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You’ve been hearing Google preaching about the mobile experience for some time now. “Make sure your website is mobile friendly!” they say, and while being just ‘friends’ has its benefits, you really need a stronger connection than that.

Google have announced that all new domains will default to mobile-first indexing as of 1st July 2019. This isn’t unexpected, and is a logical step considering that mobile devices account for over 2/3 of internet traffic.

Google announced plans for mobile-first indexing in 2016, but for a lot of people, 2019 may be the first time they’ve heard of it. Mobile-first indexing is Google’s way of saying they are solely prioritising the mobile experience of a website when assigning organic search rankings, meaning how well your website performs on mobile is now the deciding factor of how well you can rank in organic search results.

“But I already own my domain!” you say. While this announcement specifically mentions new domains, an earlier Google announcement in December 2018 revealed that more than half of websites crawled are already subject to mobile-first indexing.

Look At His Little Socks

Urge to open an eCommerce site for dog socks rising… (Source: Tumblr/hypedogs)

But Why Is Mobile-First Indexing Important?

Access your Google Analytics dashboard and view your traffic sources. There’s a good chance you’re looking at a large slice of pie that illustrates you’re receiving a LOT of traffic from organic search results.

Let’s say you sold customised socks for dogs online. You receive 80,000 visitors per month, 40% of that traffic came from organic search (32,000 visitors), a 2% conversion rate and an average order value of $20.

1,600 visitors bought socks, with $32,000 in revenue.

What if half of that organic search traffic disappeared overnight?

Now only 1,280 visitors bought socks, netting $25,600 in revenue.

You just lost $6,400.

Don’t Panic

By not prioritising mobile-first indexing via improving your website’s mobile experience you run the risk of your hard-earned rankings slipping into the abyss of search results beyond page 1, resulting in valuable organic traffic being lost to competitors.

An eCommerce example was used above, however the same logic can be applied to lead generation websites (especially small business) or informational websites that generate advertising revenue. Leads have a quantifiable dollar value once you’ve determined their weight, but Display advertising is generally paid for by impressions (views), and if you’ve lost a sizeable number of eyeballs viewing because of fingers not clicking, your hip pocket will feel the pinch next.

Google PageSpeed Insights Mobile First Indexing

Ouch. Room for improvement?

So What Can I Do?

This is an important strategy to consider immediately, take the time to create a measured and rational strategy to accommodate mobile-first indexing to preserve (or improve) your organic search rankings.

Try these easy tests first:

  • Check your site’s Page Speed Index here, is the mobile score green? What are the most problematic areas?
  • Or, view your site on your mobile device, is it legible? Do certain items take up too much space on screen? Do you have intrusive popups?

If you’re not seeing promising results using these tools, or if you need a hand navigating the jargon, get in touch with us here at RGC Media & Mktng to discuss the best way for you to navigate 2019.

Feature Image: Talladega Nights (2006) 

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Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

Noisy, ugly and dirty. Advertising has polluted cities, annoyed consumers, and jeopardised its own existence. Beyond a mass-media cacophony, brand communications’ significant carbon footprint and runaway consumption are certainly contributing to what economists call market failure.

In the UK, for instance, advertising produces 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. That’s equivalent to heating 364,000 UK homes for a year, according to CarbonTrack.

In this sense, should messages such as a City of Melbourne campaign inviting people to cycle more even be allowed? On the one hand, it is better to communicate a solution (cycling) to the issue than not. On the other, if the communication contributes to the problem more than the solution, what’s the point of it?

Jerry Seinfeld’s 2014 infamous line at the Clio awards called out the advertising sector to its face:

I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.

Jerry Seinfeld’s speech about advertising at the 2014 Clio Awards.

Still, contrary to that sentiment, marketers and their brands can (and should) move away from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution for sustainable development and the industry’s own sustainability.

Offering A New Outlook

The urbanisation megatrend wholly underpins other forces shaping the way we live, now and in the future. Although cities occupy only 2% of Earth’s landmass, that is where 75% of energy consumption occurs. Advertising growth is also concentrated in big cities.

