Content roundup: The biggest issues of 2015

 

Does your business connect with your customers or audience on an emotional level?

If you want your content to cut through the noise, two of the most effective things to do is make it emotive, or make it topical.

Whether it tugs at the heartstrings or adds something to a current conversation – what’s undeniable is the ability for this kind of content to move people. Brands that can lock this down usually know how to gain a following and – even better –  persuade people.

Add substance:

Social media analysts Buzzsumo analysed the social share counts of over 100 million articles over 8 months, to find out what types of emotions did the most popular articles invoke.
The investigation revealed the most popular three emotions invoked were:

  • Awe (25%)
  • Laughter (17%)
  • Amusement (15%).

No matter if your budget is big or small, if you can address topical issues with honesty and generosity of spirit, it can go a long way for your brand. Below are some of the biggest issues of the past year, and the ways various organisations have responded through content – often with viral results.

 

Immigration

 

Act For Peace

 

This video by Australian Not For Profit, Act For Peace, spread on social media, stirring up debate on the hotly contested issue. While it was based on a similar experiment by the Pillion Trust in the UK, the Australian video received many more views – over 248,000 so far. Articles from Mashable, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Mail discussing the video and its viral status were shared over 3,000 times. The film is well made, and the message is clear. It successfully ignited discussion as well as empathy for their cause and unprecedented visibility for the brand.

 

World Food Bank

 

It can be very difficult to express and explain a complicated global issue in a two-minute video. Often with these kinds of issues, video campaigns present us with grainy video footage of decrepit refugee camps and starving children with boney arms and bulging bellies. This video from the World Food Bank took a different tact, with a simple and effective animation – which received over 650,000 views on YouTube. It may have divided opinions, but the short, simple video of eye-catching animations – in combination with the good intent and the dulcet tones of Liam Neeson’s voice – was certainly an effective way to deliver their message.

 

TripAdvisor

 

In the wake of an ongoing international refugee crisis, one company took up the challenge to try and make a difference. TripAdvisor posted a page on their site declaring that they would donate $250,000 dollars to two major refugee aid organisations, as well as match subsequent donations from the TripAdvisor community. Over just a few days TripAdvisor raised over $1 million. The page they posted simply featured a statement directly from company CEO Steve Kaufer.

The content was simple, the purpose straightforward, but the scale was impressive. Raising $1 million dollars is no small gesture, and to top it off, TripAdvisor promised five days of paid leave to any employee wishing to travel to a volunteer organisation aiding refugees.  

Aside from raising a significant amount of money, it generated  a lot of publicity, including spots on CNN and other news programs. An act like this can cement an opinion of a brand in the minds of customers and potential customers – in this instance, being trustworthy, generous, and globally aware. While this kind of gesture isn’t possible for the mere mortals of the brand world, it does go to show that even if the medium is simple, a strong, good-hearted message can reverberate around the world.

 

Marriage Equality

 

#LoveWins

When the United States Supreme Court ruled that the constitution affords same-sex couple the right to marry, there was worldwide celebration. People in support of marriage equality rejoiced and individuals, politicians and companies alike threw their support behind the decision. The #LoveWins hashtag went viral, stacking up over 10 million tweets in the first day after the ruling.

This is one of the biggest viral hashtags to be born into the Twittersphere, with Twitter even altering the platform to embed a rainbow emoji after each #LoveWins or #Pride. To put the scale of this in perspective, the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag also went viral after the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015. The event had a profound impact on people across the world, and just six hours after the event the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag had been used 2.1 million times. Six hours after the US Supreme Court ruling, #LoveWins had been tweeted 6.2 million times.

But perhaps the most interesting element to this social movement was the customised content that poured from brands, celebrities, NFP’s and political organisations, amplified through Twitter. Customised logos, photos and header pictures, as well as GIFs and videos rolled thick and fast on social media feeds.

Whether this content was the result of true ideological support or simply a desire for extra publicity, these were displays of newsjacking at it’s finest. Due to the emotional nature of the #LoveWins campaign, people were eagerly retweeting, posting and talking about brand’s reactions to the event.

