In the PR spotlight: Mark Ragan (PR Daily)
At Coopr we connect with international PR professionals daily. From Sydney to Vancouver and from Cape Town to Helsinki. More and more PR professionals connect with each other online, via Twitter, blogs, podcasts or Facebook. To share their knowledge, thoughts, doubts and passion for Public Relations. With ‘The PR Spotlight’ we wish to contribute to this active, international PR community. We will try to approach some of the best in PR for you. To help you find answers. ‘The PR Spotlight’ today is on Mark Ragan, uitgever van PR Daily en CEO van Ragan Conferences. Please enjoy his 6 answers and help us share the story!
1. What is the new role of the communicator in the age of content?
I believe the most powerful tool for connecting to communities today is content. And the PR professionals who create the best content for their customers will be the most successful. Today's new mantra is 'company as media outlet.' Why spend all of our time pitching reporters on the good deeds of our company? Why not become our own publishers and take those messages directly to the consumer? PR people are in a perfect position to take advantage of this notion. The good ones already know how to produce great stories, and they also know how to persuade clients and their organizations on the need for this approach.
2. Which companies are truly becoming their own media outlets? Can you name some?
The list is small, but it's impressive. Take a look at American Express Open Forum: http://www.openforum.com/. This is perhaps my favorite example of 'brand journalism.' The site is helpful without being intrusive or pushy. It practices 'refrigerator journalism' by delivering news and how-to advice for small businesses without marketing any of its services. Why do this? The answer is simple: If a company can provide invaluable, 'sticky content', then it can become part of its customer's daily workflow. And once it does that, good things will follow.
Another example is Best Buy On, which provides quick video tutorials on electronic products without endorsing any of them. Let's say I am interested in buying an e-reader. I can peruse the Best Buy On site and learn about the range of products without feeling like I'm being sold.
3. What do you believe is the most important ingredient of good content?
Knowing your audience, and then delivering useful, entertaining, compelling content that is so good that it's addictive. We try to do this with our own brand journalism site — PR Daily. Our stories mix news, how-to features and articles that are just plain fun. But our story selections are always chosen with our customer in mind.
I like to think of ourselves as brand journalists because of our economic model. We create free content with the intent of becoming indispensable to our audience. Then we sell them other things — conferences, online courses, research reports, and other so-called ancillary products. And our model has been successful. We have gone from 40,000 readers, most in the United States, to over 800,000 throughout the world. In the Netherlands alone, PR Daily is visited 4,000 times each month. Five years ago, that number was probably less than 100. Our European traffic numbers are also eye-opening. We now show 72,000 monthly visitors from the continent.
4. Do you think content curation is more interesting then content aggregation?
Definitely so. I hate content aggregation, and it almost never works. Google hates it too and will punish your ranking if it detects that you've built a 'content farm.'
Content curation, on the other hand, allows you to cover your industry niche in your own voice, to create personality that binds you to your readers. On a practical level, it give you more flexibility as an editor.
5. The true power of brand journalism is...
Dominating your industry niche by providing a service that customers come to trust and depend upon. And to do all of that at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
6. What topics will you cover during your speech at 'The 2012 International Social Media & PR Summit'?
All of the above. I will give examples of brand journalism sites and lay out a roadmap on how to create your own.
If you have other questions for Mark, please feel free to post them in the comment section below (‘Reageer‘) or connect with him @MarkRaganCEO.
Thanks again Mark!
Interested in reading more PR spotlights? What about:
The PR Spotlight with Gini Dietrich (Arment Dietrich)