Because of increased demand for ever more comfortable lifestyles, urban infrastructures have been feeling “growing pains” for decades now. Whether it’s energy, education, health, waste management or safety, cities’ services are struggling to keep up with their larger and “hungrier” populations.

The strategic opportunity here is to reframe brand communications from the promotion of conspicuous consumption to becoming a regenerative force in the economy of cities. That means using brands’ touch points as more than mere messengers, but rather delivering public utility services. I’ve coined it Urban Brand-Utility.

For example, Domino’s Pizza’s Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes, cracks and bumps said to be responsible for “irreversible damage” to pizzas during the drive home.

This may sound silly, but the US National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission estimates that simply to maintain the nation’s highways, roads and bridges requires investment by all levels of government of US$185 billion a year for the next 50 years. Today, the US invests about US$68 billion a year.

The Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes that Domino’s says ‘can cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive home’. Domino’s Pizza

According to Bill Scherer, mayor of Bartonville, Texas: “This unique, innovative partnership allowed the town of Bartonville to accomplish more potholes repairs.” Eric Norenberg, city manager of Milford, Delaware, said: “We appreciated the extra Paving for Pizza funds to stretch our street repair budget as we addressed more potholes than usual.”

In Moscow, major Russian real estate developers approached Sberbank to collaborate on better infrastructure planning in residential areas. People’s opinions on local needs fuelled targeted campaigns, promoting loans for small businesses. The “Neighbourhoods” campaign generated nine times as many small-business responses as traditional bank loan advertising.

The ‘Neighbourhoods’ campaign sought people’s opinions on local neighbourhood needs.

In other words, people had their needs met. And neighbourhoods become more attractive as a result. The city increases tax collection from the new businesses being set up, which also reduces the costs of having to deal with derelict areas.

A Shift To Serving Citizen-Consumers

If we could see ourselves as citizen-consumers, as opposed to individual shoppers in the market, every dollar spent would enable business to tackle the issues that matter most.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. Let’s assume Domino’s Paving for Pizza program is taken to its full potential, generating a large surplus to the City of Bartonville by minimising the costs of repairing potholes. Rather than treating this as a one-off campaign, smart mayors would try to create a virtuous cycle, where the city retains 50% of the surplus, 25% is returned to the advertiser, and 25% goes to the agency and media owner – a value only unlocked by repeating the approach.

This way, marketing budgets are effectively turned into investment funds. The returns are in the form of brand cut-through, happier customers, social impact and more effective city management, as shown in the model below.

In a circular economy, products and services go beyond an end user’s finite life cycle. Similarly, Urban Brand-Utility looks at brand communications as closed loops by designing a system bigger than fixed campaign periods, target audiences and business-as-usual KPIs.

Brands with some level of foresight will be able to broaden their audiences from customers to citizens and their revenue model from sales to the creation of shared value. These will be game-changers for profit and prosperity.

Markets, choice and competition are not just a consumer’s best friend, but their civic representation. After all, as one of the tribunes asks the crowd in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “What is the city but the people?”

Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Social marketers are saying that their biggest goal with social media is to increase awareness and more than half (59%) use social to support their sales and lead generation objectives according to the latest findings from the Sprout Social Index.

Developing a strategy that supports their organisation’s goals is listed as the number one challenge that they face (nearly half of social marketers) and 43% saying that a major challenge is properly identifying and understanding their social audience.

Planning and strategy are even more important than ever for a social media campaign to have true effectiveness and social listening, monitoring your brand’s social media channels for customer feedback and insights, will become even more important, a fact known to social marketers.

According to the report social marketer’s top goals for social include:

  • Increase Brand Awareness 70%;
  • Sales/Lead Generation 59%;
  • Increase Community Engagement 48%;
  • Grow My Brand’s Audience;
  • Increase Web Traffic 45%.

But how do marketers define engagement when measuring social success? 72% seek likes and/or comments; 62% desire shares and/or retweets; 60% seek interaction with consumers; and 34% desire revenue attribution. Inspiring consumers to take action (32%) and inspiring an emotional response were indicated by 29% of marketers.

What Social Platforms Do Marketers And Consumers Use?