#LoveWins had the best components that any kind of social movement can hope for – an emotive cause, a dedicated hashtag, and unique, evolving, content.

Here is a look at some of the #LoveWins content from brands.

 

ALS

The ALS Association

 

The Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the biggest viral phenomena of 2014-15, initiated by the ALS Association to raise awareness and money for motor neuron disease , or ALS. Health organisations and companies more generally can learn a lot from the huge success of this campaign. Not only did it succeed in terms of viral status, but it raised awareness, raised funds and generated conversation around the disease.

What are the reasons for its success?

Obviously it was for a good cause – but there are many good causes that don’t move people to act in any way. The Ice Bucket Challenge however, was designed to tap into social ties, and had the ability to leverage the power of social norming; when we see lots of other people doing something, we decide that it’s worth doing.

Also, it validated the participants; people who performed the challenge called on others to do so too, elevating their social standing as important and closely tied with the prior participant. Combined with the entertainment of watching people – especially journalists or celebrities – pour buckets of ice-cold water on their heads, and the fact challenges were quick to film and watch, gave it the perfect elements for a viral phenomenon.

Global Warming

 

The White House

"For me to be able to come home, and just listen to the girls, and let them tell me about their day, it gives me a whole…

Posted by The White House on Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

The White House PR and marketing team have gone above and beyond over the past few years, taking to pop culture and social media like no other political office before. Recently, President Obama featured in an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls to discuss climate change and melting glaciers.  

The Obamas and the White House have managed to stay relevant and appealing to the wider community through publicity and social media activity – especially through their video content – giving the community glimpses into their life and personalities, and promoting their political ideals.  

Many of us have seen the viral video of Obama laughing joyfully at a baby dressed as the Pope for Halloween. My personal favourites are the Star Wars – The Force Awakens cross promotions, showing the characters visiting the White House. 

DJ R2-D2's White House debut. #TheForceAwakens

Posted by The White House on Saturday, December 19, 2015

These aren't the West Wing visitors we were looking for… #TheForceAwakens

Posted by The White House on Sunday, December 20, 2015

Harnessing the power of stakeholders to create brand stories

All brands are looking to build traffic but what about building traction on your overall brand narrative?

This requires harnessing the power of stakeholders and telling powerful brand stories.

“How do you delve deeper than pretty pictures and a single post here and there to get the word out about your brand and also to influence how your brand evolves over time?” asks Amy Laski.

She says the key is utilizing stakeholders to help develop the brand message.

In this podcast episode, Amy shares how Coke harnessed the power of its stakeholders to achieve its business objectives.

At the time, the reputation of Coke’s core products was coming under fire. Amy helped the brand rebuild its reputation by starting with asking the right questions.

She focused on finding out why Coke’s products were coming under fire. She realized there was a lot of misinformation circulating. So, Amy shared stories with some of Coke’s harshest critiques and the media.

By asking questions, answering them and involving the key stakeholders to help get correct information exposed about the brand’s products, the brand’s reputation started to improve.

“Measure your reputation and track it regularly, and, slowly but surely, if you’re doing the right things, you’ll begin to see the needle moving in the right direction,” says Amy Laski.

She also recommends finding key influencers to work with your brand messages to develop relevant stories.

Top tips for harnessing the power of stakeholders to create brand stories

1. Ask, don’t tell: The first step in telling your story is actually asking. Ask the audiences you’re aiming to reach what they want to hear. What’s on their minds? What keeps them up at night? And how can your brand play a role in helping?

2. Align with experts and influencers: Who does your audience want to hear from? And which experts may have interests in common with your brand? Engage them in helping to tell your story, and support them in telling theirs. They’ll be the window to the future of your brand, the early warning signals of any sort of issues or trends on the horizon.

3. Share: Share with these stakeholders’ new brand initiatives while they are still in development. Ask for their input and incorporate it to make them stronger. Keep sharing along the way and they will be more apt to share your initiative with your end audiences when the time is right.

4. Develop your narrative and the roadmap for bringing it to life together.

5. Analyze and refine: Convene regularly to evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t, and continue to iterate as you tell your story


More About Amy Laski

Amy is the President and founder of Felicity. She has more than a decade of communications experience working with the world’s leading brands to drive bottom-line results for clients.

