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Inbound Marketing Age

The 5 key tactics of the best lead generation companies

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  27, January, 2016  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

"Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting qualified prospects to fill your sales funnel." (Unbounce)

In other words, lead generation allows you to acquire contact information about people who fit your buyer persona profiles and may go on to become customers. But what do I mean by the term "the best lead generation companies"? Well, quite simply, businesses that are great at implementing this process - that are the best at attracting and engaging the right contacts with what they offer.

And the best way to generate leads is through content. However, it’s not as simple as that. A "churn out content and the leads will follow" approach isn’t going to cut the mustard. Instead, you need to execute a carefully considered strategy and keep your eye on the prize at all times.

So what tactics do the best lead generation companies employ?

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4 ways a content writer can help your professional services marketing

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  6, January, 2016  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

“A revolution is underway” (Hinge Research Institute).

Fortunately, it's not a bloody, violent one, but for professional services marketing change is afoot.

Traditional marketing methods - such as referrals, advertising and direct mail - are becoming less effective as more and more individuals and companies rely on online resources and searching the web to guide them through the buyer’s journey.

Within this new system, content is king. In order to attract (and keep) the attention of the people that are looking for the solutions you provide, it’s necessary to create useful and educative content that tells them what they want (and need) to know.

So how can you achieve this? Probably the best option is to appoint a content writer or writers to craft the excellent content you require. This person or persons might be a new hire, or they might already be within your company. In fact, you might be surprised to find that you already have more content writers than you think.

But what benefits will a content writer bring to your professional services marketing? Well, they can help you to achieve a number of things…

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Your digital marketing mix: why you should focus on the bigger picture

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  14, December, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Sometimes, elements of your digital marketing mix don’t turn out the way you planned. And you may think that's trashing your overall campaign.

Whether it's the number of downloads for a new eBook that don't reflect your intense efforts or a video project you had to postpone, life happens.

But there's no need to be despondent. These blips won’t consign your overall marketing efforts to the abyss. Focus instead on the bigger picture.

What do your overall marketing results look like? An upward curve or a downwards spiral? Are the results from that eBook or video project part of a wider trend or an anomaly? 

When you focus on the bigger picture you'll see the true impact of your marketing efforts.

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5 key roles to build a successful B2B content marketing team

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  8, September, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

From sport to business, fashion to IT: teamwork is essential to a vast number of industries. Each member of a team has their own specific part to play – if they don’t fulfil their role, everyone else will be affected too.

Take an athletics relay team, for example – the first three runners could give 110 per cent and clock up a good time, but if the final runner decides to walk and drops the baton then all four people will be at the bottom of the race leaderboard.

And when it comes to B2B content marketing, teamwork is just as crucial. Behind every successful campaign are the people that make it happen. Each of these individuals is integral to ensuring that a piece of content solves their target audience’s problems and moves them a step along the buyer’s journey.

So think about your own content marketing team. Whether your company employs specific people for each job or shares the main responsibilities among employees in other positions, building a successful team requires you to cover certain bases.

Let’s consider five key roles that make up a successful B2B content marketing team. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will certainly set you on the right track.

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3 powerful in-depth steps to planning successful Awards

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  1, September, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

You are here because you may be considering setting up Awards for your organisation. I have written this post especially for you. Working on over twenty Awards during my time as a magazine publisher has given me a certain insight. And I hope to share that insight with you here with over 200 tips.

Organising successful Awards is about ownership and process. Somebody needs to project manage the entire procedure. They must ensure delivery of key elements within a tight schedule. And they will need to think on their feet and find solutions to problems as they occur.

To succeed, you must ensure there is a market for your event. Awards are ten a penny. If your idea lacks clarity, you are unlikely to generate the entries you need to succeed.

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5 key components of a successful B2B inbound marketing campaign

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  5, August, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

If you’ve got a great offer for your audience you want to ensure they receive it.

But, in order to reap the benefits of creating valuable content that will attract the right people to do business with you, you need to implement an effective campaign that will show your audience that your product or service is the solution to their problems.

Writing on Content Marketing Institute (CMI) Steven Macdonald says: "This kind of scenario happens a lot. You create the content, hit ‘publish’, and expect visits, leads, and sales to explode overnight. It’s a nice story, but it rarely happens that way. And yet, when done right, content marketing will be your most powerful source for new traffic and customer acquisition."

