DavidOgilvyheadlines1

Up Yours Fox Sports (Your Headline Is A Promise, Stop Breaking It)

DavidOgilvyheadlines1

Like many people, Facebook has become the largest non-direct way I access news. I ‘like’ just about every major Australian news organisation and then some. With so may options coming into my stream I rely heavily on headlines for selecting which stories I read.

After many weeks of frustration this morning I gave Fox Sports Australia the punt with a very aggressive click on the ‘Unlike this page’ button. I hope I never see them in my stream again. The reality of their content had simply failed to meet the promise of their headlines on too many occasions. They annoyed me and then they lost me.

More often than not they promised ‘the best’ of something, usually a video, only to deliver a very mediocre something. “The Best Goal You Will See This Year” followed by a video of a very average goal (more often than not a 15 second clip preceded by a 30 sec ad!). “Jarryd Hayne Stuns NFL Commentators”, followed by a couple of commentators saying the Aussie is ‘not doing too bad’.

I’m sure they don’t care but I also have news.com.au on a very short leash and they are likely to get the chop by the end of the week if they don’t change their ways.

Your headline is a promise

As any first year marketing student will know, failing to meet customers’ expectations for your products and services is one of the surest ways to damage your reputation.

In a competitive content space your headline is your promise. If the content doesn’t deliver on the promise, you are damaging your brand.

The temptation in a competitive market is always to over reach, make your content sound like something it’s not, just get the click at any cost.

If ‘get the click at any cost’ is your headline writing strategy you better be prepared to pay the price. You may get away with it for a short period by replacing dis-enfranchised readers with new readers (attracted by great headlines) but eventually you end up annoying everybody. It will quickly become a death spiral for your readership as the pool of new readers shrinks and the pool of ex-readers grows.

Content is a long game, clickbait is short term

Just as great content has the capacity to grow customer engagement, it also has the capacity to grow dis-engagement.

Unlike traditional advertising and marketing mediums, content is not about achieving an instant sale; it should be about delivering a lifetime of sales. Your content should build trust, respect and likability. This doesn’t happen with one story, one video or one infographic, it happens over time across multiple interactions and multiple pieces of content.

Luring customers with the false promise of a headline that can’t be justified by the substance of the content is the surest way to undo all of your hard work.

Simple tips for great headlines

Creating a good headline has the capacity to make or break an article. Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

  • Create your content and then write the headline
  • At least 25% of the time spent writing an article should be spent on the headline and first par.
  • Test your headline with a colleague or a customer
  • Don’t trick people into reading something boring; draw them into something exciting.
  • Be descriptive and detailed, while still being punchy
  • Consider the context – will the piece be read online or offline (magazine etc)? Does it work on the social net? Who is the target audience?

 

media release

Why It’s Not Worth Sending Your Media Release Too Widely

media releaseOne request from clients that public relations people typically dread is “show me the distribution list” for a media release.

This is because we suspect they are hoping to see a very long list but the truth is that in this area, bigger is not necessarily better.

In fact, if the distribution list for a media release is extended well beyond the small number of publications that are likely to run it, the effect can be similar to “crying wolf” – it desensitises the journalist to your future releases and makes them more likely to be overlooked even when they are relevant.

This is an issue that we see from both sides because we send and follow up media releases for many clients but we also operate as de-facto journalists providing news content to a number of publications.

In this capacity we receive media releases so we get to see who is routinely sending out irrelevant material.

From my observation, the biggest culprit is organisations who are using a media release distribution service instead of a public relations firm.

There are a number of these services in Australia and it is easy to get them to distribute a release to many hundreds of journalists at once, but instead of improving your chance of a run, this just annoys people.

To take one example among many, we have a client who runs a publication for the property industry.

In the past month or so, this client has received releases from the CSIRO with titles such as:

  • Technology brings iconic ship to classroom shores
  • Glowing fingerprints to fight crime
  • Seashells to deliver new drugs and vaccines

Needless to say these are completely irrelevant to the publication and we have never heard from the CSIRO with a follow up call or anything to indicate they know we exist. Someday they will no doubt send us a media release relevant to the property industry but we will likely miss it because we will assume it is more spam. By contrast, imagine if we had never received a release from the CSIRO and one arrived for the first time. We would read it with interest. If it was relevant, that would assure we read a second release down the track and so on.

Sadly, this situation is not unusual for a company relying on a media release distribution service.

If you doubt that this approach is counterproductive, don’t take my word for it. Here is former Fairfax section editor Dan Kaufman in his book: Dealing with grumpy editors.

“You might think you have nothing to lose by sending these releases off to every publication in town but all it does is desensitise us to anything associated with your company or your client,” Kaufman said.