Marketers Follow Brands On:Consumers Follow Brands On:
Facebook 89%Facebook 66%
Instagram 65%Instagram 41%
Twitter 50%Twitter 22%
Youtube 49%Youtube 35%
Facebook Messenger 44%Facebook Messenger 13%
LinkedIn 38%LinkedIn 6%
Snapchat 28%Snapchat 14%
Pinterest 28%Pinterest 17%

89% of marketers say they use Facebook as part of their brand’s social strategy.

What Does Your Audience Want?

To align your goals with consumer actions it is important to know how and why consumers are using social media.

The report revealed:

Why Consumers Follow Brands On Social Media

Why Consumers Unfollow Brands In Social Media


A good understanding of these responses is required to align your social media activity to truly engage with consumers and not alienate them with irrelevant or ‘spammy’ content.

Social Posts That Encourage Consumers Likes And Shares

What sort of posts are likely to elicit a positive response from consumers?

Type Of PostLike/Comment OnShare
Posts That Entertain67%55%
Posts That Inspire57%50%
Posts That Teach46%38%
Posts That Tell A Story38%37%
Discounts Or Sales37%38%

There’s been a shift away by consumers of discounts and sales and a flight to entertaining and inspiring content compared to previous surveys.

Whilst Facebook continues to dominate the social landscape, marketers need to dig deeper to understand their audience and understand that consumers want to be engaged and entertained before they buy.

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The proliferation of fake news and social media platforms’ inability to stamp it out is driving more Australians to engage with online news in private spaces like closed, curated interest groups.

The fifth annual Digital News Report (DNR) produced by the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra was released this week and showed that while Facebook remains the most used social media platform for news, but there has been a small drop in its use for news from 39% in 2017 to 36% in 2019. On the other hand, the use of YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram for news has risen and messaging apps are becoming a popular way to access news.

Key Facts

  • Using Facebook for news has decreased since 2016 (-9), while YouTube (+4), Snapchat (+3), and Instagram (+4) have risen.
  • There has been a drop in online news engagement across all sharing, commenting and liking activity.
  • The most popular mode of sharing news continues to be talking face-to-face with friends and colleagues (37%).

The report showed there has been a slight decline in most types of online news engagement from 2016 to 2019. While 63% of Australian news consumers have engaged in one or more online or offline news-sharing activities, there has been a slight overall drop in the past few years.

SOCIAL MEDIA BRANDS FOR NEWS (%)

SOURCE: The Digital News Report: Australia 2019

This corresponds with a decline in Facebook use for news which the report authors said was possibly due to increased concern about the unreliability of the online information environment. Most online news consumers in Australia (62%) remain concerned about what is real or fake on the internet, which is higher than the global average (55%).

This lack of trust in the quality of news combined with a lack of confidence in expressing views publicly is also leading to lower engagement with ‘sharing’, ‘commenting’ and ‘liking’ of news all falling on recent years.

However, behind closed ‘doors’ where membership is often restricted and comes with community-defined rules of behaviour, it is a different matter.

More than half of Facebook users (59%) say they have joined and participated in a Facebook group and 68% of WhatsApp users says they are involved in a group on WhatsApp. Popular public groups on Facebook and WhatsApp are related to hobbies and local community issues, whereas public groups about news and politics are less popular (7%: Facebook; 6%: WhatsApp).

The rapid growth in the use of social media platforms for accessing news is continually creating an environment where social endorsements or so-called social signals such as comments, ‘likes’, or shares play a key role in the sharing and consumption of online news.

Younger news consumers, Gen Z and Y are more likely to engage with these social endorsements, while sharing a news story via email is more popular among older news consumers.

Key Report Findings

NEWS MEDIA PERFORMANCE

  • Two thirds of Australian news consumers (66%) agree the news media keeps them up to date.
  • Less than half (45%) agree that journalism is holding the powerful to account.
  • 44% agree the news media are often too negative.
  • 28% agree the topics chosen by the news media do not feel relevant to them.

POLITICAL ORIENTATION AND NEWS

  • Two thirds (65%) have low interest in politics.
  • Left-wing news consumers are much more likely to fact-check than right-wing.
  • More than half (53%) of right-wing orientated news consumers perceive the news to be too negative compared to 41% of left-wing consumers.
  • News consumers who “don’t know” their political orientation use the fewest number of news brands.