Prior to starting Felicity, Amy was the Public Affairs Manager for Sparkling Beverages at Coca-Cola Canada.

Contact

Felicity PR

Twitter @AmyLaski

The freelancer’s handbook: How to pitch to an editor

Pitching a story to an editor can be a disheartening experience. You send your idea out into the ether and wait… and follow up… and wait some more… and then finally, you get nothing back.

It’s like throwing a tennis ball at a wall only for a black hole to appear and swallow it up.

For freelance content creators, pitching is an unavoidable reality, it is your bread and butter. It’s how you earn new business. So, how do you get your pitch noticed?

Understand your editor and why they open their purse strings

The first thing to remember is that on the other side of the black hole sits an editor who is being thonked on the head by a tennis ball every couple of minutes.

An editor has options, too many options. PR companies, advertisers, industry experts, internal staff, freelancers, part-time writers and even members of the public are all pitching them potentially newsworthy stories.

The most challenging part of this for a freelance journalist is a lot of this content can be written for free, or at least quite cheaply.

The first question an editor will ask themselves about a pitch is: ‘Will this resonate with my readers?’

Or in other words, is this story worth paying for?

The reality is, the strength of your story will be determined by its potential to reach new audiences, by selling more magazine copies or getting more shares on Facebook.

Before you pitch, ask yourself whether your story will add value to the publication? What are you offering that internal staff cannot?

Understanding your publication

As a journo, you probably consume a lot of media and have a good feel for what works for different publications or agencies.

The nitty gritty of website analytics have given editors more insight on their readership than ever before and this means they select stories more carefully.

A story may get rejected because it fails to tick just one box, whether it’s because a topic tested poorly (yes, it happens) or appropriate images can not be sourced.

The more you understand the publication you are pitching to, the higher your success rate will be.

Read what they are reporting and how they reporting on it. Can you tie in your story to anything they are reporting? Can you tie your story in with their coverage?

Phone or email?

Have you ever called an editor and started pitching your story, only to be interrupted and told to “put it in an email”?

It’s feels like a brush off and it might be, but if an editor is interested in your story they’ll tell you to put it in writing. A concise overview in writing works because:

  • It gives the editor time to consider the story’s value.

  • An opportunity to do their own desktop research.

  • A paper trail they can revisit.

Everyone likes to complain about how many emails they receive, but it’s the best starting point for a pitch, especially if you are pitching to a new editor.

Once you’ve pitched by email set yourself a reminder to call. When you call will depend on the timeliness of your story. 

Leave a message if you don’t get through, then they’ll know you are trying to get through to them. A bit of persistence may be required before you speak to them,  but being polite and congenial on the phone goes a long way. Try to build a bit of rapport if possible – your conversation doesn’t have to be all business.

Play a long game. If this pitch doesn’t hit the mark your next one might.

How to structure your pitch

A good pitch starts strong. You have just a few seconds to hook a reader, it’s no different for an editor.

Impart the most important, shocking, and/or newsworthy information straight away in the subject line. You don’t need to be sensationalist, you certainly should not stretch the truth, but there is little point in holding back.

In the body of your email, introduce yourself briefly, and then keep the pitch short. Think about how you tell the whole story in under 30 words. The initial contact should be top line – you can explain the details down the track. 

Include one line on the audience you will speak to and what they will add to the story, and another on what images (if any) are available. Almost nothing gets commissioned without an image these days.

Finally, you are new to the editor, so write a bit about yourself. Tell them where you have been published and how long you’ve been a journo/ content creator. Put a link to your blog, website or Twitter – in this instance, there’s nothing wrong with a shameless plug. It could win you a commission.

Before you shoot off the email check you’ve nailed the punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Nothing will turn off an editor faster than basic errors, and it’s not them being petty about minor typos or casually misplaced commas. How can they trust you to write a good story if your pitch has been written without care?

A final piece of advice: don’t send a completed story. You should not spend time crafting a story that might not sell – and who has time to read these? It’s better to start a dialogue with the editor with a well-crafted pitch, a follow-up call and a bit of polite persistence.

