Is anybody there? Why your content channel is as important as your content message

By Faye Harris-Frost, head of PR

The quote reads: Before you start making your 2024 external communications plans, it’s time to focus less on just creating content and more on how that content is communicated.

You’ve identified your key messages and your target audience but now what? Do you need a press release, a blog or a social media post? Will your carefully created copy create a unique impression? Will your thought-leadership piece actually get anyone thinking about your brand? Before you start making your 2024 external communications plans, it’s time to focus less on just creating content and more on how that content is communicated.


Tools and tips for the construction trade 

Maybe it’s because we are construction marketing specialists or maybe it’s just because we like a good play on words but we love to tell clients about our content toolbox. That’s because as a full service agency, we can suggest and fulfil a variety of different marketing disciplines, from social media and PR, videography and design, plus everything you’ve ever wanted to know about maximising your website but were too afraid to Google. 

All this means that there is always a resident ‘expert’ to advise our clients on the best way to reach their target market and the majority of our clients currently work with us across more than one service.

But how do you know which tool you need? Although individual objectives – and budgets – need to be considered, understanding the difference between owned, paid for and earned content, is usually a good place to start.


Owned content – putting your house in order

Do you have a blog or news page on your website? Do you have a social media presence? What about a newsletter or eMarketing strategy? These are all examples of owned content channels which mean you can control the messages and when, and how, they are communicated. Ensuring your own channels are in the best possible shape is the first and most important step in keeping your external communications strategy on track.

These days, the answer to most questions can be found online so if your web presence is a little underwhelming, you can be sure that whatever content you put out there will fall flat. One of the biggest mistakes that we have seen over the years is when companies fail to put a long term plan in place and after investing significant time and money in building a new website, they let it quickly become out of date by not keeping the content fresh and relevant. 

Once you have invested in creating new content for your website, make sure you give it the very best chance of being seen. This means considering SEO, as well as utilising your social media platforms or eMarketing to share your stories. 


Paid for content – getting value for money

B2B marketing is a commercial business so it figures that you should invest in your marketing initiatives to get the best results. Paid content or paid media content is anything you have allocated budget to. This can be effective on a small scale, whether that’s putting budget into boosting and targeting your social posts or placing promotional content with a specific media publication. A bigger budget will of course help you do more but it’s about identifying and investing in the most effective areas of your marketing mix than just increasing overall spend.

For example, there is little point investing in a wide-reaching advertising campaign to launch a new product if you haven’t first considered the collateral you will need, such as a new brochure or a website update, so that you can furnish interested parties with more information. Equally, make sure you are being strategic with your spending. Is it more effective to send out your own e-shot and hope that it hits the right person at the right time or is it better to partner with a media publication that offers solus emails and slots in newsletters that go to an already invested subscribed mailing list? 

A robust media relations plan will also need a realistic budget, particularly if you want to keep control over when and where your content is seen. Most construction industry publications offer great opportunities for elevating your brand, whether this is through sponsored round table events, webinars or advertorials and these are all worth considering as they can work equally well on their own or as part of  a large scale advertising campaign.

Working with a specialist construction marketing agency can help you prioritise your objectives and make the most of your budget to reach key decision makers.


Earned content – risks and rewards

From getting that front page splash in a magazine or that big TV interview, to going viral on social media, sometimes the stories you communicated are so newsworthy that they can take on a life of their own. Achieving this level of exposure is often at the top of a company’s wish list but it’s important to remember that earned media content, as the name suggests, has to be worked for.

Achieving press or social media coverage can be a huge ego boost for both the company and its PR agency but it is really only achieved after months of creating and sharing stories, pitching to the press and maintaining a consistent social presence. It’s a long term strategy, not a short term goal but with the right mix of patience, tenacity and creativity, you can elevate your brand to cut through the noise.

Of course, not all media exposure is positive and the reality is that a business is just as likely to make the ‘news’ when something has gone wrong as when you’ve got a big success story to shout about. That’s why it is vital to factor in creating and maintaining a crisis communications plan so that you don’t flounder if you find yourself in hot water. 

And don’t forget, once your company, products and services are being more widely talked about, your customers will most likely visit your website or social media channels. Did we mention the importance of keeping your owned platforms up to date?


Creating content that speaks your language 

It’s important that any content created as part of an external communication strategy makes an impact, but it also needs to make sense. This is true for all companies but for those working in the construction industry, it’s never been more important to ensure that your external messaging is accurate, honest and credible. At Harris, we understand construction and can tell you exactly which content tools you need to build an effective marketing mix to meet your specific business objectives. Talk to us today and see how we can help

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