PAYING FOR NEWS AND DIGITAL CONTENT

  • Paying for online news (14%) is close to the global average (13%).
  • More Australians would rather subscribe to video streaming services (34%) than online news (9%).
  • There is a gender paying gap; 17% of men pay for online news compared to 10% of women.
  • 83% of news consumers encounter unwanted paywalls at least once a month.

FAKE NEWS AND FACT CHECKING

  • 62% of Australian online news consumers remain concerned about what is real or fake on the internet.
  • 36% of news consumers say they have checked a news story for accuracy.
  • 26% of people concerned about fake news have started using more reliable news sources.
  • People who access five or more news brands are the most likely to fact-check.

TRUST IN NEWS

  • Trust in news has fallen globally, including in Australia.
  • Distrust in social media has risen from 45% in 2018 to 49% in 2019 and trust in social media has fallen from 24% to 18%.
  • Those who trust news avoid it less and are less worn out by it.
  • Trust is much higher among those who access online brands directly (65%).
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Education is a journey. It is a long-term and often ongoing experience we embark upon to attain knowledge and better ourselves. During this ‘student journey’, we often associate our schools, universities and other institutions merely as tools or locations we need in order to achieve our goals.

In fact, when we embark on the student journey the campuses, teachers and even intangible curriculums travel alongside us. For example, when someone decides to pursue a Master of Business Administration, the business school they enrol with becomes a companion every step of the way, providing the necessary support to help reach the finish line.

Student and the business schools, however, have different priorities and must prepare accordingly for each phase of the student journey.

Searching, contemplating and recruitment

At this stage, students are considering studying an MBA and are on the lookout for the business school that will best suit their needs. Students need to consider their personal commitments, professional workload, location and flexibility. These considerations are vital so early on in the process, and so business schools must respond in kind by providing accurate and up-to-date information on their MBA programs.

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, students have reported that it is important to them that the information they receive about their course before they enrol is factual and accurate, because many who are beginning their MBA student journey can often find the experience initially confusing.

Enrolment

At enrolment the journey to acquiring an MBA still demands research and preparation. Most MBA programs in Australia require students to already have completed an undergraduate degree and hold several years of professional experience before pursuing an MBA. Business Schools also provide their own iteration of the program on top of the core business outcomes, meaning the specialisations, electives, costs, course content and delivery mode (on-campus or online) will vary. The MBA student journey cannot begin if the student does not know what is required.

Similar to the recruitment phase of the journey, business schools must again ensure they are providing accurate advice to ensure it meets a student’s needs before they enrol. They must also ensure that their students can understand details about the course, such as how long the course will take, the study requirements and assessment methods.

Studying and Assessment

Notes, textbooks, online materials and other academic resources are of course essential items to carry through this phase of the student journey. However, when it comes to studying an MBA, students need more than tangible items to get them through to the other side. It has been touched on before but a good MBA kit bag must also include the right inner qualities and personal characteristics. Throughout their studies, MBA students must ensure they have determination, integrity, discipline, entrepreneurship, teamwork, critical thinking and a willingness to challenge prior knowledge.

It is at this point that business schools must provide all the necessary resources and support to maximise the outcomes for the student. According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, it is important that:

  • teachers, trainers and assessors are professional and knowledgeable about their subjects and industry areas,
  • the amount of training is enough to allow students to practice new skills before they are assessed,
  • students can access good-quality learning resources and facilities, and
  • assessment activities are fair and well explained and students are given helpful feedback.

Many business schools have already addressed many of these elements in their MBA programs. For example, many schools appoint professors who have been or still are business professionals in their own right, resulting in classes being taught by former CEOs or current corporate directors.

Business schools must also be aware of the ‘support and progression’ phase of the student journey, which focusses on how they support students’ progression in their learning. This can be accomplished by providing easily accessible resources and materials like study support and study skills programs, mediation services, flexible scheduling and delivery, counselling services or referrals to these services and information and communications technology (ICT) support.

