyers, experts noted. Short videos, image galleries, infographics, interactive tools, calculators are all great tools to give your narrative content so extra oomph. Even a simple thing like extracting a quote from the piece and turning it into a graphic can improve engagement.

This list is by no means exhaustive but a good start to understanding how getting creative can turn one idea into many opportunities.

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