By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.
If you are struggling with your content — things to say, write, and publish about you and your company — this article is going to be excellent for you. It is based on a The UnNoticed Podcast episode where I’ve listed down six different areas where you can find content that can help build your brand. These areas include company news, industry news, product news, customer news, partner news, and people news.
My goal is for you to find content that you can publish daily or weekly. This content appeals to three different audiences or groups, namely your customers, your partners, and your staff.
For the company news, I’ve broken it down into the different aspects you can consider for your company.
- History. Have you talked about the history of your business — when and why it started? Who started it, if it wasn’t you? Do you have photographs of when your business was about to be launched? In my case, I sent out a press release stating how jumping out of an airplane at the age of 18 taught me that the rest of my career would be in public relations.
- Milestone. Ask yourself: What milestone has your company attained? It could be big and small. It could be something about an invention or the growth of your business by a certain percentage. Look at the milestones that you can create and celebrate for your company.
- Location. Is your business in a particularly interesting location? The location could be an old factory that used to have an interesting story, or a building that has been repurposed, or a home, or a client’s office. You can also talk about how you happen to work from a mobile space. Check out how location anchors your business and create a story out of that. This helps create a context that your potential customers, partners, and employees can think and affiliate your business with. You can also look at the historical resonance of your location: Are you working in a place that has a particular history with your industry? For example, you could be working at the Silicon Valley or at the Ribble Valley in northeast England, which is the home for digital audio technology. Think of how you can create a narrative about why your business is there in the location that you’re in now. Is there some significant history about your location or did you just happen to arrive there? Is there an industry innovation that took place in your location?
- Building. Are you working from a historical building or out of no building at all? What does your building say about you and your company? Perhaps, you’re building a restaurant or a factory. What does that say?
Now, let’s take a look at the people in your organisation. Many businesses often overlook the stories of their people. Though most companies say that their people are their assets, they do remarkably little to reward these people and highlight their stories.
Charities, in particular, are good at doing this. Groups that protect children or promote animal welfare, for instance, showcase people who are on the frontlines. But what can you do to highlight your people?
Image from Unsplash
- Awards. What awards have your people won? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a work award. It could be a milestone: Have they done a Duke-of-Edinburgh kind of scheme? Have they run a particular marathon or entered a cooking contest?
- Recreation. Quite often, people that work together also play together. Take a look into what recreational activities your people take part in. Are they in a cycling or mountain biking group? Do your people attend social events as a group? For example, they could be watching football games together.
- Service. Is there a particular kind of service that your people do within your business? For instance, do they buy cakes for each other? What are some ways that they reward one another?
- Stories. Your people are a rich source of stories. You shouldn’t be afraid of using those stories because your people are those who are in contact with your customers, suppliers, and partners. You can create a personality around your business through them.
Most people think of public relations as product marketing and corporate branding. Many press releases are around products that have been launched. However, this misses a lot of the context and heritage that underlies today’s products and services. Here are some of those.
- Design. What is the design of your product or service? You can also talk about the design’s source or inspiration — where did it come from?
- Philosophy. What about the philosophy behind your product design? When I worked as the CEO of an automobile company called Lotus in China, we talked a lot about design and how founder Colin Chapman focused on the vehicles’ weight. According to him, power is not the vital point — it’s the weight. It’s the weight-to-power ratio that’s important for him. And this design philosophy is in the DNA of the business. It was part of the narrative that we built for the company’s PR strategy.
- Technology. Talk about the technology that is embedded in your product. This is not just about the technology itself but the backstory of it as well. For instance, if you’re in the data industry, in order to explain 5G, you have to discuss 4G and 3G and even go back to Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), or Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Products today only exist because of their heritage. You can create content that explains where your product or service lies within that chronology of technology.
- Patent. Do you have any patents or trademarks for your product or service? You can use the very process of filing those as the subject of a news article. What have you done to get that trademark? How much did it cost? What does it cover? It can also be a thought leadership piece for somebody else interested in this topic. This could be one of your staff, your partner, or a potential customer who wants to work with a company with a patented product but hasn’t read about the product itself yet.