Graduation

The journey is over. Students have completed their studies and are eligible to receive an MBA. In this phase, students typically want to receive their certification in a timely manner to ensure they are not disadvantaged in seeking employment.

As for students; while the journey to achieving an MBA is over, it paves the way for a bigger journey of self-improvement, employment opportunities and career advancement. All there is left to consider is finding the will to use their newfound knowledge and achieve the success they desire in the business world.


Originally published on MBA News: www.mbanews.com.au/what-students-and-business-schools-need-to-pack-for-the-mba-journey

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Carl Rhodes, University of Technology Sydney

For decades Gillette has been selling razors using the slogan “the best a man can get”. This week the Procter & Gamble-owned brand has adopted “the best a man can be” as part of a marketing campaign meant to challenge toxic masculinity.

Explicitly aligning itself with the #metoo movement, the message is that men have to change if we want to end sexual harassment, bullying and domestic violence.

The campaign’s centrepiece, a 108-second “short film”, has divided opinion. Among those to declare their contempt for Gillette’s “virtue signalling” is the British television presenter Piers Morgan, who has labelled the advert “man-hating” and part of a “war on masculinity”.

On the other side, those lauding Gillette include Glamour magazine contributor Helen Wilson-Beevers, who has praised the video as a “self-assured piece of advertising that Gillette should be proud of”.



The new corporate political activism

Gillette’s campaign exemplifies a new type of corporate political activism where corporations and their chief executives publicly back progressive social and political causes.

A textbook example is Nike’s advertisements featuring American football player Colin Kaepernick, who began the practice of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans.

Whereas in the past corporations could be expected to be the targets of political activists – on such issues as climate change, worker exploitation and animal cruelty – today many corporations see advantages in becoming the activists.

Nike is the classic case study. In 1997 the company was being dragged over the public coals for the use of child labour in the factories it contracted to make its shoes in countries such as Indonesia. By 2017 some considered it a leader in corporate social activism.

This can be very good for business. Corporate activism is a marketing strategy geared at the management of corporate values and identity, as well as reputation building. It has been explicitly identified as having the twin objectives: to influence public opinion but also to improve consumer attitudes about the company.

Nike exemplifies this as well. While some saw the Kaepernick ad as a calculated market risk, it paid off. By the end of 2018 Nike’s sales far exceeded expectations, and its share price continued to rise.

This is not to say that nobody at Nike or Gillette genuinely believes in the causes the organisations have chosen to support. But that support would still have depended on the cause passing the “business case” test – with any social benefits seen as being matched to self-interested commercial benefits.

After all, we don’t see many corporations campaigning to eliminate aggressive corporate tax avoidance, even though that is the leading way they contribute to society.

Praise to #metoo

This tells us something about the causes corporate activists put their money behind. Put simply, when a corporation backs a progressive social movement it is because the company is reasonably confident its cause has mainstream support.

Gillette’s embrace of #metoo themes is thus a corporate endorsement of how mainstream that movement has become. In barely a year it has grown into a global social phenomena bringing women’s experiences of workplace sexual harassment and exploitation out of the shadows. In the words of the #metoo founder Tarana Burke, the goal is to build “a world free of sexual violence”.

That Gillette has aligned itself with the #metoo movement is not something for the brand to be congratulated on. It is #metoo that deserves the praise.

Carl Rhodes, Professor of Organization Studies, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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With ongoing algorithm changes to Facebook and Instagram in particular, the ability to communicate directly with your own database is more important than ever.

One medium of communication that is seeing a resurgence in value by organisations and marketers is the now humble email.

But what is it about email messaging that has lasted and brought it back into vogue as a valuable marketing tool?

Put simply, it is the only guaranteed-delivery option the internet has left.

As The Wall Street Journal’s technology reporter Christopher Mims recently wrote, “In the #deletefacebook era, it’s become a way to fight back against the algorithms that try to dictate what people see.”

Readers sign up to receive email communication and whilst your communication remains relevant, that should prevent them from hitting the unsubscribe button. Email is still free and a direct way of communication which can be personalised.

The key is take the view that you’re building a loyal and engaged community. Members are looking for you to provide insight, authenticity and interesting information — not just sales spiels.