So how can you ensure that you business is one of the ones doing it right? There are essentially five key components of a successful B2B inbound marketing campaign:

  • Produce a compelling marketing offer
  • Place the offer on your website
  • Attach the offer to automated workflows
  • Promote it via email, blog & social media channels
  • Measure results

By building all of these parts into a cohesive whole, you are likely to see a perceptible ROI from your content marketing efforts.

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Key steps to building an effective B2B content strategy

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  24, July, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Having a content strategy to guide our B2B marketing efforts is generally considered to be a good thing. But putting this into practice is not always straight-forward.

According to the 2015 CMI (Content Marketing Institute) Benchmark report, 86 per cent of B2B organisations use content marketing – but only around a third (35 per cent) of these have a documented (written) strategy. The report also found that:

  • 48 per cent of these have an undocumented (verbal) strategy
  • 60 per cent of those B2B organisations that have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness
  • 32 per cent of those who have an undocumented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness

Perhaps your company is already among those with a documented strategy; maybe everyone in your organisation is on the same page but your strategy isn’t written down; or your business is new to content marketing.

In any case, it’s worth considering what devising an effective B2B content strategy entails. The key is to meet the needs of your organisation and, more importantly, provide the right content in the right way to your audience.

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Is agility a key component of your marketing mix?

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  7, July, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

What do you think of when you hear the word “agility”? Perhaps a twirling gymnast or a skilled footballer; or maybe a brilliant mathematician or writer.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, agility means “the ability to move readily and quickly;” or “the ability to think and understand readily and quickly”.  

But there’s also another meaning: “The ability to change rapidly in response to customer needs and market forces.”

When it comes to B2B marketing, agility is an essential component. From your own experiences you will know that the needs of your customers aren’t static – and there are macro forces to contend with, which are out of your control. These could include, for example, the introduction of new regulations regarding your industry.

Being able to respond to changing situations and adapt your strategy accordingly is an important part of the marketing mix. This doesn’t mean you have to depart entirely from a structure or overarching plan – but we should be willing to rise to the challenge if someone throws us a curve ball.

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5 reasons you should consider investing in video production

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  3, July, 2015  |  1 Comment  Subscribe

For many people, being videoed is up there with their worst phobias. Even the most dynamic personality can find themselves trembling in front of a camera. And for others it’s a breeze. The quietest person in the office can be transformed once the spotlight’s on them.

But whether you’re a natural on film or feel queasy at the thought, there’s no denying the power of video when it comes to B2B marketing.

"A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words," according to Forrester Research's Dr. James McQuivey. And over 70 per cent of marketers say that video creates more conversions than any other medium.

Adding video to your digital marketing mix can help you reach and influence more people at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

However, despite its track record for success, lots of businesses are still wary about investing in video production – and why shouldn’t they be? It sounds expensive and seems like a mammoth task to add to the workload.

But you don’t have to possess the budget and expertise of a Hollywood producer to create video content that will capture the attention of your audience.

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The importance of The Hero's Journey in B2B content marketing

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  23, June, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

As long as humans have been on the planet they have told stories.

We all know the power of a good narrative: whether it’s the children’s book that has stayed with you well into your adult years, the urban legends that surround a certain area, or the political speech that inspired a nation.

So, ask yourself, are stories just as important when it comes to B2B content marketing?

Every day each one of us tells stories, don't we? They help us to interact and communicate with the people around us.

And is the same thing true for businesses?

Of course, this isn’t about "once upon a time" and "happily ever after". But consider how you can tell stories to your target audience about how to solve a particular problem. 

The idea is to make the reader of your content the hero and guide them from pain to relief.

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13 millisecond test: are you using visual communications?

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  27, May, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Imagine you’re using Google to research the best beaches in Barbados. You come across two blog posts on different travel websites: one describes the paradise-like coastline in vivid detail - but it includes no pictures; the other contains minimal detail but a series of stunning photographs.

Which one is more useful?

Most likely, the second one.

It gets your attention - because the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

And the picture superiority effect (PSE) shows that pictures also help us to remember information.

If you read a piece of text you will remember around 10 per cent of it three days later. But if it contains an image, that will increase to 65 per cent.