Here’s a checklist to run through before you hit send on your pitch email

  • Does my subject line summarise the story and pack a punch?

  • Have I introduced myself and my experience?

  • Is my one sentence story summary strong and gives an overview of the whole story?

  • Do I have a handle on the publication’s tone and style?

  • Am I offering value? Can my story be easily covered by internal staff? What’s my point of difference?

  • Have I done a spell check!?

How startups can win with content marketing

With Josh Rowe

A major challenge that all startups face is how to get the word out about their company on a lean startup marketing budget.

Josh Rowe is the founder of RealAs.com, a website and free app that helps homebuyers and investors find their next home. He will explain how small businesses can make an effective content marketing strategy and use it to drive their PR, marketing and publicity in those crucial years. 

Listen to the podcast or read on for key highlights and tips. 

“We started with almost zero budget. We spent only a few thousand dollars on social media advertising and grew the whole business’ brand out of organic PR and through mainstream media and online media,” says Josh Rowe.

Less than two years later, Josh says, because of the company’s content marketing strategy, it’s now often quoted as a primary data source for traditional media and online bloggers.

How was he able to do this?

It starts with understanding what the problem is that you’re trying to solve and for whom.

“If you’re able to understand what your strategy is, how you intend to deliver it, and the benefit it delivers to your customers, then you should be able to communicate with those customers by various channels in a way that tells the story to them about the benefit of your product,” explains Josh.

Startups don’t need a lot of money to become known as a publisher.

“That was a really interesting stage for us because we reached this point where suddenly people saw us not only as a product in our own right but also as a publishing platform,” says Josh.

Their content growth strategy success came from collaborative efforts by in-house staff and contributing journalists.

Tips for starting a content marketing strategy

1. Don’t try to do everything at once; take your content marketing in stages – building it up with well-written, quality content is vital.

2. Start as soon as possible. Josh says you can start prior to your launch by introducing your product and creating interesting articles about the launch.

3. Listen to feedback. Take all feedback from both internally and externally. Pay attention to how they consume your content across different channels, how they engage with it, and how much they like it.

4. Measure, act, and adjust. “Measuring and adjusting is very important as part of your content strategy,” says Josh.

Josh cautions businesses not to make the same mistakes he’s made. He says it took his company too long to plan out content and his company didn’t have a pre-launch content strategy in place prior to their launch.

“If you’re running a startup, you should be having a conversation with your customers and potential customers before you even launch,” says Josh.

He also recommends that brands get help and bring in professional journalists to create quality content.


More about Josh Rowe

Josh Rowe is the CEO of RealAs.com – a startup in the real estate industry.

He is a digital entrepreneur and is passionate about eCommerce.

Josh has been a key executive, consultant and digital expert within blue chip organisations, driving digital change through the development of their online strategy, and delivering new digital capabilities. He has driven the introduction of a new competitive industry model for the Australian domain name industry and the enactment of anti-spam legislation in Australia. Josh is also one of the blokes on the Beers, Blokes & Business podcast – have a listen. 

Contact

RealAs.com

Twitter @joshrowe

Content and crisis management

Investment in content, social media and online advertising is increasing, putting more and more pressure on brands to excel in the digital sphere. Now more than ever, a company is represented by the sum of its digital parts. People know about a brand through its online activity. And when a crisis strikes, a brand must address this through their online presence.

While most organisations have HR or PR departments to handle crises, many incidents will require their own content strategy. Nicole Matejic is an expert in crisis communications and an international social media advisor. She says, “brands should plan for crisis communications on social media just as they would any business continuity activity.” 

Here’s a look at the relationship between content and crises over the past few years, with reasons why some of the strategies failed, and others succeeded.

Volkswagen

The recent Volkswagen scandal shows that sometimes no amount of catchy content or philanthropy can make up for public deception. But as far as strategy goes, they have offered up a fairly smart response. In fact Nicole says, “Volkswagen’s engineered crisis response is a smart, yet dirty, play. By making their crisis narrative about their corporate legacy and comparing their crisis communications to the debacle of 2 years ago, they are successfully retaining control over the lesser of two narrative evils.”

