CIPR Cymru Social Short – Pitching your digital content to regional media

Yesterday we welcomed WalesOnline’s Editor, Digital Development and Audience Engagement, Paul Rowland, as the speaker at our second Social Short of the year. Although the focus of the event was on producing shareable content for Wales’ national news site, there were valuable lessons for anyone looking to be more successful at securing online coverage with their regional media.

Paul kicked off by explaining why regional media is perfectly poised to maximise on social content. Readers are most likely to share a story with their own networks if it provokes nostalgia or a sense of shared experience – we share things because we feel they give a sense of who we are. Regional media gives people something that symbolises their identity and represents who they are, where they’re from and things they’ve done every day, so is already equipped with the skill set to take this approach online.

Paul took attendees through the stages WalesOnline went through when it first started trialling social content and shared some of the lessons learnt. In his experience, stories that work need to include jokes that work immediately, call on multiple opinions, use properly-judged emotion and stick with the house style. Some things that will stop a story from being shared include bad jokes, bad design and asking your audience to work too hard. It’s important that a story is neither too broad nor too obscure – it needs to be targeted enough to make people feel like they’re part of a specific community without being so obscure that it will only apply to a handful of readers.

It was also highlighted that shareable content doesn’t just mean lists and it doesn’t just mean fluffy stories. One of the most successful online pieces ever run by WalesOnline was ‘30 dramatic pictures of the storm that battered the Welsh coastline’.

As we all know, getting commercially-led content to be shared by the public can be much harder than pure editorial material. The key is to champion something that readers can relate to and feel positive about, in the same way that successful editorial material does. PRs need to find way to connect their content to something that the audience is happy to buy – a sense of pride in something they relate to, and that they feel represents them.

Paul shared some excellent examples of successful commercially-led content and well as the following lessons on what to expect:

• Your content will be successful if it taps into personal themes of pride/nostalgia/shared experience

• The benefit of your involvement is your brand association with attractive content – don’t complicate things with calls to action etc.

• Don’t judge the success of commercial or client-led content by the same standards of best-performing editorial

• People engaging with native advertising are likely to feel far better about your brand than those seeing display advertising

Here’s what people said on the night:

CIPR Cymru Social Shorts are sponsored and hosted by Golley Slater Cardiff. Our next event will be held on Thursday 31st July on the topic of the Wales Blog Awards. We will be hearing from the judges about what makes a good blog and from the winners on how they like to be approached and work with PRs. For more information, follow @CIPR_Cymru on Twitter.

Account manager at Golley Slater Cardiff, MCIPR and CIPR Accredited Practitioner

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