“The gamble will not only probably fail, but it will put the odds even further against you for future releases.”

“Aside from the ethics of taking someone’s money when you know what they’re asking you to do is going to lead to failure, in the long term it’s also bad for business – remember it’s the PRs who only send newsy and relevant releases that editors and journos always pay attention to.”

As PR’s we are all guilty from time-to-time of sending media releases to too many journalists but if you eliminate the element of personal judgement and use a generic list from a distribution service you can virtually guarantee that this will happen every time and your announcements will fall on increasingly deaf ears.

Why Influencer Marketing Works

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Just as the world has shifted to social media, consumers are now looking to fellow consumers and peers to inform them of what to buy and when.

Essentially changing the balance of power between consumers and brands, peer voices now have a much more important role in purchasing decisions.

Buyers now look to each other and their favourite media personalities who have built enormous followings across social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Brands no longer have the same control they did in the past, with the voice of the consumer now the most important.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marking has been defined as;

“Identifying the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.”

This market influence typically stems from an individual’s expertise, popularity or reputation. Early on big brands would have looked to celebrities or popular bloggers to influence consumer decisions. Now, given the importance of peer recommendations, and largely helped by the ‘megaphone’ of social media, we’re seeing how ‘everyday’ or regular consumers are having just as great of an impact.

The use of influencer marketing is still however relatively new, with many companies not fully realising its power. Here we’ve outlined three key reasons why your business should embrace influencer marketing.

It’s powerful

Word of mouth still proves to be the most effective way to make a sale. McKinsey & Company found that word of mouth is behind a staggering 20 to 50 per cent of all purchasing decisions. They also found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth” generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.

Along with higher retention rates and more authentic brand followers, influencer marketing gives brands an opportunity to leverage the word-of-mouth power with that of social media, creating a huge opportunity to sell more product or service.

It has trust

Despite the ever-expanding array of advertising platforms and strategies, consumers around the globe still place their highest levels of trust in other consumers. According a global Nielsen Internet survey, 78 per cent of respondents said they trusted – either completely or somewhat – the recommendation of other consumers.

Edelmen’s Trust Barometer similarly found that 63 per cent of those surveyed trusted “a person like them”. When it came to the company however, 49 per cent would trust a brand’s employee and just 43 per cent would trust the brand’s CEO.

Looking at these figures it’s obvious who needs to be telling your company’s story – the consumers.

It’s social

Social media has been the single largest factor in the growth of influencer marketing. In the past consumers would make purchasing decisions based on what they heard or saw from the brand. Now, consumers look to company’s social media pages and platforms to see how other consumers interact and rate the products and services.

There is a opportunity here for brands to partner with the powerful bloggers or personalities in their space to influence the legions of fans and followers that listen to their every word. It’s no longer about what the company tells us, consumers want to learn and interact with a brand rather than just listen.

public-relations

3 PR Myths Debunked

public-relationsWith the proliferation of mass media in our lives, the public relations industry is steadily gaining prominence in the public eye.

From newspaper articles and reality TV shows to online blogs and social media campaigns, PR professionals across the globe are responsible for shaping almost everything we see in the media every day.

Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that there are many misconceptions or myths about this growing industry.

Here is a list of three of the most common PR myths:

Myth 1. PR is not the same as advertising or marketing

I’m sure I can speak on behalf of most other PR professionals in the industry – not many people understand what we do. When you tell people what you do for a living, they will usually say ‘oh, do you mean you’re in marketing/advertising?’

Although PR shares the same general goal as advertising and marketing – to promote a business’ product or services – each go about it quite differently.

PR focuses on promoting the public image of a company or an individual via ‘free’ or ‘earned’ editorial coverage. A PR agency will generate stories with the goal of them appearing in either traditional media platforms like newspapers, TV and radio, or newer media platforms like social media and blogs.

Advertising, on the other hand, focuses on getting paid coverage in the media, via print advertisements, TV commercials, signage and other paid placements on radio, blogs, websites and social media. Advertising agencies help companies come up with a concept or campaign and then arrange for the ads to appear in selected outlets.

Finally, marketing promotes a business by identifying the target audience and creating a marketing strategy that pulls together a mix of services including market research, sales, advertising, PR, graphic design and photography.

Myth 2. All publicity is good publicity

According to the popular adage, all publicity is good publicity.

I believe, however, this is untrue. There are many examples of businesses or individuals who have been hurt by negative publicity and have never recovered.

