Suzie Giacomelli

Content Confectioner

Does the chocolate image wake up your sweet tooth? I could tell you that the candies are locally made in Portland with melt-in-your-mouth sea salt and quality chocolate, how they have perfect flavor profiles and are the ideal size for a guilt-free treat. But the image probably inspires you faster.

If you saw this photo on a chocolate company’s blog, you might pin the image to Pinterest or share it with you friends on Facebook. If I’m the chocolate company owner, I’ve just used shareable content to empower you to help me market my brand through the most powerful form of marketing, your word-of-mouth recommendations.

This is the potency of visual communication. Adam Vincenzini describes the image-powered web as “the notion that Internet users prefer the most efficient and engaging methods of communication.” Images equal efficiency. Fast Company calls visual marketing “the breakout trend for 2012,” noting a 2012 ROI Research study that found “forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media.” Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are leading channels for visual storytelling.

Here are my 13 tips to help you become a Content Confectioner — a creator of crave-able, sharable brand assets.

1.  Start with Your Goals

What are your marketing and brand goals, values and key messages? Think about what those things look like. How you can show and share them with your stakeholders?

2. Be a Reporter

Reporters seek and share stories. Do this for your brand. Shift your perspective to look for the significance of the everyday – teams, routines, the work and production environment. How does the everyday drive toward your brand promise? If you make this perspective shift, you’ll always have a story to share.

3. Get the Tools

You’re not obligated to add a $2,000 DSLR line item to your budget. I swear by my iPhone camera. It’s portable and takes high-quality images with flash and focus options. You can send images easily to Facebook, Instagram or email. The right tool is one you can obtain and use often. Do your homework. Test the options. And go for it.

4. Eyes Wide Open, Camera Ready

The aforementioned iPhone has more than 4,000 photos on it (yes, they’re backed up). Keep a camera with you and err on the side of taking more images than you’ll use to create an image bank for your brand. This practice supports quicker content creation. It also increases your odds of capturing million-dollar moments and images. Think of it as gathering lots of ingredients for limitless recipes.

Your Discovery Session: The Ultimate First Date

We measure our worth by results. To get results, we build research-based plans, not whim-based ones. Our ideas are creative, vibrant and zesty, but always grounded in research. Style plus substance. Beauty and brains. We’ll never counsel you to execute tactics without the strategic intelligence to back them up.

The CFM Discovery Session doesn’t take place in a courtroom or involve a trail, but the session is a critical first step to becoming your partner and creating made-to-win strategies.

The session is primary research in the form of a mastermind meeting between your team and ours. We’ll learn all about your business, goals, resources, pressure points and past efforts. You live and breathe your brand everyday. The session allows us to dive in beside you to match our marketing PR expertise with your dreams and goals.

Our PR team develops a custom interview question set for your Discovery Session. Here’s a sample of some of the things we ask about.

Goals

What do you want your brand to do within the next six months, one year, five years? What’s the big idea, the vision, the raison d'etre?

Objectives

Objectives are measurables we track throughout our relationship to monitor program success. We discover objectives as we break down your goals. What do you need to achieve? Here are some examples:

  • To increase sales of our product by 30 percent in our local market

  • To engage new audiences in community decision-making

  • To attract 1,000 consumers to our summer event series

  • To build relationships with industry thought-leaders

So You Want to Start a Blog

Many excellent communications campaigns use blogs as story-telling tools, but too many blogs are floating around the internet that haven’t been updated for months. You imagine the blog creators were full of excitement, set up a basic blog format using a site such as WordPress.com, Blogger or tumblr, published a first post and thought, Voila! Smooth sailing from here, right?

A blog only is as good as the strategy and plan guiding it. Before hitting publish, you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish with your blog. What will success look like?

Reasons for a blog may include establishing thought leadership in your industry category, self-publishing news, providing added-value service to clients, raising awareness about important issues or engaging new audiences. All the content you publish should support your goals. 