So, although the first blog post may be well-written, it is the second one that will stick in your mind.

You’re more likely to return to it and take the next step towards booking your holiday.

And that makes it a more useful piece of content.   

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5 key considerations when marketing to Millennials

Written by Keith Errington  |  11, May, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Last week I looked at the different characteristics of the three generations of B2B customers – Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials (or Generation Y) in an infographic. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are generally considered to be those born in the 1980’s to 2000’s as against Generation X; born in the 1960’s to 1980’s. Baby Boomers are the post war generation born between 1946 and the 1960’s.

The infographic was base on research by IBM into the buying habits of the three generations that uncovered some surprising and significant differences between them.

This week I am going to take the five main points of the research and lay out the implications for your marketing strategy.

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Does your marketing strategy match your buyer?

Written by Keith Errington  |  6, May, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

IBM recently released the results of a study of the B2B buying habits of Millennials vs. Generation X vs Baby Boomers, which highlights some significant differences between the way that the three generations make purchasing decisions.

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Sex, lies and B2B marketing

Written by Keith Errington  |  10, April, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Firstly, I should state that this blog post has no sex in it whatsoever. 

None.

Sorry.

Are you disappointed? Annoyed even? Well this is how most readers react when marketers lie or, shall we say, exaggerate or "tweak" the truth. And once you disappoint your customer there is no going back.

In this article I am going to talk about the lies that B2B marketers tell and why the truth is a better approach.

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Why you should consider creating B2B marketing podcasts

Written by Antonia Molloy  |  9, April, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Podcasts are on the ascent - again.

Originally a Noughties phenomenon, today these digital audio files are being eagerly downloaded onto computers and smartphones across the world at a growing pace.

According to the Washington Post, subscriptions of podcasts through iTunes passed the one billion point in 2013, while the number of unique monthly listeners stands somewhere around the 75 million mark.

New York Magazine calls it a “renaissance”, Digiday refers to the “second coming” and Forbes says the medium is the Uber of advertising.

What the podcast revival means for B2B marketers 

While this is certainly a rebirth of sorts, podcasting as a medium still remains an uncrowded communication channel. It’s certainly not mainstream just yet. 

And that’s good news for your business, because it means you can make an impact

But B2B podcasts are not merely another marketing tool. No one wants to download an elaborate sales pitch.

However, they do want to be educated and to be told stories. Even better, they want to do all this while also doing something else, be it driving, working out or grocery shopping.

Here’s how you can ride the second wave.

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B2B marketers: Stop selling and start being useful!

Written by Keith Errington  |  11, March, 2015  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Traditionally B2B marketing has been viewed as fundamentally different to B2C marketing with different strategies, methods and implementation. Nowhere is this clearer than in a recent report from Salesforce where the top 5 areas for increased spending for B2C and B2B marketers show a completely different focus.

Those 5 areas - as seen below - seem to indicate that the main focus for B2B (with the honourable exception of content marketing) is on sales and advertising. This seems rather old school and doesn’t take account of the modern trend away from interruption marketing.

It’s a sales-led approach that results in lead generation but that does not necessarily follow-through to sales and long term customer relationships.

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Mastering social media: the rules of engagement

Written by Keith Errington  |  8, December, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social media is a two way street – a platform for conversations. It is possible to post, blog, tweet and publish without engagement of course, but that kind of misses the point.

So how do you engage? When do you engage? When is it best not to engage? And how do you encourage engagement?

Encouraging engagement

Let’s deal with that last one first. Nobody seems to be engaging with your wonderful posts – how can we change that?

Sometimes fans and followers just need a little help.

Questions & Polls

People like showing off their knowledge and they also like to feel they make a difference, so serious market research style questions can not only encourage engagement but they may also provide valuable insights into what the market wants.

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What's your social media strategy?

Written by Keith Errington  |  21, October, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Social media is used by people for many things; some tweet about the music they are playing, some post to Facebook about what meal they just ate, bloggers write about the smallest of plot details in an obscure TV series, and Pinterest users post recipes containing beetroot.

What has this got to do with business you ask? Absolutely nothing. And that’s really my point. You can tweet, post, blog and pin about anything under the sun, so what you really need is a plan, a direction – a strategy – to ensure your social media activity serves the business and delivers real return on investment.

Marketing strategy

It should not be surprising that your social media strategy should fit with your overall marketing strategy.

The best strategies are integrated strategies – almost all the big successful campaigns of recent years have been integrated across many different communication channels. One of the biggest, and most famous is the Compare the Meerkat campaign – wonderfully integrating, TV, radio, posters, social media, PR and sales promotion to great effect.

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Has professional services marketing changed forever?

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  14, October, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

It’s not so long ago that most professional services work was won through referrals. Not just from client recommendations, but also from hours of networking invested over the years, building relationships with introducers and intermediaries.

Referrals still work of course but, for most firms, fewer clients are won in this way today. In fact, tougher regulation in various sectors has made referral for new business almost impossible. Tighter controls recently imposed on the legal sector are testament to that.

Maybe therefore your firm is not growing at the same rate as it used to.

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Social must be integrated into your marketing mix: John Lee interview

Written by Eric Swain  |  13, February, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Do you share links to your website or blog and wonder why no-body clicks on them?

John Lee, Head of Social Marketing at Webtrends (update: John is now a Brand Strategist at Twitter), offers some great insights for B2B marketers on how to you get your content noticed in amongst the 500 million tweets a day.

John, regarding your blog post on this subject, did it come about as a result of some research that you’d done or just observations you’ve made over the years?

It’s a little bit of both – we’ve done a lot of research in terms of looking closely at our own social channels and finding out what really leads people to engage and repeatedly engage – so not just that “first click” but what makes that click more meaningful in the long term. And also, we’ve been able to look at other industry leaders, particularly in B2B digital marketing, and to look at what kind of patterns they’re seeing; it seems to be a trend that’s pretty consistent across the industry.

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The Five Contradictions of Native Advertising

Written by Keith Errington  |  7, February, 2014  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Digital marketing sites, content publishers, pundits, brands and regulators currently seem obsessed with native advertising.

The IAB have created a task force and published “The Native Advertising Playbook”. Adweek, Marketing Week, Mashable, even the Guardian are talking about it.

Recently the Sunday People website was relaunched funded solely by native advertising, and even more recently still, it’s been closed due to lack of audience.

At least one content marketing expert has said it is neither ‘native’ nor ‘advertising’. So what is it? Is it the next big thing in marketing? Should it be part of your essential inbound marketing toolkit?

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What 5 inbound rock stars taught me about the art of good listening

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  21, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
 
This time last week I attended the exciting and inspiring Inbound Marketing UK (IMUK) 2013 conference in London, to hear some of the brightest minds
in the industry, both here and in the States, talk about the best approaches to marketing now.

One of the over-riding messages from the day’s speakers for me, was the absolute importance of good listening; the art of learning from the wisdom, experience, thoughts and needs of others, of paying attention to what you are being told and what you are telling yourself.  Because this is how we learn to do better, to improve what we’re already doing, and to bring others with us along the way.

Here’s what I learnt from my good listening on the day.

Listen to your audience

Hubspot CEO, Brian Halligan, opened the conference with a clear message around the importance of marketing context; the need to ensure that you listen to and are cognisant of your audience and the context within which it works, plays, lives.

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Essential tools for defining meaningful buyer personas

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  2, October, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

“A wise man knows his audience,” goes the venerable saying, and whilst it lacks gender equality it does rather hit the nail on the head.  You will be well aware of the importance of ensuring your message responds to the needs, wants and interests of the people receiving it.  It’s a mission at the very heart of the strategic marketing concept that drives all others – “buyer personas.”

Personas were memorably described by Tony Zambito as “representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.” In fact, as we said in an earlier post, buyer personas are “a sure-fire way to focus all of your content on the right people at the right time.”

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Easy on the eye - picturing B2B content marketing's next big thing

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  26, July, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Predicting the future is fraught with pratfalls and shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Never forget that someone once predicted that the Beatles would never catch on, and another said Connery wouldn't be right for Bond!

So, back in January, when we cast around for helpful predictions in the content writing and marketing field in 2013; we looked to the industry's experts and thought leaders, such as Jonathon Colman, Marcus Sheridan, putting our trust in them to the test.

So did we back the trillionaire rockers or have we got yolk dripping down our shirts?

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Ebony and Ivory: sales and marketing in perfect harmony?