Bill Cosby was one of the USA’s most beloved comedians and actors until he became the subject of allegations of sexual abuse as early as 2000. As of September 30, 2015, Cosby has been accused by at least 54 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery and or sexual misconduct. Although he has never been charged and he has denied all allegations, his reputation has been severely impacted. He was dropped by his talent agency, many awards or titles he previously received have been revoked, reruns of his old TV show The Cosby Show have been pulled from syndication and numerous organisations have cut any ties with him.

Myth 3. PR is easy

Many business owners think that PR is easy. All they need to do is write a press release and journalists will be knocking at their door.

PR is more complex than that. It’s about building a strong brand by creating good relationships with the media, consistently writing and communicating effectively, understanding what makes a good story and having extensive knowledge of the industry.

The Ascent Of TheUrbanDeveloper.Com

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 8.50.14 amProperty industry website TheUrbanDeveloper.com has fast become the essential source of daily information for those in the property and urban development sector wishing to stay informed and be engaged.

Founded in 2014 by Adam Di Marco and Lachlan Webb, TheUrbanDeveloper.com has attracted an active community of 25,000 subscribers and over 250,000 monthly visits.

The site provides daily content covering the latest projects, property transactions, trends, analysis, opinion pieces and guest columnists. Its readers are varied but mainly consist of property developers, investors, architects, designers, real estate agents, town planners, marketers, construction industry personnel and an assortment of other associate professionals.

Di Marco describes how the site came to fruition:

“We were frustrated with the way our industry – the property and urban development industry – collected and shared information.

“We were within one of the largest sectors of the Australian economy, which employed more than one million people and generates over 10 per cent of the GDP, yet it still relied upon daily newspapers to feed us the information that we depended upon to make big decisions.

“Why did it have to be that way? So, we got on the horse and decided to improve it.”

As they say, the rest is history, but they are not content to rest on their laurels, instituting a policy of continuous improvement and investing in their site. RG Communications has been engaged this year to augment their existing news and content production capabilities so that the founders can put more time into growing the business.

So what are some of the key building blocks to developing an online presence like TheUrbanDeveloper.com?

Know your audience – Understand who your intended audience is and what makes them tick. How will you target them and what messages are appropriate? Spending time defining, analysing and listening to your audience is crucial. Articulating and refining a strategy gives you a solid platform to guide future decisions.

Content – Good content is king. There’s no point in creating content that isn’t engaging or misses the mark on what your audience is seeking. They will drift away pretty quickly or turn off. Provision of regular, interesting but varied content that is topical will help dramatically in the engagement stakes and have them coming back for more.

Get The basics right –

Website – Your website needs to be engaging and properly project your offering and facilitate engagement. There are many options available. These days you can pretty much self publish and control your own site using platforms like WordPress which have great functionality.

Corporate Identity – Invest in your brand identity and stand out from the crowd. Make sure it represents you brand personality and USP.

Social media – Utilise the power of social media to extend your reach, encourage interaction and importantly listen to what your community are saying about you!

The Fall And Rise Of Contentrepreneur Dan Norris

Ben Ready is Managing Director of RG Communications. He has been a journalist and communications professional for nearly 20 years.

Ben Ready is Managing Director of RG Communications. He has been a journalist and communications professional for nearly 20 years.

If you read LinkedIN enough you learn the most important trait of any successful entrepreneur is the ability to talk in gruesome detail about what an abysmal failure you were until you found ‘the secret’. Dan Norris is no exception.

I first came across Dan at the recent Interactive Minds Digital Summit where he paced across the stage talking mostly to the floorboards. The quirky presentation style did little to distract from the powerful message behind his story. Go getter starts business, works hard, fails miserably, learns, tries again, succeeds spectacularly, writes book.

His main business WP Curve is a WordPress support community and has been an ‘overnight’ success in helping people solve their WordPress challenges (we thought it was a great idea until he told us to bugger off because he doesn’t white label for agencies).

The success of WP Curve is based on the simple premise of a great product marketed exclusively through great content.

Peeling back the glossy packaging of his ‘failure made good’ story reveals some powerful lessons about the value of content and the impact it can have on your business. Thankfully his expertise and advocacy for content is matched by a commitment to transparency and he has put all his learnings as writer, blogger and content marketing in a nice little book.

content machineContent Machine ($4.00 for Kindle) is a must read for anybody embarking a new business venture or who wants to supercharge their content marketing. Here are some of  most important takeaways.

Kill your avatar

For a long time brands have been creating ‘avatars’ that represent their ideal client and writing content targeted at this imaginary consumer. Norris argues the impact of content is far more complex and fluid because content doesn’t work the same way for everyone.

