email outreach

Find and Share the Many Faces of Your Story

Discover a great story to tell, then think how you can share it uniquely and effectively across different outreach platforms such as your website, social media and email. Hint: think of your intended audience and follow where they lead.

Discover a great story to tell, then think how you can share it uniquely and effectively across different outreach platforms such as your website, social media and email. Hint: think of your intended audience and follow where they lead.

Sharing your story on multiple media is smart. But don’t assume a one-size-fits-all strategy for content. Discover the many faces of your story that align with your different outreach platforms.

Some story forms work on a website, but land like a thud on Instagram. Optimally, the story should conform to the audience that dominates individual platforms. The demographics and viewing habits of audiences vary greatly from Twitter to Facebook or from LinkedIn to Instagram. The content should be shaped accordingly.

Russell Working, writing for ragan.com, channels some of the secrets employed by Good Morning America, which he notes is the number one morning news show with a history of online success. Working pulls together some of the top tips from Terry Hurlbutt on effective content and distribution strategies.

One of his tips is to “adopt the story to the medium.” “What is the story we’re trying to tell?” Hurlbutt says. “What is the heart of it? And then how do we adapt that story to a different medium?” It could be as simple as using a video on Facebook and a selfie or behind-the-scenes look for an e-letter.

A story told by a TV anchor works for a network website. Taking the host out of the story elevates the same story’s interest on Facebook. Selfie-style video may pique interest of the same story on Instagram. Live streaming offers a you-are-there perspective that can appeal to viewers who want ultimate realism. 

Sometimes the variations are as simple as where the camera is pointed. For a cooking show, you want to see the chef, but your best view of a recipe-in-progress can be a top-down camera view.

Most brands and businesses don’t have all the resources of ABC or network news shows. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to creativity and maximize what you shoot for multiple outlets. Hurlbutt advises that an advantage of digital content is that it can be easily molded and folded to “feel natural” to conversations on different digital platforms.

Not every story lends itself to repurpose for multiple media. The stories that are most amenable tend to be inspirational and about real people. “The world is full of inspiring stories every day,” Hurlbutt says. “Find them and elevate those stories to a wider audience.”

It goes without saying the critical element in spreading around your story is careful planning. You can’t just wing it or hope it works out. That trivializes what could be a golden moment.

As Hurlbutt advised, look for stories with multiple facets that can be told through a mix of lenses. Identify the core of the story, which needs to be the mother rock of whatever variations you develop. Then do a 360 around that core to see how it looks or can be viewed from different angles. Consider narrators and story forms in the context of audience preferences or platform norms. Think about how to capture these different views. Finally, lay out how to optimize each vantage point to maximize your overall story reach. 

Yes, this involves some hard work and getting out of your comfort zone. Keep in mind, your audience will appreciate the effort and show their appreciation by sharing your story far beyond your immediate orbit.

 

Mouth-Watering Marketing for All Seasons

Pappardelle’s pasta shop in Seattle tempts taste buds with recipes and visually appealing pictures of orzo and other fall dishes.

Pappardelle’s pasta shop in Seattle tempts taste buds with recipes and visually appealing pictures of orzo and other fall dishes.

Changing seasons offers a mouth-watering opportunity to tantalize customers with familiar favorites.

My wife and I love pasta and always make a point to stop at Pappardelle’s pasteria in Pike Place Market when we are in Seattle. We received our fall invitation to return with a visually tempting email from Pappardelle’s that featured stone-ground coarse mustard penne mixed with beer-braised brats. It made me want to lick my computer screen.

Seasonal favorites are a great way to remind customers, even loyal ones, that they should return for more. For food purveyors, it is a no-brainer. But almost any business can conjure up a seasonal connection.

CPAs, for example, can point to the calendar, noting there are only a few months left to identify and execute some tax planning to reduce the bite next spring.

Garden shops and hardware stores can predict the coming rains and encourage customers to fertilize the lawn one last time this year and check out the downspouts.

Auto dealers can invite customers to a wine tasting to look over the remaining crop of last year’s model cars, for sale at a discount.

Appeals can speak subtly by their color palettes, and even more demonstrably with good imagery. Pappardelle’s email led with a fetching image of fallen leaves on a green lawn with a backdrop of trees with orange and golden canopies. Message delivered. What’s for dinner?

Once you grab a viewer’s attention, you need to keep feeding their appetite. Pappardelle’s included a recipe for its penne brat concoction, noted the return of its savory blends of orzo and promoted its monthly winner of a 4-pack of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. There also was a link for a coupon to receive free shipping. Where do I click?

This kind of marketing is very much customer-centric. You could let customers know what you have for sale or what services you offer, but that might fall flat if customers just glanced on by. Summoning succulent memories with a captivating picture of your product draws in customers and extends the time they spend looking at what you offer. I immediately entered this month’s contest.

“We have our Autumn Harvest orzo, a beautiful savory blend of pumpkin, sage and chestnut,” tempted the Pappardelle’s email. “Make sure you get a pound or two for this October and November because it’s sure to perfectly compliment whatever meals you’ll be preparing this fall.”

Just as important, the email noted, “It’s only September, but don’t procrastinate or it will be next year before you know it and you will have forgotten all about the pasta you wanted to buy.” Make your marketing mouth-watering enough so customers don’t forget or procrastinate.

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Gary Conkling is president and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at garyc@cfmpdx.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling.