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Content Marketing and PR – To plan or not to plan!?

February 25, 2021, Bad Soden – Let's be honest: planning content marketing and PR is a bit like new year's resolutions: all those good intentions that soon fall by the wayside! So what is the reality? Is it worthwhile spending time planning content for the coming year ( agenda setting ), in other words deciding in advance which topics to focus on and drawing up a detailed editorial calendar that can be worked through step by step? Or is it better to cut out the advance planning and “fly by sight”: stay alert and surf the wave of the latest trends ( agenda surfing )? Does that really involve less work? The two approaches are not mutually exclusive and there are good reasons to use both agenda setting and agenda surfing. However, both involve work, planning and patience. Otherwise content marketing and PR can turn out to be damp squibs. One thing is clear: content marketing and PR cannot be done on the side! Common reasons why they fall by the wayside are lack of capacity, lack of people, too many projects — no matter whether the company is an SME or a major player in its sector. Maybe the company does not have a marketing and communication department and the boss tries to take care of things on the side (the problem here is obvious!). Or maybe the departments responsible have so many other projects on the go (internal communications, employer branding, change and transformation processes, etc.) that there is simply too little time to plan content marketing and PR work. Planning is vital Communication is complex and there are so many variables that need to be considered. After all, the goal of PR and content marketing is to reach the right target groups with the right content at the right time and place. Of course, a spontaneous burst of activity can be successful, but somehow it never quite feels right. Agenda setting A better solution is get a good understanding of how your target group ticks so you can really target their needs. Keyword searches can be helpful. A market analysis of trends and topics also makes sense. Then you can compare what interests your target group with what you want to communicate, in short, your expertise and what you do. That is the basis for ensuring a balanced content plan . Defining key topics is the first step towards a communication strategy. The next step is considering the timing. When might it make sense to place the content, so it grabs the attention of the media or a specific target group? Anchor points could be seasons, specific events, political issues, and…and…and ... The agenda-setting phase is time-consuming because it involves thinking about a number of aspects. For example, when is the company planning a (marketing) campaign that could be used as a springboard for PR and content marketing? It also involves research, going through the publication schedules and media data of your target media and considering the budget that has been earmarked for specific topics. Of course, that takes time and effort, but ultimately it is worthwhile - if the content hits the nail on the head, there is better chance it will be noticed by the target group. Linking content (WHAT) and timing (WHEN) is what we call an editorial calendar . However, it is equally important to consider where to place the content, in other words, which platforms or channels to use: printed media, online platforms, social media, your own website. As a starting point, an Excel spreadsheet can be helpful. However, keeping track of things via a spreadsheet naturally gets more difficult as the content, deadlines and channels become more complex. Fortunately, there are digital tools to help – and Köhl et Feling of course. The work should be spread across as many shoulders as possible. Define who is responsible for what – and hey presto, you've got your production plan ! Now, at the latest, it should be clear that agenda setting and foresighted content planning are not activities the managing director can do on the side. After all, managing directors have other things to do ... ;-) Agenda surfing Another way of approaching content is agenda surfing. When the media is driving certain trends and topics, it often makes sense to ride the wave. Here’s an example: In spring 2020, as it became increasingly obvious that the major trade fairs would have to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the media showed great interest in companies that had taken up the shift to virtual trade shows: they could be sure to grab the attention of journalists and the public. The art of agenda surfing is to push your content out with the wave. However, agenda surfing has nothing to do with sudden action or the “maybe now’s the time to do something” mentality. Agenda surfing involves taking the time to find out which topics are currently in fashion with the public and the media. The outcome can be included in content plan and the editorial calendar . Successful communication requires discipline and patience Admittedly, that doesn't seem really “sexy”. But once the real groundwork has been done and the content has been planned, mustering the patience to stay the course is important – because that is only the first hurdle! There is the steady stream of new topics to be examined and integrated into the editorial schedule. And the content plan needs to be put into practice: Which topics are suitable for a blog on the company website? What can be used in an effective press release? What could be marketed in a case study or used to publish a more detailed specialist article? Thankfully, professional help is at hand! PRESENTING CONTENT EFFECTIVELY. How often a company posts content or publishes information depends on the company, its communications experience and, of course, its “staying power”. If you have limited experience of PR and content marketing, the best advice is not to try to do too much at once: the initial enthusiasm will soon wear off, and you’ll find yourself back thinking “we need to get round to ....” Here too, help is at hand. :-) Our advice: don’t try to do more than you can handle; it’s better to post content regularly via the relevant channels. Because being present is what gets you noticed. Testing and analysing Now you have got this far, don’t be tempted to let up – all PR and content marketing efforts need to be analysed carefully. How did it go? Was there any response to what I published? Was the response positive or negative, lively or a bit subdued? Why might that be? Perhaps the timing was wrong? And here's one more piece of advice: Be patient! No-one can expect the first steps to be perfect, that you will suddenly attract thousands of followers, the phone will never stop ringing and editors will be queuing up for interviews. So when is the right time for content planning? The short answer is: anytime! Just because your planning wasn’t perfect at the start of the year, doesn't mean you have to spend the next ten or eleven months stumbling blindly through the media landscape. ” The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now .” Chinese proverb So: The best time for content planning was obviously yesterday - but the second best time is NOW!