Your ideal customers will hear about you over a long period of time, through multiple sources, and that is how trust is built

He argues it more effective to write for a community. Some of the community will become your customers but many more will become advocates of your brand and your content. This advocacy creates a chain of influence that ultimately delivers sales months, or years, down the track.

Not all content is equal

As brands rush towards content (and content kings make out like bandits) the discussion about content has moved from a simple ‘we need to do it’ to a ‘we need to do it properly’. This means producing high quality content that has the capacity to change perceptions and promote real engagement. Norris’ definition of high quality content is:

Great content is something you provide to your audience that captures their attention and encourages them to engage and share.”

It’s pretty simple in theory, difficult in practice. The best tips from Norris are to make sure that, above all else, your content is highly specific and actionable. What problem are you solving? What change can it make to the readers’ life? Why would anybody care?

Norris’ seven lessons learned from a good and bad content are among the most important takeaways from the book and worth the cover price alone.

Differentiation can make all the difference

Content marketing is like any business, if you can find a niche and own it, you will do well most of the time. The world’s best content marketers rarely strike out into new areas that haven’t been covered before. As Norris explains; “They don’t simply create content. They create content for a certain community of people, and they do it better with a unique angle so they get noticed.”

A bit like writing a great media release you need a killer ‘hook’. The angle, the insight, the perception that brings clarity where the reader only saw complexity.

Norris suggests that rather than targeting a certain persona, you should adopt a persona. The Whisperer reveals the secrets of an industry, The Hustler bursts on the scene with content that is completely new, The Analyst is the undisputed king of data and the Artists takes graphics to a new level. Regardless of what persona you take, make sure you own the niche.

Content Machine includes countless other gems and comes complete with a range of ready-to-use resources to get you moving on the path to content marketing mastery. A great read for anybody starting their own business and wants to understand the true value of great content.

Four Ways That Journalists Trick You Into Talking

They say that any publicity is good publicity, but we all know that isn’t true.lie detector

There are many situations where you may not want to be quoted in the paper or to have factual information reported.

If you are negotiating a sensitive deal to buy or sell an asset, for instance, the last thing you want is for details of the transaction to be reported in the paper before the agreement is finalised.

If you have a difficult relationship with another person or organisation, it is rarely in your interest to make negative comments about them in public.

Unfortunately, either of these outcomes will earn a reporter a pat on the back from their editor for a great story.

Both of these hazards seem pretty simple to avoid – just don’t speak to the journalist or, if you do, don’t tell them anything.

After all, journalists have no coercive powers, unlike a legal authority they can’t make you give them information.

So why do I pick up the paper every day and see stories like these which the subject has no doubt been losing sleep over?

The answer is that good journalists are experts in making you feel like you have to speak.

It is a core skill.

For this reason, I have assembled the four top tricks that journalists use to con you into talking when it isn’t really in your interest.

In my former career as a journalist I used them all from time to time and now I hear them being used upon my own clients.

1. Pretending they know more than they do

This is the top way that journalists convince you to talk out of turn. Journalists will often claim to know far more about a situation than they really do. This encourages you to offer new information in the belief that they already know it, or to confirm their guesses which were not printable until you confirmed them.

2. Pretending they have been told a wrong fact

Journalists who have heard of a deal will sometimes pretend that they have been told other information, like a price, in order to flush you out. Typically this is a number that would cause you embarrassment.

“I heard you are buying it for [imprudently large sum] but I’m happy to use your figure instead. Otherwise, I will have to use this number.”

You then unnecessarily tell them the right number and suddenly they have a good story.

3. Falsely summarising someone else’s comments

If someone makes some moderate comments, a journalist will call you and paraphrase them so it sounds like they have criticised you or said something obnoxious. This may provoke you to criticise them and bingo! – the journalist has a story based on your comments. Always check the original transcript first before commenting yourself – don’t rely on a journalist’s summary.

4. I am definitely going to publish tomorrow so you need to talk now

Journalists who don’t have much of a story will sometimes use time pressure to make you speak in a panic. This often means claiming they are going to publish imminently when, in fact, they will only publish if you give weight to the story by speaking. If you stick to your guns and decline to comment, the story never appears.

 

Simple Tips For Better Business Writing

communicationsIn today’s business world almost everything is entirely information driven. Whether you work in a small business or for a giant corporation, chances are you do and receive most of your communication in writing.

This includes emails, memos, letters, proposals, contracts, presentations and a huge range of other documents.

While most of us have some varied experience in writing,the importance of strong written communication skills is rarely stressed in universities . We know it’s important but most of us fail to understand the future implications of weak writing skills.

By using simple, clear, precise language and following a few basic rules of writing, you can become a better communicator and drastically improve the prospects for your career.