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  18, July, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
When Stevie and Paul were singing “side by side at the piano”, they were talking about symbiosis: “two parties enjoying a mutually beneficial, harmonious relationship”.   And this word seems to sum up exactly the relationship between your Sales and Marketing teams, right?

No?

You mean to say that, in an age where savvy business buyers are so in charge of when they are ready to buy (and from whom), your Sales and Marketing teams haven’t yet realised they have much to gain from collaboration?  That they should align themselves more closely, to draw on each other’s expertise and understanding of your customers, to their mutual benefit? Maybe it’s time then to demonstrate how, by centring efforts around B2B content, there will be rewards for both:

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Ace it like Murray! Original B2B research that scores every time

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  16, July, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Years of heartache were brought to an end by Andy Murray's breathtaking performance at Wimbledon just a fortnight ago. But what lies behind such a players' success? Inspirational coaches, dedicated managers, hard work – all true; but something else too: research.

Murray will have “boned up” on footage of every recent game his opponents have played, ensuring that he could interpret behaviour, predict outcomes, and apply knowledge.  Understanding those who engage with you, and what you need to deliver back to them, friend or foe - is the bedrock of success in many activities from the battlefield to the field of B2B content marketing. To paraphrase the great David Ogilvy, who we write about elsewhere, ignoring research is “as dangerous as

generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

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How to create B2B content your customers are hungry for

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  10, July, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
We've all heard the T.V. nutritionists say it – we need to eat certain foods in moderation, others in abundance, others barely at all, and the balance can shift   radically depending on our time of life and associated behaviours.

Content writers and B2B content marketers – take heed! Too often, we end up feeding our prospects and customers material that simply isn't useful or beneficial for their particular stage in the sales process. So how do you ensure you're serving up a content menu that your audience can relish, digest and demand more of?

Remember your goal

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From cold to "warm" calling, why permission-based B2B marketing rules

Written by Kirstine Storey  |  19, April, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
So, if you’re anything like me you’ll have become very skilled at avoiding or ignoring the company that makes unsolicited calls to your workplace or home. Actually, I can’t think of a recent occasion where I felt that I was ready to spare 5-10 minutes of my time to listening to the singularly-focussed sales “patter” of an uninvited caller from a company, I am not familiar with.  

Cold-calling is, of course, a sales and marketing technique that has been used for years, by many organisations, to reach and secure B2B customers.  And previously, when done well by sales professionals, cold-calling was a successful way to generate B2B leads and win new business. 

But, customers like me have significantly changed the way we make purchasing decisions these days: when we think about purchasing a new product or service, we research and compare potential providers, as to their reliability, authority, validity in the field; we source reviews from other customers; we converse with our social media communities, searching for the opinion and experience of our peers and colleagues; and we are in control of when we decided to interact with firms. 

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How to create buyer personas that define your content marketing

Written by Kate Reynier  |  19, March, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone out there wanted to buy your product?

But they don’t.

Even if everyone needs what you’re selling (IT support, phone lines, hand towels for the loo), not everyone needs it right now. And, let’s be honest, even if they do need it, a lot people don’t care enough about the product (especially the hand towels) to actively want to switch suppliers.

If you’re trying to reach a wide group of people – the vast majority of whom don’t need or don’t care about your product – you’re wasting valuable time and energy. More importantly, you’re missing opportunities to show your insight and expertise to the smaller (but infinitely more lucrative) population that does want to know.

The better option is to dive deep into a narrow pool to find the targets you are seeking.

If we can’t be all things to all people, how do we figure out who to target?

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B2B PR: How to make sure newsjacking doesn't bite back

Written by Kate Reynier  |  5, March, 2013  |  0 Comments  Subscribe
Newsjacking is a term (coined originally by marketer,  David Meerman Scott) for what B2B PR professionals have been doing for years: find a current events story to piggyback your organisation onto, allowing you to ride the wave of the news cycle, raising your profile and garnering loads of, ideally, positive attention for your brand.  It doesn’t have to be breaking news – you can ‘plan’ for it sometimes – but you also need to be prepared to identify and react to situations as they happen.

Look around you and there are all kinds of newsjackings that happen all the time.  Here in the UK, Chinese New Year (the Year of the Snake), anything to do with the Royal Family, even Oscar’s night – all are big events that can be planned for to some degree or another.

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