And whilst the Snapchat generation may view email as being antiquated and not immediate, they all have email accounts. The truth is that you can’t rely on email marketing alone and you will ignore social media platforms at your peril. However, email marketing should hold a key place in your marketing communications mix.

email marketing

Mims quotes Wales-based jeans company Hiut Denim co-founder David Hieatt as saying, “If you ask me, would I want a mail­ing list with 1,000 peo­ple on it or 100,000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, I’d take the 1,000 emails all day long, be­cause the busi­ness you get from 1,000 emails will be much more than you get from 100,000 peo­ple on Twit­ter or In­sta­gram.”

Your email database is valuable and can be maximised from a marketing perspective very cost effectively. Ensure you build your database and gain the contact details of each new client or prospect.

Two very effective marketing programs which enable you to market effectively to your email database include Mailchimp and Marketo.

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that helps you to create marketing campaigns and share with clients, customers and other contacts. Mailchimp will assist with your list management and compliance with direct mail requirements. The platform enables you to manage subscribers, generate custom reports, view click-through and success rates, track your emails, and ensure full transparency of campaigns.

Marketo is a powerful engagement service offering a cloud-based email marketing platform with a range of capabilities including marketing automation, social marketing, lead nurturing, budget management, analytics, sales insight, and website personalisation. One of the big benefits is native integration with CRM suites such as Salesforce.com. A leading digital marketing suite, Marketo will streamline your email marketing processes and enable you to provide unique customer offers through personalisation.

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Building a strong network of media contacts is a crucial element to public relations and business. With 2019 well underway and communications strategies being finalised, establishing a connection with journalists personally or through your business should become a priority.

Here’s why.

Earned media is vital to reaching millions of readers

According to research by Roy Morgan in 2018, 16.1 million Australians over the age of 14 (that’s almost 80%) now read or access newspapers in an average seven-day period via print or online platforms. Although it is true that print readership has steadily declined over the years, there are still 7.3 million Australians overall who read print newspapers, including over 5.2 million who read weekday issues, more than 4.4 million who read Saturday editions and nearly 4 million who read Sunday titles.

Online platforms are making it easier for people to access news, and journalists are the gatekeepers to this audience. Creating a solid news story that can be passed on to a reliable contact in the media means your name, business and content has the chance to be passed on to millions of people.

Some journalists write for multiple publications

Having the right media contact can result in your story being seen by thousands of extra readers across several suburbs, regions and even states. Many papers and news outlets belong to the same media group, resulting in a story written by a single journalist finding its way – word for word – on more than one platform. Distribution and residential boundaries may result in some journalists, especially editors who still write stories for their publication, taking charge of a whole region and the multiple local papers that circulate within it. At minimum, newspapers today also post stories on a dedicated news website, so a story in the paper typically means it will also be available to an online audience.

Trust increases likelihood of publication

Journalists also need a strong list of contacts and will pay close attention to those who provide them with interesting, news-worthy stories. Unless your story is ground-breaking, exclusive and undeniably engaging, it is difficult to cold-contact a journalist with instantly positive results. A journalist you contact regularly will be more likely to run your stories if they recognise your name or company to be a reliable source of quality content.

Media contacts improve crisis communications

When word of an incident or sensitive information finds its way into a journalist’s hands, it can lead to the production of a negative story which can damage a reputation. However, it is a general rule for journalists to be impartial, which often means the damaged party may be contacted for a right of reply. If the journalist has your contact information close at hand, they will know to come straight to you, giving you a chance to share your side of the story and hopefully minimise any further potential damage.

How to build a strong relationship with your media contacts

Deliver quality content that is worth their time. Put heavy consideration into a story’s impact on its audience – is this important to readers, or is it advertorial and self-serving? Also ensure your content is well-crafted and engaging, rather than shallow or poorly written.

Communicate consistently, not persistently. Show your media contacts that you are reachable, cooperative and a reliable source for quality news. You don’t want to be thought of as an email spammer and end up in their junk mail, so avoid diluting your relationship by pestering them with inane updates, constant follow-ups and check- ins or weak stories.