Planning should start at your worst case through to your best case scenario. For an airline, for example, that would look like – worst case an aviation accident (fatalities) best case lost luggage and hurt feelings. Businesses already know what their crisis touch points are – they just need to apply some strategy proactively to prevent an issue from igniting into a crisis,” says Nicole.

See Nicole’s SlideShare for more information on planning for crisis management.

Airlines

In 2013, American Airlines was caught red faced sending out automated twitter responses. A Twitter user, Ross Sheingold, found their responses odd – especially when the airline was sent an abusive Tweet, only to thank the sender for their support.

With that, the Twitterverse seized the chance to hurl more abuse at American Airlines, to culminate in a very embarrassing social media performance from the company which was picked up by major news channels. The airline’s response to the gaff didn’t do much to lessen their scrutiny either; they chose to delete their automated tweets and replied to the abusive tweets with fairly impersonal, ineffective messages.  

Not all airlines are liable for social media faux pas however. Virgin is renowned for delighting customers with their witty, engaging social media posts and content. Virgin has over 1 million Twitter followers across various accounts.

In 2013  Virgin Trains made headlines with a Twitter response to train passenger who ran out of toilet paper. They tweeted to the man in need and promptly delivered him fresh toilet paper, to result in a viral twitter conversation and a lot of laughs. Virgin are a stellar example of a brand that knows how to interact with its audience, in a fun, engaging and helpful way. People genuinely like engaging with this brand, which means they genuinely like the brand. Customer conversion – check.

 

GE

General Electric have managed to leverage the power of a huge marketing refresh (in addition to other things) to bounce back from a staggering blow in the financial crisis back in 2009, with shares slumping to $6.5.

With a concerted effort to reinvest in industrial manufacturing, and an impressive marketing and content output, the company is back to its glory days, with shares up to the $28 mark. And while their industry could be at risk of putting out content that is dry, technical, and just plain boring – they have dodged this bullet and stamped their brand on some truly inspiring content. Their website features great imagery, profile pieces, industry articles, technology information, motion graphics and their own newsroom.  Even their Instagram is cool, with beautiful photography, graphics and behind the scenes images of the machinery and technology. A rare achievement for a company like GE.

They have been successful because they are not trying to sell their products and services, they are informing and inspiring. People actually admire their brand, which means they will be likely to have an interest in their products  and their achievements too. 



 

#YourTaxis

Social media can be a great way to address a branding crisis and reconnect with lost customers. That was supposedly the idea behind Melbourne’s recent  #YourTaxis campaign. Unfortunately for taxis everywhere, this campaign proved to do just the opposite, and actually fuelled the brand’s crisis even further. Their hashtag was hijacked by the disenfranchised public who took to Twitter to voice all the bad experiences they’d ever had in taxis. This marketing misstep has been hailed as the Australian PR fail of the year, and has created even more work ahead for the organisation, to gain back customer approval.

The #YourTaxis campaign was meant to allow people to voice their concerns, and start a means for the company to engage with its audience. Their rival, Uber, has used social media to great effect when calling for public support. But this is a great lesson in social media strategy. These platforms cannot be used to fix critical problems within an organisation itself. The team behind the #YourTaxis campaign severely misjudged public opinion of the organisation – and this opinion has been formed by years of bad service, poor community engagement and inability to compete with new options.

The bottom line is any content or social media driven campaign must reflect the workings of the rest of the organisation. The #YourTaxis campaign did not do that, and the people spoke.

How to communicate the value of content marketing

It’s a question that is top of mind of for all C-Suite executives: “What’s the return on investment of content marketing?”

The problem is it can be a tricky question to answer.

“Debate rages in all corners about content marketing and its ROI,” says Sarah Mitchell, Director, head of content strategy for Lush Digital..

You never hear anybody ask about the ROI on advertising, says Sarah.

 

Sarah is very comfortable with the question of ROI because she knows that if the content has a purpose that’s related to a business objective it can be successful.

But the problem is, “So many people just come at it from a creative standpoint,” says Sarah.