To measure success, we recommend evaluating multiple touch-points, such as reader comments, content spreading on social media, numbers of readers and blog traffic.

You also should plan content development. Look to your key messages and values to help you indentify the stories you should tell. If your staff members are the key to customer service, consider profiling them. If your brand is committed to supporting the community, write about your involvement. If you have a major event coming up, think how you can advance it through teaser posts.

Get a calendar and mark it with your content ideas, including time-sensitive promotions such as new products and services, special events or campaigns. This content calendar becomes your map, ensuring you are prepared to keep your blog updated.

National Media for Local Recognition

Nothing reinforces a reputation more than being quoted or written about in a national news outlet.

The biblical quote, "A prophet hath no honor in his own country," applies as much today as when it was written. Sometimes you are nobody until The New York Times says you are somebody.

This is where effective national media relations comes into play. In addition to seeking news story placement in your local media, you package stories that can earn coverage in national publications or a syndicated talk show.

"It isn't easy, but it's doable," says CFM Account Executive Suzie Giacomelli. "You need to be creative in thinking about stories that sell beyond your own community."

Oregon's wine industry has been practicing national media relations for several years through vehicles such as Pinot Boot Camp. Wine writers are invited to spend a few days sampling the latest vintages and talking with winemakers, which results in an unfolding series of stories that highlight what's new and tasty in Oregon Pinot Noir.

One of the best ways to attract the attention of a far-off reporter is to pitch a story about something familiar with a new twist. A product innovation or improvement with a clear consumer benefit — a power toothbrush with its own toothpaste dispenser — can perk up interest among the vast and growing array of reporters and show producers looking for nuggets of news like this.

Another tried-and-true tactic is to tout a program's unique character or stunning outcomes. There are highly successful programs that fly under the radar screen in their hometowns, but can be the star of a major feature in a national publication.

How Healthy is Your Page on Facebook?

Facebook can be a powerful tool and an important part of your marketing mix. Your fans become brand ambassadors and spread the word about you every time they ‘like’ posts, post about your brand, share your content and comment on your page. Building and nurturing an online community empowers your fans to work on your behalf.

Three indicators can help you evaluate the health of your community on Facebook and make needed changes: engagement, tone and growth.

Engagement
We use the term engagement to refer to quality interactions. Are fans commenting, sharing and responding to your posts?

If you want to improve in this area, start by monitoring responses to each post you make on Facebook. Do recipes receive the most ‘likes’? Are photos receiving the most comments? Pay attention to the content your community responds to the most and increase those post styles moving forward.

People need to find value in being a fan of your page. Think about how you can mix it up. If you’re only posting traditional marketing messages, then the experience for your fans is similar to going to coffee with a friend who only talks about what he or she does. Share your story, but diversify your content.

Leveraging Listening

Polished listening habits are part of what it takes to be an effective communicator.As I was preparing for a big research project as a journalism student at the University of Oregon, a favorite professor shared interview tips with the class. She said the biggest thing she learned since she was a beginner was to speak less and listen more. I’ve learned the benefits of listening extend far beyond the traditional interview.

Need to gain crucial management support? Deepen key relationships? Identify potential issues and opportunities? From focus group research to client, consumer, colleague and stakeholder relationships, your polished listening habits are essential to effective communications. John Marshall said, “To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.”

Here we offer reminders and tips to help.

Establish Intent. Set a personal intention to listen actively before each conversation.

The Business Case for Community Engagement

Does your business receive numerous sponsorship requests from community organizations? The right sponsorship opportunity presents more that a chance for your company to be involved in ‘do good’ efforts. There is a strong business case for connecting with and supporting the communities that support your business.

Sponsoring a cause or event that aligns with your company’s commitments or mission strengthens your brand promise. Sponsorships can provide wide visibility with target consumers and decision-makers. They can help your company garner media coverage. And they can present opportunities for your employees to engage with the community in meaningful ways.

Here are five questions we recommend decision-makers keep in mind when considering sponsorship opportunities.