Provide your media contact with all the resources they need. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but you increase your chance of a story being run if there is sufficient material for the journalist to use. Some journalists receive media releases attached to an email that reads ‘image upon request’. This might sound like a viable strategy to gauge interest in the story, but it’s a bad habit to get into. Accompanying a quality media release with high resolution imagery and some background context as to why your story is newsworthy is always a step in the right direction.

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Increasing pressure on resources and the insatiable need to produce ever more content for more channels means many publishers are looking at creative ways to source high quality articles.

The traditional op-ed pieces has emerged as an important way for these publishers to provide their audiences with great content while providing brands with a great new avenue to generate brand awareness and credibility.

An op-ed is short for ‘opinion editorial’ (or opposite the editorial) and were first used as a form of content for newspapers looking to publish narrative articles which went beyond traditional, objective journalism and instead focussed on the subjective opinion of the author. The first op-ed page of the New York Times appeared in 1970 and was created as a dedicated space for outside contributors. The ‘editorial’ section of newspapers remains reserved for in-house writers or editorial boards to provide the opinion of the publisher.

The op-ed harks back to a time when there was a clear distinction between editorial and opinion and it was important to segregate opinion from news, lest the sky fell in.

As more publishers open their pages and sites to third party content the ability to craft a great op-ed that achieves the right balance between thought leadership, branding, marketing and engagement is becoming more valuable.

Writing a great op-ed that has the ability to not only attract and engage an audience but also achieve marketing outcomes is emerging as one of the most important tools in the public relations arsenal.

Our client simPRO Software often uses op-ed pieces to grow their brand awareness and discuss important issues for their audience. The article above appeared in the latest edition of Circuit magazine and highlighted the need for electrical contractors to build their understanding of IoT, an important growth channel for simPRO.

Have an opinion

It may seem obvious, but the first step to crafting a great op-ed is to have an opinion. The more contrarian the better. In the digital age where views, even sensible ones, can attract a crazed horde of online trolls forming an opinion and arguing it can be a daunting experience.

An op-ed should challenge prevailing thought and provide a new line of thinking about a traditional problem. The best op-eds throw out the prevailing wisdom about a topic and introduce truly disruptive thinking.

Your op-ed should always start with a hypothesis that you set out to prove or disprove. The best place to start is with a simple statement. A thought. An idea. A quick scan of the op-ed pages of major newspapers will provide a good insight into how to create a great piece. The headline should always be a dead giveaway and critical to attracting a reader.

The Guardian – “Does marijuana really cause psychotic disorders

The Australian – “Australia Day debate is based on a myth

Mumbrella – “Australia’s digitally incoherent politicians are threatening the ad and media industries

You don’t need to start with a perfectly formed 600-word piece full of prose and nuanced analysis. That comes later. The premise of your piece will dictate the entire narrative so be sure to get it right.

Write Well

There can be no doubt that some of the best ideas in history have ended up on the cutting room floor due to lack of coherence and basic writing skills. Thankfully, the very best op-ed pieces are marked not by their complexity, but their simplicity.

Columns are most typically conversational in tone, so you can imagine yourself have a conversation with your reader as you write (a short, focused conversation). But the range of voice used in columns can be wide: contemplative, conversational, descriptive, experienced, informative, informed, introspective, observant, plaintive, reportorial, self-effacing, sophisticated, humorous, among many others. These simple tips should get you on your way.

– Use third party data and research to justify your arguments or background.
– Assume your ready knows little about the topic so explain any complex ideas or terminology.
– Give context and background to help the reader see how your idea developed.
– Stay focussed and avoid narrative tangents or sub plots – Use, strong active language and a plain English writing style (save your creative writing skills for your novel)

HERE ARE SOME GREAT OP-ED WRITING TIPS

Know Your Audience

Most op-ed pieces will be written specifically for a publication. If you have convinced the editor to give you some space, make sure you take the time to understand their audience and their editorial priorities.

Write using a tone and language that reflects the audiences’ level of understanding about the topic. If you are writing for a specialist trade magazine it is probably fine to use industry jargon. If you are writing for a wider audience, assume the reader knows little or nothing about the topic.

A good way to perfecting your voice and tone is to get in the habit of reading your column or op-ed out loud. Doing so gives you a clear sense of how your piece might sound – what your voice may come off as – to your intended reader.