However, Sarah got started in content marketing with a business perspective in mind. She says when you know what business results you’re trying to achieve content marketing is not only more successful but also measurable.

For instance, a really well-written press release can help hit business metrics.

Sarah says that she helped the owner of a new tire company get backlinks and exposure with a magazine-style article to capture more attention.

“It got picked up about 700 times and they [received] about 200 backlinks… and most of the time they printed [the article] word-for-word,” says Sarah.

The reason content marketing works is “Everybody’s looking for content. Traditional media has reduced the number of journalists they’re using,” says Sarah.

However, not every company understands how branded content works and why it can be so powerful.

The thing I like about content marketing is it’s the only type of marketing that will build assets for your company.

— Sarah Mitchell

Sarah’s top tips on how to communicate the value of content marketing

1. Start with a documented strategy: be sure to tie your content marketing to business objectives and then report back on the success of your strategy.

2. Determine the business metrics: maybe it’s more people signing up for your email list or downloading a PDF buying guide.

3. Move customers along the path to purchase: create content that has a consistent voice and message. Make sure each piece created helps to take them closer to the final purchase.

4. Define what success looks like: be sure that everyone understands what success looks like so that you can manage expectations for your strategy.


Mentioned In This Episode 

Global Copywriting


Learn more about Sarah Mitchell

Sarah spent 20 years working around the world in the software industry, starting as a coder and ending up in sales. That’s where she came to appreciate the need for great marketing devoid of spin and when Sarah first started creating her own content to help make her quota. After leaving IT, Sarah worked as a freelance journalist and editor. She started Global Copywriting in Perth, Australia in 2008 and has been working exclusively in content marketing since then. Sarah is the Australian Editor for the Chief Content Officer magazine and a regular contributor at the Content Marketing Institute.

Contact

Twitter @globalcopywrite

Why are brands investing in the Emoji?

It’s official: Oxford Dictionaries’ 2015 Word of the Year is an Emoji. Whether this makes you happy or sad Emoji,  it’s safe to say that Emojis are here to stay. Big brands like Taco Bell, Coca Cola, Ikea, Bud Light, and GE, plus many more, have already invested in incorporating Emojis within their online marketing campaigns. So what are they? And why are brands investing in them? 

 

Emojis are images you can incorporate into text, email, twitter, Facebook and chat applications like WhatsApp to convey a message or an emotion. They are a shorthand way to communicate. But don’t get Emojis confused with emoticons such as this: 🙂 Emojis use pictures that are governed by the Unicode Consortium – a non-profit group that promotes standardised coding.

                                                              Do you speak Emoji?
                                                              Do you speak Emoji?

 

Consumers have been using Emojis since 2011 when Apple incorporated them into iOS 5. Since then their popularity has grown, with 50 percent of U.S. Internet users 18 and older now using Emojis on social media or in their texts, according to AYTM Market Research. Many believe the rise of Emojis is one way we are adapting to communicating with ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ we’ve never met. Emojis stand in place for interpersonal cues that are impossible to decipher or are absent online.

As consumers shift away from Facebook and email to more personalised real-time communication on messaging applications, brands have been left behind unable to communicate with and where their audience is. That is until now. Emojis have given brands a new way to engage and interact with their community, especially millennials. These Japanese pictographs have also allowed brands to speak their audiences’ language, and set their tone of voice online. For brands working in a competitive space, like food and technology, being able to differentiate themselves by establishing a digital persona is invaluable.

Bud Light is an early adopter of Emojis.
Bud Light is an early adopter of Emojis.

 

So how important are Emojis to brands right now? Very. Taco Bell recently lobbied the Unicode Consortium to add a taco emoji to its keyboard and even circulated a Change.org petition that secured 30,000 signatures to ensure their request was met. Dell recently used Emojis for their back-to-school marketing. Ford used them to promote its latest Focus model. And Domino’s has invested in them to revolutionise its pizza-ordering process.