Linking knowledge – New ways of communicating in the coronavirus pandemic

January 22, 2021, Bad Soden – In a very short time, the coronavirus has changed how we live and communicate. Every day, we learn more about this new epidemic from the media – and in Germany, “coronavirus pandemic” was even chosen as the term of the year 2020. At the same time, scientific communication has become more important. How has your company kept up communication over the past year? For us, 2020 was a particularly dynamic year – thanks to our clients, who turned everything upside down almost overnight! Professional communication is extremely important when times are bad. In March/April 2020, many established ways of communicating and sharing knowledge suddenly became unavailable: no trade shows, events, meetings, visits to clients. Following the initial state of shock at the start of the lockdown in the spring, many companies and freelancers found themselves more or less forced to switch to different methods of communication. Despite the seriousness of the pandemic from an economic and health perspective, it has opened up opportunities. And as a communication agency, we're right at the heart, together with our partners and customers. Professionally, 2020 was therefore one of the most exciting years since we set up our business in 2006. Our experience last year showed how successfully companies coped with the situation. By using new digital formats to share knowledge internally and externally, they were not simply able to maintain existing B2B and B2C contacts; they actually reached a wider audience and extended their range. Thanks to webinars, online magazines, podcasts, online marketing and virtual trade shows, companies networked with established clients, gained new customers and raised media interest in many topics. Working from home in many cases, our customers’ staff organised digital meetings with lively and creative workshops and brainstorming sessions, often attracting more than 100 enthusiastic participants and even instilling the right spirit for change processes. They posted best practice examples of digital projects on their websites and ran articles featuring products helping out in the pandemic. Alongside content marketing and media relations, they turned their attention to in-house magazines and internal podcasts to keep in touch with employees. And where it made sense, content was reused multiple times! A targeted content strategy and communication concept The basis for all these activities is a content strategy and communication concept geared to the various target groups – naturally supported by internal content management to bundle knowledge and topics. If you're still wondering which topics you could use for content marketing and PR work, why not let us help you examine the options. Every company has good stories – they just have to be selected, packaged effectively and distributed via modern digital tools. ... Interested? If you'd like to inject new life into your content marketing, PR work or internal communications, just contact us: Köhl et Feling will be happy to help you link your knowledge – using ideas that really work! YES, I’VE GOT A STORY WAITING TO BE TOLD!

How to write magical stories that are really effective!

A whole day of storytelling power in Berlin! What “ingredients” make for a good story? How do I make sure my stories reach exactly the right target group? Are stories equally effective in various formats such as short films and podcasts? How can I come up with interesting stories for really dry subject matter? In mid-May we set off for the 4th Storytelling Conference organised by Quadriga Media in Berlin with our minds open to new impetus. The conference attracted more than 110 participants from a wide range of sectors, including agencies and some freelance journalists, all in quest of the secret of a good story. And we found the right recipe: stories have to engage the target group . Then storytelling can create moments that reach out to people, moments that are polarising, inspiring, or encourage people to change their minds ... Only then is storytelling a really effective component of the communications mix. Stories have always had an impact. In his entertaining keynote address “The magical science of storytelling", David JP Philipps explained how stories affect the neurons in the human brain and how they can therefore be used to influence the emotions of the audience – depending on their purpose. However, for that, at least 98 percent of the story has to be true. Authenticity is key! Finding and developing a good story takes time. Because it takes time to really explore the needs of the target group. Only then can storytelling really kindle emotions. That was the also message put across by Kai Sievers of gernBotschaft in his hands-on workshop. Short group-work sessions enabled people to test their own storytelling ability. The speakers and experts all agreed: people must always be at the heart of a good story . However, graphic presentation of data can also be used to put together good PR stories according to Nick Marten of the OTTO Group. One common challenge frequently encountered in storytelling is the need to convince management and specialist departments. It isn’t always easy to persuade them of the emotional pull of simple stories that are readily understandable and are not overloaded with (technical) details. Günter Baumgartner of Siemens presented the #creatingperfectplaces campaign – an excellent example of how successful this approach can be. This campaign provides a perfect emotional basis for a technical subject , highlighting people and places that benefit from Siemens building technologies. Brilliantly told and well worth taking a look at! Nike Wessel of dasprogramm showed that storytelling can be just as effective via audio media as in videos. Podcasts are far less labour-intensive to produce and can be accessed anytime, anywhere, for example while driving or cleaning or during the lunch break. Podcasts can therefore be a meaningful addition to storytelling in today's communication mix. The key factor in all formats is that good stories don't simply need a perfect concept. Good copywriters are also essential – and that's precisely where Köhl et Feling is happy to help.

Long live storytelling!

What are the latest trends in content marketing? How do companies get hold of worthwhile content? What role do new software tools play and what about the scalability of content marketing? Keen to get new ideas and find out about the latest trends and best practices, in mid-March we headed for CMCX in Munich, Europe's largest content marketing conference and exhibition. Our trip to this two-day event was rewarded by inspiring presentations, a super overview of the content marketing landscape, and insights that confirmed our approach. A good story is the lifeblood of good content! The speakers all agreed: the best way to win customers is to develop good stories that are apt, appealing and entertaining and speak to them on their level. From native advertising, where well-written editorials are currently enjoying a renaissance according to Coskun Tuna of Seeding Alliance, to classic online marketing, podcasts and videos – these days companies need high-quality content and an awareness of their target group in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors. So how do companies get hold of good content? As well as working hard to get in-house stakeholders on board, they need good copywriters with creative ideas who can turn even the driest and most complex subject matter into easily digestible content . Linde gave an impressive overview of its approach – based on the motto “be brave, keep at it and turn internal sceptics into allies”. That's worthwhile, because content marketing is set to become far more important compared with conventional sales and marketing according to Philipp Moder of PHOCUS DC. Not all companies can put together in-house teams to drum up good content and combine it with the right storytelling methods – and that's precisely where Köhl et Feling is happy to help!

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Claudia Köhl
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