Don’t Sell

An op-ed is not an opportunity to write 500 words about your products and their incredible features and great pricing. That’s called advertising. Integrating product references, branding or marketing messages into your piece requires certain degree of subtlety and sophistication.

Not just because your piece may get spiked, but because readers have finely-tuned detectors and can tell the difference between insightful, inspired thinking and a thinly-veiled product flog. Any value from the piece from a commercial perspective should be driven by a desire to establish yourself and your brand as a thought leader.


If thought leadership is part of your ongoing marketing strategy please feel free to get in touch to discuss how RGC can make it happen. Email ben@rgcmm.com.au or call +61 415 743 838.

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We’d all love to see our name featured prominently in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review or the leading heralds, mails and posts across the nation. But why break your back trying to constantly win over major publications when smaller, niche publications could be better for your company?

 

It was perhaps best written by Glean.info CEO William Comcowich:

 

“Forget The New York Times. Send news to niche publications instead.

Clients and top company executives typically want large, national publications to mention their company. They dream of a feature story on their company in The New York Times.

 

“For companies in many industries, a feature in The New York Times is more likely to boost a client’s ego than sales or revenue. Although major, national media outlets sometimes provide substantial publicity boosts, trade journals and other types of niche publications offer more valuable media opportunities for many companies, especially those in B2B industries.”

 

This is not to say that major news outlets shouldn’t be targeted if your company has a terrific story. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your name and business through the power of earned media via powerful publications.

 

However, there are several key PR benefits to focusing on niche publication.

 

Here are just a few.

 

More value for the press release. Often when pitching a story to major publications, a media release is taken apart and only certain pieces are used to create the journalist wishes to tell. And that is assuming the media release is even used. Major publications are sometimes in competition with each other, and the media release so painstakingly put together may only be used once, if ever. Frequently, niche editors run press release in both print and digital pages, share them on social media, and include links to your website. Editors might also ask for an article about the technology behind the product.

 

Niche publications are also happy to report on small companies in their sector. As long as the pitch is on topic, they typically respond to media requests faster and publish articles sooner. In addition, because niche publications are often short on staff, they’re more open to accepting contributed content.

 

Reach a specific audience. Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald are looking at any articles that pique their interest. Readers of niche publications are straight away looking for pieces on a particular topic. If your company operates in their industry, then a niche reader will want to read about you.

 

According to Comcowich, “a feature in the Huffington Post offers little benefit to a business that sells a casting reel for left-handed fishermen. Despite the site’s millions of daily visitors, few readers will be interesting in buying the item. An article in B.A.S.S. Times, with a circulation of about 100,000 readers, will reach avid fishermen. Even if they don’t need a left-handed casting reel, they probably know someone who does.”

 

Explain a technical story. Major publications usually cover broader topics and typically attempt to simplify the content for a wide audience. Niche publications have readers who are experts or passionate about the publication topic, which means their writing gets down to the nitty-gritty technical details. Therefore, companies are able to show who they really are to readers who want to know, quickly getting to the details of their product and saving time when in media pitches, podcasts and interviews.

 

Build legitimacy in a niche community. Niche publications have the respect of industry insiders because of the credibility they have earned providing specifically targeted content of a high quality. Some industry associations even distribute free publications to their members, promoting a sense of objectivity and trust in the publication. Richard Etchison of Crenshaw Communications said, “a consistent presence in the right trade outlet can announce the arrival of a new company as a legit player, or it may help establish a founder as thought leader.”

 

Niche publications can also offer entry to larger outlets. Journalists and editors for major newspapers and consumer magazines sometimes use the presumed expert knowledge within formats like trade journals, drawing on content for research and reference purposes.

 

Large digital presence. Niche publications often primarily take the form of magazines, blogs, online news, videos, blogs and direct member emails. Print format has become less popular due to costs and the time required for production and distribution. Instead, niche publications opt for a digital presence, allowing for a higher rate of content creation, social media engagement and search engine optimisation (SEO). Ultimately, going niche allows a company to spread their message across the expanse of cyberspace, further than the reach of a physical print medium.

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