                                                                #ChevyGoesEmoji
                                                                #ChevyGoesEmoji

However, some brands are taking it too far. Chevrolet recently introduced its new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze in a press release that contained only Emojis. While brands need to adapt to new forms of communicating it’s important they don’t lose sight of the bigger picture: conveying a message. Overuse and alienating older demographics are potential issues for brands, as is measuring the data associated with Emojis. Some brands are benefiting from Emojis. But this doesn’t mean every brand should jump in the deep end just yet. The best approach would be to test the waters before investing.

How to create a brand story that sticks

Creating a message that sticks in consumers’ minds is what every business wants but few achieve it.

That’s because the brand message is often garbled and the call-to-action is weak.

“What I notice a lot in brand storytelling, brand communication, brand messages is a lack of simplicity,” says Brynn Winegard Ph.D.

The type of content that sticks in people’s memories is a story that has one clear point.

Stories that are very succinct in terms of the moral, the principle or the end result, cause and effect [stories], those are the kinds of [stories] that people remember.

If you want a “sticky” brand message. You have to make it personal. Make the story resonate with the audience at an emotional and personal level.

“They really remember stories that are highly anecdotal.”

“If they weren’t personal to the person that’s receiving the story, they’re very personal to the person who was telling the story and the reason for that is because when they’re highly anecdotal, people feel as though they can relate with the person telling the story,” says Brynn.

This method strikes an emotional cord with an audience because people are social and want to connect with each other.

“It’s not just content but it’s also the actual delivery. The media in that case, is the person and so it’s both media and the message they can identify with at a personal or emotional level. Then that’s even better,” explains Brynn.

Listen to the podcast below or read on for more ways to make your content stick!

The other way to make your message stick with consumers is to make it less distracting.

Consumers can very quickly weed through whether or not it is an advertisement or a brand message and… they won’t listen to you…,” says Brynn.

The first step is to get your audience to “attend to your content by listening to you. Once you have their attention, you can aim for acquisition. Then comes saliency or recognition and relevance, which would hopefully lead to memory and recollection.”

“We hope that people really engage with our content, but they won’t engage with our content if they haven’t attended to it,” says Brynn.

A sticky message must also be an authentic message. When your content is genuine it’s more likely to be remembered.

But Brynn says one thing your content shouldn’t do is compete in a one-up kind of way with another brand. The reason is when you draw attention to what another brand doesn’t have and then compare it with what your brand has, you’re actually confusing your customers.

“The problem there is that [the brand] isn’t able to clearly or distinctly tell people what they do differently from their competition. They actually tell them, more often, what they do similar to the competition…,” explains Brynn.

How to create sticky messages

1. Keep your message simple.

Focus on ‘THE ONE THING”

Humans can remember 4 +/- 3 parcels of information, though in today’s world, most people only remember 1 thing you said, did, messaged, or intended. So focus on THE BIG THING you’d like to drive home.

2. Be authentic in your content

Consumers want authentic relationships with organizations/companies/brands/people. Make sure you’re actually giving that to them.

3. Don’t use “competitive orientation”

Truly communicating how your product/good/service is different from the lower-cost alternative. Brands spend way too much time focused on what their competition is doing and try to copy, mimic, or mirror it.

4. Use visuals to tell your story

Pair stories with visuals: Almost 1/4 of the human brain is dedicated to visual cortices – humans are highly visual learners, rememberers and knowers. Pair your story with complementary visuals for better attention, acquisition, memory, and recall.

5. Make sure you are actually telling a story

Stories have a special place in people’s brains and memories, like advertising jingles, so be sure to tell a story that has a beginning, middle, end/moral/key takeaway.


Learn more about Brynn Winegard

Brynn Winegard is a Canadian professor, consultant, speaker and writer. Dr. Winegard’s specialty is in combining insights from social cognitive neuroscience to business phenomena, including and especially marketing and retail operations. Brynn now runs her own consultancy, Winegard & Company, specializing in bringing brain sciences to business as a consultancy and research incubator. Brynn is currently writing a book about the intersection of social cognitive neuroscience and organizational theory. Prior to an academic life, Brynn spent over a decade in corporate marketing, working with such companies as Pfizer Inc., Nestle Inc., Bank of Montreal, ScotiaBank, CIBC and Johnson & Johnson Inc.