- Science. The thinking behind a product is different from technology. For example, I’ve been writing a book about The UnNoticed and it has something to do with thymōs (Greek word for the need for recognition). As individuals and as organisations, we need to be recognised by our peers and, in some sense, by others who are better than our peers — it’s a basic instinct. However, it underscores why people want to get noticed; why public relations, advertising, and marketing happen. From a commercial point of view, we need public relations to get noticed. But this is just a commercial manifestation of a personal requirement, which is to be able to find food, be part of a tribe, or be taken care of.
- Making. My daughters love to watch science movies and chemistry. They are curious about how things are made. Currently, I am working with a client in the manufacturing space who can make a 3D prototype of a design in 72 hours. They use a combination of computer-aided design (CAD) and plastic injection moulding. This can make for a great piece of content about how something is made. Take note that everybody loves to be enthralled because, ultimately, we’re all curious about how products are made. The story of how your product or service is made also lends itself very well to photographs, video, and audio.
Image from Unsplash
- Applications. Everybody that I know has in mind what they think their customers are doing with their products. But often, there are other applications that they are not aware of or have not exploited yet. I’m a big fan of a story about Brylcreem, which my professor at my postgraduate marketing degree raised as a case study. In the story, Brylcreem found that they have a growing market in Nigeria. They sent a sales team there and found that there are billboards being put up by the local distributor, advertising how the product is used on dry bread and yam. In reality, Brylcreem is a hydrogenated oil for the hair. In line with this, you can create social media and PR content out of how your product or service is being used.
Customers are not often featured in the PR program of many Business-to-business (B2B) companies. There is also not enough content about them from consumer companies. Here are some ideas for customer-related content:
- Stories. Use stories of how your customers first came to get to know about your company. Ask them how they found out about you. You can use tools like VideoAsk and Gather Voices to gather data. You can also go to Feefo or Trustpilot where people are writing reviews. These reviews can be stories or they can simply be retweeted. For example, it can also be made into a montage or an infographic material.
- Recommendations. What are the recommendations that your customers can give you? For giving their recommendations, you can offer your customers a bonus, a reward, a rebate, or a discount on their next purchase.
- Usage. Will your customers be willing to be interviewed to discuss how they use your product? As I got my Caravan Club membership renewed, I was thinking: What if the Caravan Club had regular members posting their pictures rather than just using stock models on their website?
- Benefits. You can also use how lives were changed as a result of using your product or service. Most people are afraid of asking customers about that because — one, they might say it’s not as good as they thought it was; second, the customers may ask for a discount in exchange. The first one is a bigger problem because customers have other avenues where they can tell they’re unhappy about you and they might just use that opportunity to come and tell you that directly.
- Engagement. If you’re worried about the second concern mentioned above, think about how the monetary value of having a customer engage with your audience and becoming an “evangelist” on your behalf is absolutely golden. It’s something that can’t be quantified. This is similar to what Apple has successfully done: Every customer who is engaged with their brand has become an evangelist doing work on the company’s behalf.
Image from Unsplash
Most people think of PR as being just about the company. However, you should also think about what your partners can contribute.
- Quality. What can you say about the companies that you keep in order to deliver your products or services to your customers?
- Awards. Do your partner companies have awards?
- Supply chain. What supply chain quality do they have?
- Leadership. What kind of leadership do they have?
- Joint ventures. Will you be able to do interviews with your partners? Can you do things together? For example, you could have a joint photograph wherein you’re giving each other a certificate or wherein you get your teams together to celebrate your work together. From the customer’s perspective, seeing that there’s a team supplying products and services to them is reassuring.
When you tap your partner, don’t forget that they also have their own social network. And they will likely promote your content about them within that network.
The industry that you’re in is rich with content ideas. These include:
- The impact of a phenomenon, like Brexit or COVID-19
Image from Unsplash
If you just think about your position about any of the topics that are taking place within your industry at the moment, it will give you an idea of some of the ways that you could format it. You can write opinion articles, create videos, or host webinars. You can create press releases or 500-word articles for posting on Linked In. You can produce infographic materials made on Visme or Canva, or simply post tweets or texts.
What I’ve created are content ideas that touch on your company, people, products, customers, partners, and industry. However, you can break them down some more or condense them. It’s not an exhaustive list but something that can help you get started. Once you work through this, you’ll find that content will come more freely and easily to you.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.