There is no substitute for practise but here are a few tips to get started:

Avoid jargon

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business writing is using unnecessary jargon. It may sound important using words such as ‘synergy’ and ‘solutioneering’  but to most people it just doesn’t make sense. While some technical jargon may be unavoidable it’s always best to use as simple language and word choice as possible.

Concise is best

Less is always more. There’s no need to pad sentences out with words such as “essentially’ and “basically”, just say what you mean and say it in as little words as you can. This also means that wherever possible use active rather than passive phrasing. Instead of writing “The meeting was led by Bob” use “Bob led the meeting.”

Check your grammar

Beware of common grammatical errors. Grammatical mistakes are the quickest way to undermine yourself in any form of written communication. Simple errors include confusing “that” and “which” and “affect” and “effect”.

Leave out useless words

Be ruthless when it comes to self-editing. If the word isn’t important then cut it out.

Be professional, not overly formal

There is sometimes a tendency to be overly formal in business communication. While appropriate in some circumstances this type of language can often obscure meaning. At the same time, it doesn’t mean you should ever be too casual. Personal comments or off-colour jokes should not be written at work and never address or sign off on emails with unprofessional phrases. Using “Best” or “Regards” is still the norm and absolutely avoid “xoxo” when it comes to business writing.

Check titles

It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many get this wrong. Always check name spelling, title and correct use of a pronoun. Nothing is more uncomfortable than when you’ve been referring to a Mr. Turner as Ms. or Mrs. throughout a document. If in doubt, using gender neutral pronouns like “they” or “their” is perfectly acceptable.

Check once, then again

Just like grammar problems, typos can ruin an otherwise fine document. It’s important to always check then recheck for mistakes such as spelling and grammar. Being too close to something can sometimes trick you into missing mistakes, so the best tip is to come back after a few minutes or get a fresh set of eyes of check it over.

Happy writing.

The Rise of Facebook and Twitter For News

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More people are turning to Twitter and Facebook to get their daily news hit than ever before, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center in the US.

The study, which was conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, revealed that 63 per cent of Twitter users and 63 per cent of Facebook users are using the social networking mediums as a news source.

The statistics are not surprising. Given the world’s growing addiction to social media, it’s easy to see why people are favouring social networks like Facebook to deliver their news, rather than relying on television, radio or print.

One, they’re simple and convenient to use. Two, news is updated constantly.

I mean, what’s easier than scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed to see what’s happening in the world? It only takes a few seconds to click on the Facebook app on your smartphone before you’re instantly connected to news around the world.

Take this week’s announcement of the Liberal Party spill. A colleague heard about the spill via a text message from a friend. After trying to unsuccessfully find news updates on various Australian online news sites, we finally found up-to-date, as-it-happened coverage and commentary on the spill on Twitter. The speed of reporting by social media is by far one of its greatest advantages.

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However, it’s wise to exercise caution if you depend on social networks for your daily news. Facebook, for example, suffers from a proliferation of hoax articles that are reposted hundreds of times and taken as gospel. Analyse articles carefully to ensure they come from a reliable, trusted source.

In this case, not all news is good news.

200 mary street

We’ve moved to a New York state of mind

200 mary street

RG Communications and Villain Designs have started a new chapter in their history, moving to a stunning new workspace in the heart of the Brisbane CBD.

The office space, dubbed The Loft, is part of a contemporary refurbishment of the third level of the Cromwell Property Group-owned building at 200 Mary Street.

RG Communications Managing Director Ben Ready said the company had experienced significant growth in the past year and needed a new office to accommodate further growth.

“We wanted something that was unique and out of the box but still close to the action in the CBD,” he said. “Cromwell and their team have done a great job to create a space that is both comfortable and inspiring.. it is a perfect fit for us.”

The fitout was designed by Sydney-based The Bold Collective and constructed by fitout and refurbishment specialists ISIS.

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The Bold Collective Design Director Monika Branagan said Cromwell had approached the firm looking for a ‘Brooklyn’ inspired fit out.

“The tenancy overlooks an alley and the back of some of Brisbane’s older buildings, giving it a real urban feel,” she said. “We wanted to bring that into the tenancy and create a really creative space that reflected the surrounds.”

“The brief was to create something that was unorthodox and edgy so we sourced a variety of materials and finishes to recreate a New York loft style feel that had an industrial edge, with warmth and personality.”

Design features include brick wallpapers, illuminated signage, timber look dark flooring, industrial lighting, tartan upholstery, vintage look flooring, recycled timbers red highlights and a Herringbone strut ceiling.

RGC has signed a three-year lease over the 130sqm space negotiated by David Prosser of Caden Office Leasing.

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